PRESS RELEASE | September 1, 2018
Spokesperson, Apolinario Gatmaitan Command
New People’s Army Regional Command – Negros Island
The Apolinario Gatmaitan Command-New People’s Army Regional Command has received intelligence from reliable sources within the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) that Balikatan military exercises will take place this October 2018 in the southern towns of Negros Occidental (most likely in the upland neighboring barangays of Hinobaan, Candoni, Ilog up to the Sipalay City boundary). According to NPA units on the ground preparations for the military exercises has already started. In fact, the 87th Reconnaissance Company is already in San Rafael, Hinobaan on special mission to assist the Balikatan.
According to our reliable sources, the upcoming military exercises will focus on artillery firing. Thus, at present, the AFP is scouting for open areas especially to serve as firing range. This gravely endangers residents and will heavily affect the environment. We are reminded of Oplan Thunderbolt in the late 80’s and the severe damage and terror it brought the people. Thousands evacuated after bombings hit their homes and farms. Negros’ virgin forests also fell victim to the destruction brought by the military fascist campaign.
Extensive and drawn-out military operations of the 15th Infantry Battalion (IB) of the Philippine Army in Hinobaan, Ilog, Candoni and Sipalay City of Negros Occidental and Basay, Negros Oriental serve as preparation and support for Balikatan. The residents of the said towns especially in upland barangays are suffering from widespread human rights violations and serious inconvenience to their livelihood. Just recently, in combat operations conducted by the 15th IB, they have declared to residents specifically in the sitios of barangays Damutan, Sangke and Asia in Hinobaan and Pinggot in Ilog to vacate and destroy their houses located in remote areas and transfer to sitio or barrio centers.
The upcoming Balikatan military exercises is additional proof of how toothless the US-Duterte regime is in defending national sovereignty and its own people. In contrast, it sharpens US military intervention on Philippine affairs and intimidates the Filipino people against standing up to Duterte’s “strong-man” government.
The Duterte regime is blatantly pro-war and anti-people. Instead of giving focus on alleviating the conditions especially of the millions of Filipino poor-the farmers, fisherfolks, workers and urban poor-afflicted by the effects of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Law and the rising inflation, it allocated P300B for the Revised AFP Modernization Program in order to procure howitzers, multiple launch rocket systems, armored recovery vehicles, multi-role fighters, radars, various types of helicopters, ships, submarines, amphibious assault vehicles, unmanned aerial systems, missile systems, among others.
Duterte’s priorities in favor of military operations and exercises are cowardly acts to preserve the interests of his regime and the ruling system of big compradors and land lords servile to US imperialism and increase the source of his corruption.
The Apolinario Gatmaitan Command calls on the Negrosanons to be on your guard and oppose and expose the military exercises and intensifying military operations of the 303rd Brigade and its battalions. Defeat Duterte’s “strong-man” rule by prevailing over the culture of fear, terror and impunity. It calls on the Negros media to delve on this matter and expose the maneuvers and gross violations of the AFP and PNP to the public.
To all NPA guerrilla front commands in Negros Island, continue to protect the Negrosanons from massive militarization perpetuated by elements of the AFP and PNP. Confront the enemy by launching tactical offensives that will demoralize its elements and weaken the strength of the AFP, PNP and its paramilitary.###