Gabriela seeks probe on alleged abuses during mil ops in Davao

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/22 May)– A lawmaker said she will file a resolution asking the House of Representatives to investigate allegations that soldiers committed abuses during counterinsurgency operations in a hinterland village of Davao City on May 6 to 11.

In a press conference at the United Church of Christ in the Philippines here, Gabriela Partylist Rep. Arlene Brosas said a fact-finding mission conducted over the weekend showed there were residents of Barangay Dominga in Calinan District who complained of military harassment.

“We want to investigate how the residents, who are mostly farmers, were affected by the militarization. The resolution will highlight the case of Barangay Dominga,” she said.

She said she hopes the investigation would bring light to the alleged human rights violations and give justice to the victims, in particular Rodolfo Dagahuya Jr., 39, a corn farmer, who was killed on May 9 at the height of the encounters.

Dagahuya left behind three children.

Jay Apiag, spokesperson of Karapatan-Southern Mindanao Region, said Dagahuya was a member of Dominga Farmers’ Association and an active church member.

He said the military tagged him as an NPA member.

Brosas condemned the military’s “Red-tagging of the farmers.

“Hindi dapat basta-basta pagbintangan na supporter ng NPA ang simpleng mamamayan. Sila ay may karapatan din na protektahan ang kanilang buhay at depensahan ang kanilang kabuhayan (The military cannot just tag as NPA supporters the ordinary people. They have the right to protect their lives and defend their livelihood),” she said.

She said the military operations against the New People’s Army (NPA) displaced 251 families, or 1,014 individuals, and left them with no livelihood after they returned home last week.

“Their livelihood has been destroyed,” Brosas, who called counterinsurgency a form of “economic blockade,” said. She noted that the encounters had prevented the residents from doing any farm work.

She added the use of aerial bombs in Dominga affected the livelihood of the communities there.

Cpt. Alenel Valles, civil military operations officer of the 3rd Infantry Battalion admitted the Philippine Air Force used bombs for “close air support” but added they made sure the area was clear of residents before dropping them.

Valles dismissed allegations of human rights violations committed by government forces, saying all these were “unconfirmed” since no reports have reached them.

He said these were all “propaganda” coming from the militants. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)