LAWMAKERS from the Makabayan bloc are calling for an investigation on the recent displacement of thousands of Ata-Manobo natives from the hinterlands of Talaingod in Davao del Norte.
This, despite the return of over 1,000 natives, more than half of them children, to their villages on May 2, a month after they fled their villages because of massive military operations and alleged harassments of soldiers against the civilians. The native found refuge and support in Davao City.
“It’s not over, said Gabriela lawmakers Luz Ilagan and Emmie de Jesus and Bayan Muna Rep. Karlos Isagani Zarate who filed House Resolution 1079 calling on the House of Representatives Committees on Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights to conduct a joint investigation on the alleged human rights violations committed by elements of the 60th and 68th Infantry Brigades of the 1003rd Brigade and 4th Special Forces of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
“Even as the Ata-Manobos have gone home,” the lawmakers said, ” the threat of militarization and continuing human rights abuses remain and the call for vigilance and accountability must not stop.”
Ilagan said the operations of the military in the Pantaron Range in Talaingod since March forced the exodus of more than 300 Ata-Manobo families. The soldiers allegedly violated the rights of the residents, even conducting food blockades, house-to-house searches, interrogation and indiscriminate firing.
“They were forced to flee and leave their homes and their livelihood for fear for their lives,” Ilagan said.
The Gabriela solon also laments the impact of such intense militarization on the lives of indigenous women and children. Among the evacuees were 515 children, including a 12 year old boy who died in the course of their evacuation.
“The impact of militarization on the health and education of indigenous children and the psychological and emotional trauma that they endure are unspeakable,” Ilagan said.
A national fact-finding mission has been set to look into the problem experienced by the natives of Talaingod. | NewsDesk