Posts

Group appeals for release of detainee who recently gave birth

Another political prisoner gave birth and a support group appealed for her freedom to take care of her newborn.

Elizabeth Estilon was taken from the Sorsogon City District Jail to a hospital last March 27 and gave birth to a baby boy, political detainee support group Kapatid said.

Kapatid appealed for Estilon’s release to allow her to take care of her newborn.

“We appeal for compassion for Elizabeth Estilon and her newborn as our country observes Holy Week which is about compassion, fairness and mercy. Drop the false charges against her. Let her take care of her infant outside the confines of the country’s densely crowded prisons to give her child a better chance of survival,” Kapatid spokesperson Fides Lim said.

“But time is of the essence to keep Elizabeth and her baby together during a health crisis that brings the worst threats to one’s life,” she added.

Right after childbirth, mothers need to breastfeed their infants as breast milk provides unsurpassed natural immunity and nutrition unavailable in artificial milk supplements, which can in fact be harmful to infant health, Lim’s group explained.

Kapatid recalled the recent deaths of babies of political prisoners Reina Mae Nasino and Nona Espinosa as dire reminders.

Nasino gave birth to an underweight River on July 1, 2020 but the baby got sick in September and died on October 9 at the Philippine General Hospital from acute respiratory distress syndrome.

Last February 14, Carlen died of an infection in the lungs and blood, around three days after being separated from her mother, political prisoner Nona Espinosa who is held at the Guihulngan City Jail in Negros Oriental.

Elizabeth Estilon at her arrest. (Photo from Karapatan)

Lim reminded authorities of Republic Act 11148 or the Kalusugan at Nutrisyon ng Mag-Nanay Act, which stresses the critical window of opportunity to prevent malnutrition and its lifelong consequences.

 “We ask prison and government authorities to respect domestic and international laws, which provide that prisoners who gave birth have the right to take care of their child,” Lim said.

Estilon was arrested with 62-year-old Enriqueta Guelas in Barangay Lalod, Bulusan, Sorsogon last December 24, 2020 after being red-tagged by the military as New People’s Army rebels.

Karapatan-Sorsogon reported that a day prior to their arrest, members of the 31st and 22nd Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army searched the house where Estilon and Guelas were staying but saw nothing except for household things.

The following day, the residents were shocked after the military placed a bag on a table containing firearms, wires and explosives, which the military claimed they found inside the house, Karapatan said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Gov’t troops massacre 9 Tumandok in Panay

Nine Tumandok indigenous peoples have been massacred by combined police and military operations in Panay Island earlier today, Wednesday, according to reports.

Two days before the year ends, 12th Infantry Battalion-Philippine Army (12IBPA) troopers and the Philippine National Police in Western Visayas swooped down on Tumandok communities in Calinog in Iloilo and Tapaz in Capiz and killed the victims in a Synchronized Enhanced Management of Police Operation (SEMPO).

Among those killed in Lahug, Tapaz were Tumandok nga Mangunguma nga Nagapangapin sa Duta kag Kabuhi/Tumandok Farmers in Defense of Land and Life (TUMANDUK) chairperson and Barangay Lahug Councilor Roy Giganto.

Roy Giganto (Panay Today photo)

Giganto, also a former Barangay Lahug chairperson, was killed along with co-councilors Reynaldo Katipunan and Mario Aguirre.

An Eliseo Gayas in Barangay Aglinab, a Mauro Diaz in Barangay Tacayan, and an Artilito Katipunan in Barangay Acuna were also reportedly killed in the same operation.


UPDATE (8:50 PM): The number of massacre victims, previously reported as eight, have risen to nine.

The two other previously unnamed victims of the massacre have been identified as Barangay Daan Sur, Tapaz, Capiz chairperson Dalson Catamin, kapitan and Jomer Vidal of Barangay Nayawan of the same town.

The ninth victim, also a resident from Barangay Daan Sur, has yet to be identified.


Panay Island farmers’ alliance Pamanggas reported that the other victims’ families were ordered outside their homes before the victims were shot.

