Thursday, July 28, 2005

DUE TO ARMY CLEARING OPERATION, Hundreds of residents flee from Basey interior villages

Title: DUE TO ARMY CLEARING OPERATION, Hundreds of residents flee from Basey interior villages
Author: Joey Gabieta, Miriam G. Desacada, Staff Writers (With reports from Lemuel Pagliawan)
Newspaper: Leyte-Samar Daily Express (LSDE), Volume XVII No. 211
Date: Friday, July 22, 2005
Website: http://www.leytesamardailyexpress.com.istemp.com
For Comments: Email: lsdaily@eudoramail.com, lsdaily2@yahoo.com


Basey, Samar – This town’s incoming public gymnasium virtually became a refugee center when about 2,000 civilians living in three interior villages of this town evacuated due to what they claimed as militarization in their respective areas.

This situation prompted the local chief executive, Vicente Labuac, to call for an emergency meeting with members of the town’s peace and order council to address the problem.

Fernando Dacul, barangay chairman of Bulao, said that practically all the 64 family-residents of their village fled to seek refuge to a safer place.

“We are afraid for our lives and security (the) reason why we fled from our barangay; we left behind our homes and farms. Since Tuesday morning, we have been hearing burst of gunfire; we want peace and security,” Dacul told Leyte Samar Daily Express.

According to him, the gunshots that they have been hearing came from the military who are conducting operations in their village and on the neighboring barangays of Cogon, and Cancaiyas.

But so far, there were no reported incident of missing persons of killings in any of these three affected villages.

All villages were identified by Col. Noel Cabides, deputy brigade officer of the 801st Infantry Battalion, based in Brgy. Fatima, Hinabangan, Samar, to be infested with members of the New People’s Army.

“I don’t deny that there are indeed ongoing military operations in these areas. But let me stress to you that these are legitimate operations and not just to harass civilians, including children,” Cabides told Express.

He chided allegations from the affected civilians that they are being harassed. “This we hear from our enemy, the CPP-NPA. We are saddened that our enemy is using these innocent civilians as their tools against us,” the military officer said, adding that the mass evacuations by the civilians was “orchestrated” as planned by the enemy.

He asked the civilians – men, women, and children – to return to their homes and assured them that they would not be harmed in the course of their “legitimate” operations against the members of the New People’s Army, the armed group of the Communist Party of the Philippines, in the areas mentioned.

The military has detachment in this town, 40 kms. from Tacloban City, located in Brgy. Balante. The commanding officer of the 46th Infantry Brigade is Lt. Col. Manuel Ramos.

The fleeing residents started their evacuation from their homes Tuesday afternoon and arrived at the town’s gym, located just a few meters away from the town municipal hall, Wednesday morning.

Jesus Daguma, 45 and a resident of Brgy. Cogon, said that he had to descend from their village out of fear.

“We are not the enemy. We are just ordinary farmers and we want peace/ we call on our military officials to spare us,” Daguma, a father of four young children, said. He said this situation left them economically dislocated.

He said that he and the rest of the evacuees would not return to their village as long as there is military presence in their areas.

Based on the records of the peasant group, Samahan Han Gudti nga Parag(Mag-u)uma (Sagupa), there are about 254 families or 1,270 persons, displaced due to what it said militarization on these thee villages.

“There may be an existing war between the CPP-NPA and the government soldiers but we appeal to the military to spare these ordinary civilians. This is really so hard on their part fleeing their homes,” Diana Ragub, information officer of Sagupa, told Express.

She said that their group would conduct their own relief and medical assistance to the affected persons.

Mayor Labuac had convened yesterday the municipal peace and order council, which he chaired, to look into this situation.

“I am sad and overwhelmed by this situation,” he said.

The Local Government has released P50,000 in the procurement of sacks of rice and boxes of noodles and sardines which were distributed to the affected families.

But the municipal government is still seeking for assistance from Gov. Milagrosa Tan to help them cope up with the problem.

Last June 28, two Army officers and a female civilian were killed in Brgy. Balante when the vehicle they were on board exploded due to land mines planted allegedly by the NPAs. ###


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Basey local gov’t continue[s] to shelter more evacuees

Title: Basey local gov’t continue[s] to shelter more evacuees
Author: Joey Gabieta, Staff Writer
Newspaper: Leyte-Samar Daily Express (LSDE), Volume XVII No. 212
Date: Saturday, July 23, 2005
Website: http://www.leytesamardailyexpress.com.istemp.com
For Comments: Email: lsdaily@eudoramail.com, lsdaily2@yahoo.com


Basey, Samar – The municipal government continues to face evacuees from interior villages of this town as more than 300 families swamped the public gymnasium.

