Army in denial, afraid
to sign MOA
TACLOBAN CITY – Katungod-Sinirangan Bisayas lambasts 8th Infantry Division’s denial
that Army’s 14th Infantry Battalion committed human rights violations
in interior barangays of Gen. Mc Arthur,
Eastern Samar, as claimed by farmers from the said town in a
dialogue between the army and farmers last October 5, 2009.
“Farmers will not go
through all the efforts in initiating a dialogue between them and the
military and mobilizing 600 farmers if their rights were not violated
and if they were not in the right reason,” said Flor Chantal Eco,
Katungod-Sinirangan Bisayas’ Secretary General in a statement today.
“Farmers are far more credible than the armed forces.”
She furthered that the
military has repeatedly called that if there are abuses done by the
military, the people should not be afraid to report it to them, but
now that the farmers themselves made the move to expose the issue,
they’re denying the allegations and refuses to take action.
“The army repeatedly
denied the farmers’ allegations that the 14th IB committed violations
saying that the violations were committed by the 62nd IB who formerly
operated in the area. Now they’re admitting that there were indeed
violations committed by the army, but have they addressed the issue?”
During the dialogue,
farmers testified that the 14th IB harasses residents in the barangays
and refuses to follow the barangays rules that they should sign in the
barangay’s log book so they will be able to identify the soldiers
whenever they operate in barangays. The farmers also accused the
soldiers of posing as members of the New People’s Army (NPA).
Moreover, the army
kept insisting that the Mayor of the town doesn’t know the farmers who
initiated the dialogue. “Common sense tells us that the Mayor knows
the people who initiated the dialogue because he facilitated it, why
would he facilitate it if he doesn’t know them? The farmers, including
barangay officials of the said town consulted him several times before
the dialogue,” said Eco.
“Now, if they’re
really promoting human rights, follows protocols, why didn’t they sign
the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) presented by the farmers? The
farmers just wanted a written agreement that the army that operating
in their town will not commit any human rights violations, what are
they afraid of? Easier prosecution thru the MOA because there is a big
possibility that they will not comply?” Eco ended.