DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Two Manobo community in Surigao del Sur are reportedly fearful of military operations that have led to an arrest of a resident in the midst of the quarantine and pandemic.
This was disclosed by the Caraga chapter of Karapatan in an alert posted on Facebook on Wednesday evening, reporting that around 40 soldiers and police personnel entered Barangay Diatagon in the municipality of Lianga, Surigao del Sur on Tuesday night, May 19.
According to the group, residents reported seeing troops in full battle gear without wearing face masks and had not observed physical distancing, as part of the quarantine protocol due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Residents are now apprehensive with soldiers encamping in the middle of the community of Han-ayan and looking for Lumad leaders, reminiscent of what happened on August 31, 2015, before the September 1, 2015, Lianga Massacre,” the group said.
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Karapatan added that the troops entered the school grounds and took photos and videos of the Han-ayan Learning Center run by the Tribal Filipino Program of Surigao del Sur (TRIFPSS) and the Alternative Learning Center for Agriculture and Livelihood Development (ALCADEV).
Some soldiers went over houses of residents, asking for whereabouts of the leaders of the local Lumad group Malahutayong Pakigbisog Alang sa Sumusunod (MAPASU).
A resident of Km. 16, Barangay Diatagon, Eric Enriquez, was arrested. Media reports said Enriquez was arrested for allegedly acting as a supply courier of the New People’s Army (NPA).
This incident comes after a series of social media attacks made against Alcadev officers, Alcadev project coordinator Maricres Pagaran and Alcadev chair Fr. Raymond Ambray were tagged as NPA protectors.
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Manobo communities in the hinterlands of Lianga have long been lamenting against human rights abuses brought by the military presence in the area.
Before the community quarantine, 95 families in Barangay Diatagon fled their homes on February 29, after soldiers staying in their community engaged in a gunfight against NPA rebels. (davaotoday.com)