ComVal Farmers Decry Harassment, Burning of Houses

Mar. 29, 2006

By BJ Absin

DAVAO CITY Farmers in Mabini town, Compostela Valley province, have accused the military of burning their houses and of harassing them afterward, allegedly for their failure to provide information on the communist New Peoples Army.

Four farmers — Benjamin diola, Gabriel Ugapan, Dionesio Granada and Montano Anoda from sitio (hamlet) Darot, barangay (village) Libudon in Mabini town complained last week to the human-rights group Karapatan that elements of the 28th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army razed their houses and belongings during military operations on March 9.

Karapatan photo
This is what remained of one of the houses burned down allegedly by elements of the military. (Contributed photo)

Nine days after the alleged burning, the soldiers returned to sitio Darot and rounded up members of a dozen families for interrogation. The soldiers accused them of being traitors for not giving the military information about the NPA in the area.

Kelly Delgado, Karapatans acting secretary general, criticized the military for the alleged arson and harassment. “If indeed there are NPAs operating in the area, civilians would have no knowledge of the NPAs military action, the same way that they would not know of any military plan by the armed forces, he said. Civilians are not combatants.

The town council of Mabini had passed a resolution calling for an investigation into the alleged incidents. The four owners of the house has so far received only a thousand pesos each from the government. They also divided among themselves a sack and a half of rice provided by Mabini officials.

The four farmers went to the Commission on Human Rights on March 24 to file formal charges against the soldiers and seek indemnification for their destroyed properties amounting to 150,000 pesos.

There was no immediate reaction from the military. In the past, they accused the NPA of merely spreading propaganda each time an accusation like this surfaced. They have also accused Karapatan of being a front of the guerrillas, a charge that the group vehemently denied. (BJ Absin/

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