‘Our intentions are noble’ — Army in Sta. Cruz

Tan considers the Karapatan and Bayan Muna as left-leaning organizations.


The Army has set up a detachment in Barangay Zone-1 in Sta. Cruz, Davao del Sur. Since then, the team has conducted several civil military operations, including routine and patrol operations in the area and nearby villages believed to be “influenced” by the NPA.


According to a press statement issued by Karapatan-Southern Mindanao Region, some 25 civilians, mostly farmers, have been coerced to admit as NPA members since June 24 this year.


Leaders of the Kahugpungan sa mga Mag-uuma sa Coronon (KAMACOR), United Lumad Small Farmers Association in Astorga (ULSFAT) and Patulangon Farmers Association (PATUFA) in Barangay Zone 1 had sought the help of Karapatan after the SOT reportedly disrupted their normal farming activities and risking their lives and properties from imminent hostilities.


Lino Lumana, chair of KAMACOR and Anakpawis Sta. Cruz municipal coordinator, told Karapatan that the 39IB forced 20 residents of Barangays Coronon and Astorga and five residents of Zone 1 to “surrender.”


“Civilians are likely to become human shields by the military troops, especially during armed encounters,” said Karapatan secretary-general Kelly Delgado.


Lumana added that these soldiers conducted psychological warfare operations, proliferate anti-social activities like drinking spree and gambling, intimidated and harassed residents.


“Certainly, the SOT operations in Sta. Cruz, Davao del Sur violate the Protocol II, Part IV, Article 13 of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect for Human Rights and the International Humanitarian Laws, which provides that the civilian population and individual civilians shall enjoy general protection against the danger arising from military operations,” said Delgado.