AN OFFICIAL of the 4th Infantry Division (4ID) on Tuesday, March 6, said the people who were rounded up in Bukidnon were neither forced to report to the military camp nor arrested but were only “invited” to the camp.
First Lieutenant Tere Ingente, 4ID spokesperson, said the military was allowed to invite the people without an arrest warrant because of the existing martial law in Mindanao.
Ingente said the military invited the people after an encounter between troops and alleged New People's Army (NPA) took place at barangay Bonacao, San Fernando last on February 28.
Ingente said after the encounter, the troops, along with a rebel returnee, went to the community and pointed to civilians whom the returnee personally knew as NPA supporters.
She said only 11 persons were invited, and not 13 as claimed by the Save Our Schools Network alert.
"We have a copy of the documents they signed signifying that they are really mass supporters of the NPA, they were interviewed, but the 10 went home the next day," Ingente said.
The eleventh person, who was not named, decided to stay at the military barracks, she said, for fear of his life. Ingente denied that this person is being detained, saying it was his decision to stay.
"We have medical records that prove they are not hurt during the interview," she added.
Last March 1, an advisory said 13 civilians, including the village chief and a barangay councilor were allegedly arrested by the military, reportedly under the 88th Infantry Battalion.
Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas-Northern Mindanao secretary-general Ireneo Udarbe lambasted the military for its intensified attacks aimed not at the rebels, but supposedly against farmers and leaders of mass organizations.
"The legitimate clamor of the people had become the reasons the military is targeting the masses. These people only involved themselves in the organizations because they want to guard their ancestral lands against expansion of plantations, demolitions, among others," Udarbe said.
Since January this year, Udarbe said they have listed 30 human rights violations committed by state forces against civilians.
Some 13 farmers on Tuesday filed a complaint before the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) for alleged abuses.
Among those who filed a complaint is 24-year-old Dante Mangguyog, one of the two lumad teachers of Mindanao Interfaith Services Foundation, Inc. (MISFI) who were "invited" by the military.
Mangguyog said he was held for 2 hours. He was interviewed by a soldier who allegedly threatened to destroy their school and forced him to write the names of the MISFI teachers.
"I just cried because I was scared and I cannot memorize all their names, we have 30 teachers in our school. He forced me to remember all the names, but I only wrote 4 names because I cannot remember all of them," Mangguyog said.
Mangguyog teaches some 24 pre-schoolers at the MISFI, a private school.
"They said it was President Duterte's order to destroy lumad schools, but I hope they don't do it, because it has contributed much to the lumad community, before the children still cross the river to get to a school. We do not want a Department of Education school in our community because they are expensive," he added.
Mangguyo has been teaching at the MISFI for six months now.