Appeal for support for Mamanwa communities forcibly evacuated due to military operations

March 22, 2012


Dear friends and fellow rights advocates,

Greetings!

Military elements from the 30th and 38th IBPA and the 3rd Special Forces of the 402nd Brigade have encamped in civilian communities in the mountain areas of Cabadbaran and Kitcharao, Agusan del Norte and Alegria in Surigao del Norte. The soldiers have occupied public places, and are staying in civilian houses with the residents. Soldiers, in combat alert mode, held civilians at gunpoint, using them as shields and indiscriminately firing high-powered firearms at populated areas. 

Dear friends and fellow rights advocates,

Greetings!

Military elements from the 30th and 38th IBPA and the 3rd Special Forces of the 402nd Brigade have encamped in civilian communities in the mountain areas of Cabadbaran and Kitcharao, Agusan del Norte and Alegria in Surigao del Norte. The soldiers have occupied public places, and are staying in civilian houses with the residents. Soldiers, in combat alert mode, held civilians at gunpoint, using them as shields and indiscriminately firing high-powered firearms at populated areas. 

Due to intense military operations in the area, lumad and farmers from these areas left their homes and farms to seek shelter outside their communities.  These communities are rich in mineral resources and are targeted for large-scale mining operations.

On February 28, some 58 families from Alegria, Surigao del Norte started to evacuate to Bgy. Ombon, some 18 kilometers away from their communities.  The evacuees are dispersed in Brgy. Camp Edward, others in Bry. Bodlingin, both in Alegria, Surigao del Norte.  Other Mamanwa families sought sanctuary with relatives in Brgy. Mahanob in the Municipality of Gigaquit, Surigao del Norte.  

On March 14, 2012, some 78 Mamanwa families with about 345 individuals left their homes in Kitcharao and Sitio Lusong, Brgy. Puting Bato, Cabadbaran City and evacuated in Butuan City. The evacuees asked the Agusan del Norte Provincial Government to take measures to pullout the military troops from their communities and to stop the airstrikes.

The evacuees also asked for shelter from the provincial government but were refused because the covered gym will be used in May for an exhibit by an entertainment company.  The evacuees are now at the Barangay Imadejas Covered Court. 

As of this writing, an estimated 800 individuals, adults and children, are now in evacuation centers. In behalf of the evacuees, Karapatan appeals for your support. The evacuees are in need of food, medicines (for diarrhea, upper respiratory tract infection, coughs and cold, fever), clothes, laundry soap, sleeping mats and potable water. They also need slippers and change of clothes, especially the children with infected wounds.  

Attached are the factsheets of the incidents prepared by Karapatan-Caraga and position paper of Kasalo-Caraga, an organization of indigenous peoples in Caraga.

We appeal to you to send letters of concern to agencies of the Philippine Government to call for:

Immediate pull-out of members of the 30th and 38th Infantry Battalion; 3rd Special Forces of the 402nd Brigade of the Philippine Army from these communities,
Provide aid eg. food, drinking water, medicines, etc. for families in the evacuation centers,
Immediate investigation of the military airstrikes and combat operations in the affected communities,
The Philippine Government to withdraw its counterinsurgency program Oplan Bayanihan, which victimizes innocent and unarmed civilians, and
The Philippine Government to be reminded that it is a signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and that it is also a party to all the major Human Rights instruments, thus it is bound to observe all of these instruments’ provisions.

Please send your letters to the following:H. E. Benigno S. Aquino IIIPresident of the Philippines2/F Bonifacio Hall, Malacañang, ManilaTel: 733-3010 loc 882/ 887Website: president.gov.ph
Secretary Teresita Quintos-DelesOffice of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP)7/F Agustin I Building, F. Ortigas Jr. Road, Ortigas Center, Pasig CityTel: 6360701 to 06 / 637-6083Fax: 638-2216Email: [email protected]: opapp.gov.ph
Secretary Leila M. de LimaDepartment of Justice (DOJ)DOJ Main Building, Padre Faura Street, ManilaTel: 521-1908Fax: 523-5548Email: [email protected]: doj.gov.ph
Secretary Voltaire T. GazminDepartment of National Defense (DND)DND Building, Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon CityTel: 911-6193 / 911-1746Fax 911-6213Website: dnd.gov.ph
Hon.  Loretta Ann P. RosalesChairperson, Commission on Human RightsSAAC Bldg., UP ComplexCommonwealth AvenueDiliman, Quezon City, PhilippinesVoice: (+632) 928-5655, 926-6188Fax: (+632) 929 0102Email:   [email protected], [email protected]
And to the Philippine embassies and consulate offices in your respective countries
Please send us a copy of your email/mail/fax to the above-named government officials, to our address below.

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