Urgent Call for the Immediate Cessation of Military Operations in Lacub, Abra

September 12, 2014

Urgent Call for the Immediate Cessation of Military Operations in Lacub, Abra

We call on peace advocates -  individuals, institutions, people’s organizations, the academe and other groups to support the call of the people of Lacub, Abra to stop the military operations of the Armed Forces of the Philippines  in their villages and nearby communities.

On September 8 and 9, a fact-finding mission team went to Lacub, Abra to gather data and assist the communities affected.

The initial key findings of the mission are the following:


1.    MILITARY OPERATIONS IN LACUB RESULTED TO TWO ARMED CLASHES BETWEEN THE ARMED FORCES OF THE PHILIPPINES (AFP) AND THE NEW PEOPLE’S ARMY (NPA). Two separate reported clashes occurred on Sept 4 and 5. Seven members of the New People’s Army were killed, one was declared missing, and one was arrested.

    Killed:  

  • Pedring Banggao
  • Robert Beyao
  • Arnold Jaramillo
  • Brandon Magranga
  • Recca Noelle Monte
  • Robert Perez
  • Ricardo Reyes

Arrested: Regina Gustillos

Missing:  Jemmimah Guerrero Juan

The retrieved bodies of slain NPA members bore signs of possible violations of the International Humanitarian Law.  

2.    EXTRAJUDICIAL KILLINGS. Two civilians were killed in the said military operations – Engineer Fidela Salvador and Lacub resident Noel Viste.   

  • Engr. Salvador was killed in the said operations.  She was on a monitoring visit for various socio-economic projects implemented by Cordillera Disaster Response and Development Services (CorDisRDS).  She is not among the members of the NPA, contrary to the claims of the AFP.  
  • Noel Viste, a resident of Poblacion, Lacub, Abra was among the 24 civilians coerced by the 41st IB and were used as human shields during their operation.

3.    THREAT, COERCION AND ILLEGAL DETENTION. On the morning of September 3, at about 8:30 a.m., Norberto Borgonia, a resident of Brgy. Guinguinabang was looking for his carabao when he chanced upon a unit of the AFP at Mt. Kiboot. He was detained, accused and forced to admit that he was a member of the NPA. He was released at about 6:30 pm when his villagemates were able to locate and vouch for him.

4.    AFP’S GRAVE COERCION AND USE OF CIVILIANS AS HUMAN SHIELDS AND GUIDES IN THE CONDUCT OF THE MILITARY OPERATIONS. Elements of the 41st IBPA under 2Lt. Jose Mari Landicho coerced 24 civilians from Brgys. Poblacion and Bakag to be human shields on September 5, 2014.  Noel Viste of Poblacion after being taken by the AFP was extrajudicially killed.   In the same incident, they coerced Nicasio Asbucan to act as guide and detained him from September 5-7.  Asbucan was surfaced and turned-over to Chief of Police of Lacub noon of September 7.   He manifested symptoms of acute stress disorder (ASD).  The AFP coerced him to name Jay-ar Balaoag, Brgy. Capt. Of Lan-ag, Lacub as the NPA who fired and killed Noel Viste but the AFP’s attempt was in vain.

5.    INDISCRIMINATE FIRING AND SERIOUS DISRUPTION OF LIFE IN THE COMMUNITY.   On Sept 5 between 9:00-10:00 pm Army personnel stationed at Sitio. Bantugo, Poblacion, Lacub belonging to 41st IBPA indiscriminately fired their weapons in the direction of Talampac Proper and Pacoc, Talampac. An M203 shell landed in Bobon, an agricultural production area, and the direction of the bullets was towards the houses.  This resulted in the following:

a.  3 farmers manning the irrigation were forced to sleep in the fields for fear of being strafed;

b.  6 families in Sitio Pacoc evacuated  from their houses and stayed with their neighbors for the night; and

c.  the suspension of classes in Bantugo Elementary and High School and Our Lady of Guadalupe High School on September 5 and 8.

