Thursday, October 08, 2009

Human rights abuses alarm groups in Mindanao

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Bishop Delfin Callao of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente and convener of the Exodus for Justice and Peace has expressed dismay over the spate of human rights abuses reported in Pantukan town in the southern Philippine province of Compostela Valley.

"I am worried that in barely five months after we have documented and reported grave human rights abuses in several areas in the region, the same pattern of abuses are now stalking farmers in another Comval town, this time in Pantukan," the bishop said in a statement.

He said the EJP led a high profile International Solidarity Mission in May which probed the areas of Paquibato District, New Bataan town, Mount Diwalwal, and in Santa Cruz.The mission was attended by Representative Satur Ocampo and more than 300 foreign, local and national delegates.

The EJP said it supported the filing of petition by Pantukan farmers and the residents which called for the immediate pull out of the military in the area and the indemnification of the victims for the damages and human rights abuses allegedly committed by soldiers of the Army's 10th Infantry Division.

The municipal chapter of Anakpawis Party list and the victims together with human rights group Karapatan and EJP, were supposed to file the petition Wednesday but was stalled after they were informed of a pending schedule for the reorganization of the Municipal Peace and Order Council.

"The Mayor informed us about the recent MPOC re-organization and after discussions with him we informed him that we shall file the petition within this week,” the bishop said.

The group said that in less than three weeks, there were already 1,042 victims of human rights abuses in Pantukan alone. This was reported during the two-day fact-finding mission conducted in Compostela Valley early this month.

“The situation is getting worse. The reports of the human rights violations committed by the Armed Forces of the Philippines continue to increase and have even spread to other municipalities such as in Pantukan and Maragusan in Compostela Valley Province, Talaingod in Davao del Norte, and Bagangga and San Isidro in Davao Oriental,” the bishop said.

“With an alarming situation like this we really have to push for immediate response, on our part we are planning to conduct another national fact-finding mission in order to conduct investigation on the affected areas and provide assistance for the victims of the human rights violations,” he added.

EJP will spearhead a National Fact-finding Mission to look into the effects of this relentless deployment of military troops in Davao region this month.

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