Philippines: ‘Oplan Bayanihan’ blamed for spate of human rights violations on indigenous peoples
Indigenous peoples and human rights organizations staged a protest action in front of the Department of National Defense gates today, bewailing human rights violations done against indigenous peoples. "The Aquino administration seems to shrug off human rights violations done against the indigenous people. In lieu of justice, we find our human rights continually violated though his counter-insurgency policies," Bontoc-Igorot and KAMP spokesperson Piya Macliing Malayao said.
The protesters depicted Aquino as a grim reaper, a scythe held over a Lumad and a school girl in a graduation toga. The group said it represented the extrajudicial killings of Datu Jimmy Liguyon, an Ata-Matigsalug lumad from Bukidnon, and Rodilyn Aguirre, a Tumanduk child from Panay Island. Both were slain in different incidents this month.
Datu (chieftain) Jimmy Liguyon was shot dead by a paramilitary group in San Fernando, Bukidnon last March 5. Liguyon led local indigenous Ata-Matigsalog organization Kasilo. He gained the ire of paramilitary group New Indigenous People's Army Reform (Nipar), who is said to pushing for mining operations in San Fernando.
On March 11, in Tapaz, Panay Island, 6-year-old sisters Rodilyn Aguirre and 4-year old "Baby" Aguirre were struck by shrapnel when an M203 grenade exploded less than two meters from their home. Locals believe that the blast came from members of the 61st Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army, who operates as Peace and Development Teams in the area. Rodilyn died before reaching the hospital, while Baby is recuperating from serious injuries attained from the blast.
“We have fully unmasked the brutality of the Aquino governments and its armed forces. Military deployment in our communities is now dubbed ‘peace and development teams’ but what they do is far from their appellation,” Malayao said. “Human rights atrocities from deployed military agents in communities are as fierce. So far, we have documented 15 extrajudicial slays of indigenous peoples committed in Aquino’s term. Other human rights violations are also rampant.”
In Zapanta Valley, Kitcharao, Agusan del Norte, lumad-Mamanwa indigenous people and peasants fled their homes last March 11, 2012 due to combat operations of the 30th IBPA and 3rd Special Forces of the 402nd Brigade. According to regional indigenous organization KASALO-Caraga (Kahugpungan sa mga Lumadnong Organisasyon-Caraga) members of the 30th IBPA fired indiscriminately, bombed, and launched airstrikes simultaneously in nearby areas, prompting the villagers to leave. The same community evacuated three other times since Aquino took power, according to KASALO-Caraga.
KATRIBU Partylist spokesperson, Kakay Tolentino, attributes State-perpetrated human rights violations to Oplan Bayanihan, the counter-insurgency scheme implemented by the Aquino government since January 2011.
“Oplan Bayanihan aims to deceive—masking full-blown military operations to seem as if it is a chastened counter insurgency scheme by calling militarization of communities as ‘Community Organizing for Peace and Development’ and its army ‘Peace and Development Teams.’ The human rights situation of indigenous peoples belies these claims,” Tolentino said.
“Human rights violations infuriate the people more than it subdues. In these brutal, heinous crimes against us, we are even more willing to defend their rights against abuse,” Malayao said. #
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