By RONALYN V. OLEA
MANILA – Catholic nun Stella Matutina is one of the 15 who have been charged with kidnapping, illegal detention and trafficking in relation to incidents involving Lumad evacuees in Davao City.
Matutina is the spokesperson of Panalipdan-Southern Mindanao and this year’s recipient of the Weimar Award for Human Rights given by the Weimar City Council of Germany. She is one of those who provided humanitarian assistance to some 700 Lumad who have evacuated from Talaingod, Davao del Norte since January due to heavy military operations. The evacuees have been staying at the Haran compound of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) in Davao City.
The complainants, in two separate joint affidavits, said “…the nun who came to the compound gathered us and taught us the essentials of joining and participating in a rally. She likewise demonstrated on how to hold flags and placards while in a rally (sic).”
Cristina Palabay, secretary general of human rights alliance Karapatan, called the charges “ridiculous.” “The charges are based on flimsy grounds,” she told Bulatlat.com in an interview.
Bulatlat.com was able to get a copy of the complaint.
Complainants Datu Kalumpot Dalon and Datu Laris Landahay filed the charges with the office of the Crime Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) in Davao City on April 30. Hours later, four other complainants also came to the CIDG to file the same charges. Some portions of their affidavits are the same.
Palabay said the complainants are some of the Lumad who opted to return to Talaingod and were forced by the military to file the charges.
The complainants said Sheena Duazo, “the young woman from Bayan (Bagong Alyansang Makabayan) lectured about cleanliness, personal hygiene and other things.”
They said Hanimay Suazo, secretary general of Karapatan-Southern Mindanao region, “lectured about women’s and children’s civil rights. (sic)”
They identified Rev. Juvie Jaime “as the minister who told us that we were evacuees and supposed to stay inside the compound.”
According to the complainants, Tony Salubre of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas-Southern Mindanao region promised them rice, farm tools and equipment.
They said they are filing the charges against the 15 respondents “who, in one way or another” deprived us of our freedom of locomotion on Feb. 3 to Feb 22 in UCCP, Haran. (sic)”