Lingkod Katribu slams raid on relief center
Lingkod Katribu condemned the raid done of a relief center in Iloilo. “This attack is an outrage, an affront to donors here and abroad who had contributed to provide relief to the people devastated by super typhoon Yolanda,” Kakay Tolentino, Lingkod Katribu program head said.
The Panay Center for Disaster Response (PCDR) office based in Jaro, Iloilo was ransacked by three unidentified men at around 1 o’clock in the morning of June 19. Three people, who are staff and volunteers of the disaster response center, were handcuffed and their faces were partly covered with packaging tape. The masked men seized laptops, memory sticks, printed documents, hard drives, mobile phones, logbooks and cameras.
PCDR provides relief aid to typhoon Yolanda-struck communities in Northern Iloilo, Capiz, Antique, and Aklan. It has served about 50,000 families in the region with relief and rehabilitation assistance – food, non-food, shelter, among others.
“This direct attack against volunteers and personnel of a disaster relief center is enraging. We condemn these acts of terror to the people and institutions providing relief and rehabilitation to the survivors of Typhoon Yolanda,” Kakay Tolentino of Lingkod Katribu said.
Lingkod Katribu, the disaster and relief program of indigenous peoples group Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (KAMP) cooperates with PCDR to extend relief to indigenous communities in Panay Island affected by the Yolanda typhoon.
Tolentino supported PCDR’s suspicion that the military are responsible for the ransack. “This is no ordinary robbery. The operation was precise, targeting objects that would not normally be the quarry if they intended to loot the place. PCDR is correct to assume that this is part of Oplan Bayanihan, that apparently brands even those providing humanitarian relief as insurgents,” Tolentino said. “The attack on the staff and volunteers of PCDR is similar to the terror activities by military death squads and mercenaries perpetrated against activists, indigenous peoples, environment activists, and other progressive groups.”
Oplan Bayanihan is the internal security program of the Aquino government criticized by human rights organizations as the ‘blueprint’ of human rights violations and impunity in the Philippines.
According to Tolentino, PCDR staff has been previously charged by the military with trumped-up cases but later dismissed by the court as without merit.
“It is an outrage that the people who had willingly offered their time and effort to make up for the government’s criminal negligence in providing relief and rehabilitation for the survivors of Yolanda are now being targeted and treated as enemies of the state. This is truly a dire state for human rights in the Philippines,” Tolentino remarked.
The United Nations has been requested to send special rapporteurs to the Philippines to conduct probes on extrajudicial killings, human rights violations, forced evictions, and extreme poverty, after Philippine human rights workers submitted their reports to the 26th United Nations Human Rights Council sessions in Geneva, Switzerland. “The UNSRs are also requested to investigate the snail’s pace response of the Philippine government to the issues and needs of the survivors of super typhoon Yolanda. Seven months after the typhoon struck, many provinces in Eastern Visayas are still in crisis,” Tolentino remarked. “This recent attack on a relief center must also be included in the assessment of the government’s response to typhoon Yolanda, and the state of human rights in the Philippines,” Tolentino said.