DAVAO CITY, Philippines — Amidst reports from human rights group that authorities are responsible for the spate of forced surrender of peasant and indigenous people, the Armed Forces of the Philippines in Southern Mindanao claimed thousands of individuals are undergoing “re-orientation” under its counter-insurgency campaign.
Capt. Jerry Lamosao, spokesperson of the AFP’s 10th Infantry Division claimed they have neutralized 5,414 supporters of the New People’s Army (NPA) and members of underground mass organizations.
From January to July this year, the AFP said around 213 individuals have surrendered as members of the “Sanga sa Partido sa Lokalidad” or Communist Party branch members and another 11 individuals from left-leaning organizations, including the peasant organization Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP).
“Some of the dead recovered in our encounters with the NPA possessed KMP IDs,” said Lamosao.
KMP-Southern Mindanao spokesperson Tony Salubre, however, scoffed at the military’s accusation saying “it was ridiculous because (we) do not issue individual identification members to (our) members but only to chapter officers and representatives.”
He also said the military’s “surrenderees” are merely farmers who are civilians forced to clear their names out of fear of reprisals.
During an International Fact-Finding and Solidarity Mission sponsored by the KMP in April,
KMP chairperson said forcing farmers to surrender as NPAs has become a central part of military operations.
“Intensification of military presence — military use of civilian facilities, logbooks in peasant communities, restriction of movement, roving, food, and economic blockade, among others, happen on a daily basis, especially with the military’s conduct of Community Operations for Peace and Development (COPD),” said Ramos.
Meanwhile, the National Democratic Front Southern Mindanao said “spokespersons of the 10th ID of the Philippine Army invariably claim of having “cleared” rural barangays of the influence of the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army, especially in Davao City. Almost always immediately, however, engagements between their fascist forces and NPA units undermine these fictitious claims.”
For its part, the rights group Karapatan said “soldiers stepped up their attacks against peasant and indigenous people populations in Mindanao.”
Under Duterte’s counter-insurgency program Oplan Kapayapaan and martial law in Mindanao, the group documented the killing of 163 peasants and indigenous people from July 2016 to June 30, 2018, while 351 individuals were victims of frustrated killings.
“Nearly two thousand have been illegally arrested, and at least 200 are still detained on fabricated, absurd and baseless criminal charges, bringing the number of political prisoners to 503.”
Karapatan added that the “Duterte regime attempts to deceive the public into believing it pursues peace. But its all-out war and the war on terror campaign, its relentless efforts to sabotage peace processes, and the non-adherence to previously signed agreements all expose Duterte’s disinterest in a just and lasting peace.”
These numbers come as a result of the deployment of 70 percent or 71 battalions of the country’s entire armed forces with 42 army battalions and 3 marine battalions in Lumad and peasant communities; and 21 army battalions and 5 marine battalions in Moro communities. (davaotoday.com)