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Fact Finding Mission set out this week in Samar

By KATUNGOD-SB-KARAPATAN
January 27, 2009

TACLOBAN CITY  –  Human Rights Alliance, Katungod-Sinirangan Bisayas, together with UGOP Waraynon, is set out to conduct a National Solidarity Mission (a Fact Finding Mission, Relief Operations and Medical Mission) in Brgy. Bay-ang, San Jorge, Samar this coming January 29 to February 1, 2009. Besides the said barrio, the group also expects farmers from nearby barrios to participate in the said mission.

According to Lawyer Kathrina Castillo, Secretary General of Katungod-SB, their group together with other sectors wants to extend relief and medical support to the farmers in Samar who are affected by massive militarization by the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

“We chose the particular area for the mission to answer the plight of the farmers in those interior barrios because of massive militarization and gross human rights violations. Brgy. Bay-ang and its neighboring barrios have evacuated more than once since 2005 which caused economic disruption and trauma to the residents. In addition, many incidents of human rights violations have not yet been documented by any group, even the authorities, which we want to investigate,” Castillo said.

“We are strong in our statements of condemnation against the brutalities of the Armed Forces of the Philippines not to “taint their name and reputation”, as they always allege, but to be the voice of those who have been victims of their atrocities who are afraid to speak. We have been in the forefront of human rights advocacy in the region and we are firm in our contention that the AFP is the number one human rights violators of the people, contrary to what is expected of them as the ‘supposed to be’ protectors of the people and the integrity of the Philippine territory,” Castillo stressed.

She further added, “We want to gather data to confirm and prove that the counter-insurgency campaign Oplan Bantay Laya II that the Arroyo regime and the AFP is pursuing is not really aimed at crushing the so-called insurgents but really targets ordinary civilians, especially farmers in fur-flung areas.”

The group enjoins all human rights advocates and civil libertarians to join the mission and/or give any kind of support: material, morale, and spiritual support for the said activity.