Press Release: S. Tagalog rights group condemn continuing military operations despite ceasefire agreement

KARAPATAN-ST | Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights – Southern Tagalog

Press Release | December 29, 2010

Reference: Glen Malabanan, Secretary General, Karapatan-ST

Human rights group KARAPATAN-Southern Tagalog (KARAPATAN-ST) in a statement today called on the Aquino administration to police their troops as military operations continue in Quezon province despite the temporary ceasefire agreement agreed upon by the Government of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines. The ceasefire, which started last December 16 and will end on January 03, was supposedly called for in time for the celebration of Christmas season and as a goodwill measure for the upcoming peace negotiations in February.

According to KARAPATAN-ST secretary general Glen Malabanan, they have received reports from their local counterparts in San Narciso town in Quezon that the 74th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army (IBPA) have been continually conducting checkpoints and military operations in communities, searching for members of the New People’s Army. “It is as if there was never a ceasefire agreement.”

Last night, KARAPATAN-ST also received a report that about 10 individuals from Metro Manila who were visiting a baranggay in San Narciso were nabbed by elements of the 74th IBPA and are possibly detained right now at their military camp in Catanuan, Quezon.

Malabanan scored the military for violating the agreement and using the ceasefire to attack even civilians that they perceive as communist supporters. Malabanan stressed that the incident is not an isolated case as the military committed the same violation in Mindoro Occidental.

Stephen Lester Barrientos, 19, a member of ANAKBAYAN-ST and the cultural group Southern Tagalog Cultural Network, was brutally killed when more than 20 members of the 80th IB launched an operation in San Jose, Occidental Mindoro last 23 December. Barrientos was about to visit his family at Mindoro when the military attacked and fired gun in the house where he was staying, killing him and injuring another civilian.

Barrientos’ family also had difficulty in retrieving his body as the military averted the retrieval. His body was also hastily buried and is already decaying upon the family’s reclamation. His body arrived in Cabuyao, Laguna last night where relatives, friends and militant groups will be holding a wake.

“These clear ceasefire violations are sending a message. Is the Aquino government really sincere in putting an end to the decades-long war in the country? Pres. Aquino should police the ranks of his military troops if he is serious in pursuing the peace negotiations with the communist movement. ” Malabanan concluded.###

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