Monitor and analysis of AFP counterinsurgency operations during Covid-19 ceasefire

In 45 days, the AFP deployed its troops in at least 446 villages, 43% of whom were deployed in Visayas and Mindanao, 31% in the Southern Tagalog region, 19% in Bicol, and 7% in provinces north of the National Capital Region (NCR).

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Summary information

Since the Duterte regime declared a lockdown on March 16 over the Covid-19 pandemic, the AFP mounted counterinsurgency operations in over 161 towns and cities in 42 provinces across the country.

In 45 days, the AFP deployed its troops in at least 446 villages, 43% of whom were deployed in Visayas and Mindanao, 31% in the Southern Tagalog region, 19% in Bicol, and 7% in provinces north of the National Capital Region (NCR).

Armed troops roam around communities, enter homes and accuse residents of being members or supporters of the NPA, set up checkpoints, occupy civilian structures and impose curfews and other oppressive policies. There are mounting complaints against soldiers going around and confronting people without wearing face masks raising fears over the probability of spreading Covid-19.

The AFP has conducted at least six aerial bombardment operations in Bukidnon (three rounds), Davao de Oro, Davao del Norte and Sarangani provinces, all in Mindanao, as well as aerial surveillance operations using drones or planes. Helicopters were also used to drop propaganda leaflets in the Mt. Province and Masbate. There have been several attacks on civilians including mass arrests of peasants.

From March 17 to April 30, there were at least 46 armed clashes between various units of the New People’s Army and operating troops of the AFP. From March 16 to April 15, there were 19 such encounters or almost five a week. From April 16 to 30, the number of armed clashes increased to 27 or nearly two a day. Of the 46 clashes, at least 26 were raids against NPA encampments, while others were encounters with NPA units.

In line with the orders of the CPP-CC, NPA units have ceased from mounting tactical offensives against the AFP, the PNP and other armed organizations of the GRP since March 25. Following international humanitarian law, the NPA was also reminded not to prevent, on the contrary, facilitate the work of organizations or agencies delivering relief or assistance to the people. The Central Committee has commended the NPA for strictly observing the ceasefire order, and for training its efforts at addressing the health and economic concerns and problems of the people. While on ceasefire, the NPA was instructed to maintain strict secrecy to avoid detection, and remain vigilant and ready to carry out active defense actions in the face of an armed attack by the AFP. Some units of the NPA have successfully thwarted the offensives of the AFP.