By SIMON SANTIAGO
Political Director, Regional Political Department
Members of the 10th Infantry Division of the Armed Forces of the Philippines were responsible for the spate of civilian killings in April, in the areas of Mabini, Compostela Valley province; Baguio District, Davao City; and Dalisay, Panabo City. To cover up its culpability for these recent gross human rights abuses, the AFP has not only accused the New People’s Army for these criminal acts, it lambasts, time and again, the NPA for using command-detonated explosives against its troops.
On 6 April, at 9:30 pm, Nomer Ogaw, a vigilante Blackfighter and member of the military intelligence battalion, shot and injured a civilian, Gary Rautraut, 32, and another unnamed civilian, near the packing house of Dole Philippines banana plantation in Barangay Baguio, Baguio District, Davao City. Ogaw was with the 84th Infantry Battalion Special Operations Team.
In a separate incident, the 69th Infantry Battalion-AFP shot to death Elias Acero, a civilian, and wounded an unnamed other civilian on 7:20 am, 8 April in Barangay Dalisay, Panabo City. Despite killing Acero in full view of the masses in the area, the Army was quick to heap the blame on the NPA by alleging that the latter injured and killed the civilians following a supposed NPA action. For the time being, Red fighters have held back from conducting any attritive action against the 69th Infantry Battalion troops currently deployed in the civilian-populated villages. Thus, it could not be accused of hitting the civilians.
The AFP’s barbaric acts this month started with the earlier reported killing by the 71st Infantry Battalion of 8-year old Roque Antivo and wounding of two other boys in Sitio Kidaraan, Barangay Anitapan, Mabini town, Compostela Valley on 3 April.
No matter how the 10th Infantry Division attempts to deflect attention from these civilian killings, the crimes occur as part of the AFP’s conduct of TRIAD operations under the counter-insurgency program Oplan Bayanihan. Not only are civilians killed by the AFP’s combat forces, as in the killing of the child Antivo, civilians are also killed by intelligence and psychological warfare units and by so-called Peace and Development Teams under their Civil Military Operations.
The AFP is fascist, barbaric through and through in every aspect of its TRIAD operations under Oplan Bayanihan. Its pretext of dispersing human rights conscious troops in peasant villages falls flat in the face of mounting atrocities. Failing to put a leash against its own fascist fangs, the Philippine Army’s spin doctors and propaganda machine concoct wild stories as cover-up and occasion to depict the NPA as criminals. When it fails to stem the tide of increasing NPA strength, it cries foul as command-detonated explosives hit its troops. When it fails to frustrate the rising discontent and anger of the masses, it goes berserk in anger and brands civilians as enemies and legitimate targets.
(sgd.) Ka Simon Santiago
Regional Political Department