Manobo farmer shot by soldiers: Karapatan
BUTUAN – Human rights group Karapatan accused the army soldiers of shooting an innocent farmer during an anti- insurgency operation in southern Philippines.
It said troops from the 36th Infantry Battalion and 2nd Special Forces opened fire on Ama Benjie dela Peña, a member of the Manobo tribe, while tending his farm in the village of Caromata in Surigao del Sur’s San Miguel town.
Dela Peña, who was wounded in the shooting, had been rushed to hospital by villager leaders. The attack, Karapatan claimed, occurred on March 11, but learned about it only recently. It said over 170 villagers have already fled the village due to the ongoing military operation against the New People’s Army rebels.
There was no immediate statement from the 36th Infantry Battalion or the 2nd Special Forces about Karapatan’s allegations. But the military has repeatedly linked the group to the rebels, who are fighting for decades now for the establishment of a Maoist state in the country.
Just recently, government troops captured a senior communist rebel leader Ruditha Rosete Gaylawan in Calinan district in Davao City also in southern Philippines. Military agents tracked her down in the village of Sirib and seized from her 2 hand grenades, a .45- caliber pistol and a magazine loaded with bullets, and 2 impro- vised explosives, including medicines and notebooks containing names of NPA rebels.
The army said the 35year old Gaylawan is the Secretary General of Front Committee 54 of the Communist Party of the Philippines. The rebel leader is facing a string of criminal cases, mostly murder charges filed in Davao del Norte province. Her elder brother, Bobby Rosete, is also a ranking rebel leader.
Government peace talks with the rebels have been on and off with both accusing each other reneging on many agreements, including demands by the communist group for Manila to release all political prisoners languishing in jails across the country.