Immediately after the successful ambush of joint operating troops of the Philippine Army and Philippine National Police (PNP) on October 25 in Suquib, Besao, Mountain Province which resulted in one army personnel killed and one police officer wounded, the military unleashed its anger through strafing, mortar shelling and indiscriminate bombing of areas near peasant communities. Agricultural production areas and pasturelands were not spared from the hours of continuous strafing and mortar shelling. For two straight days, bomber planes dropped rocket bombs in the agricultural and forested areas located nearby communities between Sagada, Besao and Bauko of Mountain Province, thus terrifying the residents especially the vulnerable children, women and the elderly.
Since September, more than two battalions of combined troops from the AFP (54th IB, 50th IB, 24th IB, 81st IB; 51st & 52nd DRC, Special Forces) and PNP (RMF-15, PMF and SAF) have been terrorizing the people of five municipalities of Mountain Province (Sagada, Besao, Tadian, Bauko and Bontoc) and the adjacent municipality of Tubo in Abra. Operating troops occupied communities and turned them into garrisons. Community people have been subjected to constant harassment and psywar. Movement of civilians have been put under control through military imposed restrictions, thus disrupting their agricultural activities and normal classes for schoolchildren. Drones and reconnaisance planes continuously hovered around the affected municipalities, APCs have been stationed and patrolled roads around communities and howitzers were positioned in Barangay Banguitan of Besao. Local government units from the provincial down to the barangay level are being coerced to provide active support for the military activities and operation through the creation of Task Forces to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (TF-ELCAC), putting civilian authority under military rule. The ongoing AFP-Northern Luzon Command (NOLCOM) directed focused military operation has virtually put the affected areas under a state of martial law.
Mountain Province’s rich resources are currently threatened to be plundered by energy and mining projects of foreign and local big capitalists lined up by the Duterte administration. These include the mining application of Cordillera Exploration Company Inc (CEXCI), a subsidiary of Zamora owned Nickel Asia Corporation (NAC), that covers six municipalities of MP among others; a geothermal plant to be set up by Chevron, a US transnational company, and its local partner Aragorn Power and Energy Corporation of the Sy family’s SM Group, covering two municipalities of MP among others; and a hydropower project of BIMAKA Renewable Energy Development Corp. (BREDCO), that shall affect ten barangays of Besao, MP.
Thus, the intensive military operation in the province to ensure that all obstacles in the implementation of said projects are “cleared”. Mainly, this means the suppression of any opposition from the affected communities. But the ongoing focused military operation and other anticipated fascist attacks can never silence the people. Instead, these will only fuel the people’s indignation and drive them to fight back. Furthermore, the forced entry of plunderous mining and energy projects against the people’s will shall all the more push the people to fight for the defense of their ancestral lands and resources and against the AFP-PNP troops serving as security forces for these plunderers. The New People’s Army (NPA) will always be with the people in this fight. ###