Abra Elders to File Case with JMC on Pananuman Right Violations

In the retrieval of human remains, the elders are compelled to perform some rituals first, Buyagan said. “After a retrieval, the elders are to perform the daw-es (cleansing ritual). The sanctity of the ritual and respect for the dead calls for a community holiday to be declared for the performance of the ritual,” added Buyagan.

“We are to do these rituals at the villagers’ expense and visiting outsiders must observe these practices too,” he said pointing-out that “any violation of the observance usually done by outsiders would require a repeat of the rituals which is not easy to perform.”

Economic effects worry villagers

On the other hand, an uncertain future heightens the worries of these Tubo villagers because of the war waged in their community, which has forced them to abandon their livelihood.

Also, because the military suspected them to be members of or aiding the NPA, the villagers were forbidden from going out of their houses, leaving their farms untended to the point of deterioration.

According to Buyagan, the plantation of sugarcane was destroyed because of the explosions. The implementation of a fishpond livelihood project was canceled because the location for the fishpond was taken by the military for the landing of their helicopters.

Farm animals such as cows and livestock were lost or allegedly stolen by the camping soldiers. The villagers now worry about their food supply, and have little hope that they would be able to recover soon from the displacement caused by the military operations. Most of all they fear the possible return of the military.

Under the guise of executing the counter-insurgency program Oplan Bantay Laya (Operation Freedom Watch) II of the government, the military’s series of aerial bombings and ground operations on suspected lairs of the NPA in these villages have caused terror on the people.

Based on the reports of the fact-finding mission conducted at Pananuman on May 3-5, by a multi sectoral group headed by the Cordillera Human Rights Alliance (CHRA) and the Ilocos Human Rights Advocates (IHRA), about 48 bombs were exploded in a span of two days.

“They fired mortars and cannons day and night,” It was nonstop because the soldiers did these operations in shifts.” Buyagan noted.

At first, the cannons were placed near the drinking-water source of the community. This was only about 10 meters away from the nearest house. The soldiers eventually transferred it but only a few yards away from the church and then, to the school grounds.

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