FMO in Southern Tagalog
Troopers of the butcher 4th IB killed civilians Mark Ederson Valencia Delos Santos and Jay-ar Mercado in Barangay Happy Valley, Socorro, Oriental Mindoro on January 31. Mercado was a volunteer organizer of Bigkis at Lakas ng mga Katutubo sa Southern Tagalog who was abducted by the military on January 26. The butchers buried Mercado’s cadaver on February 1, without the knowledge of his relatives. After the crime, the military made it appear that both were members of the New People’s Army.
The crime is part of the focused-military operation or FMO of the Southern Luzon Command (Solcom) in several provinces in Southern Tagalog in January. The troopers ransacked rural communities, put up checkpoints, and violated the rights of peasants and minorities residing in areas where they were operating. These operations are directed by the newly-appointed Solcom commander Maj. Gen. Antonio Parlade. A division-sized force was deployed in Quezon and Mindoro.
In Quezon, 201st IBde and PNP-Calabarzon elements ransacked barangays Villa Espina, Pisipis and Vergania in Lopez from January 10 to 30. Simultaneously, a battalion-sized force of the 85th IB and PNP militarized several barangays in Gumaca. The troopers put up checkpoints in Gumaca and other towns of South Quezon.
Similarly, a battalion-sized force of the 1st IB, PNP and CAFGU were deployed in the towns of Real and Sampaloc, Quezon; and Kalayaan and Luisiana in Laguna since the second week of January.
Meanwhile, interior barangays in Rizal and San Jose, Occidental Mindoro; and Bulalacao, Mansalay, Victoria and Socorro in Oriental Mindoro are militarized by elements of the 203rd IBde and PNP-Mimaropa since January 8. Reports show that two companies are currently operating in each FMO area.
Approximately 32 barrios in South Palawan are covered by the FMO of the AFP Western Command and the Provincial Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict. The 1st Police Mobile Force Company of PNP Palawan was deployed in the towns of Quezon, Rizal, Bataraza, Brooke’s Point and Sofronio Española.
Human rights are violated and communities are terrorized during FMOs. In Gumaca, Quezon, a jeepney was stopped at a checkpoint and was illegally searched. An incident of indiscriminate strafing perpetrated by soldiers was also recorded in Rizal, Occidental Mindoro. Three Tadyawan youth were harassed on January 12 in Happy Valley, Socorro, Oriental Mindoro. Due to intense military operations, residents have evacuated from six sitios in three barangays in Socorro, and four sitios in three barangays in Victoria since January 13.