Palparan battalion makes “ghost towns” in DavOr

Jun. 02, 2012

Press Release
May 27, 2012

Palparan battalion makes “ghost towns” in DavOr

Lupon, Davao Oriental — An independent solidarity and fact finding mission said farmers’ communities here have been turned into “ghost towns” in the hands of the military under the 701stBrigade, formerly known as the “Palparan Battalion,” notorious for hamletting communities and killing hundreds of civilians and activists in Luzon.

The prevalence of impunity in the province has been denounced.  Radio broadcaster Nestor Libaton of dxHM-Mati was recently murdered here.

“It’s as if Maj. Gen. Palparan is here through the 701st Brigade, the operational command of the 28th and 67th IB.  Sitios Logdeck, Barangay San Isidro and Sitio Kalasagan Barangay Maragatas are like ghost towns, where the quiet of cemeteries is so prevalent amidst the military encampment and abuses committed against the people,” Bayan Intise, secretary general of Hustisya-Southern Mindanao, said.  Hustisya is one of the spearheading organizations of Duyog Sa Panaw.

Upon the fact finding team’s arrival in Sitio Kalasagan and Logdeck on May 24 and May 26 respectively, military units under the 28th IB  under Lt Col Leopolde Imbang, Jr., and the 67th IB  under Lt. Col. Ruben Basio,  have been encamping in the communities, some are in the barangay halls, while some live in the residents’ homes.

“In both areas, the residents’ movements has been restricted to the point that they could not go out of their homes and farms, the residents sleep under the beds, while some community leaders have decided to go on exile, as the members of the 28th  and 67th IB harass  household members one by one through forcible interrogation which run from three to six hours, twice a week,” said Intise.

The fact finding team’s initial findings confirmed reports of physical injuries, torture, interrogation and warrantless search.

News reports on May 7 said the military exhumed three bodies, allegedly of intelligence operatives in Sitio Logdeck who were allegedly executed by the New People’s Army in 2009.

“Whether it is true or not that such an exhumation of military intelligence members have been conducted or not, it does not give the military any right to abuse the residents.  Civilians are clearly protected by a number of human rights laws and covenants from military attacks.  But seemingly, the issue of exhumation is part of the calibrated design to hamlet and militarize civilian communities under Oplan Bayanihan, especially those which have active participation in social justice issues.  Gross human rights abuses against the farmers of Sitio Logdeck and surrounding barangays have created so much fear and terror among the residents,” Intise said.

According to Karapatan, since January this year, as part of the military’s counter insurgency plan Oplan Bayanihan, the towns of Mati, San Isidro, Lupon, and Banay-banay, called gulf town areas, have been the center of the  701st’s operations and received the heaviest blows of human rights abuses with around a thousand military troop-deployment.

“It is alarming that military encampment in civilian communities is being condoned and is not even considered as a violation.  There is no intervention whatsoever from the local government unit despite the effects of this on the lives of the people,” Intise said, adding, the same happened in Mindoro, Southern Luzon when retired Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan served as a ‘colonel’ there.

Intise said that although Palparan, former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s favorite and well-awarded military general, is now officially a wanted  criminal, his legacy lives in the military officers he has trained who are now in the 701st Brigade and through Palparan’s protege, Major Jake Obligado, CMO of the 10th ID-Eastern Mindanao Command.

Legal Attacks against 13 farmer Leaders

Almasid, the provincial organization of farmers in Davao Oriental, which also took part in the fact finding mission, recently filed complaints at the Commission on Human Rights region office regarding the legal cases and warrants of arrest lobbed against 13 farmer leaders.

“Leaders of the local people’s organizations are being harassed and intimidated. Under Oplan Bayanihan, the military and landlords have connived to file trumped-up charges against 13 farmer leaders, including myself.  All of us have been actively fighting for the rights of farmers and denouncing militarization.  Now they want us in jail or wanted by law, so as to paralyze the peoples’ movement in Davao Oriental,” Lito Lao, chairperson of Almasid, said.

Sr. Stella Matutina, who was branded as an NPA by the 28th IB and the 701st Brigade, has also complained for being the subject of the 701st’s vilification campaign. 

For Reference:
Hustisya Secretary General

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