24 October 2016
HUMANITARIAN AID WORKERS & VOLUNTEERS HARASSED BY THE MILITARY IN NUEVA VISCAYA
In the wake of Typhoon Karen and Supertyphoon Lawin, CDRC regional partner Alay-Bayan Luson Inc. (ABI) reported that yesterday, 23 October, two of its staff returned from Barangay Pelaway, Alfonso Castaneda, Nueva Viscaya with the disturbing news that soldiers had harassed our community-based Disaster Preparedness Committees (DPC).
The ABI staff had gone to the barangay to prepare it for relief delivery and operations (RDO) to be conducted today, 24 October. However, when they got there, they learned from the DPC members that the military had camped out in their barangay for three months. During that time, soldiers took names and approached the members of the DPCs and invited them for questioning at their mother detachment at Carranglan, Nueva Ecija. They wanted to know more about ABI and the DPC formations that it had organized in the area. Because the DPC Chairman cannot answer all the questions about ABI, the soldiers told her that they will wait for ABI staff to arrive and come with them to the detachment.
ABI has had a history of being on the receiving end of military harassment. In July 2012, its former executive director, Dutch missionary Wilhelmus Geertman was killed by suspected police or military assets. Geertman was accosted and shot at point-blank range by two men inside the very compound of ABI. Prior to that killing, ABI had been red-tagged by the military and its staff who were doing disaster risk reduction (DRR) projects in the area were harassed. This stemmed from the NGO’s resistance to logging and mining activities in Aurora province.
CDRC and ABI have jointly decided not to push through with the RDO because of this incident. The DPCs and local staff have to be protected from further harassment. Furthermore, with the history of politically-motivated killings during the time of former army general Jovito Palparan, there is a general fear of militarization.
CDRC calls on President Rodrigo Duterte and DSWD Secretary Judy Taguiwalo to look into this incident and ensure the safety of development workers and humanitarian aid organizations. As long as the military harassment looms as a threat, it cannot distribute to the Nueva Viscaya communities much-needed relief assistance.
CDRC has been doing community-based disaster risk reduction and management for 32 years. ABI is its regional partner in Central Luzon.
For more info, contact:
Lorena Villareal, ABI, 0949-737-0135, firstname.lastname@example.org
Suyin Jamoralin, Executive Director, CDRC, 0977-849-6279, email@example.com
Malen Serato, Research and Public Information Department, 0916-499-1410, firstname.lastname@example.org