8th IB vents its ire on civilians

Allan Juanito
NPA Regional Command, North Central Mindanao
February 13, 2013

The mercenary troops of the AFP have gotten used to venting their ire on civilians every time they suffer defeats in battles against the NPA. Such atrocities are not new to the people of San Fernando and other areas in the region. Last June 25, 2012, 26th IB troops illegally arrested six civilians in San Luis, Agusan del Sur after failing to pursue the NPA unit which successfully raided their detachment in Barangay Binicalan. On June and July of the same year, Datu Lauro was arrested and accused of being an NPA member and a firearm was planted as evidence against him, while 8th IB troops and CAFGUs under the wing of the infamous bandit Benjamin "Loloy" Salusad hamletted the residents of Sitio Kisayab, Bunacao, San Fernando.

After suffering heavy casualties in a series of encounters between 8th IB – CAFGU troops and the New People's Army under the South-Central Bukidnon Subregional Command, operating troops of the 8th IB arbitrarily arrested four Lumads, set six houses on fire and hamletted the communities of Kasilaan and Salumayag.

Last February 2, Totot, Sayapo Maganyo and one other Salumayag resident all belonging to Datu Mantulisan’s community were arrested, presented to the media as NPA fighters, who, supposedly after a brief army persuasion, were effortlessly swayed to surrender. On February 4, 8th IB soldiers arrested Balangas Anglangit, a resident of Salumayag, while doing his abaca stripping routine with his two children aged 12 and 16 years old near the brook of Kala-Kala, in the boundary of Bukidnon and Davao del Norte. The children run for their lives when the soldiers aimed their guns at them, but they were able to witness their father shackled by the soldiers. The children also witnessed the soldiers set fire on six houses above the brook of Kala-Kala. On February 7, a group of Salumayag residents headed by Brgy. Councilor Dicayan Dukangon went to the San Fernando police station to inquire on Balangas’ whereabouts but they were simply told by the police that Balangas was not yet released. Until now, Balangas remains missing.

Hundreds of Matigsalug tribespeople in Salumayag and in the neighboring community of Kasilaan were prohibited from going to their farms to gather food, to avoid getting caught in the crossfire should another firefight with the NPA ensue, or so they say. Such callous imposition of an inhumane order on people already suffering from food scarcity has worsened the hunger pangs of the residents of these communities. This is an act of hamletting which tramples upon the human rights of the Lumads and deprives them of the right to freely move around to procure basic necessities. The AFP's claim that its soldiers are professional, humane and strictly abide by the rules of combat is belied by the brazen admission of the 8th IB spokesperson, Lt. Froilan Viamos, that indeed they prohibited the residents of Salumayag from going to their farms. He even has the gall to inform the public that the affected families are now making do with the measly food aid given to them by the local government and the MSWD.

In committing these atrocities, the reactionary armed forces further exposed themselves as soldiers that do not genuinely serve the interests of the people, not even in showing a token of respect for their rights. This shows that they will do anything to advance the agenda of their real masters: foreign and local exploiters and oppressors, whose interests in plantations and mining are woven in the lands of San Fernando. Like running dogs, they diligently pursue the revolutionary movement which remains a thorn on the side of their masters. Amidst the ever advancing revolutionary armed struggle, the AFP vents its desperation on civilians.

Arbitrary arrests, arson and hamletting (or forcibly concentrating civilians in a certain area and prohibiting them from leaving the area under any circumstances) are strictly prohibited under the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) [see pertinent provisions in an attached document] which was signed both by the NDFP and the government of the Philippines (GPH) in the process of peace negotiations.

We encourage the residents of Salumayag and Kasilaan to further expose and oppose these violations against the human rights of the Lumad people, including the violation against their right to freely make a living. We also encourage them to file charges in the reactionary court and the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), as well as in the Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC), against the soldiers responsible for the arrest of Balangas and the other Lumads and for setting fire on their houses.

Attachment #1

Relevant provisions from the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL)

Part III, Article 2, No. 5

This Agreement seeks to confront, remedy and prevent the most serious human rights violations in terms of civil and political rights, as well as to uphold, protect and promote the full scope of human rights and fundamental freedoms, including: … The right to liberty, particularly against unjustified arrest and detention and to effectively avail of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus.

Part IV, Article 4, No. 4

Civilian population and civilians shall be treated as such and shall be distinguished from combatants, and, altogether with their property, shall not be the object of attack. They shall likewise be protected against indiscriminate aerial bombardment, strafing, artillery fire, mortar fire, arson, bulldozing and other similar forms of destroying lives and property…