Kalinga folk demand Army pull- out from homes, public facilities

>> Tuesday, January 24, 2017

50th IBPA soldiers ‘harass’ protesters 

TABUK, Kalinga - Officers of the 50th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army harassed some 400 folks of Western Uma, Lubuagan and Justice and Peace Advocates of Kalinga at army headquarters in Kapanikian, Camalog, Pinukpuk Tuesday.
JPAK bared this saying their members and folks of Western Uma trooped to headquarters of 50th IBPA to submit “people’s declaration” demanding pull-out of army troopers and Citizens Armed Forces Geographical Unit in the area. 
Previously, the community also sent a petition demanding the same but the army didn’t heed it.
For one year and two months, the soldiers are still encamped in civilian homes and public facilities in Ag-agama, Western Uma despite the villagers’ clamor for them to move out from their homes, schools and a church in the area.
The community petition and the peoples’ declaration were formulated because of numerous human rights violations allegedly committed by soldiers.
These included including threats, harassment, intimidation, endangering civilian population, political persecution against community leaders, and disrespect of women.
Instead of reading the demands of the people, two officers at the military camp started yelling at Uma folks, JPAK, and including a London-based film maker who was documenting the process.
The two officers kept on yelling at the film-maker demanding her to delete the video clip and that they will sue her for breach of security.
The rights group and Uma folks asserted they just wanted the battalion to heed their demand for military pull-out.
However, the officers kept on dismissing the issue and accusing them as supporters of the New People’s Army.
After intimidating the rights group and the people of Western Uma, the battalion officers did not receive the peoples’ declaration.
One of the community representatives whose son was a victim of grave threat and intimidation by the soldiers encamped in their village said he felt belittled.
“No umay da iti ili mi ket marespeto da met. Apay nga no adda ti reklamo nga idatag kaniada ket kasla laeng nga aso ti panagtrato da,” (Whenever they come to our village, we still respect them. Why do they have to treat us like dogs when we are only presenting our complaints?) he said.
He said the 50th IBPA was belittling them as human beings.
He vowed to continue fighting for their rights.
He said that despite the harassment, and the disrespect, they will stand their ground.
They will continue to call for the pull-out of the army in Uma in other venues.
The group had their petition received at the governor’s office, vice governor’s office, and at the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples.
They will also send it to as many government offices, Church groups, and civil society organizations.
Names of the people from Western Uma, Lubuagan, Kalinga, the film maker and representatives of JPAK were  not be disclosed to avoid further harassment by army troopers.
In a press statement, protesters said the military troops had made life unbearable for people of Uma because they fear going to their fields to work or they would be shot on the pretext that they are members of the New People’s Army.
The statement said the 50th Infantry Battalion had been harassing Uma folks for so long.
They said they did not give their “free, prior, informed consent for them to stay in Uma.


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