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Militants decry countryside militarization

LEGAZPI CITY --- Hundreds of militant activists on Tuesday staged a protest rally while national and local officials were in the middle of regional orientation workshop seeking to create a local task force aimed at ending the local communist armed conflict.

Activists and militant groups led by Bayan Bicol denounced creation of a regional task force to end insurgency as a ploy to intensify the militarization of the countryside and worsen human rights violations, according to Dan Balucio, Bayan Bicol spokesman.

Balucio said Duterte’s EO 70 institutionalizing the Whole-of-Nation Approach in attaining inclusive and sustainable peace is a military strategy to expand the declaration of Martial Law in the whole country.

Militants transported by at least 20 jeepney units bearing angry streamers held a protest action at the gate of the Legazpi City Convention Center here where hundreds of local officials from various towns and cities in Bicol were in attendance for the regional orientation on localizing Executive Order No. 70.

Balucio in an interview said the deployment of additional military forces in Bicol has resulted in the killings of several members of militant groups in the provinces of Masbate, Sorsgon and Camarines Sur.

He cited the incidence where two Karapatan leaders were gunned down in Sorsogon and the recent alleged airstrike in a village in Caramoan town where at least 20 families scampered to safer grounds.

“They are slowly liquidating members of various progressive groups and sow fear amongst us through harassments, surveillance, as well as torture,” he wailed.

Human Rights violation data indicate that at least 697 human rights defenders were killed during the period 2001 to 2018.

Task Force Detainees of the Philippines documented 76 human rights violations affecting 333 human rights defenders from September 2013 to September 2016.

At least 59 disappearances were recorded during the first three years of the Duterte administration. Records also show.

Balucio expressed concern on the reports that military officials are visiting local officials in Bicol urging them to pass local resolution declaring the members of the communist movement and other affiliated organization as “persona non grata” in their respective towns.

He said, “although we have not yet received reports about local government officials passing a resolution of that kind, we instead urge local officials to be resolved against militarization.”

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