Army relieves Corporal, other militias for torture of lumads in DavOcc

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The Philippine Army’s 10th Infantry Division has ordered the relief of an Army Corporal and several other members of the Special CAFGU Active Auxiliaries of the Army’s 72nd Infantry Battalion Thursday, March 10, after a video surfaced showing the soldiers “torturing” three members of the Tagakulo tribe in Barangay Demoloc in Malita, Davao Occidental last February 19.

In a Facebook post by Tagakolu Aku, it claimed that Tagakolu farmer Orlando Engo of Sitio Matamis, Barangay Demoloc was subjected to torture by one “Sgt. Sandy Batolbatol” of the 72nd Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army together with Special CAFGU Armed Auxiliary (SCAA) militiamen under his command last February 19, 2016.

“This took place at their detachment in Demoloc just a few meters away from the barangay hall and a stone’s throw from the home of the Barangay Chair. Orlando, or Kaido as he is commonly known, has sought the help of the Malita Tagakaulo Mission and the Mission is taking the necessary steps to get justice for Kaido. The SCAA is an armed militia group created by the incumbent Gov. Claude Bautista. Kaido, who is 52 years of age, a widower and who lives by himself, was falsely accused of sending his fourteen-year-old grandson, Ian, to steal from a store in Sitio Matamis,” said Joey G├ínio Evangelista of the Malita Tagakaulo Mission.

“When Kaido denied the accusation the sergeant started beating the frail-framed Kaido with a piece of wood hitting his behind. After hitting him ten times, Sgt. Batolbatol ordered Ian to beat up his grandfather; the boy complied. Later, it was the turn of the SCAA militiamen. They hit Kaido on the head with a piece of wood. They repeatedly hit him with their fists on his side, on the chest and in the stomach,” he added.

Evangelista said that the beatings continued without let up. Not satisfied with beating up Kaido, the militiamen placed ice under both his armpits, in his trousers by his bottoms and his groin. Then they poured ice cold water on him till his whole body was drenched as shown in the video posted in Facebook.

“Unable to take anymore, Kaido agreed to sign a document admitting to having sent his grandson to steal from the store. After that, he was allowed to go just like that as if nothing had happened,” Evangelista said.

A medical report showed that Kaido had a 5cm laceration on his head, contusion hematoma anterior chest, swelling hematoma at left wrist, and hematoma at buttocks area.

The Malita Tagakaulo Mission said that Kaido was severely traumatized by the torture he was subjected to and by the humiliation that came with it.

It was learned that “Sgt. Batolbatol” offered Kaido P50,000 and his old motorcycle so as to withdraw his complaint against the Army soldier. But the lumad refused the offer.

In a statement, the Army’s 10th Infantry Division expressed shock and sadness with the actions of their soldier and SCAAs.

“The Command has directed the Commander, 72nd Infantry Battalion to relieve Cpl. Sandy Batolbatol and the concerned SCAAs from their detachment in Barangay Demoloc, take them under his custody at his headquarters, and conduct investigation to determine their culpability and the appropriate punishment,” the 10th ID said.

The Division also urged other agencies to conduct their own investigation on the incident and that they would readily make available the concerned soldier and SCAAs for such investigation.

“We want to assure everyone that the 10ID does not and will not condone or tolerate any abusive behavior of our troops including the CAFGU Active Auxiliaries, especially violations of people’s rights. We therefore urge everyone to report abuses committed by our soldiers and CAAs. Rest assured that we shall promptly and appropriately act on these reports,” the Army Division assured.

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