Native folk cries foul on army’s brutality

DAVAO CITY, May 26, 2008—A member of the Matigsalog tribe cried foul on what he called as the “injustices” he experienced in the hands of the military early this month.

Allan Causan, from the Matigsalog tribe said, he and his other six companions were held by military men in Purok 4, Barangay Mangayon, Compostela Valley, ComVal province. Four out of the six that were detained were children.

In a documented interview furnished to CBCPNews, Causan said he was on his way home on May 02 after a long day’s work in his farm when suddenly some elements of the army’s 28th Infantry Batallion (IB) held him for interview.

One soldier who identified himself as from the 28th IB collared Causan and asked the question, “Kabalo ba ka asa ang kampo sa NPA? (Do you know where the NPA camp is?).”

Trembling in fear, Causan begged to be freed for he knew nothing about the camps and operations of the New Peoples Army in their barangay.

But, the soldier was so furious and slapped Causan saying, “Bakakon gyud ka” (You’re a big liar). With that, he begged the soldiers not to hurt him but one soldier got a rope and tied his hands.

Another soldier, he said, walloped him from the back and as a result, his face hit the ground. “Nagkalapok-lapok akong nawong, Sir. Tapos, gibira napud ko sa usa ka sundalo (My face is soaked in mud. Then one soldier dragged me.)”

He added that one of those soldiers who hit him, even threatened to kill him, if he will continue to be silent and refuse to disclose information about the NPA.

“Giingnan nako ang mga sundalo Sir, sa tinood lang nga pagkasulti, wala man gyud ko ideya anang NPA. Mag-uuma ko ug ang ako lang nga mabuhi nako akong pamilya. Wala man koy kalabutan anang mga rebelde,” (I honestly told them (soldiers), Sir, I have no idea about the NPA. I am just a farmer and my concern is how to feed my family. I am in no way related to NPA),” said Causan.

Despite this, the uncompromising soldiers even continued to inflict severe pains on him. They invited Causan to go with them to a place where the soldiers referred to as “another investigation” but he refused.

The next thing was, his wife arrived hysterically and lambasted the soldiers after she saw her husband in agony. My wife asked the soldiers, he said, “Unsay gihimo ninyo sa akong asawa? (What did you do to my husband)?” While his children sobbed and trembled in fear.

Causan added that the soldiers only replied, “Gi-interview lang namo imong asawa misis, wala namo na gihilibtan. (We just interviewed your husband. We have done nothing.)”

Causan narrated that because of the arrival of his wife; the soldiers allowed him to rest and after almost two hours in their custody released him.

He added that the soldiers even offered two canned sardines for him, but he declined to accept.

Earlier, a military encounter broke in Compostela Valley and the lumads evacuated to the capitol to find shelter because of fear that they might be involved in the war.

Causan said the lumads appealed to the provincial government not to allow the military to enter the evacuation centers, but their pleas fell on deaf ears.

Instead, on that evening, six battalions of the military went to the evacuation sites and took the names and pictures of the evacuees. Some of them, he said, harassed the male evacuees and forced them to disclose information about the NPA.

That forced the evacuees to leave the evacuation center in Comval and went to Davao City .

“Nawala na ang among pagsalig ug kumpiyansa sa mga sundalo. Dati abi man gud namo mo-protekta sila sa amo, dili man diay kay mga dautan pud sila. (We lose our trust and confidence to the military. We thought before that they will protect us but now we see them as monsters),” he said.

“Mohangyo unta mi sa gobyerno nga dili mi nila apilon kay dili man unta mi mga rebelde. Mangayo pud unta mi tabang sa mga grupo nga adunay pagpakabana nga tabangan mi kay daghan kaayo pagpang-abuso nga ginahimo sa mga lumad sa kabukiran. (We appeal to the government not to include us in their encounter against the NPA because we are not rebels. We are also asking other concerned groups to help us because there are so many abuses perpetrated against the lumads),” Causan added.

To date, the Indigenous Peoples Apostolate (IPA) in the archdiocese of Davao is presently soliciting help for the evacuees.

The transcript of the interview of Causan is now in the safekeeping of IPA for documentation purposes. (Mark S Ventura)(CBCPNews)

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