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March 21, 2008

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Human Rights Training Held in Baay-Licuan

BAAY-LICUAN, Abra (March 16) - Amidst the heavy presence of Philippine Army belonging from the Charlie Company of the 41st IB in the area, the human rights training sponsored by BALITOK (Baay-Licuan Takderan Omnu a Kalintegan) was successfully conducted in Brgy. Mogao of this municipality from March 14-15 with at least 123 participants attending.

This was despite the busy agricultural schedules of most of the participants, and the ongoing propaganda of the Charlie Company against the sponsors and organizers, maliciously branding them as members of the New People's Army. The commanding officer of the Charlie Company, 1st Lt. Jefferson Guway, was invited on the first day clear their suspicions on the activity.

The participants were composed of indigenous women, youth, and elders who came from the different barangays of Baay-Licuan and professionals from the local government unit.

Facilitated by the Cordillera Human Rights Alliance (CHRA) and the Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA), the training helped the participants identify their basic and collective rights, and the assertion of these rights at all times. Also, the training provided information on how to document cases of human rights violations and be able to file these cases in appropriate courts and government concerned agencies.

Human rights concepts, the lexicon of human rights violations, safeguards of human rights and the documentation processes of human rights violations were the main topics discussed during the training.

One of the training results include the documentation of reported human rights cases in the area. Houses, rice granaries, and public plazas in the communities are being used as a base of the Charlie company therein.

Other cases include the harassment, threat and intimidation of the CPA Secretariat, KASTAN-CPA Abra, BALITOK, including volunteers, who are in the area conducting ground preparations for Cordillera Day 2008. Once incident cites the harassment of a female council member by some elements of the Army. The soldiers also engage in drinking sprees resulting to public disturbance, and destruction of properties. In one incident, an old woman experienced hypertension due to these drinking sprees of the Army. Local sources claim that the Charlie Company has been conducting combat and patrol operations in the area for two months.

Community human rights education and training is one of the programs of the CHRA in its efforts empower indigenous communities in their assertion of their individual and collective rights over their land, life, and resources. # Jude Baggo/ Cordillera Human Rights Alliance (CHRA)

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