Military rampage in Pantaron Range
The 10th ID recognizes neither the pandemic nor ceasefire in its fascist campaign in Mindanao’s Pantaron Range. From March 24 to April 1, two of its battalions (60th and 56th IB) launched extensive combat operations in Lumad sitios and barrios along the border of Agusan del Sur, Bukidnon and Davao del Norte.
On March 24, around 6 a.m., the New People’s Army (NPA)-Bukidnon was able to thwart an attack of the 56th IB against an encampment of Red fighters near Barangay Mandahikan in Cabanglasan, Bukidnon. Number of soldiers died after being hit by a command-detonated explosive. In retaliation, the 10th ID bombed the surrounding area of the barangay using an FA-50 at around 7 a.m. It dropped four rockets and a bomb. Simultaneously, four artillery rounds were fired from Loreto, Agusan del Sur. At 10:30 a.m. on the same day, the reinforcements were again thwarted by the NPA. Starting at 1 p.m., artillery rounds started hitting the ground near the community. The bombs landed 330-400 meters away from the community, frightening Lumad children.
The AFP bombed the area again on March 27. Within an hour, it fired three rockets and three artillery rounds. It depoyed 6 more columns in the area using a helicopter. Three more rockets and three cannons were fired afterwards.
The operation covered Sitio Mindao, Barangay Manggaod and sitios Umayam and Magemon in Barangay Mandahikan, Cabanglasan, Bukidnon; Sitio Tapayanon, Barangay Gupitan, Davao del Norte; and another community in Loreto, Agusan del Sur.
More than a year of suffering under the 10th ID
This area in Pantaron has long been militarized. In March 2019, the 10th ID declared the Tapayanon community as a “newly discovered tribe” that the government has “never reached.” In reality, 67th IB has long been going in and out of the community, while Alamara paramilitary forces have long been besieging the area. In fact, the Alamara killed the sitio’s datu, Loredno Pocoan, on February 4, 2017.
The 10th ID presented Tapayanon as a new discovery so that the Regional Task Force-End Local Communist Armed Conflict can use it as a showcase. High-ranking military and government officials visited to have their pictures taken in the area. Government agencies poured food, funds and projects, in return for the residents’ “surrendering” and turning over their homemade guns.
Before coming into the area, 10th ID forces first bombed neighboring sitios to ensure that the residents are paralyzed by terror. Around 200 soldiers entered the sitio and encamped in the middle of the community. Because of this, some families fled the area. Up to now, they are temporarily staying at the capitol grounds in Malaybalay City. Tapayanon was previously part of Cabanglasan.
Since then, the 10th ID has placed the sitio on permanent lockdown. Soldiers barred 105 families (525 individuals) living here from leaving the area to buy necessities. They forced all residents to “surrender,” including children who they paraded as “child soldiers.” They banned peasants from going to their farms, saying that they will just use the opportunity to complain to the NPA. They force married and single women to line up in front of their detachment every Saturday so that soldiers can have their pick and rape them. During their long occupation, they impregnated a lot of women, and wrecked many families. They coerce Lumad men to do reconnaissance, and work like slaves in their camp, ordering them to fetch firewood and water, and work as night guards. They make the men wear military uniforms and forcibly recruit them to the CAFGU.