Twenty four campaigns of focused military operations (an average of six per month) were launched by the Armed Forces of the Philippines in North Central Mindanao since May this year.
In a statement, the New People’s Army (NPA)-NCMR labeled these military campaigns as a “scourge” to the Lumad and peasant masses. These relentless attacks covered the provinces of Bukidnon, Misamis Oriental, Agusan del Sur and Agusan del Norte.
In the face of Duterte’s claims that the government “has no more money” to support Filipinos amid the Covid-19 pandemic, the AFP squandered at least P252 million for 24 combat operations.
In a report in Ang Bayan last April, a focused military operation lasting nine days and involving 300 troopers costs at least P10.5 million for its troops, bullets, and mortar shells. The amount excludes other equipment such as rifles, radios, backpacks, generators, and medical supplies. Transportation expenses for ambulance and six-by-six trucks (a minimum of 20 are used per FMO) are also excluded.
Millions are also spent for aerial combat support, bombings and strafing operations, which usually hit small farms and surrounding forests.
“Amid the administration’s failed response to the pandemic, the US-Duterte regime and the lapdog AFP are adding insult to the injury of the peasant masses,” NPA-NCMR spokesperson Ka Malem Mabini said.
The P252 million can cover up to at least 203,000 sets of RT-PCR tests (P1,240/test) which could be used for free testing in the country.
Apart from wasting funds, the operations have driven Lumad and peasant people to further hunger. “Lives and livelihood of lumad and local farmers are constantly disrupted by the AFP camping in community halls and schools, harassing civilians and forcing them to surrender,” stressed Mabini.