DAVAO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Sept. 14, 2010) – Villagers held a candlelight protest late Tuesday to condemn the continued militarization of a village in Davao City in Mindanao.
Church people and member of the Exodus for Justice and Peace also joined the rally and urged security operators to demilitarize the Paquibato District which the military claimed is under the influence of communist rebels.
The villagers lit candles and offered prayers for two civilians – Reynaldo Labrador and Julius Tamondes in Paquibato in Davao City -allegedly killed by troops and government militias since last month.
Another civilian, Vicente Felisilda, was also murdered allegedly by the military in Mawab town in Compostela Valley Province.
The communist National Democratic Front also condemned the murders and said it occurred in less than a month since President Benigno Aquino formally took office in June.
“The National Democratic Front of the Philippines-Southern Mindanao strongly condemns the continuing policy of extra-judicial killing of civilians by the new Aquino regime. Aquino has only contradicted himself when he vouched for his armed forces’ commitment to champion human rights parallel to the extension of the US-sponsored and dictated counter-insurgency Oplan Bantay Laya II,” Rubi del Mundo, the group’s spokesman for Mindanao.
Del Mundo was referring to the government’s anti-insurgency campaign in the country.
“Aquino has only unmasked himself as no different from his predecessor, the criminal Gloria Arroyo, for destroying civilian lives and livelihood in the guise of the regime’s counter-revolutionary policy,” he said, adding, “all these murders happened amid the intense fascist operations in Southern Mindanao which is considered a priority region for Oplan Bantay Laya.”
“Similar to other extra-judicial killings, all the victims are civilians; and have been threatened earlier, and arbitrarily tagged by the military as “supporters” of the revolutionary movement – or like Tamondes, killed in an indiscriminate AFP-supported tribal vendetta to sow terror in the Davao City hinterlands,” Del Mundo said.
Del Mundo said since 2006, the military allegedly violated the rights of villagers and in many cases mauled, tortured, illegally detained and interrogated, and even threatened innocent people who were accused of supporting the rebels.
The military denied all the accusations and said troops were deployed in villages to protect them from the rebels. (With a report from Karlos Manlupig)