After kicking off last Monday, the Save Bondoc Peninsula Movement’s (SBPM) Peace Caravan arrived last night at Brgy. Talisay in San Andres town. The delegates of the caravan will conduct a Mercy Mission today in the said barangay which would include relief operations, medical mission, psychosocial activities, human rights seminar and fact finding, among others.
But the caravan did not go smoothly.
At around 2:30 P.M. yesterday, the caravan was halted after three of its jeepneys had a flat tire each from spikes deliberately scattered on the road at Brgy. Malaahos, Catanuan, about a hundred meters away from the Army’s 76th Infantry Battalion camp.
According to SBPM’s spokesperson Orly Marcellana, the incident was an obvious act of sabotage by the military against the peace caravan.
“Ipinapakita lamang nito gaano ka-halang ang bituka ng mga kasundaluhan. Ibig sabihin, handa silang pumatay ng maraming mga inosenteng sibilyan sa ginawa nilang pananabotahe sa aming caravan. Mabuti na lamang at hindi naging malubha ang aksidenteng idinulot ng mga spike na kanilang ikinalat” (“It clearly shows the brazenness of the military; they were ready to do anything to sabotage our caravan. It is a good thing that no untoward accident resulted from their foul play”), Marcellana said.
Smear campaign posters and streamers against rights group Karapatan, one of the conveners of SBPM, were also displayed all over the towns of Bondoc Peninsula. The propaganda materials contained offensive and intimidating content associating the volunteers and participants of the relief and medical services to the New People’s Army.
Upon arriving at Brgy. Talisay, San Andres, a concert sponsored by the military was being held. The soldiers were allegedly discouraging the residents from participating in the mercy mission. They were said to have been peddling lies that communist guerrillas were behind SBPM’s activity. Fourteen soldiers in full battle gear were also reported patrolling the area and conducting meetings that spread red baiting propaganda against the caravan.
“Ito ang Oplan Bayanihan ng administrasyong Aquino. Taliwas sa tunay na kahulugan at diwa ng Bayanihan, ang counterinsurgency program na ito ng gubyerno ay mapanghati at mapanlinlang. Ang lahat ng ginagawang paninira ng mga kasundaluhang ito ay patunay lamang na takot silang malantad ang katotohanang perwisyo ang indinudulot nila sa mamamayan ng Bondoc peninsula,” (“This is the Oplan Bayanihan of the Aquino administration. Contrary to the essence and meaning of “Bayanihan”, the counterinsurgency program of the government is both divisive and deceptive. All the smear campaign and red-baiting propaganda by the soldiers is an evidence of their fear that the actual anti-people effects of Oplan Bayanihan will be exposed”), Marcellana added.
Earlier this morning, elements of the Army 74th Infantry Battalion were reported to have been threatening local residents that they will wage a war against anyone who would participate in the mercy mission.
PEACE based on JUSTICE, not Human Rights Violations
The group is set to stay in San Andres town until tomorrow, June 28. They are expecting residents from nearby towns and barangays to participate in the mission. Afterwards, the caravan will continue to the town of Lopez where similar activities and services are expected to be held.
According to Marcellana, the caravan and mercy mission intend to educate the rural communities in Quezon about peace that is based on justice. “Hindi ito and kapayapaan na kagaya ng nais ng mga sundalo, kapayapaang nakabatay ng takot at pananahimik. Ang tunny na kapayapaan ay makakamit lamang kung malaya and mamayan mull sa mga human rights violation, kung namumuhay silla ng matiwasay at walang pangamba sa kanialng kakainin at ikabubuhay sa araw-araw.” (“This is peace unlike what the soldiers are peddling–that is, peace based on fear and intimidation. Genuine peace will only be achieved when the people are free from human rights violations, when they live in tranquility and without anxiety if there will be food on the table.)
The caravan likewise observed yesterday the United Nation’s (UN) Global Day Against Torture also known as UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture. Along with their call for the immediate pull-out of all military and para-military troops in Quezon, the peace caravan made short stops and released doves at every military camp and detachment in the towns of San Narciso, Macalelon, Catanuan and Mulanay.
SBPM also called for a “citizen’s arrest” yesterday, for the infamous Jovito Palparan who is still at-large despite a standing warrant of arrest issued by local court in Bulacan for the abduction of UP students Karen Empeño and Sherlyn Cadapan.
“Laganap ang inhustisya sa ating bansa, lalo na sa mga liblib na kanayunan, at ang mga kasundaluhan, kagaya ng mga ginawa noon nitong berdugong si Jovito Palparan ay kabialng sa nagpapalaganap ng inhustisyang ito. Sila ang sa araw-araw ay lumalabag sa karapatang pantao ng mamamayan. Kaya anuman ang gawing pananabotahe ng gma sundalo, magpapatuloy kami sa aming peace caravan at mercy mission, ngayon, at sa mga susunod pang panahon, hanggang makamit ang tunay na kapayapaang nakabatay sa katarungan,” (“There is so much injustice in our country especially in far-flung countryside. Soldiers are involved in these acts of injustice just like the butcher Jovito Palparan who was the brute peddler of worst human rights violations. They are those involved in everyday human rights violations against the people. We will thwart any form of sabotage by the military, push on with the peace caravan and mercy mission, today and in the future, until we achieve genuine peace based on justice,”) Marcellana said.