The previous evacuees who first occupied the gymnasium agreed to return home last Thursday afternoon upon assurance that they would be given security and assistance.

Vilma Tiu, municipal social welfare officer, said that more than 300 families or over 1,500 persons, came from the villages of Mabini and Manlilinab, which are more than 10 kilometers away from the town proper, descended to the town proper and are now taking refuge at the town gymnasium since Thursday evening.

Mabini and Manlilinab are two of the most interior barangays of Basey, 40 kilometers away from the regional capital of Tacloban City.

The new group of evacuees left their villages, located just adjacent from each other, Thursday at 2 p.m. and walked their way for more than eight hours to reach the gymnasium, which is located just few meters away from the municipal hall.

According to Monica Pacayra, Mabini village chair, they were forced to flee their homes out of fear as she claimed that sounds of gunshots have become “so common in the area”. She said that sounds of firing of guns were first heard by them last July 14, followed on July 19 and on the following day.

“And while we are on our way to flee the area, we heard a big blast which sounded like a bomb was dropped” she told Leyte Samar Daily Express.

She said that she believed that the shots and the bomb were from the military side. This claim of Pacayra could not be confirmed.

Colonel Noel Cabides, deputy brigade officer of the 801st Infantry Battalion based in Hinabangan, Samar, admitted that for several days now members of the 46th Infantry Brigade under Lt. Col. Manuel Ramos have been conducting operations in the areas where the fleeing people reside(s).

These areas, Cabides said, are where members of the New People’s Army are camping. He, however, stressed that the soldiers are only running after their enemies and not involving the civilians in the areas.

Pacayra said that they would not leave the gymnasium unless the local government and the military could assure their safety.

“How can we live normally if we are all frightened because of these intermittent firings that we all hear? We will stay here until the our government will listen to our pleas and assure us of our security,” she said.

Mayor Vicente “Vic” Labuac, in an interview, said that he could assure the people of their safety as he vowed to work closely with the military to guarantee their security.

Last Tuesday and Wednesday, the gymnasium was swamped with over a thousand fleeing people from the villages of Bulao, Cogon, and Cancaiyas.

However, Labuac was able to convince the people to return to their homes as he assured them of their safety. He also informed them that he created an emergency rescue and rehabilitation committee which would look into their plight and condition.

The residents of Bulao, Cogon, and Cancaiyas left the gym last Thursday at five in the afternoon. They were transported back to their respective villages by government-owned dump trucks and rented jeepneys.

But to the “surprise(d)” of the local government unit, new evacuees from Barangays Mabini and Manlilinab arrived at the gymnasium at almost 10 in the evening last night (Thursday) and occupied it.

The group also occupied the town’s incomplete gymnasium as their temporary shelter. They brought with them some of their personal belongings and farm animals like carabaos [water buffaloes], pigs and even horses.

The new group, Tiu said, would also be asked to return home as the local government unit could not afford to provide them food assistance for a longer time.

Meantime, the local government through her office, would continue in providing the evacuees of food assistance. They also distributed medicines like [P]aracetamol as some children were experiencing fever and loose bowel movement.

A staff of Mayor Labuac, who asked not to be identified, said that they are now having difficulty in feeding the big number of evacuees. “There is now even a shortage of available rice which we can purchase for the evacuees,” she said.

So far, the town’s disaster coordinating council had assumed more than 50 sacks of rice to feed the fleeing village people. Each family is allotted of two kilos of rice, two pieces of noodles, and two cans of sardines. ###

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Gen. Palparan tags church group as NPA sympathizer

Title: Gen. Palparan tags church group as NPA sympathizer
Author: Miriam Garcia Desacada, Staff Writer
Newspaper: Leyte-Samar Daily Express (LSDE), Volume XVII No. 216
Date: Wednesday, July 27, 2005
Website: http://www.leytesamardailyexpress.com.istemp.com
For Comments: Email: lsdaily@eudoramail.com, lsdaily2@yahoo.com


Tacloban City – Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan Jr. has recently tagged the Visayas Interfaith Solidarity Mission (VIFSM) as a supporter and sympathizer of the New People’s Army.

This disclosure of Gen. Palparan, commanding general of the 8th Infantry Division, was made in the news conference where he also claimed that the VIFSM was really designed to support the underground movement in Eastern Visayas.

He said the group has been using medical and relief operations reportedly for hungry people in far-flung areas in Samar who serve as front-liners of the terrorists.

Palparan disclosed that military operatives based in Samar confiscated medical supplies and sacks of rice from members of the VIFSM who were about to deliver the said supplies to an NPA camp in the remote barangays in Paranas, Samar.

He added that government troops discovered that a group of rebels was waiting for the delivery of the said food and medical supplies.

