Urgent Action Alert: Soldiers Strafe Community, Kill Farmer, arrest 2 others in Arakan, North Cotabato

Soldiers strafe community, kill farmer, and arrest 2 others in
Kabalantian village, Arakan, North Cotabato, Mindanao, Philippines
(initial report)

UA No: 2011-10-03

UA Date :

22 October 2011

UA Case :
Arbitrary killing; indiscriminate firing; illegal arrest and detention; forcible evacuation; threat, harassment and intimidation

Victim/s :
Arbitrary killing
Ramon Batoy, male, 35 years old
o Married with 2 children
o A tenant farmer of Antipas Vice-Mayor Van Cadungon
o Supporter of Bantay Kalikasan of Mt. Sinaka

Illegal arrest and detention; Physical assault
Noli Badol, male, 35 years old
o Married with children
o Peasant leader

Celso Batoy, male, 47 years old

Threat, harassment and intimidation; indiscriminate firing; Forcible evacuation

Gina Batoy, female, 33 years old
o Married to Ramon Batoy
o 6 months pregnant

Evelyn Badol, female, 32 years old
o Married to Noli Badol
o 8 months pregnant

48 families, residents of Sitio Upper Lumbo, Kabalantian village, Arakan, North Cotabato

Place of Incident :
Sitio Upper Lumbo, Baranggay (village) Kabalantian, Municipality of Arakan, Province of North Cotabato

Date of Incident :
20 October 2011

Alleged Perpetrator(s) :
Armed elements of the 57th and 38th Infantry Battalions of the Philippine Army, and the 10th Special Forces Airborne

Account of the Incident:
On October 20, between 7-8am, some soldiers of the 57th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army forcibly entered the house of farmer Ramon Batoy, 35. The soldiers accused Batoy as a member of the New People’s Army. When Batoy resisted, a soldier hit him with the butt of a rifle. To defend himself and his family, Batoy struck the soldier with his bolo, instantly killing the latter.

Three soldiers, one of them with a mask, fired at Batoy, his house, and seven other houses nearby. Ramon’s six-months-pregnant wife, Gina, escaped with their daughter and son.

An eyewitness saw a soldier strap a rifle on Batoy and then took pictures.

Ramon’s neighbor, Noli Badol, 35 and a peasant leader, was also mauled and tortured by the soldiers. Noli’s legs and hands were tied. Noli’s eight-months-pregnant wife, Evelyn, and their children, tried to come to Noli’s aid and pleaded with the soldiers, but were shot at by the soldiers three times.

Soldiers also mauled and detained Celso Batoy, 47. Noli and Celso were also accused as NPA members and are detained at the military detachment as of this writing.

The house of Ramon’s brother Roger Batoy was one of those strafed by the soldiers. Roger, who was inside his house with his wife and stepmother, was reportedly wounded in the foot by bullet fragments.

The incident caused terror among community members that resulted to the evacuation of at least 48 families. The residents evacuated to Binoongan Elementary School.

Lt. Col. Joven Gonzales, commander of the 57th Infantry Battalion immediately announced to the media that an encounter took place in Arakan town around 5:45 a.m. while the soldiers were conducting “a clearing operation.” He told the media that the operation was “legitimate” and that Ramon Batoy, Noli Badol and Celso Batoy were NPA members.

Karapatan-Southern Mindanao learned that the 57th IB forced Badol, who was tortured, to say on radio that his neighbour Ramon Batoy was an NPA.

Ramon Batoy’s remains lies in state at the Arakan Municipal Gym.

A quick reaction team composed of Karapatan members and other human rights advocates are currently looking into the incident.

Recommended Action:

Send letters, emails or fax messages calling for:
The immediate formation of an independent fact-finding and investigation team composed of representatives from human rights groups, the Church, local government, and the Commission on Human Rights that will look into the incident in Sitio Upper Lumbo, Kabalantian village, Municipality of Arakan, North Cotabato, which led to the killing of Ramon Batoy, the arrest of Noli Badol and Celso Batoy, and the forcible evacuation of 48 households from their homes.
The immediate release of Noli Badol and Celso Batoy from unjust detention.
The military to stop the labeling and targeting of human rights defenders and innocent civilians as “members of front organizations of the communists” and “enemies of the state.”
The Philippine Government to withdraw its counterinsurgency program Oplan Bayanihan, which victimizes innnocent and unarmed civilians
The Philippine Government to be reminded that it is a signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and that it is also a party to all the major Human Rights instruments, thus it is bound to observe all of these instruments’ provisions.
You may send your communications to:

H.E. Benigno C. Aquino III
President of the Republic
Malacañang Palace,
JP Laurel St., San Miguel
Manila Philippines
Voice: (+632) 564 1451 to 80
Fax: (+632) 742-1641 / 929-3968
E-mail: corres@op.gov.ph / opnet@ops.gov.ph

Sec. Teresita Quintos-Deles
Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process
Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP)
7th Floor Agustin Building I
Emerald Avenue
Pasig City 1605
Voice:+63 (2) 636 0701 to 066
Fax:+63 (2) 638 2216

Ret. Lt. Gen. Voltaire T. Gazmin
Secretary, Department of National Defense
Room 301 DND Building, Camp Emilio Aguinaldo,
E. de los Santos Avenue, Quezon City
Voice:+63(2) 911-9281 / 911-0488
Fax:+63(2) 911 6213
Email: osnd@philonline.com

Atty. Leila De Lima
Secretary, Department of Justice
Padre Faura St., Manila
Direct Line 521-8344; 5213721
Trunkline 523-84-81 loc.214
Fax: (+632) 521-1614
Email: soj@doj.gov.ph

Hon. Loretta Ann P. Rosales
Chairperson, Commission on Human Rights
SAAC Bldg., UP Complex
Commonwealth Avenue
Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines
Voice: (+632) 928-5655, 926-6188
Fax: (+632) 929 0102
Email: chair.rosales.chr@gmail.com, lorettann@gmail.com

Please send us a copy of your email/mail/fax to the above-named government officials, to our address below.

URGENT ACTION Prepared by:

KARAPATAN Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights
National Office
2/F Erythrina Bldg., #1 Maaralin cor Matatag Sts., B
rgy. Central, Diliman, Quezon City 1100 PHILIPPINES
Voice/Fax: (+632) 435 4146
Email: urgentaction@karapatan.org
Website: http://www.karapatan.org