They were unarmed when killed by the military and the police, Pamanggas said.

Two Barangay Aglinab youths were also taken and remain missing, the reports said.

In Barangay Garangan, Calinog town, Tumandoks Luisito Bautista Jr., Marilyn Chiva, Welsie Chiva, at Glen Legario were arrested by the military.

Alternative news outfit Panay Today said a total of 15 Tumandok have been arrested.

Marevic Aguirre, former TUMANDUK chairperson, also remains missing, it added.

Missing Marevic Aguirre, former TUMANDUK chairperson. (Manila Today photo)

Victims all red-tagged

Some of the victims, such as Giganto and Gayas, were known Tumandok tribal leaders who stood against the Jalaur Mega Dam project in their ancestral domain.

They also refused to sign the consent resolution asked of indigenous peoples before projects are implemented in their ancestral land.

Giganto was earlier reported to have been arrested by the military and the police but later turned up dead.

Blood-spattered house after combined AFP and PNP men massacred 8 Tumandok IPs in Panay Island last December 30, 22020. (Photo from Jeffry Giganto’s FB account)

Gayas was also earlier reported arrested by the SEMPO and tortured until he vomited blood.

Bautista is also a barangay councilor who had been red-tagged and summoned by the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) at the 12IBPA camp just last month.

Last December 11, NTF-ELCAC asset Jeffrey Celis accused TUMANDUK as a front organization of the Communist Party of the Philippines and New People’s Army in the indeginous people’s area in Panay island. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Rep. Cullamat pays tribute to martyred daughter; condemns desecration of remains by gov’t soldiers

Bayan Muna Representative Eufemia Cullamat paid tribute to her fallen daughter she described as a martyr for the Lumad’s struggle for self determination and justice.

In a statement, the grieving mother also slammed the Philippine Army for desecrating the remains of 22-year old Jevilyn by taking photos of the New People’s Army medic like a war trophy.

“I love my child who loved the people. I am proud of her. She was a hero of the Lumad and all of the people,” Cullamat said in Filipino.

As a mother, Cullamat said she is heartbroken at the news that Jevelyn perished in a raid by government troopers in Marihatag, Surigao del Sur last Saturday, November 28.

“I strongly condemn the disrespectful acts on the remains of my daughter. She is not a trophy to be used in the military’s propaganda. You did not only disrespect the dead, you also offended my grieving family,” she said.

In subsequently deleted posts, the Philippine Army posted photos of its raiding team delightfully posing before the younger Cullamat’s remains, along with seized guns and paraphernalia.

Violation of the rules of war

International Association of Democratic Lawyers interim president and National Union of People’s Lawyers president Edre Olalia said the government soldiers violated international rules, domestic laws and bilateral agreements on the conduct of war.

In a legal opinion, Olalia cited Article 16 of the 1949 Geneva Convention prescribing protection of corpses against ill treatment.

Article 34 (1) of the 1977 Additional Protocol I on International Armed Conflicts also orders that remains of persons who have died from hostilities shall be respected, he said.

The human rights lawyer also cited Article 4 of the 1977 Additional Protocol II on Non-International Armed Conflicts that prohibits “outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment” of all persons who do not take a direct part or who have ceased to take part in hostilities, as was in Jevilyn’s case who already died when the Philippine Army’s trophy photographs were taken and distributed.

Offenses upon the personal dignity of fallen parties constitute a war crime in both international and non-international armed conflicts according to the 1998 Statute of the International Criminal Court, Olalia said as well.

The lawyer said government troops are mandated to observe international instruments on the conduct of was as Republic Act 9851 penalizes crimes against international humanitarian law, genocide and other crimes against humanity.

Olalia also reminded the government of Article 3 of the 1998 of its Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines prohibiting “at any time and in any place” the desecration of the remains of those who have died in the course of the armed conflict and to prevent despoliation and mutilation and to dispose of them with respect.