The Army general explained that incidentally, the VIFSM had intruded into an area where there was an on-going military operations. This was in Barangays Concepcion and Lawaan, both of Paranas town, where two trucks loaded with sacks of rice and medical supplies were delivered by this group for their relief operations and medical operations in the area, he added.

Based on their investigation, Palparan said that the recipients of that supplies were waiting in Barangay Nawi and [A]Nagasi, also of Paranas, but surprisingly the supplied items were recovered in four NPA camps by the soldiers operating in the area.

“Nakapagtataka nga. Bakit nagkaroon ng relief operations sa lugar na hindi naman nangangailangan, wala naman calamity doon. So ang mga tao ko as part of security check, sinundan nang mabuti kung saan ba talaga dadalhin ang pagkadami-daming supply ng bigas at medisina at kung sino ang bibigyan. Pero doon na nakita ‘yung mga supplies sa kampo ng NPA. Eh...ano ngayon ang sasabihin nang sundalo sa Interfaith Mission na ito, di supporter sila ng rebeldeng komunista at kaaway ng gobyerno [It is surprising. Why are there relief operations when there is no need for one, as there are no calamities in those areas. So, I let my men follow them closely as part of our security check, where they would deliver the supply of rice and medicines and whom are the recipients. But the supplies were seen in an NPA camp. What will our Army say about this Interfaith Mission now? They are indeed supporters of the communist rebels and enemies of the state],” Palparan told reporters.

Johann Arpon, VIFSM coordinator for this region, has vehemently denied Palparan’s latest accusation against groups like VIFSM.

Arpon told Express that the VIFSM was in Paranas as part opf its continuing response to the less fortunate people not only in Paranas but other neighboring towns in Samar that are currently experiencing hunger because, according to him, their livelihood were affected by the on-going clearing operations of the military.

“Well, kumadto la kami pag-deliver hin mga pagkaon for the needy and hungry people in th[ose] areas, but we were harassed by the group of soldiers. This is one of our worries now… kay bisan iton amon pagbulig hiton mga tawo, ginkakahalot hiton [liderato] ni General Palparan [We only went to deliver food fr the needy and the hungry people in those areas, but a group of soldiers harassed us. This is one of our worries now as General Palparan undermines even our assistance to people in need],” Arpon said. # # #


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8th ID men tagged in killing of man, son

uly 25, 2005
Cebu, Philippines

LOCAL NEWS
8th ID men tagged in killing of man, son

by Wenna A. Berondo
July 25, 2005

A human rights group has implicated Brig. Gen. Jovito Palparan and his men belonging to the 8th Infantry Division as suspects in the killing of a militant group member and his son in barangay Magsaysay, Sta. Rita, Samar last July 3.

Karapatan said that the death of Alrico Barbas, 30, an active member of Anakpawis and his son, Jeric, 10, are just the latest of a series of killings in Eastern Visayas perpetrated allegedly by members of the 8th ID against members of militant groups and progressive organizations. The military is reportedly accusing members of progressive organizations as being affiliated with the New People’s Army.

Jennifer, 33, wife of Alrico and their son Alrico Jr., 8, were in Cebu yesterday. They are preparing to go to Manila to testify before the congressional inquiry on the alleged human rights abuses of the military in their province.

Some local officials there want Congress to investigate the alleged human rights violations and killings in Samar.

Alrico Jr., and his two younger siblings had survived the attempted massacre while they were sleeping inside their house when armed men broke in and shot their father and brother. Jennifer and her youngest child were staying at a house of a relative in Leyte when the incident happened.

The 8-year-old boy also sustained a gunshot wound on his left chest with the bullet exiting on his left shoulder but he survived.

However, an official of the Central Command, which manages the 8th ID and other military divisions and units in the Visayas, defended Palparan and his men and challenged the family of the victims to produce concrete evidence to prove Palparan and his men’s alleged involvement in the crime.

Centcom spokesman Lt. Col. Jefferson Omandam yesterday told The FREEMAN that while they do not tolerate human rights abuses by their members, the victims should file a complaint and produce evidence so they could investigate their accusations.

“If these are just baseless accusations, these are bad for our organization. They should come to our office so we can investigate and give appropriate action. But their complaint should be substantial,” he said.

Omandam defended Palparan, saying Omandam is a good military officer and is performing very well.

“Palparan might have disturbed the activities of the NPAs. He is performing very well. He is a professional officer and he is doing his job,” he said.

Rev. Fr. Calvin Bugho, executive committee member of Karapatan national office said there are lots of human rights abuses in Eastern Visayas but this only caught the attention of the lawmakers lately after the killings of lawyer Felidito Dacut, Bayan Muna Eastern Visayas coordinator, and Fr. Edison Lapus, a conference minister of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines.


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