BACOLOD City – Militant group Karapatan-Negros blasted the Philippine Army for allegedly using indigenous peoples (IPs), or tumandok, in its anti-insurgency campaign.
The human rights group accused the 62nd Infantry Battalion based in Negros Island of making the IPs from Sitio Lonoy, Barangay Carabalan, Himamaylan City, Negros Occidental pretend to be rebel surrenderees.
Karapatan-Negros chairwoman Clarissa Singson-Dagatan said this in a statement that was made after a two-day fact finding mission on Aug. 10 and 11 in the upland communities of Himamaylan City.
Dagatan said they conducted the mission right after the Army presented “18 NPA (New People’s Army) sympathizers who returned to the folds of the government on Aug. 8.”
She added that the supposed NPA sympathizers were members of the Maghat, Ituman and Bukidnon tribes.
According to Dagatan, the Army “forcibly” brought the IPs to the Carabalan gym.
She added that the soldiers told the IPs that what they would be attending was a pulong-pulong.
But the IPs – most of them farmers – were shocked when they were used as part of the anti-insurgency activity of the Army.
Dagatan said the IPs were randomly picked and forced to admit that they were members of the NPA and that they have already surrendered to the government.
The IPs are “peacefully living in their respective communities and they are now cowering in fear because of the continued massive military operations in their areas,” stressed Dagatan.
She added that Karapatan-Negros will call for a dialogue with the barangay officials of Carabalan.
The group will also meet with the Himamaylan City mayor to discuss the matter./PN