In the weeks leading up from September 20 until as of this writing, massive indiscriminate mortar shelling, gunfire strafing, towards upland communities of Palapag, Mapanas, and Gamay in Northern Samar province have been noted as perpetrated by the government’s 20th Infantry Battalion, Philippine Army. A scene the villagers call “Almost like the rain of fire in Marawi we saw on TV.”
President Duterte’s soldiers have committed indiscriminate and massive bombing of farming lands and upland communities, indiscriminate strafing on civilian communities, hamletting, enforcing a so-called ‘lockdown’ on villages to enforce arrests against certain individuals on mere suspicion and without a court warrant, and warrantless searches in houses within communities in search of their suspected “NPA armory.”
The Rodante Urtal Command of the New People’s Army in Northern Samar (NPA-RUC) received reports from residents in Palapag, Mapanas, and Gamay who have been crying out for help in the face of what the NPA-RUC calls ‘1st class Duterterrorism’.
In Brgy. Siljagon, Mapanas, AFP troops have conducted intense military combat operations supposedly in line with their nefarious ‘anti-insurgency’ campaign dubbed Retooled Community Support Program (RCSP.) These operations have resulted in the arrests of farmers who were in their upland farms to reap their annual harvests. In the same village, same troops have enforced a so-called ‘2-day lockdown’ of the village that gave way for their search of houses.
Bombing, strafing of civilian farming communities
On September 18, from 3PM onwards, the 20th IB fired four rounds of mortar towards farmlands at Brgy. Siljagon, and two rounds near Oras River. On September 30, from 11am to 2am the next day, they fired at least 16 rounds of mortar towards the farmlands of residents from Sitio Canonghan, Brgy. Osmeña, Palapag town. On the same day, local residents also reported that soldiers indiscriminately strafed towards farmlands in Brgy. Bagacay, also in Palapag.
“The strict adherence of the people’s army to the humanitarian conduct of war gives a picture of stark difference to the Duterte government’s foolhardy military adventurism and hooliganism. No law reins in on his troops other than Duterte’s own hardly comprehensible words,” said Ka Amado Pesante.
These human rights violations come after successive defeats of the 20th IBPA troops conducting combat reconnaissance operations against the NPA-RUC:
- September 9, 11:30AM. Troops deployed for reconnaissance-combat around the hills of Barangay Siljagon suffered 4 KIA and 1 WIA from NPA fire.
- September 18, 11:30AM. The NPA-RUC harassed 20th IB troops in Brgy. Siljagon, Mapanas. Red fighters retreated without suffering any casualty.
- September 26, 12:00NN. Red fighters of the NPA-RUC engaged in firefight with 20th IB troops in Sitio Can-irib, Brgy. Capacujan, Palapag. The NPA-RUC confirmed one soldier was killed and another was wounded. The 20th IB may have incurred more casualties and injured its own troops after misfiring a M203 grenade launcher towards a nearby tree. Red fighters again successfully retreated to safety.
- September 2, 7:00AM. Soldiers strafed at a unit of the NPA-RUC. The Red fighters evaded their attack and suffered zero casualty.
“In the face of ignominious military defeats, the fascist 20th IBPA is out for blood against the civilian populace, hence the unprecedented state terror sown in the these towns,” added Pesante.
“The typical reckless behavior of the AFP troops has put countless civilian lives in grave danger. Worse, the peasants’ sole harvest is in danger of going to waste because of their persistent operations,” said Pesante.
“We condemn these atrocious acts of Duterte’s 20th IBPA against the civilian population. We call on all international and domestic humanitarian and people’s organizations to hold accountable Duterte and his lapdogs in the AFP for their hawkishness through widespread public condemnation both in the country and abroad. We call on all freedom-loving people to rally and oust the tyrant Duterte, and ultimately achieve national and social liberation.
“As Duterte intensifies his state terrorism, the NPA-RUC vows to launch more tactical offensives against the fascist and murderous AFP-PNP troops and human rights violators, ” concluded Pesante. ###