Lumad group, victims call on CHR to probe alleged cases of abuse

REPRESENTATIVES of a Lumad organization and several supposed victims of human rights abuses trooped to the regional office of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Friday, August 5, to report supposed rights violations by paramilitary groups, soldiers and police personnel in Bukidnon and in other parts of Northern Mindanao.

“We strongly condemn the continuous human rights violations of the IP’s and farmers here in Northern Mindanao committed by paramilitary groups and state forces. We’ve seen the increase of extra judicial killings, warrantless arrests, and trumped-up cases,” Datu Jomorito Goaynon, chairperson of the Kalumbay Lumad Organization, said.

Goaynon said several IP communities have experienced harassment supposedly from paramilitary groups and state security forces following the declaration of Martial Law.

Goaynon also accused the military of being behind the paramilitary groups which were said to be behind several human right violations in several of the towns of Bukidnon.

He said beginning May until July this year, they were able to document several cases of human rights abuses committed by paramilitary groups such as the Alamara.

“We are asking the CHR to really investigate deeply into the series of HR abuses in several of the IP communities. Most of the people who had been affected and victimized are poor people who can’t afford to fight their way in court. Their only hope is for the CHR to investigate and hopefully help bring justice to those affected,” said Goaynon.

An alleged victim of rights abuses, Amelia Omandam, village secretary of Barangay Eden in Pangantucan town, Bukidnon, narrated to the CHR regional office her alleged ordeal.

“Last July 19, 2017 at around 7:00 in the evening, police personnel of the Bukidnon Provincial Public Safety Company (PPSC) forced their way into our house by kicking our door and then they took us, me and my husband Afredo Omandam. My husband is a member of our barangay’s civilian volunteers and a rescue. I’ve served our barangay for six years and never have we’ve indulge ourselves in any criminal activity. They took us directly to the army barracks in Maramag Bukidnon and not to the police station, and then there they turned us over to the Criminal Investigation Detection Group (CIDG). It was there in the CIDG that we were shocked to know that they made my husband admit that the bomb making materials and explosives they placed on the table. We did not have any of those items in our house, we don’t understand why they did it to us,” Omendam said.

Omendam claimed that all the accusations against her husband are just made up and that the alleged explosives found in their position were planted. Her husband is currently detained at the Malaybalay City Police Station with a case under Republic Act 9516, illegal position of explosive.

Beryl G. Sabalande, 30, from Purok 17, Barangay Lilingayon, Valencia City Bukidnon also reached out to the CHR to request that the case of her sister be investigated.

“Last July 12, 2017 at around 9:00 in the morning, my sister, Gretchen Espera together with her husband, had been detained after they allegedly have been found to have firearms in their homes, which I believe is not true. We are just flower farmers, we come to Cagayan de Oro every week to deliver our flowers, and we have never been into such subversive actions against our government. We hope the CHR can help us, we are just poor farmers,” said Sabalande.
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