Saturday, September 17, 2011

Commies ambush troops in Davao City

Members of the Anakpawis party list and Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas in Southern Mindanao hold a picket to denounce alleged military human rights violations in Davao City. (Photo by Jonald Mahinay)

DAVAO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Sept. 17, 2011) – Communist rebels ambushed a team of government soldiers on Saturday and killing one of them on a village in Davao City in the southern Philippines.

Leoncio Pitao, commander of the New People’s Army, said the attack was in retaliation to the continued harassment and human rights violation by the military to civilians in the village of Paradise Embac in Paquibato district.

Other reports said several soldiers were also wounded in the ambush.

Pitao also accused Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte of tolerating the military’s human rights violations in Paquibato.

“One enemy soldier was killed. The NPA’s punitive action was in reaction to the grave human rights abuses and violations to the international humanitarian law committed by the 69th Infantry Battalion, the Army unit cowardly hiding under the cloak of Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte who has largely tolerated and remained oblivious to the suffering of peasant masses in the course of military encampment of civilian communities in Paquibato district,” Pitao said.

“The NPA ambush was meant to give justice to the victims of grave intimidation, torture, grave threats, mainly women, schoolchildren, and peasants in Paquibato. It was in retaliation to the Army’s 69th Infantry Battalion’s obstinate militarism when it intensified its combat and psychological warfare operations in the wake of the September 12 onsite investigation where the basic masses aired their grievances and demand for a military pull-out to local city legislators,” he added.

Pitao was referring to demands by villagers to remove a military detachment set up by soldiers outside a school in Paradise Embac.

Two local council members Leah Yap and Jimmy Dureza have passed a resolution proposing the pull out of the army detachment after parents of students complained about the presence of troops near the school.

But the mayor was opposed to the proposal, saying the outpost is there to protect the villagers from rebels.

The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas in southern Mindanao also joined calls for the pull out of troops of troops and the dismantling of the detachment in the village.

Pedro Arnado, chairperson of KMP, has challenged Duterte to look into the complaints of villagers against the military in the area. He said it was the Paradise Embac Parent-Teacher’s Association of the Basic Education Assistance Module program that appealed for the pull out of the army post.

He said they filed a petition with the Department of Education, Department of Social Welfare and Development and the Commission on Human Rights to force the military to dismantle its detachment outside the school.

“It is the military operations that have been there for some time now, and the Paquibato lumads and farmers have always resisted these and condemned human rights abuses in their area,” Arnado said, referring to indigenous tribe in Paquibato district.

“The resolution aims to uphold the basic human rights of the Paquibato residents, especially the rights of children to be free from dangers posed by military detachments which use civilian communities as shields. The AFP’s Re-engineered Special Operations Team otherwise tagged as the Peace and Development Teams are rampantly holding Lumad and farmer communities hostage, encamping within their communities, to the point of imposing food blockades and curfews which all affect the peoples’ livelihood,” he said.

Pitao also accused the Army’s 10th Infantry Division of pocketing scholarship funds intended for 87 students in Paquibato district. “The youths did not receive a single cent, nor a certification or an acknowledgment that they were scholars of Technical Education and Skills Development Authority despite a declaration by the 10th Infantry Division who used their names to download said funds,” he said.

The military did not give a statement about the allegations.

Paquibato is scene of previous fighting between military and communist rebels and is a known lair of the separatist group New People’s Army. (Mindanao Examiner)

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