Davao city council urges military to relocate camps away from civilians

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 10 Nov) – The city council approved Friday a resolution urging the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to relocate all military posts, particularly those situated in public structures or near civilian populace in all villages here.

The resolution was proposed by Councilor Jimmy Dureza right after the approval of a prior resolution proposed by Councilor Leah Librado-Yap, urging the military to relocate their posts in the villages of Pandaitan, Lumiad and Mabuhay in Paquibato District here and to refrain from using public structures.

Dureza expressed during the special session that he would like to be a co-sponsor of the first resolution.

Earlier, he claimed that last October 20 he saw for himself that public structures in Paquibato, such as a barangay hall and daycare center in Pandaitan, are being occupied by the military.

Lt. Col. Inocencio Pasaporte, commander of the 69th Infantry Battalion told MindaNews in a text message that the military had already moved out from a barangay hall three weeks ago, adding that they also vacated military camps in other villages in Paquibato.

Pasaporte earlier said that the two-story barangay hall with a daycare center at the ground floor in Pandaitan was an abandoned place even before they occupied it.

But participants in a peace mission led by the Exodus Justice for Peace in October reported that the daycare center was functional while the military occupied the barangay hall at the second floor.

In August last year, the city council also approved a similar resolution for the pullout of a military detachment near a public school in Paradise Embac village also in Paquibato.

Residents, however, reported in a city council committee hearing last Wednesday that the military has not yet left the public elementary school.

Gabriela Women’s Party (GWP) welcomed the resolution, saying that it sends a strong message against militarization of civilian communities.

Mary Ann Sapar, GWP secretary general, said in a press statement Friday that extensive documentation of human rights groups have pointed to the extreme risk that the military detachments pose to civilians.

“Relocating these military detachments, while not stopping human rights violations at the same time, will not ease the vulnerability of women and children to such abuses,” Sapar added.

She explained that militarization or state-sponsored violence is one of the seven deadly sins against women.

“To protect our communities, especially women and children, who are vulnerable to violence and harassment, and who comprise most of the bakwits (internally displaced persons) and casualties of forced evacuations and forcible displacements, military detachments must be removed from these areas,” she added.

Rev. Jurie Jaime, spokesperson of Karapatan-Southern Mindanao, also commended the city council for approving the resolutions.

He said the legislative measures are only but reminders for the military to comply with the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL).

CARHRIHL is an agreement made between the Philippine government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines at the time of former President Joseph Estrada. (Lorie Ann A. Cascaro / MindaNews)