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In a press release the Center for Development Programs in the Cordillera (CDPC) explained its recent dialogue with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) after some of its development workers, and other community organizers, were tagged as being members of the New People’s Army (NPA) back in October:
Lagawe, Ifugao- In response to complaints filed by the Ifugao Peasant Movement (IPM) on the harassments and vilification of development workers perpetuated by the 86th Infantry Battalion (IB) operating in the province of Ifugao, the provincial government headed by Governor Eugene Balitang called a dialogue between the concerned development non-government organizations (NGO’s), peoples’ organizations (PO’s) and elements of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). The IPM is a provincial organization of farmers espousing genuine peoples’ development.
The dialog was held on November 12, 2012 at the Senior Citizen Hall in Lagawe and was attended by representatives from the NGO’s, PO’s, the local government units, the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the AFP.
Mr. Jude Baggo, the general secretary of the Cordillera Human Right Alliance (CHRA) presented a document entitled “MUNICIPALITY OF TINOC (Target Persons)” that was allegedly received last October 25, 2012 from an anonymous concerned element of the 86th IBPA. The two-page document bore the logos of the 86th IBPA and the 5th Infantry Division (ID) and contained six columns with headings of rank, name, grid coordinates of the location of the person, organization and remarks/assessment were listed. He showed that his name was #22 on the list that branded him as “utak ng NPA” (mastermind of the NPA). He also showed the names of three development workers that were included in the list.
Baggo stressed that he and the others in the list are not members of the New Peoples’ Army (NPA) and the inclusion of their names is a violation of their human rights. He said a fair and impartial investigation should be conducted by the provincial government and the PNP. He also demanded the immediate pullout from Tinoc of the 86th IB in order that such an investigation will be without duress and bias. He added that should any untoward incident happen to him and to any of the persons in the list, the AFP is to blame.
Dr. Matthew Tauli, executive director of MRDC, expressed his concern about MRDC’s staff being included in the aforementioned “Target List”. He added that the MRDC has established a good track record of serving the poor and marginalized interior communities of Ifugao and denounced the baseless accusations by the AFP. He also called for a stop to the political persecution and vilification of development workers.
In an emotional statement, Canyas, who is the socio-economic coordinator of CDPC, expressed the effects of his name being included in the list both to his personal wellbeing and to his family. According to him, he is experiencing difficulty in sleeping and even continues to ask himself if serving the poor is a crime. He added that his family is now forcing him to resign from his work of fear for his life.
[In a statement by the CDPC] said that “circulating the list in the municipality (of Tinoc) is a systematic psy-war tactic of the AFP under its counter-insurgency program Oplan Bayanihan. It aims to divide, threaten and silence the people from speaking their minds and being critical of development aggression, corruption, and militarization. It is meant to break the unity of development workers and communities that push for genuine peoples’ development. This action is not new as it was also used during the past regimes. Such tactics merely disrupt and add obstacles to the continuing advancement of people’s development that is self- determined and sustainable, especially in this age of globalization and climate change” and it added that “history has shown, and will continue to affirm, that such tactics will not prevail. People are intelligent enough to decipher the truth behind these actions, and brave enough to fight for their rights to genuine development.”
The statement ended in a call for a stop to militarization and to the harassment and persecution of development workers, barangay officials and rural communities. It also condemned the oplan bayanihan tactics of the AFP and the red tagging of persons and called for support to genuine peoples’ development.
Engr. Rolando Guinsiman , the municipal planning and development officer of Tinoc, together with other concerned individuals who were in attendance likewise denounced these alleged human rights violations and target list and at the same time asked the AFP to release the other names of individuals included in the target list.