The Armed Forces of the Philippines and Philippine National Police are intensifying its strong-arm tactics against barangay officials in Northern Samar, as well as its efforts to place the civilian bureaucracy under the power of the military junta to force its participation in military operations against the New People’s Army.
According to reports submitted to the NPA-Rodante Urtal Command, the 20th Infantry Battalion forcefully gathered barangay (village) captains of Las Navas town last February 24 and March 3 to sign an agreement that they will participate in the Retooled Community Support Program of the fascist government troops.
Of the 53 villages, 39 are labeled “red”. Officials of the 39 barangays were first tasked to census residents. They are being required to certify and report to the military anyone who visits or comes to the barangay. Anyone found without such certification, “will be dealt with by the soldiers.”
Every week, the officials were told to report all events in their village. Even members of the Sangguniang Kabataan, which include minors, are forced to report weekly.
Barangay officials are practically being used as “human shields” by forcing them to ensure that “nothing will happen to soldiers and police forces” during counterinsurgency operations in the barangay, with the threat that they will be made responsible. They are also being required to actively call on Red fighters to surrender, and those who refuse are being forced to step down from their positions. The military is also requiring them to declare the CPP-NPA-NDF “persona-non-grata”.
Las Navas is one of the most militarized towns of Eastern Visayas as one of the towns with focused military operations since December 2020.
In 2019, the 20th IB killed Barangay San Miguel captain Apolinario “Kap Pening” Lebico, who critically opposed militarization and defended human rights.
That same year, the AFP dropped eigh bombs hitting farmlands in Barangay Caputoan. A peasant’s house was detroyed while no NPA unit was hit.