By Ralph John Mijares and Edalyn Acta
Twenty-two-year-old Rollen Catamin was one of the Indigenous Peoples who were arrested in the December 30 police operations in Iloilo and Capiz provinces for alleged possession of firearms.
But for Catamin’s mother, Loduvisa Catamin, 45, of Barangay Roosevelt, Tapaz in Capiz, her son always wanted to be in the army.
“How can my son be a suspect when he wants to join the army? Loduvisa asked in the dialect.
When authorities searched their house for Rollen, he was nowhere to be found because he was sleeping at a nipa hut, few meters from their home, she said.
She said she accompanied the officers to her son’s location.
When she came back to their home, the people there were lying on the ground with armed officers pointing guns at them, she said.
She said she got worried about the evidence being planted, but the officer she talked to said that it was not going to happen.
“We are poor and we can’t earn money without renting land to do farming,” she said.
Still, she wanted her son to “go and follow your dream of joining the army after you get out of prison.”
The police operations resulted in the death of nine persons, including barangay officials, and arrest of 10 people in Tapaz, Capiz, and the apprehension of seven suspects in Calinog, Iloilo.
According to Panay Alliance Karapatan, the IP community was part of the Panay Tumandok, and that they did not fight back against the police.
But during the operations, police claimed that firearms and explosives were found during the service of the search warrants.
Meanwhile, VOLTing in for Peace was conducted by the Regional Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict-6 in Tapaz recently.
The activity is a way for the different government agencies to reach out to the Tapaznons through offering different services, promoting peace, and informing the people about the atrocities of the rebel group.*