Terror knows no age as soldiers of the Duterte regime unleashed cruelties against peasant and Lumad communities in Bukidnon during its focused military operations (FMO). The soldiers preyed on at least five peasant teens in separate incidents.
On November 19, the 16th IB arrested 17-year old Ruben Dano, a young peasant from Sityo Dulapong, Barangay Balangigay in Kitaotao who was tending his carabao in his farm. He was held at gunpoint, beaten repeatedly, held incommunicado, and forced to guide the operating troops for five days. The military freed Dano only after his family and fellow villagers demanded his release.
Few days after Ruben’s abduction, soldiers struck another teen villager with a rifle’s butt.
The horror for these minors started early on. On November 12, Loloy Corrales’ underaged children, who were accompanying him at their farm, were traumatized upon seeing their father being beaten and held at knifepoint by the soldiers. Soldiers also mauled their uncle Archie Corrales during the same incident.
On November 14 in Barangay Dalurong in Kitaotao, two teens were held by the 16th IB at gunpoint and subjected to psychological torture and interrogation. Terrified by the incident, one of the youngsters fainted. In the neighboring village of Balokbokan a week later, another teen was kicked in his sides for refusing to turn over his cellphone to the soldiers.
In most of the cases, the military accused the victims of being sympathizers or supporters of the New People’s Army. The 16th IB is notorious for subjecting its victims to the harshest forms of cruelties, ranging from harassment to torture, and for arbitrarily seizing residents’ money, farm animals, and other valuables.
The military stepped up its operations in the area to railroad the construction of Duterte’s China-funded South Pulangi Hydroelectric Power Plant which will cover a portion of the municipalities of Kitaotao, Kibawe, Dangcagan, and Damulog. The escalation of attacks on civilians is meant to suppress opposition to the project and drive away at least 30,000 peasants and Lumad.