Fr. Santiago Salas
NDF - Eastern Visayas
October 12, 2010
The Efren Martires Command today scorned 8th Infantry Division chief Gen. Mario Chan as talking bull for calling on the New People's Army to surrender, while it is in fact government troops that are on the run because they are not welcomed by the people. "After more than 30 years of fighting, the NPA remains unperturbed by the Aquino government's renewed offensives because of the people's continuing support," said Ka Karlos Manuel, EMC spokesperson. "The 8th ID is only wearing itself out in its much-ballyhooed relentless and massive operations. It is the 8th ID that is on the run, not the NPA, because the NPA is welcomed and sheltered by the people, who on the other hand reject government troops as thieves and ruthless killers."
Manuel also pointed out the 8th ID is committing violence against the people because it is not winning against the NPA. "No one wins a war by forcing it on the people. But the 8th ID blames and attacks the people because of the NPA's perseverance and growing strength. It is has also been brought to the attention of the NPA that while the military pretends to observe human rights, it is in fact forcing the victims to absolve them of any wrongdoing, or else go incognito so they wouldn't be identified." Manuel cited recent examples of human rights abuses by the 8th ID:
1. September 20. In Brgy. Casapa, Jiabong, soldiers from the 34th IB looking for the NPA harassed and threatened to execute 30-year-old Rosalie Gagbo and her three children aged one to four years old. Gagbo, wife of a barangay councilor, was also beaten with a stick on the neck and forced to sign a document stating she was not abused by the soldiers. The soldiers also stole two chickens and a bolo. They also came back after a week and forced Gagbo's seven-year-old son to sign a document attesting his mother was not abused.
2. In the space of a week beginning September 20, more than 20 soldiers from the 34th IB operating against the NPA swindled Irene and Serafin Pacios, Jr., who ran a store in Brgy. Bunga, Motiong. The soldiers consumed on credit nearly P4000 worth of rice, soft drinks, biscuits, canned sardines, cigarettes, and Colt 45 beer. But they left after paying less than half of what they consumed and still owe at least P2200. The Pacios couple could not run after the soldiers because they had no nameplates and did not identify themselves or their commanding officer. In an earlier military operation, store owner Wenceslao Jomagdao was also swindled in the same way by soldiers and has not been indemnified to date.
3. The same troops in Brgy. Bunga also stole the papaya and sugarcane harvests of Arcenia and Jose Labong, while also trampling their rice harvests. A sack of cassava and a chicken owned by Gabriel and Remedios Pacleta were also stolen.
4. In Matuguinao, helicopters ferrying troops and supplies have been indiscriminately landing on and ruining rice fields; the farmers have all been eagerly expecting their first good harvest since the intense and prolonged dry spell of the previous months. In the interior barangays of San Jose de Buan, columns of the 34th IB on scouting missions have been trampling over and destroying the precious crops and livelihood of the poor peasants.
Manuel urged other victims of human rights violations to press for justice and indemnification against the 8th ID's abuses. "Other human rights violations are believed to have been perpetrated in massive military operations carried out in Catbalogan, San Jorge, Gandara and Paranas in Western Samar, as well as in Northern Samar. These abuses show that while the military is claiming gains over the NPA, it is the people who have been hardest hit. The NPA vows to make the 8th ID pay dearly for the sufferings of the people. The 8th ID will surely be on the run because of its isolation from the people and abuses. The Aquino regime will also certainly be shaken by the people's resistance to its dastardly, US-backed "counter-insurgency" campaign."#