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PIA Press Release

Military challenges Katribu and PASAKA allegations

Sto Tomas, Davao del Norte (29 October) -- "The accusations made by PASAKA Organization and Katribu Party list against the troops of 60th Infantry (Mediator) Battalion under the leadership of Lieutenant Colonel Adriano S Perez, the Battalion Commander are baseless and full of lies".

These are the statements issued by Colonel Eduardo D Del Rosario, the 1003rd Infantry (Raptor) Brigade Commander in his reaction to the statements made by PASAKA organization to the troops of 60IB.

PASAKA Confederation of Lumad Organizations in Southern Mindanao headed by Mel Elio, issued a statement on the result of their Fact Finding Mission last September 15-16, 2009 detailing their accusations made to 60IB troops. Accusations raging from 1) Hamletting of civilian communities 2) Violation on the rights of children 3) Harassment of community - based lumad teachers and 4) forced recruitment of villagers into paramilitary groups, CVO's and CAFGU's were emphasized by the said group.

To prove their accusations were wrong, last September 29, 2009 a peace dialogue among the Lumads, Local Government Units and military was held to validate the issues raised by these groups held in Sitio Nasilaban, Brgy Palma Gil, Talaingod, Davao del Norte.

During the dialogue, local officials found out that there was no truth in the said accusations and all were mere concocted lies to deceive the public in believing that there were human right abuses committed by the military in the area. Contrary to their statements, the Tribal leaders and lumad residents welcomed the presence of the Local Government Units and the military in their tribal community. The peace dialogue even became a fiesta-like activity.

In fact, the NPA Bandits tried to disrupt the dialogue by firing their guns from a far directed at the military security forces guarding the periphery of the peace assembly.

Fortunately, no one was hurt during the said incident. Present during the dialogue were the LGU officials of Talaingod represented by Salvador Nipa, Municipal Administrator, Emmnuel Cacal, NCIP representative and Brgy officials led by Barangay Captain Pablo D Tagnipiz of Palma Gil of said municipality.

Colonel Eduardo Del Rosario said: "I challenge them to join us to a public hearing on-site to prove their accusations against the soldiers together with the Municipal and Provincial Local Government Units, Commission on Human Rights officials and NCIP to settle this issue once and for all".

"They called themselves pro- lumads, but ironically, they cannot even publicly condemn the numerous atrocities being committed by the NPA against the Indigenous People. They are coercing and using unrecognized tribal leaders to discredit the military's efforts in protecting the lumads from the NPA rebels".

"I call on the people not to believe the deceptions and dirty tactics of PASAKA and KATRIBU Party list because they are plain and simple leftist organizations who pretend to be fighting for the lumads rights, but in reality, they are Legal Front organizations under the CPP/NPA/NDF's terrorist organization". Del Rosario added.

Likewise, the Tribal leaders led by Datu Nonoy Daw-say, Tribal Chieftain of Sitio Dulyan of same barangay vehemently denied the accusations previously made by Pasaka Confederation, which is allegedly an NDF front organization. He said: "Pasaka Organization's Secretary General Kerlan Fanagel statements against the 60th IB are baseless and full of lies. The military did not commit human rights abuses towards the Lumads.

Their purpose is to educate us about the evils of communism and goodness of democracy. The military are welcome to stay in our area and we will support their programs for peace and development in our community".

"We the Lumads, are peace loving individuals who wants lasting peace in our Ancestral lands. We pledge our support to the military authorities and condemned the atrocities perpetrated by the NPA bandits to our brother lumads".

This was the statement made by Datu George Mandahay, Chairman of Supreme Tribal Council for Peace and Development (STCPD), in behalf of the Tribal Chieftains and lumads of Paquibato District of Davao City last Tuesday morning.

The activity was organized by Datu Ruel Ali, Tribal Deputy Mayor, is an "Alsa Lumad" assembly held in Sitio Butay, Brgy Tapak, Paquibato District, Davao City. It was dubbed "Ampingan ang atong yutang kabilin kay bahandi kini nga kabilin sa atong mga katigulangan". ('Let us protect our land because this was handed to us by our ancestors").

It was attended by more less two hundred (200) lumad residents coming from different barangays of said district who all participated in the peace dialogue with the soldiers under Colonel Cesar D de Mesa, Battalion Commander of 69thIB and barangay officials.

Before the start of the program, they made a simple ritual purposely to pray for God's guidance and protection. Top on the discussion list was peace and order situation, specifically the continuing presence and terroristic activities of NPAs 1st Pulang Bagani Company under the leadership of Leoncio Pitao, alias Kumander Paragu in their community.

Lumads also rejoiced the return of Colonel Eduardo D Del Rosario, the new Commander of 1003rd Brigade as they were reunited again him. Datu Mandahay said: "We are very happy that he is back again in our land. We believe that with his leadership and experiences with the lumads, the security situation will improve."

In a separate occasion in Composetella Valley, another tribal assembly was organized by the Manguangan and Dibabawon tribe led by Datu Herminio "Sidlak" T Opao, the Municipal Tribal Chieftain of Montevisita, 3rd Special Forcess Battallion under Lieutenant Colonel Royland M Orquia together with the cooperation of the LGU officials led by Hon. Teopista T Jaud, Municipal Mayor yesterday morning at town's gymnasium.

Brgy Officials and tribal leaders condemned the recent murder of Canidkid Barangay Chairman Glorieto Mahumas, who was shot and killed by the NPA's Sparru unit last September 23, 2009 at Poblacion Montevista. They seek assistance to the military for the early capture of the said suspects.

Colonel Del Rosario challenged the so called human rights advocate groups likes Karapatan, Anak Bayan, Gabriela and Bayan Muna to investigate and file criminal case against the NPAs. He said: "I'm challenging them to publicly denounce the atrocities of the NPAs committed to the people, especially the helpless lumads who they easily victimized and targeted for NPA recruitment.

"I'm calling all my brother lumads, to be wise in choosing the Sectoral groups they will vote for in this coming election. There are groups who declare themselves as human rights advocates, but in the contrary behind their true colors are illegal fronts of the National Democratic Front of the CPP/NPA," he added. (10th ID) [top]

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