50th IBPA hit for sex abuses camping in Kalinga schools

>> Saturday, December 24, 2016

‘Peace talks disrespected’ 

By Alma B. Sinumlag

LUBUAGAN, Kalinga – Elements of the Philippine Army’s 50th Infantry Battalion were urged by local folks here and militant groups to leave the town and other parts of the province for sex abuses, encamping in schools and “disrespecting peace talks.” 
While the core of the discussions on the International Human Rights Day held in Western Uma of this town was human rights violations committed by state security forces, elements of the 50thIB reportedly roamed the program area after encamping at the elementary school, day care center, and barangay hall.
Following this, delegates who came from different parts of the region made a petition urging the 5th IB to leave the town and other areas where they are allegedly harassing civilians.   
Earlier, villagers of Western Uma registered their clamor for soldiers’ pull out from their community.
For more than one year of encampment, several human rights violations committed by the said unit have been documented by residents.
They submitted a petition to headquarters of the 50th IBPA but this was reportedly ignored. Instead, harassment continued.
The villagers mentioned during the activity that those who were brave to reveal the violations were further intimidated, threatened, and harassed.
Whenever the villagers tell the soldiers to move out of the community, the soldiers would tell them that they will only move out if the government tells them to.
It was reiterated during the International Human Rights Day activity attended by more than 400 delegates from the province that encampment inside the community was a violation of peoples’ collective rights.
The presence of the soldiers endangered the civilian population, they said. 
The delegates condemned the multiple human rights violations including sexual harassment against villagers of Western Uma.
They said it was not only the village experiencing military encampment but Balbalan and Pinukpuk towns.
In the declaration of the delegates, it was stated, “Ti panagkampo ti AFP nga awan pulos pammakada ken ti panangiyaleng-aleng iti posisyon ti umili ket nalawag a panagtagibassit ken pananglabsing iti karbegan mi iti bukod a pangngeddeng” (The military encampment without the peoples’ consent and the AFP’s discredit of the communities’ clamor for pull out is an outright discrimination and violation of our right to self-determination).
Kennedy Bangibang, National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) consultant on Cordillera Affairs for the peace process between the Government of the Philippines (GRP) and NDFP raised the concern on the AFP’s disrespect on the ongoing peace talks.
As he shared updates on the peace talks, he admonished the soldiers who were occupying the elementary school, day care center and the barangay hall.
He demanded them to go back to their barracks if the AFP has respect on peace negotiations.
Bangibang told the community that he will relay the situation among the peace panel during the 3rd round of talks in Rome, Italy on January next year.
Rogyn Beyao, secretary general of Innabuyog Kalinga slammed the use of the schools as military camps. Beyao cited R.A. 7610 otherwise known as “Schools are Zones of Peace” and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child that protects the rights of children to life and education.
While the activity was ongoing, elements of the 50th IBPA roamed around, taking pictures of delegates, instilling fear especially among villagers, delegates said.
Town folks said they suspected soldiers were trying to sabotage the community activity by holding an unscheduled symposium on Dec. 9 which was supposedly a preparation of the venue of the International Human Rights Day celebration.
They even used a dental mission to divert the attention of the delegates, they said.
Jude Baggo of Cordillera Peoples Alliance said, it was ironic that every time people celebrate the day for human rights, violations are escalating.

“We should be celebrating the respect of human rights but the situation always calls for condemnation,” Baggo said. 


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