503rd Brigade ends 2011 violating their SOMO and committing more human rights violations

Saulo Lumadao Front, NPA South-Central Abra
Agustin Begnalen Command
24 December 2011

The Agustin Begnalen Command-Saulo Lumadao Front condemns the violations of the 503rd brigade in Abra of the GPH and AFP’s declaration of Suspension of Offensive Military Operation (SOMO) from December 16 to January 2, 2012.

As early as November, the 503rd brigade conducted combat operations in the municipality of Sallapadan, Bucloc, and Daguioman. More than three companies of the 41st IB and the 50th IB are scattered in the barrios of BuDaBoSa and Licuan-Baay where the troops are encamped inside the barrios despite protests of the residents. These are clear violations of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law(CARHRIHL) which prohibits regular armed forces to utilize civilian facilities. On the night of December 14, 2011, one (1) platoon of the AFP disguised as NPAs, including “2 amazons”, forced a farmer in Abas to guide them in their combat operation. Because of fear, the civilian accompanied the AFP in the said combat operation.

A few days before the start of the AFP’s implementation of the SOMO on December 16, a platoon of the 50th IB secretly conducted combat operations in Mt. Bakaw, in the municipality of Sallapadan. Later, two (2) 6X6 trucks and two (2) elf trucks of the military headed by Lt. Milan and Lt. Penaflorida of 50th IB, Charlie Company occupied Barangay Gangal, Sallapadan and Barangay Ducligan, in Bucloc.

On Dec 21, 2011 at 10:00 pm, two trucks of the 50th IB occupied Sitio Sagsagod of Barangay Saccaang, Sallapadan while a platoon occupied Barangays Palaquio and Tabiog in the municipality of Bucay. Some of the operating troops were stationed inside the barrios and even in the Tabiog Elementary School while other troops scoured the mountains. The soldiers told the residents that they intend to stay up to the end of the year. Aside from these, a van and two (2) 6x6 trucks occupied Barangay Gangal which is a few meters away from Gangal Elementary School. After these, a platoon of the AFP disrupted a wedding rite in Baranggay Naguillan, Sallapadan by unceremoniously entering the barrio after their combat operations. At present, 50th IB troops are also encamped inside the barangay hall and in the plaza of Barangay Bila-bila, in the munisipality of Sallapadan.

Fear and terror because of widespread human rights violations and decadence abound in BuDaBoSa because of the 503rd brigade’s implementation of the Oplan Bayanihan, the deodorized version of its forerunner Oplan Bantay Laya 1 & 2. The 50th IB under the 503rd brigade conducted Peace and Development Teams (PDTs) in the communities of Budabosa and maliciously accused civilians to be supporters and financers of the NPA, illegally searched houses, ruined rice fields, fences, and crops, and “invited” civilians for questioning in the army camp in San Ramon, Manabo which they still do even at present. In the entire 2011, the AFP continuously violated IHL by systematically using civilian and private facilities and even fortified their detachments in Gangal Elementary School; inside the barrio of Labaan, Bucloc; and in Sallapadan Elementary School which was only pulled out last quarter of the year beause of sustained protests from the residents. They also disguised as NPA to vilify the people’s army and harassed the people who are firmly opposing anti-people programs of the regime like the large-scale mining operations in Abra. The AFP also continuously exploited the women while in the barrios where soldiers courted minors and even married women, that resulted in unwanted pregnacies and the ruin of a significant number of families. A case in point is that of Pfc. Wilson Puruganan of the 50th IB, headed by Lt. Col. Nolie Anquillano, who courted a married woman in the municipality of Sallapadan.

The 503rd brigade’s direct violation of their own SOMO only shows their lack of sincerity in the peace process and lack of respect of the people’s celebration of the yuletide season. Operations of the 503rd Brigade during the AFP’s self-declared SOMO, are clearly offensive in nature and not “in support of police functions” and defensive patrol operations. Communities of BuDaBoSa are kilometers away from the 503rd Brigade HQ in Lagangilang. These combat operations are meant to sabotage the yearly celebration of the founding anniversary of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP). The troops are seeking combat-engagement while some conduct psywar thru civil- military operations (CMO, now deodorized as peace and development missions), and continous intelligence operations.

Duplicity, deception and fascist terrorism in pursuit of Oplan Bayanihan and of the interests of big multi-national mining companies characterize the 503rd Brigade’s operations in BuDaBoSa, and the rest of Abra. As the year ends, we can now see that instead of attaining peace, waging a just people’s war is the only recourse of the people. More and more human rights violations (HRVs) will be committed by the AFP in pursuit of the US-Aquino Regime’s Oplan Bayanihan in the year 2012, and big mining companies and local bureucrats will aggressively impose destructive mining projects and violate the indigenous people’s rights to their ancestral land and the people’s right to theor patrimony. The Saulo Lumadao Front is always ready to protect and uphold the rights of the people. The AFP should respect and implement their own SOMO. The NPA red fighters and commanders are always ready to punish the liars and terrorist troops of the 503rd Brigade.