Expel the military from civilian communities!

By NDFP Eastern Visayas

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines – Eastern Visayas today called on the people to fight militarization and fascism by campaigning for the removal of military presence in civilian communities. “Under [the Aquino government’s anti-insurgency program] Oplan Bayanihan, troops of the 8th Infantry Division routinely worm themselves into both urban and rural communities on the pretext of working for ‘peace and development,'” said Fr. Santiago Salas, NDFP-EV spokesperson.

“In truth, these troops are committing acts of war by engaging in combat and psychological warfare operations against the New People’s Army. They put civilians at risk and have in fact committed atrocities. The occupation of civilian communities by the 8th ID grossly violates international humanitarian law as well as the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law.”

Fr. Salas pointed out several instances in the past months when the military had occupied civilian communities in the course of their operations.

“In Samar, the 8th ID’s fascist troops openly base in the midst of civilian communities. While pretending to be only on temporary or tactical basing, the soldiers are in fact a permanent presence because of their frequent and numerous operations. For example, in Northern Samar, soldiers of the 87th Infantry Battalion focus repeated operations on the villages of Bangon, Bagacay, and Capacujan in Palapag, in Barangay (village) Potong in Lapinig, and the villages of Silhagon, Hubasan, Naparasan and Burgos in Mapanas.

The fascist troops also subvert civilian authority by signing memorandums of agreement with the respective municipalities. Meanwhile, in Eastern Samar, a company of the 14th Infantry Battalion pursues the same tack by maintaining a roving presence in Brgy. San Roque, Jipapad, and the villages of Buko, Pandol and Balagon in Can-avid.

“In June this year in Leyte, the 19th IB troops stirred outraged by openly basing themselves in several villages in Tunga town. The fascist troops raised the people’s ire even more when a soldier raped a woman in Brgy. San Vicente.”

The NDFP-EV spokesperson said the soldiers’ violations of the rights of civilians unmask the grim reality behind the “peace and development” psywar of 8th ID chief Gen. Mario Chan.

“These soldiers forcibly control the civilians by conducting ‘censuses’ and demanding ‘surrenders’. They constantly harass the civilians about the presence of the NPA. They also force the civilians to build their camps and supply wood. The soldiers are also notorious for drinking, gambling, and using their weapons to intimidate civilians.”

Fr. Salas said civilians should fight to reclaim their communities and end the 8th ID’s impunity against the CARHRIHL and international humanitarian law.

“All communities occupied by the 8th ID should struggle against the unwanted presence of the fascist troops. They should protest to the municipal governments why military authority is subverting civilian authority. The communities of various towns can unite and raise their complaints to the provincial governments through petitions as well as mass actions. They can troop to radio stations and other mass media to expose and oppose the 8th ID’s wanton violations of the CARHIRHL and international humanitarian law.

The peasants can also unite with human rights advocates and other sectors to press for the expulsion of military troops from urban and rural communities. Through the militant struggle of the people against militarization and fascism, the anti-people Oplan Bayanihan will surely fail.”

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