Children of the storm decries human rights violations

Children of the storm decries human rights violations

REDEMPTORIST PARISH CHURCH, TACLOBAN — “For the government not to provide sufficient help to disaster survivors is one thing. But to be killed for demanding help is another,” Marissa Cabaljao, People Surge Secretary-General said.

The statement came as a response from a report presented today by the local human rights group Katungod-Sinirangan Bisayas, stating that at least 13 cases of tortures and extrajudicial killings among disaster survivors and community leaders since Yolanda have been recorded.

Victims of human rights violations conference
Redemptorist Church (Tacloban City) Conference Hall — Peasants from different barrios of Samar and Leyte join a conference of victims of human rights violations committed in two years time since Typhoon Yolanda. Photo from Dr. Efleda Bautista.

“This is not just criminal negligence; this is deliberate assault to our rights and a desperate attack to silence the legitimate demands of Yolanda survivors,” she added.

Cabaljao cited the case of Jefferson Custodio, a People Surge volunteer and community organizer who was shot dead by perceived military men while delivering farm tools to farmers in Carigara, Leyte. Months after, his uncle was shot dead after the military was reported to have declared that someone’s going to be targeted next.

People Surge also assailed militarization in farming communities. Citing a report from Katungod (local organization of Karapatan), sexual abuse of a woman, detention of sitio president Leni Sabaniao and a motorcycle driver suspected to be a member of the New People’s Army (NPA) were among the violations perpetrated by the military as they now occupy the village of Barangay Mabini, Basey, Samar.

“Peasant communities have long been neglected with help by the government as if they are not disaster survivors as well. Instead of showering them with assistance, the government showered them with bullets,” Cabaljao said.

Video shows the ruins of a farmer’s house burnt down by members of the military in Llorente, Samar. Video from Katungod Sinirangan Bisayas facebook account

The Comprehensive Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Program (CRRP) of the government relegated the farmers’ concerns at the backseat despite the fact that Eastern Visayas is an agricultural region.

Instead of adequately addressing the sustainable livelihod needs of the farmers, the government trample upon the economic rights of the farmers following reports of indiscriminate firing from the military, forcing the farmers to flee from their livelihood.

“This is not ‘build back better’ but ‘build back worse’,” Cabaljao said.

“We are the children of the storm but the government added another form of disaster in the form of outright fascism,” she ended. #

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