The AFP is conducting aerial bombings, endangering civilian communities and causing grave trauma, especially among children. Communities are subjected to hamletting, and food and economic blockades. AFP troops are promoting gambling, drug use, and other anti-social activities; rape and sexual violations against women are on the rise.
By Communist Party of the Philippines
16 May 2014
The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) condemns in the strongest terms possible the heightened operations of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) against peasant and minority or Lumad communities, as well as against the Moro people, across the different regions in Mindanao. The aim is to suppress the people’s resistance, both their democratic mass struggles and their revolutionary armed movement, in order to pave the way for the entry of big foreign mining, logging and plantation operations in various parts of Mindanao.
The so-called “peace and development” operations of the AFP under its Oplan Bayanihan war against the people have brought nothing but terror and hardship to the hundreds of thousands of peasants and minorities. Combat troops of the AFP have committed widespread abuses of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law as they militarize entire communities, drop bombs and fire mortar shells which destroy farms and the natural environment. Operating troops of the AFP unjustly suppress civilian communities in their desperate effort to wage counter-guerrilla warfare against the New People’s Army (NPA), the people’s militias as well as against the revolutionary armed Moro fighters.
Since the start of 2014, the AFP has mobilized at least 30 combat maneuver battalions against the NPA forces in the South, Far South, Northeast and North Central Mindanao. The AFP’s Eastern Mindanao Command has been beefed up with additional troops from Luzon and the Visayas, including the deployment of at least three Scout Ranger battalions. These forces have been further augmented with forces of the Philippine Navy and Philippine Air Force, the AFP Engineering Brigade, Tactical Operations Group, Regional Community Defense Group and military intelligence battalions. At least one battalion under the 6th Infantry Division in the Moro areas in Maguindanao has been transferred to the 10th Infantry Division, and deployed in Compostela Valley.
Such a major military campaign is likely coordinated with the US military, particularly the Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines (JSOTF-P) based in Zamboanga City. During previous major campaigns in Southern Mindanao, US soldiers set up tactical coordinating centers with field commands to provide combat assistance in the form of real-time satellite or drone intelligence, join combat operations and provide logistical support (including aerial support for dropping smart bombs or for medical evacuation).
The number of operating troops deployed by the AFP is unprecedented. We can conservatively estimate that the Aquino regime is spending at least P500 million (US$11.4 million) a month to cover the costs of the daily field and intelligence operations of its combat units, fuel for its helicopter gunships, transport trucks and armed personnel carriers, as well as the acquisition of bombs, artillery and bullets. The Aquino regime will likely be spending several billion pesos in the course of several months of counter-guerrilla operations in Mindanao.
The CPP joins the Filipino people in condemning the Aquino regime for squandering billions of pesos for its heightened military campaign in Mindanao while the majority of the people continue to wallow in poverty. At the same time, the Aquino regime adamantly refuses to heed the people’s demand for rehabilitation in the areas devastated by supertyphoon Pablo in December 2012. Aquino’s government has succeeded only in building 110 substandard houses out of an original target of 1,300. It has reneged on its promise of rice subsidies for the calamity victims. Worse, the Aquino regime has allowed mining and logging operations to continue in Baganga, Cateel, and Boston, which were among the towns that suffered destructive mudflows resulting from widespread denudation.
The CPP also joins the widespread condemnation of the AFP’s campaigns of suppression against the people of Talaingod, Davao Oriental. Last April, at least 1,300 residents of Talaingod abandoned their homes and evacuated to Davao City in order to protest the presence of military troops in their communities and the transformation of their schools, day care centers, and other village facilities into barracks for the operating troops of the 1003rd Brigade. They narrated how helicopter gunships fired bombs on their farms and how they were accused of being supporters of the NPA and forced to serve as guides for the soldiers in their operations. Earlier this month, the residents of Talaingod returned to their homes after successfully getting the AFP commander to order the withdrawal of troops from the community center. In the same breath, however, the AFP commander threatened to continue deploying soldiers in the area and declared that they would continue with their search and destroy operations in the area.