“On top of these commands under international humanitarian law, at core is basic human decency, respect and civility that is at issue here,” Olalia said.
“There are universal laws that civilized people observe even if, because, or in spite of armed hostilities,” the human rights lawyer added.
Jevilyn Cullamat (supplied photo)

‘Victim of state terrorism’

Cullamat said Jevilyn’s decision to join the armed struggle stemmed from the abuses the Lumad suffer at the hands of the government’s armed forces as well as the indigenous peoples’ extreme poverty.

“She saw with her own two eyes how our leader Dionel Campos, Datu Bello Sinzo, and Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development, Inc executive director Emerito Samarca were massacred in Lianga, Surigao del Sur on September 1, 2015,” the elder Cullamat said.

She said Jevilyn was a kind child who they raised to become nationalistic, brave, principled and with a mind of her own.

“Every Lumad child is raised to become worthy and useful to the community,” Cullamat added.

The Makabayan Bloc member said that Jevilyn’s sacrifice of her life for the people and defense of their ancestral land is worthwhile, “whatever the vultures who surrounded my daughter’s remains say.”

“It is a great honor for me to have a child who became a warrior and martyr…I am undoubtedly proud of Jevilyn because she fought against an unjust system, for us Lumad,” she said.

“No mother would renounce a child who set aside her personal interests to offer her life for the people and for the defense of our ancestral land,” Cullamat added. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Philippine Army soldiers kill journalist in Masbate

MANILA — A journalist was shot and killed by government soldiers in Milagros, Masbate, last Saturday, November 14.

Ronnie Villamor, 50, a stringer for local tabloid Dos Kantos Balita was killed by troops led by a certain 2nd Lieutenant Maydim Jomadil after covering an aborted survey of a disputed property.

Villamor was also a pastor of the Life in Christ Church.

A spot report on the incident by Milagros police chief Major Aldrin Rosales quoted army troops as saying they were investigating the presence of five armed men in Barangat Matanglad who fled at their approach.

The army and the police said Villamor was a New People’s Army (NPA) member who allegedly drew a firearm when ordered to stop his motorcycle at a Scout Platoon-2nd Infantry Battalion Philippine Army checkpoint.

The victim’s colleagues however disputed the soldiers’ version of the incident, saying there was no encounter between the government soldiers and the NPA.

Masbate Tri-Media President Dadong Briones Sr. told Dos Kantos Balita the victim just came from a coverage of an aborted survey of a piece of land being disputed by certain Dimen family and businessman Randy Favis.

Favis’s goons reportedly prevented the survey from proceeding, prompting the surveyors to return to mainland Bicol and the victim to proceed to his brother Arthur’s house at Barangay Bonbon.

Dos Kantos Balita reported that witnesses saw army troopers flagging down the victim and, after being identified by Favis’s men Johnrey Floresta and Eric Desilva, shot Villamor dead.

In a statement, the Masbate chapter of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) condemned the killing of their colleague and demands a thorough investigation of the incident.

“The killing of our colleague…at the hands of government soldiers sends a chilling message to us journalists not only here in Masbate but all throughout the country,” the victims’ colleagues said.

Villamor is the fourth journalist murdered in Masbate after Joaquin Briones (March 13, 2017), Antonio Castillo (June 12, 2009), and Nelson Nedura (December 2, 2003), the NUJP said.

“He (Villamor) is the 19th slain during the Duterte administration and the 191st since 1986. He was also the second killed this month, only four days after NUJP member Virgilio Maganes, who had survived an attempt on his life in 2016, was shot dead outside his home in Villasis town, Pangasinan,” the group added. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Gov’t troops feed Aeta with human feces, groups report

Government soldiers forced an indigenous person to eat human feces during a military operation in San Marcelino, Zambales Province last August 21, groups reported.

The Umahon Para sa Tunay na Repormang Agraryo (Umahon) and the Sandugo-Movement of Moro and Indigenous Peoples for Self-Determination (Sandugo) said soldiers of the 7th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army (76th IDPA) forced a certain Nalin Ramos to eat a soldier’s feces.

