The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) defended their presence in the lumad communities saying it is necessary to protect the people from the New People’s Army (NPA).
It is the main reason why they are deployed in the mountains of Compostela Valley and Kapalong, Davao del Norte.
“Ang purpose talaga kung bakit nag-deploy tayo ng mga sundalo sa mga areas na yon is because of the presence of the NPA na nang-i-intimidate at nananakot sa mga tao,” said Capt. Ryan Batchar, spokesperson of the10th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army.
(The purpose why we deploy soldiers in these areas is because of the presence of the NPA who intimidated and instilled fear among members of the communities.)
He said other than guarding the settlers against the ill activities of the rebel group, they also promote peace and development outreach programs to educate the communities.
“Aside from that, the deployment of our peace and development team who are conducting peace and development outreach programs to these areas para mag-educate sa mga tao and needs assessment surveys para malaman ang mga pangangailangan nila,” said Batchar.
(Aside from that, we deploy our peace and development team to conduct peace and development outreach programs to these areas to educate the people and as well as needs assessment surveys to address their needs.)
Batchar said their entry is legal as it is with consent from the local government and it is mandated by President Benigno Simeon Aquino III.
“Yung deployment naman po ay with permission po ng local government units because bago po sila dine-deploy sa mga areas, dumadaan po sa isang ceremony na participated by the mayor or the provincial governor,” he said.
(The deployment is permitted by the local government units (LGUs) because soldiers undergo a ceremony participated by either the mayor or the provincial governor prior to their deployment.)
Batchar further challenged the militant groups to present pieces of evidence regarding their claim that the soldiers are responsible in the killings of lumad leaders and farmers.
“The 10th IB is open for any complaints and we are challenging them to go beyond propaganda sa sinasabi nila palagi na involve ang military sa pagpatay sa mga kapatid natin na lumad, they should file it in the proper court kung meron talaga silang tinuturo na suspect na pumatay,” he said.
(The 10th IB is open for any complaints and we are challenging them to go beyond the propaganda about the involvement of the military in the killing of our lumad brothers. They should file it in the proper court if they have suspects.)
The 10th IB assured that they do not tolerate any inhumane acts committed by their fellow soldiers.
“For those accused po naman na managot din po dahil dito po sa atin hindi po natin tinotolerate ang sinumang nag-ko-commit ng human rights violation,” said Batchar.
(We make sure that those accused will be convicted because we do not tolerate anyone who commits human rights violation.)
On Friday (March 18), about 2,000 lumad, farmers, and small-scale miners put up a barricade in front of the Eastern Mindanao Command (EastMinCom) headquarters in Camp Panacan, Davao City in a call to end up the militarization in lumad communities, the cessation of Lumad killings, the burning of Lumad schools, among others.
The barricade blocked the road in Panacan area causing heavy traffic and discomfort to the public for six hours.
| Published in 105.9 Balita FM Facebook page: Military protects IP, Farmers vs NPA-AFP, March 23, 2016