The National Democratic Front-Eastern Visayas today denounced the Philippine Army for putting more barrios in Western Samar under hamletting and combat-intelligence-psywar operations veiled as Retooled Community Support Program (RCSP), which add undue hardship upon the people who face worsening health and economic prospects amidst the pandemic.
The NDF-EV cited reports from the New People’s Army-Western Samar (Arnulfo Ortiz Command or AOC) saying that troops under the 87th Infantry Battalion and 14th IB have also put Sitios Galutan and San Pedro in Brgy. Hagbay, and Brgy. Cataydungan in San Jose de Buan under RCSP operations, on top of the 33 barrios where soldiers have been encamped since the last week of May. Soldiers play counterrevolutionary recordings on loudspeaker all day, calling for the civilians to surrender as NPA fighters and supporters and causing a ruckus in the communities. At the same time, 50-80 troopers conduct combat operations into hinterlands near the barrios.
The NPA-AOC also reported that at least eight barangays already under RCSP operations are now subjected to hamletting by soldiers. These include Barangays Gusa, Aguingayan, San Nicolas, Can-aponte, Hagbay, and Sitio Fernandez in San Jose de Buan, and barangays Beri and Canvais in Motiong. Soldiers allow only two to three individuals to leave the barrio at a time and only if the former are duly informed.
NDF-EV spokesperson Fr. Santiago “Ka Sanny” Salas said that these movement restrictions are a death knell to the peasant masses who, as it is, are struggling to make their living as the Duterte regime’s anti-pandemic measures remain bungling and keep the people in dire straits. He recalled the peasants in Sitio Salvacion, Brgy. San Nicolas whom soldiers prevented from tending to their farms unless they surrendered.
“The Army is basically showing their heartlessness to the people by pushing them to the throes of hunger and desperation. They are cornering the peasant masses into choosing between starving and surrendering. This is their strategy against the NPA — target the defenseless civilians instead, threaten them and force their cooperation,” Fr. Salas said.
He called upon the people of Western Samar to unite and fight these attacks by the fascist Army troops. “They must remain brave and united in the face of these intensifying attacks. They must make louder their call to stop the militarization of their communities, to insist on their right to free movement and livelihood as guaranteed by the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law, and to urge human rights and cause-oriented groups to investigate and expose the military’s abuses.
“They must join the mounting nationwide calls of discontent and anger towards the tyrannical, corrupt, traitorous and murderous Duterte regime that are also clamoring for its ouster.”#