Ramos was among three Aeta residents, including relatives Witi Ramos and Jepoy Ramos, who were “physically assaulted, tortured and detained by the soldiers,” the groups said.

The three were also detained and hospitalized, Sandugo said. Upon their release, the three were too afraid to go home due to trauma and chose to stay at the evacuation center in Barangay Aglao in the said town.

“A total of 659 families evacuated due to repeated bombings of Aeta communities in Sitio Lumibao, San Marcelino,” Sandugo added.

Umahon said the soldiers wanted the Aeta community to evacuate their ancestral domain while they are pursuing suspected New People’s Army (NPA) guerillas in the area.

Four Philippine Army helicopters reportedly dropped bombs in the community.

The Angelite, the student newspaper of the Holy Angel University, reported that according to a chieftain of the said community, the 7th IDPA wanted the Aetas to evacuate so they could clear the area.

Community media group POKUS Gitnang Luzon reported there were no NPA guerillas caught in the operation.

Sandugo said the government troopers are liable under the anti-torture law for their “evil” and “inhumane” treatment of the Aetas.

“The acts of the 7th Infantry Battalion of the Armed Forces of the Philippines reeks of evilness. Their recent actions against our Aeta brothers and sisters are inhuman. It is pure evil, only demons would have the conscience to do this,” Sandugo said.

The group added the 7th ID’s bombardment of the IP community was meant to drive away the Aetas and pave the way for mining explorations by the Dizon Copper-Silver Mines, Inc.

The Aeta residents oppose the project to proted the environment and their ancestral lands, Sandugo said. Sandugo called on the Commission on Human Rights to investigate the incidents and demanded the soldiers’ pull out from the Aeta community. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

CPP denounces military’s detention of Red Cross convoy carrying wounded rebels

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) denounced the detention of an International Committee of the Red Cross convoy in Lianga, Surigao del Sur last Friday, May 29, saying Philippine Army’s action is an affront on international humanitarian law (IHL).

In a statement, the underground group said the 4th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army (IDPA) also subjected the three-vehicle convoy to search and interrogation.

“The flagging down and inspection of the ICRC convoy, clearly marked with the Red Cross logos, was an unacceptable affront on IHL. As a recognized guardian of IHL, the ICRC medical convoy should have been accorded due respect and allowed to travel unimpeded,” the CPP said.

The CPP said the ICRC convoy was reported to be transporting two wounded fighters identified as Jea Angeles Perez and Noel Dadang it said were both hors de combat. A hors de combat is a person who is no longer participating in hostilities, by choice or circumstance

The group said the convoy was stopped at a checkpoint and were surrounded by the soldiers. It was later “escorted” by military and police vehicles to the Davao Regional Medical Center in Tagum City, Davao del Norte province “with the aim of subjecting the two patients to arrest and detention.”

“The AFP virtually turned the ICRC convoy into a prisoner transport for the AFP in violation of the ICRC’s recognized international role,” the CPP said.

The ICRC, including its vehicles and buildings clearly marked with either the Red Cross or Red Crescent emblems, are declared immune from attack in accordance with the First Geneva Conventions of 1949.

In an Inquirer report, 4th IDPA spokesperson Capt. Al Anthony Pueblas admitted the convoy was “briefly detained” after fetching Perez and Dadang from San Agustin, Surigao del Sur, a known New People’s Army stronghold.

Military and police troopers block ICRC convoy.
(Photo by PNP Surigao del Sur)

Pueblas said the patients were probably wounded in a series of clashes between the NPA and government troops from May 14 to 19.

ICRC communications officer Allison Lopez said the Army and police were informed of the humanitarian evacuation before they transported the two wounded persons.

“This medical evacuation was carried out strictly for humanitarian purposes. As a neutral, impartial and independent humanitarian organization, the ICRC’s mandate is to protect and assist victims of armed conflict. Under the International Humanitarian Law, wounded and sick fighters regardless of which side they are from are entitled to the medical care and treatment required by their condition,” Lopez said.