Over the past several months, the AFP has also conducted similar operations in the towns of Maco, Maragusan, and Mabini, all in Compostela Valley; in Loreto, Butuan City, and Cabadbaran in Agusan del Sur; and other areas.
Cases of human rights abuses are rapidly increasing. These include the killing of Ricardo “Polon” Tuazon in Butuan last 28 April; the abduction, torture and killing of Wilmar Bargas in Maco; the abduction of peasant leader Romeo “Ging-ging” Rivera in South Cotabato; and others.
The AFP has been conducting aerial bombing runs which have endangered civilian communities and caused grave trauma especially among children. Communities have been subjected to hamletting. AFP operating troops have imposed food and economic blockades resulting in grave hardships against the people. Invariably, AFP soldiers have systematically promoted gambling, drug use, and other anti-social activities in order to cause divisions among the people. Cases of rape and sexual violations against young women are on the rise.
The people’s revolutionary movement is in complete solidarity with the demand to end the destructive and plunderous logging, mining and plantation operations that these abusive AFP military campaigns protect. The NPA continues to carry out the CPP’s directive to punish and drive away the biggest plunderers in order to make available land for land reform, and preserve the ancestral lands of the Lumad. Recently, the NPA has succeeded in disabling large-scale mining equipment of Asia Alston in Agusan del Norte, and the Apex Mining Company in Compostela Valley.
It has carried out a campaign to put a stop to widespread logging operations in Compostela Valley being run by military officials and bureaucrat capitalists in collaboration with officials of the Aquino regime.
In light of the widespread abuses, grave violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, and the vile aim of the AFP’s Oplan Bayanihan brutal campaign of suppression, the Communist Party of the Philippines calls on the Filipino people to unite and demand an immediate end to all offensive military operations and the withdrawal of all operating troops from civilian communities.
The CPP enjoins all peace-loving groups, human rights advocates, lawyers, church and religious workers, student organizations, media associations, and progressive people’s groups across the Philippines to take up the cause of the people of Mindanao against the AFP’s intensified war of suppression. They should actively look into the situation in Mindanao and help expose the grave abuses and brutalities being committed by the AFP in the course of its war against the people.
The CPP calls on Filipinos abroad to organize and mobilize in order to come to the aid of the people of Mindanao. Solidarity groups of people who hail from Mindanao can be organized to spearhead an international campaign to expose the AFP’s war of suppression in their home towns and provinces. They can strive to draw international attention to the situation in Mindanao in order to expose the lies and illusions being peddled by the US-Aquino regime.
The CPP applauds the peasant organizations and Lumad groups, as well as the progressive organizations among the workers, students, urban poor, religious, teachers, environmental advocates, media, government employees and other democratic sectors in Mindanao, who have stood up and resisted the AFP’s all-out war of suppression. They have stood courageously in the face of harassment, threats, abductions and arrests carried out by the AFP against the people.
The CPP also urges the Moro forces to continue waging revolutionary armed resistance in order to frustrate the US-Aquino regime’s plan to allow foreign big mining companies to plunder the land and rob the Moro people of their rich natural resources.
The CPP applauds all Red commanders and fighters of the New People’s Army in Mindanao for continuing to seize the initiative in waging extensive and intensive guerrilla warfare. They have adeptly frustrated the AFP’s sustained and concentrated attacks by employing the tactics of shifting and concentration to avoid decisive engagements, luring the enemy deep and launching tactical offensives that they are sure of winning.
Despite the increased number of troops over the past month of operations, the AFP has yet to inflict a decisive blow against against any NPA unit. In fact, it is the AFP that continues to suffer casualties.
