DAVAO CITY – One of the findings of the recently concluded solidarity mission held in Mindanao was a case of a military helicopter firing at civilians including children in Agusan del Sur.

The mission report cited a case on November 24, 2014 at around 8 o’ clock in the morning when families of Ramil Hugsalan and Robin Badbaran together with Michael Sumbian, Jona Mae Acosta and Nonoy Agbuhan, staff of the nongovernmental Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP) were on their way to Sitio Tambo, Brgy. Binicalan, San Luis, Agusan Sur to visit and monitor the RMP school in the said sitio when they were held by the 26th Infantry Battalion.

The group including four children, was held by the soldiers for interrogation.

When the military was finished, the civilians were finally allowed to go. But around five minutes later, a military helicopter  fired at them indiscriminately.

Dulphing Ogan, secretary general of the Kusog sa Katawhang Lumad (Kalumaran), said the incident was one of the reasons that prompted 14 communities of San Luis, Agusan Sur to evacuate to Brgy. Balit, San Luis, Agusan Sur.

“Six schools have been forced to stop classes.  They are now just conducting classes in the evacuation center,” Ogan said.

200 delegates from local, national and international human rights and peace organizations expressed solidarity to the displaced Banwaon, Higaonon and Manobo of Talaingod in an international solidarity mission dubbed as Mindanao Bakwit (internally displaced persons) Solidarity Mission.

The mission took place on March 8-9 mainly in Brgy. Balit, San Luis and prior to this in Brgy. Nuevo Trabajo, San Luis, Agusan del Sur. The other leg of the Mission was at Talaingod, Davao del Norte on March 11-12 covering 31 communities of Brgy. Palma Gil and Dagohoy.

A mission team was also sent to Mabini and Pantukan Compostela Valley to probe on military encampment in schools and communities.

During the public presentation of the mission report, Ogan, said the mission found the impact of heavy deployment of 55 infantry battalions of military troops in Mindanao resulted to gross violations of human rights mostly of lumads and peasants.

“Among the most blatant violation of the military and the paramilitary group is the encampment in schools, civilian houses and other public structures like barangay halls and health centers,” Ogan said citing four cases of attacks and military encampments in three schools in Barangay Dagohoy, Talaingod, Davao del Norte from October 2014 to March this year.

Ogan said 427 individuals including students and teachers were either victims of illegal encampments on schools or within the range of the school compound, vilification such as red tagging, interrogation and threat harassments and intimidation.

Ogan said they are recommending the Regional Peace and Order Councils in regions 11 and 13 “to investigate the atrocities, abuse and human rights violations of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine Army and ‘paramilitary’ groups.”

“The regional councils are also urged by the Balit Mission to recommend to the national government the dismantling of paramilitary groups,” he said.

The mission will submit report to the United Nations and UN Permanent Tribunal on Indigenous Issues and the Local Government Units to recommend for the pull-out of the military troops encamping the schools and communities.

The Balit Mission was jointly organized by the Northern Mindanao and Caraga formations of KARAPATAN Alliance for the Advancement of Peoples’ Rights, Rural Missionaries of the Philippines, Kalumbay, Kasalo, the Asia Indigenous Peoples’ Network on Extractive Industries and Energy. The Talaingod Mission was led by Solidarity Action Group for Indigenous People and Peasants (SAGIPP), Save Our Schools Network, and PASAKA Confederation of Lumad Organizations in Southern Mindanao Region. (davaotoday.com)

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