Monday, June 13, 2011

Repression goes on unabated under Oplan Bayanihan

Repression goes on unabated under Oplan Bayanihan

Four cases of abuse by the military and other state agents were reported to Ang Bayan from May to the first week of June.

June 1. Seventy-two activists and mass leaders from Southern Tagalog faced another round of harassment when they received a court summons from the Provincial Prosecutor's Office in San Pablo City to respond to newly filed murder and frustrated murder charges. Among those who were ordered to appear in court was Rogelio Galit, former spokesperson of the Kalipunan ng mga Magsasaka sa Kabite, who had been dead for a year due to complications from diabetes.

The "ST 72" as they have come to be called were first slapped with trumped-up charges in 2007 in connection with an ambush by the New People's Army (NPA) in Puerto Galera, Oriental Mindoro in March 2006. Although Galit had long been bedridden then and could not have done what he was being accused of, he was still arrested by the police. Six others, includin KMU lawyer Atty. Remigio Saladero were also arrested. They were released in February 2009 when the court dismissed the case.

Barely a week after their release, they were once more charged, this time with killing a CAFGU element in Rizal. The case was also dismissed.

The latest murder cases which were filed in May are the third set of trumped-up charges slapped against the ST 72.

In a related development, BAYAN-Laguna secretary-general Darwin Liwag and two other activists remain in jail after being falsely charged with murder. Firearms and grenades were planted on their person during their arrest in Lumban, Laguna in September 2010.

There are now 54 political detainees in Southern Tagalog. Eleven activists have also been summarily executed in the region under the Aquino regime.

May 27. At around 4:30 a.m., a platoon under the 54th IB led by Lt. Roland Caringan forced its way into the home of 80-year old Pablo Naogsan in Barangay Butigue, Paracelis, Mountain Province. Naogsan is the father of Cordillera Peoples Democratic Front (CPDF) spokesperson Simon "Ka Filiw" Naogsan.

The CPDF strongly condemned the miltary's harassment of the elderly Naogsan. The soldiers broke down the door, roused the old man who was then alone and ransacked his house. He was accused of receiving NPA guerrillas into his home and threatened with reprisal should he refuse to stop.

The military left only after Naogsan's neighbors started milling around to find out what was going on. Naogsan filed a formal complaint against the soldiers with the barangay.

May 26. Some 40 policemen violently demolished seven houses in a fishing community in Poblacion, Gitagum, Misamis Oriental. There were blood stains all over the area as the police attacked residents who defended their homes. The police arrested Joel Saplot, who chairs the Kasamahan ng Mangingisda sa Poblacion Gitagum at Operators (KASAMAPO) along with an entire family consisting of Fernando Oraiz Sr., Fernando Oraiz Jr., Juanie Oraiz and Adoracion Oraiz. They are currently detained at the PNP station in Gitagum. The residents were served with a notice of eviction on May 5, allegedly because their houses had been built on private property. But the residents led by KASAMAPO stood their ground and fought to defend their homes and livelihoods.

May 24. At 4 a.m., a company of soldiers under the 86th IB raided the house of Delfin Uschongsan, a resident of Barangay Kiling, Alfonso Lista, Ifugao. The soldiers ransacked the house and took Uschongsan and his two nephews to the Pakak CAA/PNP/PA Detachment in the same barangay. They were accused of being NPA members. Even Uschongsan's neighbors who were merely watching the events out of curiosity were accused of being NPA sympathizers.

When the police chief of Alfonso Lista refused to charge the three victims for lack of evidence, the soldiers threatened Uschongsan and his nephews of continued detention if they filed countercharges against the military. They were released only on May 25 after they promised not to talk about the abuse they endured in the hands of the soldiers.

Cases of AFP brutality form part of the long-term militarization of eastern Mountain Province and Ifugao. They belie the military's claims of winning the peace and respecting human rights under Oplan Bayanihan.