By RONALYN V. OLEA
MANILA – Cesar Garganta, 28, merely wanted to earn extra income for the enrolment of his two children. Instead of money, what Garganta got was pain and trauma.
On May 28, Garganta and his two friends went to work on a farm in Vista Hermosa village, Macalelon, Quezon. At around 9 a.m., the three chanced upon more than a dozen men in uniform armed with high-powered rifles. The soldiers shouted at the three farmers and Garganta’s two companions immediately ran away, leaving Garganta behind.
“For five hours, the soldiers beat me up. They pointed their guns at me, pointed a bolo knife on my neck. They squeezed my nose with pliers, pricked my ears with sticks. They blindfolded me and tied me to a tree,” Garganta said in an interview with Bulatlat.com. The soldiers belonging to the Philippine Army’s 85th Infantry Battalion were insisting that he and his fellow farmers were members of the New People’s Army (NPA).
Garganta is only one of the 128 victims of harassment, torture and other forms of human rights violations perpetrated by suspected state agents in Quezon, according to human rights alliance Karapatan-Southern Tagalog (Karapatan-ST). Eight battalions of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, police and paramilitary are deployed in the 22 towns of the province.
On June 22, at around 3 p.m., Dela Peña was tending to his farm at sitio Sabang, barangay (village) Pagsangahan, San Francisco, Quezon when nine soldiers of the 59th and 74th IB of the Philippine Army approached him.
Speaking during the kick-off activity of the mercy mission led by the Save Bondoc Peninsula Movement, June 25, Dela Peña said soldiers accused him of being an NPA member. “They asked me names I do not know. Whenever I said I did not know the persons they were asking about, they punched my stomach,” he said in the vernacular.
The soldiers went with Dela Peña to his house. “I heard the commander ordering his men to kill me. Not long, a soldier pointed a 45 caliber gun at me,” he said..... MORE