TACLOBAN CITY – Alleged militarization continue to persist in the country, to include in the region, displacing affected families.
Thus concluded a fact-finding mission participated by the members of the Ecumenical Voice for Peace and Human Rights in the Philippines.
The group disclosed their results on Sunday, a day before President Rodrigo Duterte delivered his third State of the Nation Address (Sona) before the Filipino people.
According to the group, based on their visits to different areas in the region, ‘atrocities’ are continued to be committed against civilians by members of the government forces.
The fact-finding mission was held in the towns of Las Navas, Catubig and Lope de Vega and in Northern Samar province, Paranas in Samar province and Carigara in Leyte.
They claimed that the atrocities allegedly committed against civilians in remote villages include illegal arrests, abuses against farmers and even killings.
This so-called militarization also displaced communities who are evading to be caught in between firefight between government forces and members of the communist armed group, New People’s Army.
The group said that they are not expecting that government agencies to act upon the result of their fact-finding mission considering their previous experience on complaints they filed was just ignored by the government.
Samahan han Gudti nga Parag-uma ha Sinirangan Bisayas (SAGUPA-SB) secretary general Jun Berino said that despite the lack of trust, they are still hoping that human rights violation in the Philippines under the present administration is going to be solve.
“The importance of filling charges is that we are able to inform the people through the media the atrocities that farmers are suffering from the hands of government through the military and other uniformed personnel. This gives us more strength and encouragement to fight for what is right,” Berino said.
Some members of the ISM are United States citizens who went to the ground during the five-day fact-finding mission who talked with affected residents in the region.
“The government is using the armed forces to extract resources with little regards on people on the grounds. This incident is the same to what is happening in the United States that is why I was interested to join this particular ISM,” Copeland Downs said.
The group added that information they gathered will be presented to legislators in the United States so that they can urge their government not to provide aide to the Philippine government programs that are violating human rights.
“Instead of giving it to the Philippines it should be taken back to the United States, because our access to health and education is deteriorating, that is why we are here so that we can bring this information back there and tell our legislators to stop funding all this human rights violation instead bring that money back home and support the Americans there,” the group said.