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Condemn AFP’s chronic disrespect for human rights in the Cordilleras!

Defeat Oplan Bayanihan! Fight for a just and lasting peace!

By MAGNO UDYAW
Spokesperson, Leonardo Pacsi Command
NPA Mountain Province Provincial Operations Command

On the occasion of the commemoration today of the international human rights day, the Leonardo Pacsi Command of the New People’s Army strongly condemns the 5th Infantry Division and Philippine National Police-Cordillera for their recent spate of human rights violations.

In just a span of one week, 13 civilians, including four minors and a foreigner, fell victim to military abuses in the ongoing combat operations of the 41st Infantry Battalion, 50th Infantry Battalion, and 503rd Infantry Brigade, all under the 5th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army, and the PNP in Mountain Province and its boundary with Abra.

Two of the minors were supposed to gather firewood when they were chanced upon by the operating military and police troops on 13 November in Lesnadan, Bangaan, in Sagada. The other two minors were also held by the military and police just for having two cellphones each and an extra battery. They were held at gunpoint, together with seven other individuals including the foreigner, who were earlier illegally arrested by the said troops. “We are not safe in our communities,” a mother of one of the minors aptly described the situation in Mountain Province.

At a later incident on 16 November in Mount Amtinangad, Besao, two residents of Bangaan who were on their way home were also held against their will by a different unit of the 50th Infantry Battalion. The military refused to let the two go despite their protestations, forced them to act as guides, and used them as human shields in a battle that later ensued between the military and the New People’s Army. One of the civilians was injured in the said battle.

Other recent atrocities of the 5th Infantry Division and PNP include the positioning of armed troops, two howitzers and other armaments in known tourist and production areas, like Lake Danum and Langsayan-Pilaw Ridge, and a forced entry on a gardener’s cabin in Lake Danum.

Residents of Sagada already expressed outrage in August this year when the AFP indiscriminately bombed a watershed area of Sagada, just a few kilometers near barangay (village) Aguid. And it can be recalled that February this year, military operating troops also positioned themselves in Lake Danum and the Langsayan-Pilaw Ridge, earning the ire of the Sagada community who petitioned the military to vacate the said area and the entire town of Sagada. And again, in the ongoing military operation, the Sagada people are vehemently protesting the presence of the military troops and are demanding them to pullout from Sagada.

The ongoing combat operation in the boundaries of Mountain Province and Abra is part of a massive military operation of the 5th Infantry Division and PNP that encompasses a number of provinces in the Cordillera and Cagayan Valley regions, while the whole world remains appalled by the failure of the Aquino government and AFP/PNP to efficiently respond to the catastrophic situation in the typhoon-ravaged provinces of Visayas.

The human rights situation in the country continues to worsen under the Aquino regime’s counter-insurgency program Oplan Bayanihan, which has already been exposed as just a rehash of the much dreaded Oplan Bantay Laya I and II of the Arroyo regime. Militarization in both the countryside and urban poor communities continues. There is no letup in extra-judicial and media killings. And proven perpetrators in the Armed Forces of the Philippines and PNP, the likes of Gen. Palparan, remain at large, or worse, were even promoted to higher ranks and offices.

No amount of blatant lies by the AFP and PNP about respect for human rights and international humanitarian law can cover up the continuing list of military abuses of government troops. No massive propaganda machinery of the AFP-PNP under the failed Oplan Bayanihan can conceal the truth about the worsening human rights situation in the country.

On the other hand, Oplan Bayanihan has failed to attain its target to reduce the NPA to an inconsequential force by the end of 2013. The armed revolutionary movement led by the Communist Party of the Philippines continues to grow stronger, and the people’s war is on its way to attaining a higher level.

In line with its commitment to attaining just and lasting peace, the revolutionary movement reiterates its call for the resumption of peace negotiations between the National Democratic Front of the Philippines and government of the Republic of the Philippines (GPH) to tackle the remaining substantive agenda on economic and political reforms, and for the GPH to act on its part in implementing previously signed agreements especially the Comprehensive Agreement for the Respect of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law.

The CPP-NPA remains firm in protecting and upholding the political and economic rights and interests of the people. Only through its program of genuine land reform and national industrialization can the foundations of peace be truly established. The NPA, consciously guided by the principles of human rights, shall continue to render justice for the Filipino masses, whose human rights have long been ignored and trampled upon by the current exploitative system.

In this light, we call on the masses to continue in actively reporting and demanding justice for every single human rights violation perpetrated by the AFP, PNP, their paramilitary groups, and the entire reactionary state. We also call upon soldiers and policemen within the AFP-PNP who are disgusted by the countless human rights violations, and who were themselves victims of inhumane treatment by their superiors, to come forward, expose and fight these abuses, and join the masses in supporting the armed revolution.

   

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