AFP’s rights violations strengthen resistance, NPA says

The government military’s human rights violations can only strengthen the New People’s Army (NPA) particularly in the Visayas region, the underground group’s Negros Island Regional Operation Command said.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines’ (AFP) “flagrant attacks” against civilians, innocent farmers and hors de combat NPA fighters are prodding the people to fight back, the revolutionary army’s Apolinario Gatmaitan Command spokesperson Maoche Legislador said in a statement.

In a reaction to AFP Visayas Command chief Lt. Gen. Benedict Arevalo’s assertion of a “remarkable combat accomplishment” by government soldiers in weakening the NPA in the region, Legislador said the former’s claim is nothing but “hallucination”.

Legislador added that Arevalo’s statement are, in reality, based upon the “murderous rampage” of his troops against civilian communities in Western, Central and Eastern Visayas.

“AFP’s monstrosity spans from red-tagging, threats and harassment, fake encounters, abductions and enforced disappearances, cold-blooded killings, forced surrenders, illegal arrest and detention, deception, aerial bombings and artillery shelling of communities and other human rights violations,” the regional NPA spokesperson said.

Legislador said that around 300 cases of human rights abuses affecting over 24,000 individuals were perpetrated by the 302nd and 303rd Brigade of the Philippine Army, 27 cases of which victimized more than 50 children in Negros Island alone.

“Arevalo…is on hallucinogens… the mastermind of all ceaseless state-sponsored crimes and state terrorism that has victimized the people of the Visayas. He is also the main spinner of lies and deceit,” Legislador said.

He also cited the AFP’s claim that the massacred Fausto family in Brgy. Buenavista, Himamaylan City, Negros Occidental last June 14 were “reinforcements” of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the NPA in Negros Island.

‘Strategic victory over the NPA’

Earlier this week, military spokesperson Col. Medel Aguilar also claimed the AFP has achieved “strategic victory” over the NPA, claiming further the revolutionary army has only 1,800 active members left.

In a National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) press conference last Monday, June 10, Aguilar said 400 of the 1,800 NPA fighters are already identified and are the subject of “focused military operations.”

Aguilar added that more than 600 NPA members were either recently killed in combat operations or voluntarily surrendered to the government.

“We should end the local armed conflict now. We cannot let them stay for another 50 years,” Aguilar said, adding the AFP intends to eliminate the NPA’s remaining active fronts this year.

Aguilar called on to local government units to bring social services to communities known to be influenced by the NPA.

Intensified armed encounters

Legislador admitted that real armed encounters between the NPA and the AFP have indeed intensified in Negros Island but these are mainly due to yet another “pipe dream” of defeating them swiftly under the Ferdinand Marcos Jr. government.

In fact, Legislador said, another company of the Regional Mobile Force Battalion 7 of the Philippine National Police has recently been deployed to Negros Oriental on the pretext of providing additional security for the upcoming Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections this December.

Negros Oriental governor Roel Degamo and nine others were killed earlier this year in a brazen assault by hired killers suspected to be employed by political rivals in the province.

But Legislador said that the military and police operations are really meant to eliminate the NPA’s resistance to the entry of foreign businesses to the island.

“In truth, the AFP and the entire state forces of the US-Marcos II regime are only prodding the people to fight back, on the streets and up to the countryside. What is left for the people on the Visayas islands is to strengthen themselves and their Red Army in order to advance the revolution further,” Legislador said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)