By ARMANDO SILVA
Spokesperson, NPA Alfredo Cesar Command
NPA Ilocos Sur Provincial Operations Command
Separate troops of the 50th Infantry Battalion (Philippine Army) have been successively ambushed by two units of the Alfredo Cesar Command of the New People’s Army–Ilocos Sur on May 1 and 2. A total of seven Philippine Army troopers were killed while at least eight were wounded in the two ambushes.
On 01 May, three troops of the 50th Infantry Battalion were killed while two were wounded when they were ambushed in Remedios village, Cervantes, Ilocos Sur, less than a kilometer away from the battalion headquarters of the said Philippine Army unit. And on 02 May, reinforcing troops also of the 50th Infantry Battalion were again ambushed in barangay (village) Malideg, Quirino, Ilocos Sur, about two kilometers from the battalion headquarters. Four were killed while at least six were seriously wounded.
In both ambushes, the NPA units were able to withdraw safely without any casualties. These successful punitive actions are part of the Communist Party of the Philippines and New People’s Army’s campaign to render justice for the countless victims of human rights violations committed by the 50th Infantry Battalion and to punish the said battalion for its utter subservience to the interest of large scale and destructive corporate mining.
The 50th IB is notorious for its heinous crimes committed against the people and the revolutionary movement. Since it was deployed in Ilocos Sur in 2001, and later redeployed to encompass parts of Abra, Mt. Province, and Benguet provinces, numerous civilians and activists became victims of illegal arrest and detention, torture, various forms of harassment and intimidation, and sexual abuse of women. For more than a decade, the 50th IB has continuously wreaked havoc on the lives, properties and livelihood of the people in the said provinces.
Since 2005 to 2011, villages in Tubo, Abra, were subjected to yearly arbitrary aerial bombings and strafings. Operating troops headed by Lt. Avila mutilated and beheaded the corpse of Ka Cholo who died in a battle in 2008. Recently, two women were raped by 50th IB troops stationed in barangay Dilong, Tubo.
In Cervantes alone, nine innocent civilians from sitio Maipit, barangay Comillas Sur, were arbirarily accused as NPAs or supporters, and illegally arrested in 2009. They were brought to the 5th Infantry Division headquarters in Gamu, Isabela province, and were subjected to continuous interrogation and mental and psychological torture for weeks.
In 2011, seven civilians were illegally arrested in different barangays after a battle that ensued between the NPA and the 50th IB in Remedios, Cervantes. They were also accused as NPAs and detained for several months.
Troops of the 50th IB mutilated the corpse of Benny ‘Ka Likot’ Aguilar who died in a second battle in sitio Bulaga, barangay Aluling, which they later displayed in a basketball court in the town plaza to terrorize the people.
The 50th IB has also been evidently serving as security force for a likewise notorious mining firm, the Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company (LCMC). Since 2008, the Charlie Company of the said battalion has been stationed right within the compound of LCMC in Mankayan, Benguet. From then on, they continuously harassed anti-mining activists and communities who strongly opposed the expansion of Lepanto’s mining operations within Mankayan. And since January this year, the 50th IB has positioned its battalion headquarters on Cayos ridge at the boundary of the towns of Quirino and Cervantes, adjacent to Mankayan. This is deemed as a move to ensure further security for LCMC as Quirino and Cervantes have long been protesting the adverse effects of Lepanto’s destructive mining operation in their area.
For decades, LCMC has been continuously dumping tons of highly toxic mine waste into the Abra river which flows through Quirino and Cervantes, and numerous other towns of Abra and Ilocos Sur. These affected towns have been demanding LCMC to stop its mining operation due to the incalculable damage it has done to the environment and livelihood of more than one hundred thousand people living in Mankayan and along the Abra River.
Other large scale mining interests in the area are also protected by the 50th IB, particularly the Freeport McMoran-Phelps Dodge mining exploration project in barangay Patiacan, Quirino; and the South Ocean Mineral Processing Plant in barangay Patungcaleo, also in Quirino. The people of Quirino have been protesting the operations of these mining firms.
In accordance with its policy to uphold and defend human rights and fight against corporate large scale mining and other destructive capitalist business interests, the NPA has not only implemented punitive actions against the 50th IB but also against the above mentioned mining firms. Last May 2013, a drilling machine of LCMC that was to be utilized for its expansion plan, was burned by a unit of the NPA-Benguet in Colalo, Mankayan. And on 11 April this year, another drilling machine, this time of Freeport McMoran-Phelps Dodge, was also burned by a unit of the NPA-Ilocos Sur in Patiacan, Quirino.
Fight against imperialist plunder of the people’s land and resources!
Punish the 50th IB and other AFP and PNP troops who serve to protect destructive large scale mining!
Advance the national democratic armed revolution to achieve justice and genuine progress for the people!