HELPING DISASTER VICTIMS
    NGO decries harassment by military

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    ANGELES CITY- A non-government organization whose main task is to help people hit by disasters condemned yesterday the alleged continuing harassment by the military, preventing them from giving out relief goods to folk displaced by the recent Typhoon Lawin in Nueva Vizcaya.

    The Alay Bayan-Luson Inc. (ABI), whose executive director Willem Geertman, a German was killed at their office here in 2012 allegedly by the police, said threats apparently from the Army’s 7th Infantry Division had prompted them to cancel relief distribution to the Bungkalot tribal folk in Barangays Pelaway, Lipuga and Cawayan all in Alfonso Castañeda, Nueva Vizcaya in the last week of October.

    In a statement, ABI condemned the military for “its continuing vilification, harassment and surveillance of our organization and its activities.”

    “We take particular exception the AFP’s 7th Infantry Division’s determined intent to malign ABI. It has at the very least delayed our work to distribute much-needed humanitarian aid to affected community members including indigenous peoples hit by Typhoon Lawin in Nueva Vizcaya. It has furthered the agony of the already suffering victims in our area of services,] the group said.

    The group recalled that “in 2012, our executive director Willem Geertman was killed by armed men who barged into our office in Pampanga.”

    “We firmly believe they were military agents and the assassination was part of the past Aquino government’s Oplan Bayanihan,” it said.

    It also noted that “prior to that, the AFP had been accusing Geertman and our organization of being fronts of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and sympathizers of the New People’s Army (NPA). “

    “We have repeatedly denied these allegations yet the AFP continues to malign our organization,” the statement lamented.

    The statement said soldiers from the 7th ID have been harassing its members on the phone, as well as by spying and surveillance of members by the military.

    “We strongly urge the government to scrap Oplan Bayanihan and stop the vilification campaign against ABI and other development organizations,” the statement said.

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