NPA ambushes logging protector, abusive, anti-schools Army unit in Cateel

Roel Agustin II
NPA Comval-Davao East Coast Subregion Subregional Command
July 2, 2014

Two kilometers away from its command post, a platoon-sized advance command unit of the 67th Infantry Battalion was hit by the command detonated explosives of the New People’s Army, at 10am June 30 in Brgy. Aliwagwag, Cateel, Davao Oriental. Killed were five fascist soldiers and injured were six other members of the Army unit that is known to protect the province’s massive logging operations.

Huge logging operations in the East Coast are also backed by Gov. Corazon Malanyaon, Cong. Elmer Dayanghirang, and Cateel Mayor Camilo Nunez. Under the pretext of “logs retrieval operation” from a cutting permit released by the Department of Social Welfare and Development, unabated logging has flourished in an already disaster-ravaged and denuded territory. Millions of profits have been amassed by the abusive officials and the military while the masses in majority villages in the East Coast continue to suffer from loss of livelihood, homelessness, and disrupted education for more than a year after Supertyphoon Pablo struck and washed away their farms and houses in December 4, 2012.

A survey in the typhoon-affected areas shows how the military intimidates the masses whenever they avail of social services by welfare private organizations.  In Brgy. Taytayan, Cateel and in Brgy. Binondo, Baganga, Davao Oriental, the 67th IB  soldiers force people’s organizations to sign waivers to prevent the establishment of schools which are sponsored by nongovernment organizations.

The same unit withheld funds and benefits under the cash-for-work projects that it is implementing on behalf of the Department of Labor and Employment and the International Labor Organization. Supposed beneficiaries were not able to avail of SSS, Philhealth and daily wages of P301 each as the AFP used the same program for its intelligence activities and civil military operations in the hinterland villages.

The same Army unit is also part of the corrupt and substandard housing project implementation in Cateel town. Some of the 1,179 family-beneficiaries who were promised each with P92,000-worth of housing failed to avail of the program and were, instead, asked to sign a waiver and P10,000 cash. Others who secured the poorly constructed sub-standard housing first paid P1,000 to village captains before their families occupied the houses.

As they meddle with and steal funds of GPH’s civilian agencies, the 67th IB soldiers also conduct psychological warfare and intimidation against the masses. When they are hit by the NPA ambush, they direct their ire against civilian masses, prevent them from attending assemblies of their organizations and prohibit them from enrolling their children to alternative learning schools.

Despite the glaring deprivation of education to school-age children in peasant and Lumad villages, the AFP campaigns hard to prevent them from attending schools initiated by private groups and religious institutions. The AFP’s counter-insurgency program is focused not in decimating the NPA through warfare but by interfering and controlling the educational system in the countryside. It is targeting legitimate basic education schools, vilifying teachers and parents who they wrongly accuse as supporters and members of the revolutionary movement.