Military men allegedly killed two residents, one of them a 6-year old boy, and wounded another in a military operation in the Talaandig community in Sitio Kaulayanan, Lirongan, Talakag, Bukidnon.
At around 5 A.M. of April 27, 2016, 27 armed men, who introduced themselves as personnel of the Philippine Military, arrived at the house of Michael Sib-ot. They demanded Michael to turn in the guns he allegedly had. Surprised, Michael ran out of their house and ran towards the direction of the church for sanctuary. Four of the armed men then went after him and shot him, hitting him on the chest.
Leonil Camariño, upon hearing the first shot also ran towards the church. He was followed by Premo Ehigon, their former barangay captain. From where Camariño was, he saw Michael fall at the second shot. The armed men then trained their guns at him and at Premo, threatening to also shoot them if they help Michael. They raised their arms and walked back to the houses.
Camariño passed Wilfen Talian, his 50-year old in-law, who was being interrogated by more of the armed men. They were accusing him of allowing members of the New People’s Army (NPA) to sleep in his home.
Four of the armed men also went to the house of Romel Talian and ordered him to come out of the house and surrender his alleged guns as well. Out of fear, Romel jumped out of the house and rolled down the hill to their farm plot below. He was followed with gunfire and was hit on the buttock.
Meanwhile, Edjan Talian, 6 yr. Old, was hit and instantly killed by one of the men when he arrived at the community after fetching water 200 meters away.
Around 9:30 in the morning, 40 more men, this time with complete military uniforms, arrived, led by Captain Macabadbad of the 1st Special Force Battalion arrived in the community. Captain Macabadbad denied that the armed men belong to the military, saying that he doesn’t allow his men to conduct operations in civilian clothing. Residents therefore pointed to where the armed men were – at that time at the house of Wilfen Talian. The community was readying for an exchange of fire as the two groups were armed. However, witnesses said that as they met, instead of shooting each other they shook hands. At around 3 in the afternoon, Captain Macabadbad left the community together with the men who arrived ahead.
They brought Romel Talian, the mother and grandmother of Edjan Talian to Malaybalay City. The mother, Gege Talian, and grand mother, Merlin Talian, were forced to sign a settlement but they refused. They also asked the mother of Romel Talian to force Romel to sign on an agreement stating that he was the one who shot Michael Sib-ot and Edjan Talian.
Until now, the parents of Edjan, Romel and Michael strongly refused to any kind of settlement by the military.
On April 29, the military called for a meeting, informing the community that they are setting up an organization – according to them, for peace. They then told the residents to surrender their arms which they insist the community members have and instead register with their organization. The military will then have their guns registered, they will be given a training, uniforms, and an ID. Again, they tried to negotiate with the family of the slain community members, and again, the families refused.
Sitio Kaulayanan is a Talaandig community. The military went there without the consent of the people. According to the UN Declaration on Indigenous Peoples’ Rights, no military operation should be conducted without the free, prior and informed consent of the indigenous community. Worse, the military accused the indigenous residents of being armed and were persecuting them for their alleged hospitality to an armed group, the NPA.
The Philippine Military has been conducting operations in indigenous communities in Bukidnon without respect for the indigenous peoples’ rights. They have disrespected and desecrated Ancestral Domains time and again, not honoring the right of the indigenous peoples’ freedom in their territories. The very location of their domains – remote and many unurbanized – has automatically made the indigenous communities target to military operations that are purportedly going after the communist-led NPA.
Indigenous communities are continuing to demand respect for their rights. As they call for the respect of their right to self-governance and self-determination, they put emphasis to their right to freedom of movement in their own ancestral lands, a freedom which is very much curtailed by the unannounced – and unwelcomed – operations of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
EXPRESS YOUR CONCERN
to the Philippine Government by writing to:
Ret. Lt. Gen. Voltaire T. Gazmin
Secretary, Department of National Defense
Voice: +63(2) 911-6193, Fax:+63(2) 911-6213
Hon. Jose Luis Martin Gascon
Chairperson, Commission On Human Rights
Telefax: 929-0102, 928-5655, 926-6188
Atty. Leonor T. Oralde-Quintayo
Chairperson, National Commission on Indigenous Peoples
Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III
Chair, Justice and Human Rights Committee
Trunk Lines: (632) 552-6601 to 70 loc. 5548
Direct Lines: (632) 822-9758
Fax No.: (632) 822-9759
Rep. Guillermo Romarate Jr.
Chair, Human Rights Committee
House of Representatives
Tel: (632) 931-5001; local 7051, 9518974
Hon. Jose Ma. Zubiri, Jr.
Governor, Province of Bukidnon
Provincial Capitol, Malaybalay City
Tel: (088) 221-2523; (088) 813-2457
Hon. Nestor Macapayag
Mayor, Municipality of Talakag
Tel: 0916-6225174; 0927-3971452
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