From InterAksyon (Oct 26): Thousands protest alleged ceasefire violations in Masbate
The caravan in Cawayan, Masbate to protest alleged military ceasefire violations in the province. (Bayan-Bicol photo)
Thousands of people staged a caravan and rallied in Cawayan town, Masbate Tuesday to protest alleged military violations of the government’s unilateral ceasefire, the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan in the Bicol region said.
As formal peace negotiations between the government and National Democratic Front of the Philippines resumed, both parties declared separate unilateral ceasefires as they hammer out details for an indefinite bilateral ceasefire.
The Cawayan rally, which drew more than 3,000 people, was the second mass action in the province this month following a larger event attended by some 4,000 in Dimasalang town on October 14, Bayan-Bicol said in a statement.
It quoted Pedring Delarama, spokesman of the Masbate People’s Organization, as saying the military has continued deploying troops to communities in Palanas, Dimasalang and Cawayan.
The soldiers have allegedly occupied barangay halls, day care centers and even schools, and have also been conducting a census of residents in the communities, Bayan-Bicol’s Vince Casilihan said.
Peasant leader Enrique Tumapil also accused the soldiers of conducting maneuvers in the guise of the government’s anti-drug campaign, Oplan Tokhang, going house-to-house and questioning residents.
Analyn Sabares said her family fled their home in Barangay Calapayan after a dozen soldiers visited their village on October 23 interrogating residents about the New People’s Army.
However, she said, soldiers also went to Barangay Cabungahan, where her family sought refuge with relatives.
Fr. Rene Invento of the Masbate chapter of the human rights group Karapatan urged the Duterte administration to act on the complaints and order the military back to barracks.