Last 5 May, a fascist trooper of the 67th Infantry Battalion was killed in an NPA sniping operation in Barangay Pagsabangan, New Bataan. Earlier, the AFP also lost four soldiers in an NPA offensive last 23 April in Barangay Manurigao, New Bataan, after conducting operations in Barangay Pichon, Caraga town, Davao Oriental. On 13 and 14 April, eight soldiers belonging to the Army Division Reconnaisance Company and three soldiers of the 9th Infantry Battalion were killed in successive NPA ambuscades in the Maragusan-Maco boundary area.
On 20 March, two soldiers were killed when an NPA unit ambushed a military truck transporting troops belonging to the 26th Infantry Battalion and the Scout Rangers in San Luis, Agusan del Sur. On 12 March, five soldiers belonging to the 9th Infantry Battalion were killed in an NPA ambush in Panoraon, Maco, Compostela Valley. On 10 March, the NPA successfully launched a raid against the PNP Headquarters in Matanao, Davao del Sur, killing three policemen and seizing 10 assorted firearms. On 5 March, two soldiers belonging to the 58th Infantry Battalion were killed in an NPA harassment operation in Libertad, Gingoog City.
Hundreds of people’s militia units are rapidly being mobilized in order to pursue and harass all AFP operating troops. AFP units continue to punch the air and are fast growing tired and wary of the people’s army and the people’s militias. Their fear of the people and their army, in turn, makes them more desperate and brutal.
The CPP calls on the five regional commands of the New People’s Army across Mindanao to continue efforts to intensify the people’s war by launching ever more frequent and bigger tactical offensives against the enemy. The large-scale operations of the AFP open innumerable opportunities to carry out tactical offensives against the weak spots of the enemy. The NPA and units of the people’s militias can launch small unit operations without letup in order to take advantage of all opportunities to strike at the enemy and make it bleed from a thousand wounds. At the same time, NPA commanders at the regional and interregional level can plan out special operations to deal massive head blows with great political impact.
All units of the NPA in Luzon and Visayas continue to wage extensive and intensive guerrilla warfare in their respective regions and areas of operations. Tactical offensives have been carried out in various provinces over the past month, particularly in Northern Samar, Camarines Norte, Sorsogon, Masbate, Palawan, Batangas, Quezon, Ilocos Sur, Mountain Province, and other places.
In the face of the large-scale and brutal war of suppression being waged by the AFP against the people in Mindanao, there is particular urgency to carry out a campaign to launch bigger and more frequent tactical offensives across the country. Such a campaign must be carried out to extend support to the NPA units in Mindanao who are now confronting one of the biggest and longest AFP campaigns of suppression. The New People’s Army must display its strength and unity against the brutalities and abuses being committed by the AFP in Mindanao.
All Party committees and NPA commands must help counter and derail the AFP’s all-out war of suppression in Mindanao. Every regional, subregional and front operations command of the NPA can contribute to this effort by launching ambushes, raids and other tactical offensives against the weak points of the enemy including police, army, or CAFGU checkpoints; isolated detachments or police stations; detached supply teams; and others.
They can carry out the arrest of enemy officers accused of war crimes or notorious criminals in order to subject them to trial. They can target the destruction of enemy camps, military trucks, helicopters, fuel depots, and other supply points through sapper operations and the proper deployment of command-detonated explosives or incendiary weapons. They can carry out punitive actions against the big plunderers of the environment such as mining, logging, and plantation operations. All units of the people’s militias must also be mobilized in this effort.
By seizing the initiative in waging people’s war and launching bigger and more frequent tactical offensives, the NPA also directly contributes to the Filipino people’s campaign to put an end to the much-detested puppet, corrupt, brutal and mendacious Aquino regime.
In carrying out and intensifying extensive and intensive guerrilla warfare across the country, the New People’s Army is bound to frustrate the all-out war of suppression of the AFP and the Aquino regime in Mindanao and emerge stronger and more capable in waging and advancing the people’s war. With the people’s inexhaustible support, the NPA will prove itself unstoppable as it marches forward from the current stage of strategic defensive of the people’s war to the next stage of strategic stalemate.