By DIEGO WADAGAN
Spokesperson, Agustin Begnalen Command
NPA Abra Province
Units of the New People’s Army from the Procopio Tauro Front (NPA- North Abra) under the Agustin Begnalen Command (NPA-Abra Province) victoriously attacked a detachment of the Charlie Company, 41st Infantry Battalion (Philippine Army), led by Lt. Totoy, and a platoon of reinforcement disguised as NPAs.
The said detachment is located at Sitio (sub-village) Bantugo, Poblacion (town center) Lacub, Abra, right beside the Poblacion Lacub Elementary School, and surrounded by about 15 houses in a productive riceland area. The detachment is supposedly the Lacub Municipal Police Station, unmanned, abandoned, and now occupied by the 41st IB. Earlier, units of the 41st IB used to encamp at the heart of Poblacion Lacub, but were pushed out by people’s protests because of public disturbance, drunkenness and indiscriminate firing.
The harassment operation started at 5:20 AM on 26 April 2012. The team approached the detachment and fired at positions 50 and 100 meters away. Three (3) soldiers died on the spot, and another was wounded. The Red Fighters took the initiative from the start, and the surprised soldiers only fired back, in frantic and aimless directions, when the Red Fighters were already retreating.
The NPA unit retreated safely. Later, the beleaguered soldiers scampered barefoot to the Poblacion, seeking refuge with the masses that were so happy with the NPA’s punitive action and were laughing at the funny sight of fleeing soldiers.
Another attack was initiated by an NPA team on 27 April 2012. The Red Fighters have been closely monitoring possible reinforcements of 41st IB units, after the previous day’s harassment operations. The said NPA team fired upon a platoon of 41st IB soldiers at Mt. Inuman, Lacub, Abra, bordering Baay-Licuan, at exactly 10:00AM.
Three soldiers were killed in the said firefight that lasted for only 15 minutes. The soldiers, even while in a combat mission, were not in uniform as this became a modus operandi for infantry units to deceive the revolutionary masses.
The tactical offensives were carried out to punish the 41st IB, 503rd Brigade, for consistently serving as large-scale mining security force, terrorizing the people, widespread human rights violations, oppression against the indigenous peoples, women and children, criminality, and decadence.
The 503rd Brigade, particularly the 41st IB, have long been terrorizing North Abra, specifically the towns of Lacub, Malibcong, Tineg and Baay-Licuan. The people of North Abra have been strongly opposed to ethnocide due to large-scale mining incursions in their ancestral lands and massive militarization and human rights violations. One of the most blatant acts of human rights violation and violation of the International Humanitarian Laws (IHL, or international conventions on the conduct of war) is the desecration of the bodies of the eight NPA’s who died on 10 October 2011 in Caganayan Tineg.
To date, despite verbal commitments from the 503rd Brigade’s Commanding Officer Col. Eliseo Posadas, the 41st IB are encamped in or near school buildings and in civilian or public facilities, in violation of the IHL and the CAHRIHL (Comprehensive Agreement on Human Rights and International Humanitarian Laws). The 503rd Brigade is also violating provisions of the IPRA (Indigenous People’s Rights Act) pertinent to the prior approval of the indigenous communities to any activity or intrusion into their ancestral land, by any group, including the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
For the past two (2) years, 41st IB troops have established camps in Mataragan, Malibcong town, a few meters above the community. Currently, CMO (civil-military operations) units named as “Peace and Development Teams” are stationed inside the communities of Lapat-Balantay, Agsimao, and Caganayan, all in Tineg town.
Troops have also been stationed inside the communities of Umnap, Adugao, Buano and Lat-ey all in Bangilo, Malibcong. While stationed inside communities, soldiers commonly violate the political and economic rights of the people. Women fall prey to soldiers, including minors and married ones. Up to now, justice has not been served to victims of statutory rapes, such as the case of a 17-year old girl from barangay Pacoc, Lacub Town.
Instead of being reprimanded and prosecuted, abusive soldiers and officers were only transferred to other units, some of them even promoted.
The 503rd Brigade, particularly the 41st IB is in cahoots with local warlords in ensuring the interests of large-scale mining companies in North Abra.
Just recently, local government officials in Lacub led by Mayor Bersamira and Vice Mayor Leo Barona, in connivance with elements within the NCIP (National Commission on Indigenous Peoples), concocted a zarzuela and maneuvered the FPIC (free and prior informed consent) process. Despite the people’s overwhelming opposition to large-scale mining intrusions into their ancestral lands, particularly that of Golden Lake-Miguel M. Pena, approval was supposedly given by the people in a referendum.
The people did not exercise their democratic rights due to the fascist-dictatorial rule of Mayor Bersamira and Vice Mayor Leo Barona, even while a few have been misled and fooled by the duo into thinking that mining exploration is not detrimental to the people’s interests. People’s organizations opposed to large-scale mining have been demonized, harassed and banned; mass leaders have been harassed by armed goons of the Mayor and the Vice-Mayor in combination with the presence and patrol operations of the 41st IB. In Lacub, the rottenness of the ruling system is so obvious where imperialism, bureaucrat-capitalism, and feudalism rear their ugly heads over the people.
These tactical offensives are part punitive actions by the Agustin Begnalen Command against those who blatantly oppress, exploit and terrorize the people of Abra under the banner of Oplan Bayanihan (counter-insurgency program of the Benigno Aquino government).
With revolutionary fervor and commitment, the NPA will be with the people in their fight against the connivance of large-scale mining companies, the AFP/PNP fascist-terrorists, and a few of their running dogs in the provincial and local government units. Together with the people, the Communist Party of the Philippines, New People’s Army, and the Cordillera People’s Democratic Front will surely be victorious in advancing the revolution to a new and higher level.