CPDF condemns the illegal arrest and detention of civilians and the desecration of a fallen red fighter

Simon “Ka Filiw” Naogsan, Spokesperson
Cordillera People’s Democratic Front
1 October 2011

A massive military operation is now ongoing in the tri-boundary areas of Ilocos Sur, Mountain Province and Abra. As always, operating troops have again resorted to arresting innocent civilians and using them as human shields in their maneuvers against the New People’s Army. Since Friday, September 23, at least four residents of Cervantes, Ilocos Sur and another one from Mankayan, Benguet have been accosted, illegally arrested and detained by the operating combat troops under the 50th IB and 503rd IBde, 5th IDPA.

The illegally arrested and detained civilians were identified as Kidsol Keeg from Remedios, Cervantes; Edward Galao from Cabaroan, Concepcion, Cervantes; Mathew Sawey and Francis Tengngedan, both from Aluling, Cervantes and Hilario Bantio from Tabio, Mankayan. Save for Sawey and Tengngedan who were released, the rest are still illegally detained. The AFP has accused them to be members of the NPA and forced to sign documents as surrenderees.

Lacking support from the masses, the operating troops resorts to summary arrest and detention of anyone they accost along the way and by the use of torture and harassments to extract information about the whereabouts of the NPA and cow the residents into submission.

These acts, along with the desecration of the remains of a fallen NPA Red fighter that was then displayed in a public place by the AFP, are blatant violations of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL).

It can be recalled that in September last year, Elmer Valdez , a civilian gathering bamboo within the vicinity of his residence in Salcedo, Ilocos Sur, was picked up by the same unit of the 50th IB with no apparent reason. A concerted plea by the victim’s family and neighbors for his immediate release was simply brushed aside. Valdez’ body was found three days later in a shallow grave already in a state of decomposition. Four other civilians tending to their livestock were also held, threatened and used as human shields by the same operating troops.

The current massive militarization in the Abra-Mountain Province-Ilocos Sur tri-boundary area, involving possibly three battalions from three brigades (the 54th IB from the 501st Bde, the 50th IB from the 503rd Bde, and the newly-deployed Ilocos Sur-based 3rd IB from the 7th IDPA) makes a mockery of the pretensions of the AFP that they respect human rights and the provisions of CARHRIHL. Likewise the frenzied proposal of the local government units of Mountain Province calling for a province-wide peace zone runs smack against the reality of military maneuvers that trample upon the rights and welfare of civilians.

The military maneuvers since last week also makes a travesty of the seriousness of the GPH in pursuing national peace negotiations, already stalled several times since February due to the insistence of the GPH to disregard previous agreements already reached.

The CPDF views the ongoing military operations as proof of the AFP’s mercenary investment defense force initiative in protecting expanding mining interests of Lepanto-Goldfield, Cordillera Exploration Inc./Nickel-Asia, Golden Lakes-Philex, Phelps Dodge and other large scale corporate mines in Benguet, Abra, Ilocos Sur and Mountain Province.

The CPDF and the various NPA commands in the Ilocos-Cordillera region will meet head-on this armed aggression of the AFP, in the defense of the ancestral lands, livelihood, rights and resources of the indigenous people.#