Farmer’s group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) said the so-called mis-encounter between government troops earlier this week in Sta. Rita, Samar is inevitable under President Rodrigo Duterte’s counterinsurgency program Oplan Kapayapaan.
“The government’s own policy Oplan Kapayapaan and not Murphy’s Law is responsible for the mis-encounter between the 1st Platoon, 805th Company, Regional Mobile Force Battalion 8 of the Philippine National Police and the 87th Infantry Battalion Philippine Army troops in Sitio Lonoy, Barangay San Roque, Sta Rita, Samar,” KMP said in a statement.
Six police were killed and nine were wounded in the incident both the Armed forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) blamed on improper coordination.
“There was coordination. We just do not know down to what level the coordination reached,” PNP director general Oscar Albayalde said Wednesday.
The AFP said its troopers suffered no casualties.
According to news reports, the AFP’s 87th IBPA have mistaken the police troops as New People’s Army guerillas. Both units were conducting counterinsurgency operations.
The KMP, whose members have complained of being target of the government’s counterinsurgency operations said such occurrences are bound to happen.
“Wala nang sini-sino ang mga tropa ng gobyerno, kahit sila-sila nagpapatayan na. Government troops are ready to fire a gun at the least provocation, regardless of the situation or probable consequences,” KMP said.
The mis-encounter shows how indiscriminate government troops are in their conduct of military operations, particularly the Community Operations for Peace and Development (COPD) and Peace and Development Outreach Program (PDOP). No more protocols, no more observance of international humanitarian laws, the group added.
“Kahit sino na lang pinaghihinalaan na NPA. Lalo na ang mga magsasaka, pinagbibintangang NPA, saka huhulihin at ito-tortyur ng militar. Ang AFP kapag may nasalubong na magsasaka sa bundok, pagbibintangan agad na NPA. With the heightened militarization and military operations in rural areas, misencounters among government troops are likely to happen,” KMP chairperson Danilo Ramos said.
At present, there are seven AFP battalions in Eastern Visayas – 20th, 43rd, 14th, 87th, 52nd, 19th and 78th Infantry Battalions under the 8th Infantry Division, KMP revealed.
SAGUPA-SB, KMP’s chapter in Eastern Visayas said it is common for Community Support Programs (CSP) and Peace and Development Teams (PDT) of the AFP, under Oplan Kapayapaan, to ‘loiter’ and conduct counterinsurgency operations in the hinterlands.
“Government troops encamp and operate in civilian areas,” SAGUPA-SB said.
KMP called on the Duterte government to resume the cancelled peace talks with the NDFP and make way for a possible stand down of forces to deescalate heavy military presence in peasant communities. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)