Army dares victims to file raps before CHR-A A +A
Saturday, July 21, 2012
KIDAPAWAN CITY -- A military official has called on alleged human rights victims in the recent armed fighting in Magpet town in North Cotabato to file their complaint before the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Davao Region
Colonel Leopoldo Galon, Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom) of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), said the CHR-Davao is the right agency to hear complaints on rights violations.
Alleged infractions included torching of civilians’ houses, using children as guides during military operations, and mortar shelling.
"To avoid propaganda, I suggest the victims file the case at the CHR," Galon said.
The town of Magpet, located at the hinterlands of Mount Apo, is considered one of the “biggest bases” of the New Peoples’ Army (NPA) in Southern Mindanao.
In fact, Galon said, the town has become the venue of the recent release of hostages by the New People’s Army, and is also where new breed of rebels are trained.
"As proof, some of those who died during recent armed encounters in nearby Bukidnon province were from Magpet. The group that allegedly extorts money from contractors doing road construction in North Cotabato towns is also hiding in Magpet," Galon said.
The killers of Patrick Winiger, a Swiss-Filipino national whom the Army claimed as their partner in peace-building in Mindanao, were also from Magpet.
The NPAs admitted killing Winiger because of his alleged involvement in the killing in October 2011 of Italian missionary Fausto Tentorio.
"We want to crush the rebels’ enclaves and their bases in Magpet. We want a stop to their extortion activities not only in Magpet but also in nearby towns," Galon said.
The overrunning of one of the rebels' biggest camp in North Cotabato after the fierce fighting on Monday hurt the NPAs so much that they tried to divert peoples’ attention to other issues, such as the allegations on human rights violations.
According to Lieutenant Nasrullah Sema, chief of the civil military operations of the 57th IB, the camp can accommodate at least 300 combatants, has at least 16 bunkers and the rebels also planted "bamboo traps" near the camp.
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on July 22, 2012.