6.    RESTRICTION OF MOVEMENT IN THE COMMUNITY. Due to fear and to protect the residents from the military operation, Brgys. Talampak, Poblacion and Guinguinaban imposed a curfew from 9:00 pm to 6:00 am. Small-scale miners stopped operating their mines since Sept 4 up to this reporting.

7.    MILITARY ENCAMPMENT IN THE COMMUNITY. Despite two community petitions against the detachment in So. Bantugo, the 41st IBPA continues to maintain their detachment near the Bantugo Elementary and High School. The recent indiscriminate firing drove the residents of Talampak to come up with an agreement not to let their children attend school in Bantugo unless the detachment is removed.


Recommended actions:

1.  Issue statements/letters of indignation on the violations and to call for the following:

  • Justice for Engr. Fidela Salvador and Noel Viste and justice for the victims of human rights violations of the 41st Infantry Battalion
  • Urgent cessation of military operations in Lacub, Abra to ensure the protection of civilians from the AFP
  • Immediate pull out of the 41st IBPA from Lacub, Abra to ensure the impartial investigation of the cases
  • Prosecution of the perpetrators of this incident and ensure that accountability is demanded in full from the AFP with command responsibility
  • The withdrawal of Oplan Bayanihan, the Philippine government’s counterinsurgency program, which victimizes innocent and unarmed civilians.
  • The Philippine Government to observe the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and all the major Human Rights instruments that it is a party and signatory to including the Comprehensive Agreement to the Respect of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL)
  • Resumption of the Peace Talks between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GPH) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP)

2.    Support the second fact-finding mission to be conducted in the area.  

As the military operations are still ongoing in the area and there are still violations being  reported, there is a need to provide support to the affected communities for them to be able to resume their normal daily activities.   There is also an urgent need to investigate human rights and international humanitarian law violations to be able to pursue accountability and justice.  

Please send your communications to:

H.E. Benigno C. Aquino III

President of the Republic

Malacañang Palace,

JP Laurel St., San Miguel

Manila Philippines

Voice: (+632) 564 1451 to 80

Fax: (+632) 742-1641 / 929-3968

E-mail: op@president.gov.ph

 

Sec. Teresita Quintos-Deles

Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process

Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP)

7th Floor Agustin Building I

Emerald Avenue

Pasig City 1605

Voice:+63 (2) 636 0701 to 066

Fax:+63 (2) 638 2216

stqd.papp@opapp.gov.ph

 

Ret. Lt. Gen. Voltaire T. Gazmin

Secretary, Department of National Defense

Room 301 DND Building, Camp Emilio Aguinaldo,

E. de los Santos Avenue, Quezon City

Voice:+63(2) 911-6193 / 911-0488 / 982-5600

Fax:+63(2) 982-5600

Email: osnd@philonline.com, dnd.opla@gmail.com

 

Atty. Leila De Lima

Secretary, Department of Justice

Padre Faura St., Manila

Direct Line 521-1908

Trunkline 523-84-81 loc.211/214

Fax: (+632) 523-9548

Email: lmdelima@doj.gov.ph, lmdelima.doj@gmail.com, lmdelima.doj2@gmail.com

 

Hon. Loretta Ann P. Rosales

Chairperson, Commission on Human Rights

SAAC Bldg., UP Complex

Commonwealth Avenue

Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines

Voice: (+632) 928-5655, 926-6188

Fax: (+632) 929 0102

Email: chair.rosales.chr@gmail.com, lorettann@gmail.com

 

Please send us a copy of your email/mail/fax to the above-named government officials, to our address below:

Cordillera Human Rights Alliance

55 Ferguson Road Baguio City 2600

e-mail: chra.karapatan [at] gmail.com

 

Karapatan Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights

2/F Erythrina Bldg. No.1 Maaralin Street
Barangay Central, Diliman, Quezon City

+6324354146/ 4342837


karapatan [at] karapatan.org , urgentaction [at] karapatan.org

 

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