Military officer rapes minor in Benguet

7 April 2012

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Armed elements of the state have not relented in targeting progressive leaders and civilians. The most infamous cases involve the rape by a military officer of a minor in Benguet; the harassment of a people's lawyer in Ilocos Sur and a woman leader in La Union; and the arrest of minors in Quezon and mass leaders in Negros. Following are the reports collated by Ang Bayan in the past two months.

April 3. Elements of the Bacolod City Police Office arrested two mass leaders in Negros using a warrant for a trumped-up case of robbery. Arrested were Christian Tuayon, BAYAN-Negros secretary-general and Ian Evidenre, Kilusang Mayo Uno-Negros spokesperson. They were seized in the middle of a protest action being held in front of the Bacolod San Sebastian Cathedral.

April 3. Operatives of the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group arrested Reynante Gamara in Las PiƱas City. Gamara is a Bayan Muna campaigner for the National Capital Region. The operatives inserted Gamara's name in an arrest warrant for the 2007 killing in Mauban, Quezon of a PFC Eri-berto Eclavea and a Richard Cortizano, allegedly a surrenderee. A relative of Gamara said that it was impossible for him to have been involved in the crime since he was in Manila at the time. He is now detained at the PNP Custodial Center in Camp Crame.

Several hours before the arrest, suspected operatives of the regime harassed Gamara's daughter Nikki, a member of Anakbayan at the University of the Philippines-Manila and her friend Cleve Arguelles, also an Anakbayan member and a student councilor at UP Manila.

The two students were harassed twice by the operatives. First, they were tailed by the operatives who pretended to ask directions so they could get close to Nikki's residence. On the next day, a vehicle tailed Arguelles while he was on the way home from Nikki's house. When Arguelles decided to stop at a restaurant, he was followed in by one of the operatives and asked to come with them. He was repeatedly asked where he lived and what his relationship was to a "Nikki."

March 31. Human rights lawyer and Ilocos Sur second district board member Atty. Robert Tudayan reported receiving death threats. This was after 3rd IB commanding officer Lt. Col. Rogelio Mesias claimed that Tudela was sighted bathing in a creek with a barangay official and guerrillas of the New People's Army in Barangay Lopez, Lidlida, Ilocos Sur. Atty. Tudayan vehemently denied the military's accusations and said it was all part of the harassment he has been getting for helping the poor and succeeding in securing the dismissal of a case involving two alleged NPA members arrested by the military.

Meanwhile, a Bayan Muna organizer was threatened and robbed in her own home in Ba-rangay Casantaan, Sto. Tomas, La Union. In a statement, Clarita "Nanay Caling" Bilog said she was sleeping at around midnight when she felt someone tying up her hands and feet. When she struggled, she was hit and gagged. Her assailants took her cellphones, money and goats.

March 28. Three youth were illegally arrested by elements of the 74th IB of the Philippine Army in Sitio Tagbakan, Baran-gay Pansoy, San Andres, Quezon. The military arrested minors Elmer Desoyo and Rey Rodrigo, both 17 years old, and Reynaldo delos Reyes. They were accused of being NPA members and collecting taxes from the residents. The three victims were only looking for work in a coconut plantation when they were arrested.

March 27. Seven farmers from Hacienda Luisita were arrested after elements from the Tarlac City police and the military demolished a protest camp set up by the peasants in Barangay Balite, Tarlac City. Arrested were Winky Esteban and Jay Martinez-Dionisio, officials of Barangay Balite; Manuel Mandigma and Robert Mendoza; and minors Alfred Martinez, 17 and Meric Trinidad, 16. They were charged with malicious mischief and detained at the Philippine National Police headquarters in Tarlac City. Martinez and Trinidad were released that afternoon. Meanwhile, two policemen dragged woman leader Flor Sibayan. Another protester, Becky Canlas, had a gun pointed at her while the protest camp was being demolished.

March 8. Soldiers harassed residents, including a teacher in Pantukan, Compostela Valley. Eighteen soldiers from the 71st IB led by Sergeants Macalanda and Mabalot entered Purok 9, Sitio Sapang Tin-aw, Barangay Tibagon in Pantukan aboard a truck owned by a mining company. The troopers occupied three houses and interrogated civilians Nellyn Calva and Herculano Sumilhig for six hours. The soldiers were forcing them to admit to being members of the New People's Army.

The harassment was repeated on March 11 when the soldiers called a meeting ostensibly to discuss the govenment's 4Ps program in Sitio Cadapa; Sitio Sapang Tin-aw; and Sitio Sapang Lubog. Macalanda tried to force Marilou Lambo, a teacher at the Sayong Edukasyin Pambata to admit that their school was established by the NPA. Macalanda shouted at Lambo and accused the residents of their community of being NPA members.

A number of residents from Purok 10 fled their homes out of fear due to the military's onslaught. The soldiers also set up a checkpoint and blocked the Quick Reaction Team sent by Karapatan-Southern Mindanao to investigate the harassment.

February 17. A 16-year old girl was raped by a military officer in Mankayan, Benguet. Isa-bel (not her real name) went missing for three days before she came home weak and unable to speak. According to Inna-buyog-GABRIELA, Isabel, who expereienced deep trauma, failed to take her final exams and was not able to graduate with her high school class.

The perpetrator was identified as Capt. Danilo Lalin, an officer of Highland 86 of the Philippine Army 50th IB. Lalin first invited Isabel to be his text mate before asking to meet her. He made her take contraceptive pills before raping her several times. Isabel's parents and supporters are seeking justice for her and demanding punishment for Lalin.

Isabel's case is the second in the Cordillera. In 1999, a 14-year old girl was raped by three soldiers in Abra, according to records of the Cordillera Human Rights Alliance (CHRA).

The CHRA said that there may be more unreported cases of abuse against women and other Cordillerans because of continuing militarization under the Aquino regime's Oplan Bayanihan.