Trigger-happy 48th IB troops open fire at peasants in Davao Oriental, killing two

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Troops belonging to 48th Infantry Battalion fired upon five peasant civilians in Brgy. Talisay, San Isidro town in Davao Oriental. Two of the civilians were killed, the other three sustained severe wounds and have been misrepresented as members of the New People’s Army and falsely charged with illegal possession of firearms.

The five individuals whom the 48th IB indiscriminately strafed are all civilians and unarmed. In fact, there was neither an NPA unit nor Red fighters in Brgy. Talisay or neighboring villages in San Isidro at the time of the incident (April 23). The trigger-happy murderers fired upon hapless civilians and subsequently carried out a cover-up PR spin in desperate attempt to sweep their crime under the rug.

Reports from the masses completely belie the ludicrous narrative of the AFP. Earlier that day, residents in the village center of Brgy. Talisay warned the five farmers to be wary of the presence of operating 48th IB soldiers. The farmers said that they were only checking on the snares that they put up a few kilometers away from the village several days prior.

At around 10am, residents reported that they heard a volley of gunfire from the forested areas of the village. Past noon time, soldiers descended from the area where the residents heard the gunfire, lugging the severely wounded bodies of three of the five farmers. Afterward, a convoy of PNP vehicles and army trucks arrived at the village and took the five peasants. The residents later learned that the two farmers died en route to the hospital and were surprised that the other three have been arrested and charged.

The day was barely over when the inveterate fascist liars released a statement claiming their troops engaged five Red fighters in an armed encounter, killing two of them and wounding the other three. They also claimed that the soldiers “recovered two high-powered rifles at the encounter site.” The statement said the three have been arrested and were facing criminal charges. The preposterous claim backfired when San Isidro residents called out the AFP in social media for misrepresenting the five civilian farmers as members of the NPA.

This engage-first-verify-later attitude, made worse by the policy to deny their civilian collateral damages, is by no means an isolated case for AFP troops in Southern Mindanao. On February 20, 2019 for instance, three civilians were also fired upon by 71st IB troops in Brgy. Napnapan, Pantukan. Mercifully, the farmers sustained no gunshot wounds but were forced to “surrender” as Red fighters, even as local government officials insisted the three victims were civilians. A month later, on March 28, two civilian youths were killed and another was severely wounded when 71st IB troops fired upon them in Brgy. Anitapan, Mabini. The victims were also misrepresented as NPA fighters. Similar other crimes and subsequent cover-up attempts were committed by AFP troops across the region.

Operationally, the San Isidro incident also shows how very isolated AFP troops truly are during their military operations. They fear every sudden movement, every creaking of trees, every crackle of twigs, and every civilian to be a sympathizer of the NPA in the base areas. They are deaf and blind in the countryside, and hence are wont to engage without confirming beforehand if the individuals they were training their weapons on were legitimate military targets.

On the other hand, this recent crime and the desperate attempt at a cover-up will further eat away at the tenuous unity among AFP troops, especially the foot soldiers, most of whom come from poor peasant families, as they are confronted with the rabid fascism and the nonchalant dismissal of an egregious crime by their organization against unarmed civilians. Overtired by the pressures and stress of their focused military operations, these foot soldiers are not only disgusted by the callous disregard for the lives of their fellow Lumad and peasants but are likewise disgusted by the naked corruption of their military leadership. More and more, they realize how incorrigibly unprincipled the AFP really is, which routinely opts to fabricate lies instead of admitting its transgressions.

Focused military operations by the AFP have not let-up across the region, despite its claims of “dismantling guerilla fronts.” Neither did it significantly reduce the number of deployed combat forces in the Southern Mindanao’s countryside. All forms of attacks against civilians continue unabated. The lies and misrepresentations pile up as they frantically whitewash their crimes against the masses. These facts debunk in every respect the Eastern Mindanao Command’s supposed “victories” against the revolutionary movement, especially against the NPA in the region.

As far as the AFP’s counterinsurgency is concerned, civilians and the unarmed are as much their targets for killings and worn-out cover-up storylines as much as Red fighters and revolutionaries are.

Trigger-happy 48th IB troops open fire at peasants in Davao Oriental, killing two
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