Army to check on claims of camps in settlements

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Monday, February 24, 2014


THE Philippine Army's 10th Infantry Division commander Major General Ariel Bernardo vowed to visit and check civilian communities where military encampments are reportedly established.

Bernardo issued the statement following the complaints and demands of the locals and members of Hugpong sa mga Mag-uuma sa Walog Kompostela (Humawak) and Indug Kautawan, to pullout the government troops from public infrastructures and schools.

The locals and members of the Humawak and Indug Katawhan along with the other groups faced the military officials under the 10th Infantry Division last Thursday in a dialogue facilitated by Davao City Mayor Rodrigo R. Duterte at Grand Men Seng Hotel.

Children's Rehabilitation Center Advocacy officer Rius Valle showed the footages when he went to Purok 4 in Compostela Valley on January 28, which confirmed presence of soldiers inside a school and a barangay hall.

Other participants of the dialogue like Christina Lantao, a mother, who complained about the soldiers’ habit of tagging anyone as a member of communist groups especially those who complain against military camps within populated areas.

"We will check that. We cannot say that military forces are not allowed in the community, kasi trabaho namin ang protektahan kayo from harm and risk brought by New People’s Army. What is not allowed is when the troops are camping on the area," Bernardo said.

Lieutenant Colonel Elmer Aterrado, commander of the 25th Infantry Battalion, meanwhile showed video and footages that belie claims that they use communist tags at random and insists they have reliable sources who identify these people.

Lieutenant Colonel Angelito de Leon, commander of the 1001st Brigade, added that the troops do not just hang out in the communities without the request of its barangay captain and residents of the area.

"Kasama po sa rules namin na bawal mag encamp sa civilian communities. Kung meron man kayong makita sa area, the troops only stayed for few days dahil ni-request po yun ng barangay, dahil na rin sa takot na dala ng kabila," De Leon said.

Aterrado's video and footage presentation followed after Valle showed its presentation and explained the sentiment and demand of the locals. The dialogue between the two parties took at least three hours.

"If the government troops have lapses, this is the purpose of having dialogue, to correct things," Bernardo said.

Duterte heard both the sides of the Humawak and the officials of the 10th ID. He made it clear that it is illegal for the government troops to encamp in civilian communities, which both parties agreed to.

"We don't have any question on that. It's clear to everybody that military encampment in the community is prohibited. But you cannot take away the military from the area. It's their job to protect you. We must understand that there is a war going on," Duterte said.

"Kadto ginaingon ni M/General Bernardo, they will correct it - kung asa ‘tong ginaingon ninyo na gipuy-an sa mga sundalo ang balay or eskwelahan… dili jud na pwede (Those that General Bernardo said has to be corrected. Soldiers are not allowed to set up camps in settlement areas and schools). So that has to be corrected immediately," he added.

Duterte also ensured that the complaint of the locals and other groups will reach to the Compostela Valley Governor Arturo Uy so as to address the matter. The city mayor also vowed to conduct further investigation for both sides.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on February 24, 2014.

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