Presence of Military
Troops in Pananuman, Abra Has Devastating Effects on the People's
The occupation of the
village of Pananuman in Tubo, Abra by troops of the Armed Forces
of the Philippines in March to April 2008 has had devastating effects
on the health of the people. A medical team from CHESTCORE (Community
Health Education, Services and Training in the Cordillera Region)
has documented both physical and psychological illnesses which are
directly linked to the presence of these armed troops.
The Pananuman villagers continue to experience sleep
disorders, lack of appetite, headaches, palpitations and chest pain,
as well as anxiety attacks as a result of the illegal searches,
interrogations, verbal abuse and grave threats made by the AFP's
50th Infantry Battalion (Charlie Company) under Lt. Dalven Abdul
Rashid Avila and Lt. June Pedregoza. Increased incidence of stress-related
and stress-induced conditions such as hypertension and asthma was
also noted by CHESTCORE.
The conduct of the military troops puts the people,
especially the women, children and elderly, at great risk for developing
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Post-traumatic stress disorder
(PTSD) is an anxiety disorder that can develop after exposure to
a terrifying event or ordeal in which grave physical harm occurred
or was threatened*.
PTSD can be triggered by military activities such
as the launching of bombs in the midst of the village at all hours
of the day and night. Many people with PTSD repeatedly re-experience
the ordeal in the form of flashback episodes, memories, nightmares,
or frightening thoughts, especially when they are exposed to events
or objects reminiscent of the trauma*.
Many of those suffering from stress and anxiety
symptoms were identified during group counseling sessions with women
" Two children, aged 13 and 10, were confronted
by the military as they were walking home from school. They were
being forced to admit that their father was hiding guns and documents
owned by the New People's Army. They were shown a sack in which
the soldiers threatened to put them if they did not surrender the
key to their house.
" A woman suffers from anxiety attacks and flashbacks everytime
she recalls how her husband was interrogated and threatened in front
of her by military troops. The soldiers repeatedly pointed their
guns at her husband, threatening to butcher (parte) him if he did
not admit to their allegations that he was a messenger for the New
" Infant twins, who were only 2-3 months old at the time of
the military occupation of Pananuman, repeatedly suffered disruption
of their sleep and feeding as bombs were fired at random hours.
Their house was searched and ransacked as well.
The AFP may have temporarily left Pananuman but
the effects of the human rights violations they have committed continue
to scar the villagers. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can
be extremely disabling. When left untreated, it can lead to clinical
depression (needing prolonged medication) and/or alcoholism and
CHESTCORE strongly condemns the human rights violations
committed by the AFP in Pananuman. The presence of the military
has directly resulted in the deterioration of the physical and mental
health of the people.
For reference, please contact:
Ana Marie R. Leung, MD (Executive Director) at (0920)9060587
*Source of data: US National Institute for Mental Health (NIMH)