Activist shot dead, small miners tortured, almost burned alive in Mindanao – Karapatan

December 22, 2017 - 1:10 PM
The small-scale miners, one of them a minor, show the injuries they said they suffered during torture by soldiers who also attempted to burn them alive. (photo from Karapatan-Southern Mindanao)

MANILA, Philippines — An activist was shot dead in Davao Oriental on Thursday, while two small-scale miners, one a minor, said they had escaped being burned alive in Compostela Valley, allegedly by the soldiers they claimed had tortured them for more than a week in Tagum City, Davao del Norte, the human rights group Karapatan said.

An urgent alert from Karapatan-Southern Mindanao said Edwin Magallanes, 38, of Purok Juan, Panikian in Banaybanay, Davao Oriental, was shot dead around 11 a.m. Thursday by suspected agents of the Army’s 28th Infantry Battalion.

Magallanes was a member of Abanterong Nakigbisog or Abantena,which opposed the entry of large-scale mining and the militarization of peasant and lumad communities.

In a separate alert, Karapatan-Southern Mindanao said Janry Mensis, 22, and a 16-year old it identified only by the pseudonym Jerry, small-scale miners and farmers who belonged to the Kahugpungan sa mga Mag-uuma sa Maco, were eating balut in downtown Tagum early in the evening of November 28 when they were accosted and accused of being thieves by soldiers they identified as “Medina” and “Cantoba,” who were with two companions.

“Medina and Cantoba then called the police and immediately brought the victims to the police station in Tagum City,” where police personnel interrogated them but eventually handed them back to the two soldiers after failing to find proof of the accusations against them

They were then taken to the 71st Infantry Battalion’s camp in Mawab, Compostela Valley where they said they were beaten several times by soldiers they identified as “Ferol” and “Cuevas,” who also allegedly took their money.

They were then locked up in a military ambulance inside the camp until December 6, or around eight days, but said they were fed only for six days.

Late at night of December 6, Karapatan said, the two were made to wear military uniforms, tied up and forced on board a military truck that took them to Baragay Masara where, they said, they were hogtied and gagged by around 20 soldiers.

The two said the soldiers talked of killing them before digging a pit before which the victims were strangled with a rope.

When they feigned unconsciousness, the two were dropped into the pit. The soldiers allegedly poured a container of crude oil on them and then set them alight before leaving the area.

“Janry and Jerry were able to run and escape the fire after the military left them, though Janry already suffered third degree burns,” walking for hours to reach home, Karapatan said.

But it was only on December 12 when they reported the incident.