By Media Mindanao News Service
(August 15, 1987 News Digest Volume 1, August 1987-July 1988)

DAVAO CITY (MMNS) – Nearly 50 percent of human rights violation incidents in Mindanao where committed by anti-communist vigilante groups, the church-based Task Force Detainees said.

In its partial partial statistical report for the first half of 1987, the TFD-Mindanao report cited that vigilantes either by themselves or in cooperation with elements of the Armed Forces of the Philippines were involved in one out of every two cases of salvaging, massacre and physical and mental assault.

Further, the TFD-M report said, the vigilantes figured in two of every five cases of destruction of properties and one in every three incidences of forcible dislocations.

Based on territorial scope, Region XI topped the list of victims and casualties compared to the rest of the island’s regions – IX, X, XII – the TFD report said. This could be traced to the fact that anti-communist vigilantism first emerged in Region XI with the birth of Alsa Masa here in April last year and followed by Nagkahiusang Katawhan Alang sa Kalinaw (NAKASAKA) in Davao del Sur in February this year.

Last June, the late secretary for local governments Jaime Ferrer disclosed that at least 10 vigilante groups have sprouted in Region XI.

Surigao Sur’s BANTAY-BAYAN, spearheaded by Alexander Ike Pimentel, the governor’s son and provincial board member, ranked first with a total of 67 reported excesses followed by Davao Sur’s NAKASAKA with 63. This city’s Alsa Masa placed third at 60.

The partial documentation for the same period summarized 78 cases of arbitrary arrest and detention with a total of 216 victims, mostly farmers; 12 summary executions commonly called salvaging; 19 and 20 cases of divestment and destruction of properties respectively; and 30 cases of evacuations turning refugees some 9,000 families or approximately 45,000 persons.

TFD sources, however emphasized that the above figures included only those with established political motives and those documented by TFD’s 20 provincial units in the island. They hinted there were unreported ones.

TFD also pointed out that in the same period, the gold-rich province of Davao del Norte was most victimized of forcible displacement among the rest of the provinces with a total of 12 separate incidents. The most recent occurred May 29 to June 1 when elements of the army’s 25th IB bombarded some barrios purportedly to flush out both Moro and NPA rebels. The military operation affected some 655 families of Pantukan and Mabini towns.

The biggest single incident of dislocation, TFD noted, occurred in Sta. Cruz, Davao del Sur, April 9. Some 3,031 families or 21,200 individuals from 24 barangays fled from their homes when a composite unit of the AFP’s regular forces and fanatical groups swooped the place in pursuit of suspected rebels. The fleeing residents claimed that the composite team aided by two Sikorsky helicopter gunship, that dropped at least 18 bombs, and one plane allegedly poured the dreaded Yellow Rain.

In general, TFD noted, the situation has affected adversely human rights advocacy itself. Having been branded communist-inspired human rights work has become highly dangerous. This proved true in the case of Faustino Pinsoy, chairman of the Cotabato Alliance of Human Rights Advocacy (CAHRA) based in Makilala, North Cotabato Province.

Pinsoy, a councilman of the said town was gunned down early evening of June 27 in his house by an unknown assailant. In the morning of the same date, Pinsoy documented cases of hacking incidents perpetrated by the Tadtad cultists in a nearby barangay.

Comparatively, TFD noted, the incidence of human rights violations is lower than last year’s average covering the same period. But, it added, the cases of the present period were carried against a larger number of people resulting to a higher toll of victims per incident. (Media Mindanao News Service News Digest Volume 1, August 1987-July 1988)

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