New AFP battalion unleashes barbaric operations in Maco

Daniel Ibarra
Comval Davao Gulf Sub Regional Command-NPA-Southern Mindanao

March 28, 2014

The Comval Davao Gulf Subregional Command-New People's Army condemns the recent killing of a civilian by members of the 9th Infantry Battalion, 1001st Brigade-10th Infantry Division of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. Freshly deployed from Camarines Sur early this year, the 9th IB has resorted to the AFP's usual cowardly yet barbaric means to retaliate against Red fighters and to instill fear among the civilian populace in order to protect big mining interest.

The 9th IB abducted, tortured and killed on March 24 evening Wilmar Bargas, 21, of sitio Tinago, Brgy. Elizalde, Maco. A companion of Bargas who was taken along with him and who was able to escape witnessed how the soldiers mauled and strangled to death Bargas near the military's camp in Tinago.

Bargas is the 8th victim of extra-judicial killing of civilians and civilians killed indiscriminately by death squads under the 1001st Brigade-10th ID under the US-Aquino regime in the area of jurisdiction of the subregion, and the first to suffer under the hands of the new Army battalion.

Since its arrival, the 9th IB occupied all barangays of Maco and conducted census-taking, interrogation of suspected members of the underground peasant organization, interview of non-residents and control of the entry and exit of villages. On March 10, the soldiers ransacked a house of one of the civilians in Brgy. Panuraun.  The hamletting and militarization continued even as Eastern Mindanao Command-AFP Chief General Ariel Bernardo made a bare-faced lie to Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte in a February dialogue that AFP soldiers will not encamp in and near civilian communities.  Earlier in January, peasants picketed the Provincial Capitol in Nabunturan to protest against the intensified RSOT operations in their civilian communities.

The deployment of 9th IB complements the reign of terror of the 71st IB in Maco, Pantukan, Mabini and Mawab towns, areas which are being targeted for expansion by current large mining firm operators US-owned St. Augustine Gold and Copper Ltd., and Malaysia-owned Apex mining. The 71st IB now concentrates in Pantukan as protector and private army of St. Augustine which holds a 4,000-hectare Mineral Production Sharing Agreement concession, while the 9th IB focuses in Maco where Apex mining is operating in more than 3,000 hectares.

In Pantukan, St. Augustine has put up roadblocks and checkpoints to collect permit fees and royalties from small-scale miners. Despite massive opposition from the people, the company continues to employ terror and deception tactics against Lumads and poor miners and mine workers to pursue the large-scale mining project.

In Maco, Apex mining is pushing for the expansion of its open pit project despite the massive damage it wreaked in the environment and the people's livelihood after Typhoon Pablo. Due to the perseverance and militancy of peasant and small-scale miners association who demanded for damages, they were able to secure 3-million pesos as reparation from the company last October. Recently, under the new management, the firm instigated a new scheme which involves the termination of subcontractors and workers.

The NPA shall see to it that revolutionary justice is attained for Bargas and other victims of Oplan Bayanihan as it continues to advance the level of people's war in the sub-region. In fact, Red fighters have met the arrival of the 9th IB with successive tactical offensives in the last two months.

In the NPA's February 16 ambush against the 9th IB in Barangay New Barile, Maco, four soldiers were killed and three wounded. The NPA also confiscated four military packs, one night vision goggle and sensitive military documents. On March 12, the NPA again staged an ambush against the 9th IB in Barangay Panuraun, Maco, where five soldiers were killed and 10 were wounded. Four military packs were confiscated. The AFP's indiscriminate aerial bombing against several communities in Panuraun followed the NPA's tactical offensive.

No amount of civilian killings and RSOT operations can stem the tide and advance of the revolution. Covert and overt AFP death squads shall answer for their crimes against the people in the vast fields of the people's revolutionary movement. The NPA and revolutionary forces are prepared to intensify the struggle and build organs of political power in the countryside.