The CPP said the incident marked a new level of impunity by the military and police, demanding reparation for the incident.

“The Party demands respect for the rights of the detained and calls for their immediate release under IHL,” it said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Cover up for failure to stop COVID spread, CPP says of Duterte’s threat to impose martial law

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) described as squid tactics Rodrigo Duterte’s latest tirades against the revolutionary movement and called the President’s renewed threats to impose martial law a mere cover up of his government’s failure to contain the coronavirus pandemic.

After an invective-peppered rant against the New People’s Army (NPA) Friday morning, April 24, the CPP said Duterte’s latest threat to impose military rule on the country is a classic deflection tactic to draw away the people’s attention from the government’s “inept, uncompassionate and irresponsible actions in the face of the pandemic.”

“Duterte is using the Covid-19 crisis, one that has blown up because of his government’s military-minded response and failure to conduct mass testing, to carry out agenda of imposing martial law. Duterte’s ultimate aim is to establish his dictatorship, something he has long sought to do,” the CPP said in a statement.

Duterte again riled at the NPA in his televised address accusing the guerrillas of killing two government soldiers he claimed were escorting relief workers delivering aid to communities in Aurora Province last Tueday, April 21.

“If you persist in your lawlessness—and it is happening all over the Philippines—maybe I will declare martial law,” Duterte said.

The Philippine Army (PA) identified Pfc. Ken Lester I. Sasapan and Pfc. Jackson M. Mallari as those killed in a clash with the NPA Barangay Diaat, Maria Aurora town.

The Philippine Army however said the 91st Infantry Battalion of 7th Infantry Division was “conducting a security patrol in the vicinity in relation to the distribution of the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s Special Amelioration Program.”

CPP information officer Marco Valbuena said the government troops attacked the local NPA unit who merely defended themselves.

“Sugod kasi ng sugod ang AFP. Utos ni Duterte eh. Pinambabala sa kanyon ang mga sundalo niya. Siyempre, NPA is alert and ready to defend themselves,” Valbuena said. (They keep on attacking. It was Duterte’s order. He treats his soldiers as cannon fodder. Of course, the NPA is alert and ready to defend themselves.)

The CPP said the armed clashes between the NPA and the AFP in the past days are a result of the attacks of the AFP and active defense of the NPA.

Since Duterte’s ceasefire lapsed last April 15, the AFP has further stepped up its counterinsurgency operations, the group said.

“In fact, the AFP never went on ceasefire, even when Duterte ordered a suspension of offensive operations last March 19 to April 15, deploying troops to more than 350 barangays and 120 towns to conduct counterinsurgency, mounting at least 24 offensives and six aerial bombardments,” the CPP said.

The CPP pointed out that a separated clash in Himamaylan City, Negros Occidental last April 15 that killed three AFP soldiers happened in the interior areas 10 kilometers away from Barangay Carabalan, where the DSWD was scheduled to distribute “social amelioration” to the residents.

“The 94th IB platoon was clearly on combat operations when they carried out the attack against the NPA. The NPA fighters rightfully defended themselves in battle,” the CPP said.

The CPP in turn accused the AFP of conducting “pang-press release” (for press release purposes) relief work that serve as cover for its intensified counterinsurgency operations against the NPA.

“The AFP has stepped up its counterinsurgency drive to prevent the NPA from conducting its own public health campaign in response to the Covid-19 and economic and production work to help the people cope with the sharp economic downturn,” the CPP said.

The group added that should Duterte impose martial law, the move will not stop the Covid-19 pandemic but will only cause greater hardships on the people.

“The Party condemns Duterte’s further extension of the lockdown in lieu of any decisive push for mass testing. The lockdown is now deceptively referred to as ‘general’ or ‘modified’ quarantine has been expanded to cover large parts of Visayas and Mindanao. There is now creeping nationwide martial law and the entire country is now effectively under the highhanded and control of the military and police,” the CPP said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Military kills peasant leader in Iloilo

By Panay Today

ILOILO City – A peasant leader in Miag-ao, Iloilo was killed by the 61st Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army last Saturday, April 18.

