ROUGH CUTS| Whose call really was the Haran lumads’ ‘rescue’?

OUR GREETINGS to fellow Davaoenos for the celebration this week starting last Monday, August 17, of the Kadayawan Festival. Let’s all enjoy it; have fun witnessing activities showcasing the rich cultural heritage handed down to us by our forefathers.

–ooOoo–

     So there are now charges filed against Partylist congressman Isagani Zarate and some leaders of militant and lumad groups who encamped themselves inside the Haran compound of the United Church of Christ of the Philippines (UCCP) inside the Brokenshire Hospital Complex?

     And the militant groups together with the remaining lumads at the Haran compound are also filing their own charges against the military and those who collaborated with them in attempting to force the lumad bakwits back to their mountain villages to the extent of using force and intimidation just so the natives will accede to their demands?

     Congressman Zarate was quick to brand the military’s charges as “pure lies, clearly trumped up, and part of the vilification campaign against those who support the lumad bakwits.”

     For its part, the military is pursuing the charges based on an alleged complaint of rape by a 14-year old lumad girl and the militants’ alleged refusal to let some of the lumads abandon the Haran compound to go back home.

     Other than these, the militant group leaders were also accused of kidnapping and serious illegal detention.

     We just hope that the City Prosecution Office will be able to resolve the complaints of both parties as fast and judicious as it can be. And if finally the cases will proceed to the court, the same will be able to try them to its conclusion with dispatch.

     Even in our layman’s mind we can easily spot the weaknesses and strengths of the cases filed by the military. For certain the city prosecutor will notice these even faster. So, if what we see in the cases is the same as what the prosecutor will see, then we are certain it could come up with a ruling in due time.

     If the city prosecutor’s office will dilly-dally on resolving the cases, then either the complainants or the respondents, or both, will be suspecting that the prosecution office is not doing its job or simply not interested in cases involving the military and their nemesis, the militants.

–ooOoo–

     Still on the Haran incident: who was, or were behind the operation to “rescue” the lumads housed in the facility of the United Church of Christ of the Philippines (UCCP)?

     The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Regional Office XI through Regional Director Priscilla Razon, categorically denied involvement in the incident as claimed by North Cotabato Rep. Nancy Catamco, House Committee chair on the Indigenous people, during a privileged speech she delivered in Congress last Monday, August 17.

   According to Director Razon “we were there only to assess the situation of the IPs (indigenous people).

     We understand the predicament that our good friend Director Razon is into. Yes, such operation as rescue, or whatever it was, is not the DSWD’s concern. The said office will only come in when the rescue operation’s target are minors who are victims of human trafficking or held against their will, or being maltreated.

     Unfortunately for Director Razon, her team’s timing of doing its assessment of the lumads’ situation inside the Haran compound, made them vulnerable to implications. Why did her office’s team schedule its assessment activity during the “rescue” operation of the encamped lumads? Why did not her agency’s team conduct the assessment earlier than the “rescue”?

     By scheduling the assessment on the same day that the “rescue” was executed, the DSWD opens itself to suspicion that it is part of the “rescue” operation that was launched on that particular day.

     Nevertheless, it was a good thing that Director Razon was quick to clarify the statement made by Congresswoman Catamco that tends to point to the DSWD report as the basis of her decision to “rescue” the lumads from their encampment.

     But Director Razon was able to come up with an intelligent answer to claims that the lumads were not able to receive their 4Ps cash grants.

     According to Razon, it is true that the lumads were unable to receive their cash transfer under the government’s 4Ps program because “they were not there in the areas”.

     Indeed how could they, the lumads were in Davao City to evade the alleged military harassment in the uplands of Talaingod.

     Now who should be blamed for the lumads’ failure to get their 4Ps cash grant; the military for its “militarization” of the area, or the militants for facilitating their evacuation to escape alleged military harassments?

     Take your pick.

Posted in Opinion