The National Democratic Front-Eastern Visayas (NDF-EV) today called on the people to resist and defend their rights as the Armed Forces of the Philippines threatens to commit massacres of civilians in the US-Duterte regime’s “counterinsurgency” campaign Oplan Kapayapaan in Samar. “Reports have reached the people’s democratic government that at least two Philippine Army battalions under the 8th infantry Division have openly vowed to commit massacres of civilians accused of supporting the New People’s Army during their military operations in Samar,” said NDF-EV spokesperson Fr. Santiago “Ka Sanny” Salas. “These are the 63rd IB and 87th IB currently causing mass evacuations in Northern Samar and Western Samar and whose grave threats can be attested by many witnesses.
“Let us condemn the sufferings of civilians and the dangerous declarations by Duterte’s fascist troops made credible by recent mass killings in Sagay and Guihulngan on Negros island related to Oplan Kapayapaan.”
Fr. Salas noted the 63rd IB’s threats against civilians were revealed by Barangay Chairperson Lorna Bandiola of Barangay Bay-ang, San Jorge, Western Samar, after she and other village officials talked to the battalion’s executive officer Maj. Jaderick Gagabi and other officers. “The military warned these civilian officials they would be removed from their elected positions and the military was ready to massacre the entire village if necessary. Since January 15, 37 families have evacuated Barangay Bay-ang where military helicopters were sowing terror by making overflights while firing, and are currently huddling in fear and hunger at an unfinished clinic in San Jorge town center. Residents of nearby Barangay Calungdan have also evacuated out of fear for their lives.
“The Arnulfo Ortiz Command of the NPA-Western Samar has said it has been inflicting heavy casualties on the military while remaining unscathed.”
The NDF-EV spokesperson added 15 families have also evacuated from the interior of Silvino Lobos, Northern Samar because of relentless military operations. “Duterte’s fascist Brig. Gen. Ramil Bitong of the 803rd Infantry Brigade is exceedingly stupid and heartless for saying the military operations in Silvino Lobos are saving the people from “revolutionary taxation” when these poor peasants now have no homes and no livelihood because of Oplan Kapayapaan.”
Fr. Salas also reported around 300 village officials and other people from 21 barangays in Calbiga, Western Samar were duped by the 87th IB into attending an assembly last Dec. 26 ostensibly for the giving away of Christmas presents but was in fact an anti-communist rally. “A certain Lt. Tecson of the 87th IB demanded the people surrender within three months members of the people’s militia and those whom they know NPA members. Otherwise, the military went on, they would kill all people they came upon in the villages as NPA members and the surrounding forests would also be bombed. The military also humiliated the people by making them march around with a hammer-and-sickle flag while chanting ‘down with the NPA’ and ‘the NPA are uncircumcised’ and later making them burn the flag along with a picture of NDFP Chief Political Consultant Jose Maria Sison.”
The NDF-EV spokesperson accused the Duterte regime and its military of committing war crimes in Samar and urged the people to rise up and defend their rights. “The Filipino people and human rights advocates here and abroad are united in excoriating the Duterte regime’s impunity for violations of human rights and international humanitarian law. The people demand the Duterte regime observe the GRP-NDFP Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law. The church, media, lawyers and other human rights advocates and peace-loving people have common cause to fight de facto martial law through exposing military abuses and supporting the struggle of the peasants against militarization in the countryside. The people can unite in a broad united front to expose, isolate and oust the US-Duterte regime for its fascism, puppetry and corruption, and persevere in waging armed and unarmed struggles until the reactionary ruling system can be overthrown.”#