Statement from the Abra Human Rights Movement and CHRA-Karapatan
BANGUED, ABRA - The Abra Human Rights Movement condemns the recent attacks of the 24th IB led by Lt. Col Jaramilla in the province, particularly in Ud-udiao, Sallapadan last August 31 at around seven in the morning. The fact finding mission led by AHRM not only confirmed the initial reports but exposed heavier human rights violations committed in the area .
Members of the 24th IB led by 2nd Lt. Alquin Bolivar illegally searched three properties without any search warrant nor permission from the owners. They were also looking for Adjato Pati, the 47 year old son of Tingguian leader Villamor “Tang Amoy” Pati. When they couldn’t find him, they pointed guns and interrogated his wife and his 8 year old child. Soldiers were also overheard confirming over the radio if the order was “shoot to kill” Adjato Pati. When his wife left to seek refuge in the barrio, soldiers went inside the house and ransacked their house and the cage of their chickens.
This also what happened to the Buenafe family on the morning of August 31st. Soldiers illegally searched their rice granary and took Rudy Buenafe’s cellphone and ID. His family hasn’t seen him since August 30 when he went with a man named Angutin to claim the livelihood grant for rebel returnees. He is allegedly being kept in the army camp in Barbarit, Lagangilang and used as a guide from military operations.
The facts refute 24th IB’s claims that the people of Ud-udiao were the ones who requested their presence in the community. Their supposed achievement of confiscating 4 M16 rifles, 2 Garand rifles, a homemade shotgun supposedly owned by the NPA are nothing but lies to hide the violations that they committed in the area. In addition, they should be charged and reprimanded for conducting searches without any search warrant and without the presence of owners of the property.
Under the present counter-insurgency plan Oplan Kapayapaan which uses the whole of nation approach, the local government and line agencies in collusion with the military presents false promises of amnesty and economic grants as a reward for community folks to pose as “rebel returnees”. They are convincing past surrenderees and other community folk to function as guides in military operations, identify NPA storage spaces and other things causing suspicion, discord and distrust in indigenous communities. Similar to the Tokhang list and the Tanim Bala practice, they care not for truth but for the bounty. The AFP is actively destroying traditional values of panakisakit ti katribo.
The 24th IB has a bloody record of bombing, filling trumped up charges and other human rights violations in the province. Just like the ongoing case in Malibcong wherein the communities of Bangilo were placed under a de facto martial law, soldiers are also actively interrogating and convincing community folk to turn against each other and while corrupting funds for amnesty and rebel returnees.
The situation has to stop. The 24th IB has contributed nothing but fear and suffering to the people of Abra. They have been committing human rights violations with impunity.
AHRM calls on all Abrenios to unite and fight for our rights as a people with honor and dignity and to hold the Philippine government accountable for its violations.###
Msgr. Demetrio Batay-an
Abra Human Rights Movement