The local peasant alliance Pamanggas identified the victim as John Farochilin, 50 years old.

The group said Farochilin served as chairman of the Alyansa sang mga Mangunguma sa Miag-ao (Alliance of Farmers in Miag-ao) and council member of Pamanggas.

“He was instrumental in availing food relief and seed subsidy for Miag-aoanon farmers during the campaign against hunger brought by El Niño in 2019. He also facilitated dialogues with the Miagao LGU on several occasion,” said the farmer’s group.

The 61st IBPA in their statement on Saturday that their troops clashed with about 40 members of the New People’s Army (NPA) in Sitio Anoy, Cabalaunan, Miag-ao, Iloilo.

A fire fight took place for about 35 minutes which resulted in the death of an NPA member, the arrest of seven personalities including a minor, and recovered a rifle, ammunition, sub-machine gun, backpacks, flags, documents, and medical paraphernalia, the military said.

The NPA Southern Front Mt. Napulak Command, however, denied the military’s accusations.

“Our unit was prepared even before they were attacked by the military troops. No one was arrested, wounded or dead. None of the NPA unit’s personal belongings nor rifles were left in the incident area,” said Ka Ilaya Kanaway, the command’s spokesperson.

Local human rights group Panay Alliance Karapatan condemned the killing as well as the arrests of the civilians.

“Justice should be given to the civilian victims and their families after proper investigation by the Commission on Human Rights and other concerned agencies. The soldiers responsible for the killing, arrest, and detention of these civilians should also be prosecuted and made accountable,” said Karapatan./www.panaytoday.net

PhilArmy drops counter-insurgency leaflets on towns on Easter Sunday, earns condemnations

The Philippine Army dropped counter-insurgency leaflets on Sagada and Besao towns in Mountain Province on Easter Sunday, April 12, in what appears to be another violation of the government’s own ceasefire declaration.

Photographs posted by an indigenous people’s rights advocate show leaflets being dropped on the popular mountain resort town of Sagada by two UH1J Huey helicopters placed inside cellophane wrappers that also contained candies as ballasts.

Photo by Beverly Longid via Twitter.

Beverly Longid, a staff member of the International Indigenous People’s Movement for Self-Determination and Liberation, posted several photos of the leaflets accusing the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), the New People’s Army (NPA) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) of using country’s lockdown as an opportunity to recruit more members through corona virus disease (Covid-19) health interventions.

The leaflets, dropped between 8:30 and 11:30 in the morning also urged NPA fighters, particularly those who suspect themselves to be Covid-19 positive, to surrender.

Photo by B. Longid via Twitter.

“The military unit deployed in Sagada is the 54th [Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army] which has been responsible for red-tagging, political vilification of legitimate organizations and human rights violations including the frustrated extrajudicial killing of Chinese-American Brandon Lee in Ifugao,” Longid tweeted.

Longid said the two helicopters may have spent more than Php200 thousand in aviation fuel, excluding the production costs of the leaflets in its Easter Sunday operation.

She said that a Huey helicopter uses up Php110 thousand of fuel per hour while airborne.

One of Beverly Longid’s tweets on the incident.

The government’s unilateral ceasefire declaration is effective from March 19 to April 14 that suspends military and police operations against the CPP, NPA and NDFP.

The Cordillera People’s Alliance (CPA) denounced the incident, saying the military only succeeded in terrorizing the communities and wasting public funds in spreading “recycled black propaganda materials.”

The CPA also revealed that the 54th IB operates overly-strict checkpoints in the entire province that intimidate residents.

The group also said that the 15 alleged surrenderees the military presented last March 29 in Bauko town were “fake” and “recycled”.

“According to residents of Barangay Bangnen, Bauko, the so-called surrenderees were local residents were forced by the military to say they were NPA supporters,” the group said.

