Aquino govt, AFP sabotage people's relief and rehab efforts among Pablo victims

Karapatan, through its secretary general Cristina Palabay, today called on Malacanang to take concrete steps against the elements of the 67th IB in Davao Oriental for the continuous harassment of the delegates of a national fact-finding and humanitarian mission who are now in Sitio Cabuyao, Bgy. Binondo, Baganga, Davao Oriental.

Palabay said that Karapatan received reports, sent through SMS, from members of the mission saying that the 69 participants were prevented by elements of the 67th IB from leaving the mission area, setting up blockades and harassing the drivers of their rented vehicles. The drivers were forced to leave the mission members. The SMS message also said that the group's food and water provision are running out. They blame the military for delaying the mission which was scheduled for April 18-19 only.  

“The military's act shows the government's desperation to cover up the situation of the victims of typhoon Pablo-- the neglect of the victims' needs, the corruption in its relief and rehabilitation efforts, and worst, the harassment of people who exposed these, leading to the killing of Cristina Jose, the leader of the Pablo victims' organization,” added Palabay.  

On April 18, the start of the mission, the delegates had to clear the roads from the stack of lumber dumped, in an apparent move to delay the mission. The mission, with delegates from Manila and nuns from the Sisters’ Association in Mindanao (SAMIN), was set to distribute relief goods, materials for the rehabilitation of the target communities and to document the numerous cases of human rights violations in the area, including the killing of Cristina Jose.

“The Aquino government and the AFP should answer for this action. If the government cannot do what it should for the people and would rather engage in PR spins, then it should stop red tagging and harassing and killing the people, who by their collective action, are taking steps to better their situation.  Trabahong pikon lang ang alam ng gobyernong ito,” Palabay said.