Military abuses are rampant in areas with neoliberal projects
NDF-Bikol strongly condemns yet another case of kiling in Jose Panganiban, Camarines Norte last May 15. The civilian victim, Romeo Agua, was a resident of Brgy. San Jose of said town. He was shot by elements of the military eight times – seven in the body and once in the mouth. According to witnesses, the military forced him to put the gun in his mouth before pulling the trigger.
This case is the most recent addition to incidents of military abuses reported in that town as well as neighboring areas in Camarines Norte this year. Since January, there have already been 14 reported cases of illegal search and seizure, illegal detention, harassments and killings against residents of Sta. Elena, Capalonga, Jose Panganiban and Labo.
Unbridled military abuse and fascism, conduct of military operations and deployment of their troops in areas coveted by big businesses and neoliberal projects are part the military and police’s modus operandi. Particularly with Camarines Norte’s case wherein number of human rights violations, especially in the first district, increased this year, there are three foreign-owned projects set to commence: the Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners’ wind mill project in Jose Panganiban and Capalonga, large-scale mining operations by Mt. Labo Exploration and Development Corp. in Labo and a planned geothermal project by Premier GeoExcel Inc.
This is similar to Masbate’s experience where frequent rights violations and extrajudicial killings were done by the military and the police as preparation for the arrival of foreign and big businesses and projects. For example, with the commencement of the 1,854-hectare ecotourism project of Masbate Park and Land Development, Inc., not less than 200 cases of human rights violations including more than 30 incidents of killings were reported. Meanwhile in 2019, on the coasts of Burias, Claveria and San Pascual which are targeted for wide-scale reclamation and the arrival of commercial fisheries, police operations escalated under Provincial Operation for Socio-Economic Development Against Crime (POSDAC). Fisherfolks were arrested while their boats and other tools were burned and destroyed.
NDF-Bikol calls for utmost vigilance and caution against military and police operations especially in areas within the region targeted by various neoliberal projects. Mass organizations and residents themselves must mobilize to defend their lives and livelihood from both destructive projects and consequent military operations. Families of victims are also encouraged to coordinate with human rights advocates, the media, church and other institutions that can help in publicizing these crimes and in chasing after the perpetrators.