Militants rally at Camp Aguinaldo over rape of ‘lumad’ girl
A militant women’s group picketed Camp Aguinaldo on Friday to demand that the military jail three soldiers accused of raping a teenaged “lumad” girl in Davao del Norte instead of just placing them under restricted custody.
Members of Gabriela, also called on the AFP to immediately pull out its troops from areas where indigenous people or lumad live, citing the series of alleged abuses committed by the military against the lumad.
Joms Salvador, Gabriela secretary general, said it appeared the soldiers were being given special treatment. “If common, poor people were tagged in this, they would have been jailed and beaten up. But since they are members of the AFP, they are merely restricted to their camp,” Salvador said.
Around 20 members of Gabriela joined the midmorning picket in front of Camp Aguinaldo’s Gate 2 as soldiers wielding shields and truncheons looked on.
Sought for comment, AFP public affairs office chief Col. Noel Detoyato said the protest was “part of a working democracy.”
“We just hope they will not break the law while expressing themselves,” Detoyato said.
The protesters eventually ended their protest after it began to rain.
Earlier, the Philippine Army said it has placed under restricted custody three of its soldiers allegedly involved in the rape of a 14-year-old lumad girl in Talaingod, Davao del Norte. The Army, through its Human Rights Office, said it was conducting a special investigation.
Salvador argued that the soldiers should be arrested and jailed rather than remain in the custody of the 10th Infantry Division.
The militant group cited a series of abuses against lumad, including the killings of three lumad leaders allegedly by an armed group.
“The prolonged presence of soldiers usually result in sexual offenses. Victims are afraid or ashamed to expose the crime after being threatened and pressured into settlement,” Salvador said.
The militant group urged other lumad victims of sexual abuse to come out and file charges against their attackers, even if they turn out to be with the military.
“Such moves will be a chance to punish these criminals and strengthen the resounding call to pull out military and paramilitary troops from their ancestral lands,” Salvador added.
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