AFP military siege in Talaingod and Pantaron worsens: 69 artillery bombs, air missiles in 34 days

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The joint forces of four combat battalions of the Armed Forces of the Philippines deployed in Talaingod in Davao del Norte and around Pantaron mountain range have continued the fascist siege of the Monobo homeland. Since September 15, the AFP launched 51 bombs from Howitzer cannons and fired 18 rocket missiles and hundreds of rounds of cal. 50 machine guns from gunships near farms and populated Lumad communities.

All three barangays of Talaingod currently have military detachments by the 6th Infantry Battalion, 89th IB, 27th IB and 3rd IB, with the most recent in Sitio Nalubas in Brgy. Palma Gil. Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in early 2020, forty-six (46) communities of Brgy. Palma Gil and Brgy. Dagohoy have already been under the mercy of troops of the retooled community support program (RCSP), fully-armed soldiers who conduct psywar, intel and combat operations and occupy civilian houses, barrio halls and schools. As many as 20 soldiers have garrisoned each of sitios Saso, Lasakan, Nalubas and Sambulongan.

The AFP and the local reactionary government have conspired to forcibly settle the Lumad of Talaingod under hamlet conditions to control their lives and activities. Hundreds of them, especially those who have previously been coerced to “surrender” as rebels or NPA sympathizers, are forced to live in housing units far from their farms and sources of livelihood and close to detachments and RCSP teams. They are prohibited or discouraged to enter Pantaron, with AFP soldiers and their paramilitary Alamara constantly implying that tribe members will only be killed and branded as NPA fighters should combat troops apprehend them in the forest.

Many of those who have voluntarily decided to return from the bakwit center in Davao City, and even those who have been coerced or tricked by the NTF-ELCAC’s campaign of lies and false promises, have suffered worsening conditions since returning home to Talaingod.

Their leaders are under constant surveillance, forced to report to the battalion headquarters in Sto. Niño and periodically pressured to release statements condemning their previous protests actions against the AFP’s militarization of Talaingod or denouncing the CPP-NPA-NDFP with rehearsed soundbites. The AFP continues to dangle trumped-up cases over their heads and regularly harassing and intimidating them into submission. Many of the Lumad fear that they might be forced again to flee their communities if the bombings, combat operations and occupation of their communities by AFP troops should continue.

The so-called livelihood programs and overly-hyped infrastructure projects are appalling waste of money and have been carried out not for the Lumad’s benefit but solely for the Duterte regime’s failing counterinsurgency campaign.

Road projects under the graft-laden Build, Build, Build have been utilized primarily by the AFP for its sustained forward-deployment of combat forces. Access roads have also served the ease of transport of banana plantations and prospective mining and other projects around Pantaron. The livelihood programs spearheaded by the AFP meanwhile have become superficial “accomplishment reports” to justify their huge budget and presence in the communities. They are all useless, as far as Lumad of Talaingod and Pantaron are concerned. Clearly, these tokenistic programs and projects show the Duterte regime’s insincerity and total lack of understanding of the culture and needs of the Lumad.

The military siege of Talaingod and Pantaron mountain range for the benefit of the Duterte regime and the ruling class’ interests is a repeat of history. The Lumad know this all too well, while the AFP and Duterte himself refuse to learn their lessons. They know that the militarily superior enemy will be responsible for the many deaths in their tribes. They know that in defending their right to self-determination and their ancestral land, they will be forced to flee many times.

But they also know that they will continue to stand united, wage many forms of resistance including armed revolutionary struggle, and drive the enemy out and become stronger and ready for the next fascist siege by the ruling class.

Artillery bombardment and aerial attacks by the AFP in Talaingod
(September 15 to October 19, 2021)

AFP Howitzer cannons.

Artillery bombardment by Howitzer cannons

September 15 Sitio Palisan (6 times)
September 16 Sitio Nalubas (2 times) and Sitio Bugang (2 times)
September 25 Sitio Sasu (5 times)
October 2 Sitio Nalubas (7 times)
October 3 Sitio lasakan and Sambulongan (5 times) and Sitio Nalubas (6 times)
October 4 Sitio Lasakan (4 times)
October 12 Sitio Nalubas and Nabalabag (7 times) and Sitio Lasakan (4 times)
October 19 Sitio Nalubas (at least 4 times)

Air strikes by gunships

October 12 Sitio Nalubas. 1st wave – 10:30am to 11:50am (6 rocket missiles and rounds of 50. cal machine gun fire). 2nd wave – 1:35pm – 2:55pm (5 rockets and rounds of 50. cal machine gun fire)
October 15 Sitio Nalubas. 2:49am – 3:50am. (7 rockets and 50. cal machine gun fire)
AFP military siege in Talaingod and Pantaron worsens: 69 artillery bombs, air missiles in 34 days
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