The CPA said the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) uses the Luzon-wide lockdown as an opportunity to implement its counter-insurgency campaign through red-tagging and fake surrenders.

The group accused the AFP of profiting from producing their propaganda materials and “fake surrenderrees” activities while many families are starving because of the lockdown.

CPA urged the government to spend its counter-insurgency budget on buying personal protective equipment for the front line workers, mass testing and other medical services.

It added that the government should give its promised P5,500 to affected families using the military’s counter-insurgency budget as well as President Rodrigo Duterte’s Php 4.5B intelligence fund.

The 54th IB and Philippine Army websites are silent on the Easter Sunday incident. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

AFP bombing spree in Mindanao disobeys Duterte’s Covid-19 ceasefire order, Reds report

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is disobeying President Rodrigo Duterte’s ceasefire order, undertaking aerial bombing, cannon firing, and other military operations amid the corona virus disease (Covid-19) emergency, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) reported.

In a statement, the CPP said that based on New People’s Army (NPA) field reports, the AFP  is on a bombing spree and continues to carry out focused military offensives in the Bukidnon-Davao border area in disregard of the ceasefires declared by the Duterte government.

“Philippine Air Force (PAF) units under the AFP’s 4th Infantry Division used an FA-50 fighter jet to indiscriminately drop five 500-pound bombs near two Lumad communities in Barangay Mandahikan, Cabanglasan (Bukidnon province) on March 27,” the CPP said in a statement.

According to the CPP, the fighter jet dropped three bombs around 9 a.m. and two more at 2 p.m, traumatizing children and other community residents.

The bombing damaged the primary source of food and livelihood of the Lumad in the area, the group added.

On March 29, the AFP, using attack helicopters, fired at least 10 rockets in the same barangay at around noontime.

Rounds were also reportedly fired from artillery cannons installed at an adjacent barangay in Loreto, Davao del Norte province.

A Cessna surveillance aircraft flew overhead the whole day after the airstrike, the CPP said.

The military also deployed additional soldiers at Sitio Miyaray to conduct combat operations while two trooper units and three armored fighting vehicles were also deployed at Sitio Tapayanon, Barangay Gupitan, Kapalong, Davao del Norte, the CPP reported.

The bombings and troop deployments followed a fire fight resulting from an operation by the AFP’s 60th and 56th Infantry Battalions against the NPA in the area last March 24.

“The military made it appear that the attack was staged by the NPA although it was clear that they were carrying out offensive combat operations as evidenced by the fact that they have prepositioned artillery units to back up their ground troops,” the CPP said.

The underground group also said that the military raided an NPA encampment in Little Baguio, San Fernando, Bukidnon on March 29 at 2 a.m.

“Residents reported that military troops continue to operate in Barangays Kibongcog and Poblacion, San Fernando; Barangay Concepcion, Valencia; Santa Filomena, Quezon; Barangays Bulonay and Kalabugao, Impasug-ong; Barangays Busdi, Caburacanan, Manalog, Saint Peter and Zamboanguita, Malaybalay City; and Barangay Poblacion, Cabanglasan,” the CPP said.

The AFP also placed two artillery cannons in Sitio Nursery, Barangay Concepcion and another in Sitio Salaysay in Barangay Santa Filomena and have subjected the area to continuous aerial surveillance since the last week of March, reported the CPP.

Philippine Army Commanding General Lt. Gen. Gilbert I. Gapay however has only issued congratulatory messages to his troops engaged in fire fights against the NPA in Zamboanga Sibugay and Quezon provinces, admitting however that the fire fight in Mulanay town happened after his troops responded to reports that NPA rebels were in the area.

In the Zamboanga Sibugay encounter, Gapay said his troops were merely in the vicinity as part of the Philippine Army’s community visitation for Covid-19 information awareness.

The CPP, however, said that the military had been using the Covid-19 pandemic emergency to camouflage its intensified counter-insurgency operations in contempt of the United Nations plea to a global truce and in direct contravention of Duterte’s unilateral ceasefire order effective March 19 to April 13. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)