Karapatan condemns Davao Oriental siege

The human rights group said the military operations in the east coast province have reached alarming proportions due to the increasing number of evacuees due to the forcible displacement of civilian communities.
Based on reports, some sitios and barangays in Baganga, and even Cateel have become no-man’s lands, while other human rights abuses such as abduction and illegal arrests, as well as the torture and coercion of civilians have also been reported.
KARAPATAN named Oplan Bantay Laya, a military counter-insurgency plan, and the hike of mining operations as the culprit behind the current volatile situation in the east coast province.
“ Southern Mindanao is besieged by militarization and development aggression, the two–pronged weapon of state-perpetrated terrorism. And this is given free rein at the behest of the most-corrupt and inhumane Arroyo government, flanked by its greedy bureaucrats and war generals.” decried Delgado.
Based on initial reports that reached the militant rights group, the 67th Infantry Battalion conducted bombing operations in the remote areas of Baganga on January 30. About 50 families from Sitio Kanilaban and 30 families from Sitio Bagumbayan in San Victor evacuated to Brgy. Lambajon, while others have gone to their relatives in the neighboring areas.  These barangays and others yet unidentified are now no-man's lands as military operations heighten.
KARAPATAN also received reports that on February 5, at around 6 o’clock in the evening, three civilians have been abducted by military elements, and were coerced to give information about the NPA —  Celso Aslog of Upper Mikit , Brgy. Mikit, Julius Gonzales of Brgy. Lambajon and Tonyo Urfanel of Sitio Olin, Brgy. Coog, who until now is in the military’s custody.
Outside Baganga, human rights violations were also reported from Brgy, San Jose , Boston . As early news reports showed, two residents namely, Rene Boy Cubero and Motilo Latiban of Sitio Buko-buko, both of Mandaya origin were tortured by elements of the 67th IB. While being suffocated using plastic bags, they were forced to give information on the whereabouts of the NPA.
To date, Delgado said they have also received reports that about 30 families from the upland barangays of Cateel have evacuated for fear of the military operations in their communities. Some have sought shelter in a gym in Brgy. Abijod, Cateel while some have gone to their relatives’ homes.
“As stated in the Oplan Bantay Laya plan, more emboldened in Esperon’s pre-retirement declarations, the military has a definitive perspective, which is to pulverize everything that falls in its category of “enemies of state.” Led by its state chief, the Philippine government is merely living up to its established reputation — the biggest violator of human rights and peace,” Delgado said.
Mining has a lot to do with it
Putting two and two together, Delgado said the “calculated” military operations in the province is an attempt to secure the mining operations and applications in the province.
“Among others, BHP Billiton, the world’s mining giant, has promised to invest US $ 1.5 billion in the Pujada Nickel Bay Project in Mati, Davao Oriental. The local communities’ opposition puts the government’s stakes at risk and it will not hesitate to use an iron fist to quell the peoples’ opposition,” Delgado stated.

Mining investments in the province cover 17,572.7629 hectares, spanning three municipalities of Mati, San Isidro and Governor Generoso, all in the province of Davao Oriental .

8 February 2008

Kelly Delgado
Secretary General