Condemn AFP for successive terrorist attacks against civilians
The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) condemns the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) for its successive state terrorist attacks against civilians, employing aerial bombardment, artillery shelling, strafing and indiscriminate firing against peasants and ethnic minority communities. These attacks are brazen violations of human rights and international humanitarian law.
These attacks against civilians form part of the counterinsurgency doctrine of the AFP that blur or completely erases the line of distinction between civilians and armed combatants. The fascist military employs tactics that aim to terrorize the people and make them bow to their armed superiority. There are a rising number of incidents of people being forced to evacuate due to fear. Economic production has been severely impacted as many farmers are stricken by fear and choose not to attend to their crops.
To intimidate the people, military units are also being stationed in communities in the guise of anomalous “community support” and “barangay development” programs. They construct detachments in the middle or perimeter of villages (usually coercing residents to render free labor), occupy school buildings, barangay health centers and day care centers.
Entire communities are labeled by the AFP as “NPA sympathizers.” There have been countless cases where local residents are forced to sign blank papers, made to pose as NPA “surrenderees,” and join “peace rallies” organized by the military.
The AFP engages in disinformation and propagation of false news to cover up their attacks against civilians. In Bicol alone, the 9th ID issued at least 47 press releases since 2017 falsely claiming armed encounters to justify the extrajudicial killing of at least 57 civilians, whom the military invariably claim to be NPA fighters.
These attacks against civilians are set to heighten in the coming months as the Duterte regime desperately want to make it appear that it is winning the war against the armed revolution in line with its declaration of crushing the NPA before the end of its term. Field units of the AFP are being incentivized to attack civilians with promises of millions of pesos under the so-called “barangay development” program of the NTF-Elcac.
Resorting to such terrorist tactics reflects the AFP’s desperation to weaken the people’s determination to defend their land and social and economic rights, and their national and democratic interests.
Let me cite a few recent examples of state terrorist attacks against civilians:
1. Last December 26, at 1 a.m., the AFP fired at least four rounds of artillery shells towards farmlands in the boundary of barangays San Miguel, Las Navas, and Osang and Hinagonoyan, Catubig, in Northern Samar. These barangays are among the barangays which the AFP have declared “cleared” of NPA units. The shelling was clearly a warning against people of Las Navas and Catubig not to participate in celebrations of the CPP’s anniversary. Later that day, residents of Barangay San Miguel were compelled to join an AFP-organized “peace rally.”
2. For two days starting December 28, the AFP fired more than 10 bombs hitting the perimeter of Sitio Campo Nueva, in Barangay Del Carmen, Lagonoy, Camarines Sur, forcing at least 100 residents to flee their homes. The attacks against the civilian community was carried out after a failed offensive of the AFP in the said area where one fascist trooper was killed and two others wounded.
3. Last December 24, fascist troops of the 74th IB indiscriminately fired at a Lumad wedding ceremony held at a home in Sitio Katabadan, San Roque, Barangay San Miguel, Surigao del Sur, attended by more than 30 residents. Vilma Tawede, 32, was killed in the attack, while four others were wounded. Tawede, a small businesswoman, was a resident of adjacent Sitio Tambonon who happened to be in the place to collect loan payments. The AFP then claimed in their press releases that Tawede was an NPA fighter.
4. On December 25, peasant leader and anti-mining activist Ray Basquez was shot by suspected armed agents belonging to the 77th IB in Barangay Flourishing, Gonzaga, Cagayan. Basquez has long been subjected to harassment by the 77th IB. In May 2021, his home was illegaly entered and searched by military forces. He is an ardent opponent of black sand mining in Cagayan.
5. On December 12, 2021, AFP soldiers killed civilian JB Bon, a copra farmer and resident of Barangay Baya, Ragay, Camarines Sur. Bon was around 40 years old and a father of two. The AFP falsely claimed in their statement that Bon was an NPA fighter who was killed in an “armed encounter” with the NPA in Barangay Salvacion, Ragay, Camarines Sur.
6. In Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental, residents of several barangays which were recovering from the devastation brought about by typhoon Odette, were compelled by the 62nd IB to render labor to repair the military’s local detachments.
These are just some recent incidents of attacks and terrorism perpetrated by the reactionary armed forces against civilians, especially in the countryside.