Military harasses youth group in Mindanao

DAVAO CITY (Mindanao Examiner / Oct. 1, 2011) – A Filipino youth group called Anakbayan accused the military of harassing its members in Davao City in Mindanao island.

It has filed a complaint with the Commission on Human Rights against Army Colonel Leopoldo Galon, a spokesperson for the Eastern Mindanao Command, who allegedly tagged the group as a recruiter for the communist rebel group New People’s Army.

Cherry Orendain, a spokesperson for the Anakbayan, said Galon wrote an editorial in a local newspaper published September 8 linking the group and other progressive organizations to the NPA, and accused Anakbayan of enticing Alvin Santiago, a former student of the University of the Philippines-Mindanao, to take up arms and join the rebel group.

Anakbayan earlier published on the same newspaper an editorial entitled “A Tribute to the Filipino Youth.”

“Such malicious accusation of Colonel Leopoldo Galon is not new, not even isolated. It is a systematic ploy of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, tagging legal organizations as fronts of the armed revolution. This act is a grave form of harassment that should not be left unnoticed. It is a dangerous ploy too, portrays activists as enemies of the state, and target for elimination – extra-judicial killings,” Orendain said.

Orendain said weeks before Galon’s editorial came out, Colonel Eduardo del Rosario, of the AFP’s Civil Relations Service, also tagged the League of Filipino Students (LFS) as NPA recruiters.

“While the youth remains fighting for free education, additional wage for the workers, and lands for the landless, the AFP continue its red-tagging and black propaganda. Clearly, AFP remain as the machinery of state fascism with the numerous cases of torture, harassment, intimidation, threats, and even extra-judicial killing targeting civilians and members of progressive groups using their counter-insurgency programs like the sugar-coated Oplan Bayanihan.”

“This harassment will not stop us from exposing and opposing all the dirty works made by the AFP. And Colonel Galon’s statement serves as a challenge to us to continue educating, organizing and mobilizing our fellow youth and the entire masses to uphold their rights and welfare,” Orendain said.

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