Philippine Army forces evacuation of peasants in Quirino Province

Civilians are suffering the negative impacts of the Duterte administration’s Oplan Kapayapaan and all-out war against the New People’s Army (NPA), a local farmer’ organization said.

Danggayan Dagiti Mannalon ti Cagayan Valley (Danggayan) reported 50 residents of rural communities in Maddela, Quirino have been harrassed and forced to evacuate due to military operations of the 86th Infantry Batallion of the Philippine Army (IBPA) last February 13.

The operations were allegedly carried out by to 86th IBPA to hunt down New People’s Army (NPA) guerrillas in the area.

The group said the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) purposely spread false information about combat breaking out in the nearby town of San Agustin, Isabela to justify their entry into the barrios of San Martin, Villa Gracia and Villa Ylanan.

According to reports, the soldiers descended on the communities on board two helicopters and several trucks and forced the people to evacuate.

Barangay San Martin chairperson Paulino Lunag led the people to the town center for temporary shelter, the report said.

Maddela Mayor Renato Ylanan also reportedly expressed dismay at the situation of the evacuees.

The residents are forced out of their homes and away from their crops and livelihood, the group said.

Danggayan condemned the 86th IBPA, saying that the intrusive military operation and subsequent forced evacuation were direct violations of the residents’ human rights, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law.

Lorena Santos of the human rights group Karapatan said that the recent attacks on different communities were disturbing, as the government’s all-out war hurts civilians the most.

“Civilians bear the brunt of the government’s all-out war,” she said.

“The AFP’s attacks against the people have continued and intensified since President Rodrigo Duterte suspended its peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines,” Santos added.

Danggayan called for an end to military operations in the communities and for the resumption of the peace negotiations to effectively end the armed conflict.

“The government must end its all-out war and Oplan Kapayapaan. It has been proven that fascism will not stop people from taking up arms and revolting,” Santos added. (Abril Layad B. Ayroso)