By Chito Chavez
Human rights group Karapatan suspects that two peasant leaders who have been reported missing since Monday have been abducted by the military as attacks against Mindanao communities have heightened.
“In the first month of 2019, we have already received a long list of military atrocities in peasant communities in Mindanao, including the recent abduction of two peasant leaders. These attacks are bound to exacerbate, what with the myriad of repressive policies piled on top of each other, ranging from martial law to the implementation of counterinsurgency program Oplan Kapayapaan,” said Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay.
Palabay also noted that Karapatan had received reports that a lumad and a peasant leader have gone missing, raising fears that the two might have been abducted.
“On January 28, 2019, Datu Jomorito Goaynon, Lumad leader and chairperson of Kalumbay Regional Lumad Organization, went missing, according to an urgent alert from the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas – Northern Mindanao Region (KMP-NMR). Goaynon was with Ireneo Udarbe, chairperson of KMP-NMR. The two have been unreachable since the morning of January 28,’’ Karapatan said in a statement.
Karapatan said Goaynon and Udarbe left their office at around 10 a.m., and were on their way to a meeting with Pig-uyonan, a member organization of Kalumbay.
Palabay said there was a scheduled dialogue with the 65th Infantry Battalion (65th IB) which was facilitated by the Commission on Human Rights (CHR).
The victims’ last communication with another Kalumbay staff was at around 11am, when they informed their colleagues that they were on their way to the designated meeting place.
However, the two never reached their destination as none of their friends, colleagues and relatives knew their whereabouts afterwards.
Prior to the incident, Karapatan said Goaynon had filed a complaint at the CHR against the 65th IB for harassment.
Karapatan said tarpaulins bearing Goaynon’s photo, along with texts accusing him of recruiting lumads to the New People’s Army (NPA), were posted in public places.
Goaynon and Udarbe were also among those illegally arrested by composite elements of the military and police along with 13 other church workers and rights advocates, in July 2018.
“From lumad leaders to entire indigenous communities, the attacks are relentless. From December 2018 until January, the lumad from Lianga, Surigao del Sur have been welcoming the new year with incidences of food blockades, bombings, displacement from their communities, torture, and indiscriminate firing.
Intensified military operations, as prescribed through martial law, have disrupted and irreparably damaged the lives and livelihood of the Lumad in Surigao Del Sur.
Despite these atrocities, they continue to persist in defending their ancestral lands from corporate and foreign plunder and in strengthening the campaign to end the militarization of their communities,” Palabay said.