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Militarization targets women in Southern Mindanao – Gabriela solon
Press Release Posted on May 18th, 2009.
REP LUZ ILAGAN (0920-9213221)
Lorie Ann Cascaro, Public Information Officer (0908-9237212)
“The presence of military troops in communities has made life difficult a hundred fold,” said Gabriela Women's Party Rep. Luz Ilagan who just arrived from an International Solidarity Mission (ISM) in Southern Mindanao, last May 14-18, 2009.
Rep. Ilagan cited the case of Virgie (not her real name), a resident of Tampakan, South Cotabato, who had been visited by military personnel in full battle gear, asking for the names of the members of the family, their activities and even their cell phone numbers. Virgie narrated that these frequent visits during odd hours of the day harassed her no end especially since she was still recovering from a breast cancer operation she underwent in Davao City. Her prolonged absence for chemotherapy treatment was also interpreted as having gone to the countryside to join the NPA. The soldiers also pressured them into revealing names of members of partylists like GABRIELA, BAYAN MUNA and ANAK PAWIS, for these are allegedly “legal fronts of the communist party”. Other residents were also visited persistently, especially since they were unable to comply with the demands.
"It is the height of insensitiveness and callousness to subject hapless residents to these harsh military actions which are a throwback to martial law days”.
The Gabriela solon also cited the case of Liza Alo, president of a packing plant union in Compostela Valley, who survived an ambush by three armed motorcycle riding men when she was on her way home from the ISM on May 16, 2009. Before the incident, Liza Alo had accompanied two victims of human rights violations to the venue of the ISM.
"The intensified militarization of the Arroyo administration under its counter-insurgency program spares no one, even elderly women," Ilagan said, citing the testimony of an elderly woman, a long time church leader in Tampakan, who was among the 400 residents forcibly inducted into the Barangay Defense System (BDS) by the 27th IB of the AFP.
The BDS is a special unit created by the AFP Eastern Mindanao Command 10th Infantry Division to augment the military intelligence operations in the region under the counter-insurgency program Oplan Bantay Laya 2.
In Tampakan, South Cotabato, the 27th Infantry Battalion initiated the BDS, while the 66th IB holds control of the BDS in the towns of New Bataan and Compostela in Compostela Valley Province. #