Ifugao folk want military out of their village

By KIMBERLIE OLMAYA N. QUITASOL
Northern Dispatch

BAGUIO CITY — Residents of Gumhang village, Tinoc, Ifugao called for the withdrawal of the Philippine Army’s 86th Infantry Battalion (IB) stationed in their community.

In a petition, the residents decried that the soldiers committed various human rights violations. The petition was submitted to the village council, Tinoc mayor, Ifugao Governor and Regional Peace and Order Council Chair Eugene Balitang

Modesto Hanggoy, a member of the Gumhang Farmers Association for Development (GFAD) appealed to the media and progressive party list groups and other organizations to help them in their campaign for the military pullout.

Hanggoy is listed as number one in the 86th IBPA’s target list. The list, Hanggoy is labeled as “imbakan ng baril” (keeper of guns).

“Being number one on the army’s target list is already enough reason to fear for my safety. What more with the soldiers in plain clothes following me wherever I go and checking the perimeters of my house at night, and even asking my children where I have gone every time I leave home,” Hanggoy narrated in a press conference of the Cordillera Human Rights Alliance (CHRA), December 7.

The peasant leader added that the soldiers have also disrupted the livelihood activities of the residents. He said many are afraid to go to their farm for fear of being labeled as New People’s Army (NPA) supporters and be harassed, interrogated and tortured by the soldiers.

Edwin Bumalyag, a member of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Ifugao listed as number 26 in the target list and labeled as “utak ng NPA” (brains of the NPA) reiterated that the 86th IB should be pulled out of Tinoc.

“I am a development worker and an organizer for farmers. We help educate our farmers. We are not violating any law,” Bumalyag said.

Bumalyag disclosed he noticed men in plain clothes following him several times. He added that he has also been receiving death threats in his cell phone from unregistered numbers.

Bumalyag said that with the soldiers encamping at the barangay hall of Gumhang, the safety of the community is at risk. He said the encampment of military inside the community is a violation of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL).

CARHRIHL is an agreement between the Philippine government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) on the observance and respect for local and international human rights laws and treaties in the conduct of war.

Earlier, Col. Emilio Pajarillo denied the existence of the target list, saying that the army does not maintain such a list.

The CHRA has circulated an urgent action alert appealing to groups and individuals to support the people of Tinoc in their campaign for the pull out of the 86th IB. They called on supporters to to send letters, emails or fax messages to the office of the President Benigno Aquino III, Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), Department of National Defense (DND), Department of Justice (DOJ), Commission on Human Rights (CHR), office of Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat Jr., Ifugao Gov. Eugene Balitang and Tinoc Mayor Lopez Pugong. (Northern Dispatch/ Reposted by ()

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