AFP bombs Pantaron mountains anew, endangering Lumad residents
The Philippine Air Force once again rained rockets and bullets near a civilian community in the Pantaron Range last May 11. This was in retaliation to the NPA’s sniping operations conducted early last week in the Bukidnon-Davao border which killed five soldiers and wounded two others.
On May 11, at around 10 a.m., Red fighters from NPA-Bukidnon fired shots at operating troops of the 60th and 56th IB in Sitio Tapayanon, a Lumad community found at the triboundary of Agusan del Sur, Bukidnon and Davao del Norte. Two soldiers were killed. The AFP retaliated by deploying 10 missiles near the community using an FA-50 jet. It also sent two Huey helicopters which fired 10 rockets and straffed the area using .60 caliber machine guns.
Sitio Tapayanon, previously part of Barangay Mandahikan of Cabanglasan, Bukidnon, was purposely presented as a “newly discovered” community of Barangay Gupitan, Kapalong, Davao del Norte, by AFP officials on May 2019 so that the 10th ID can assume jurisdiction over the area. It was later presented by the NTF-ELCAC as a showcase of its surrender program. It has been under military control since February 2019. (For more details, read “Military rampage in Pantaron Range, Ang Bayan, April 21, 2020.)
A day earlier, at 10 p.m., another NPA unit attacked a detachment of the 8th IB in Sitio Miaray in Barangay Mandahikan, Cabanglasan. Two soldiers were killed, while another was wounded. Previously, the AFP dropped five 500-pound bombs by fighter jet in the same area on March 27 and fired 10 rockets using helicopters. Several rounds of artillery using cannons were also deployed.
Meanwhile, Red fighters ambushed two intelligence agents on separate incidents. On May 10, a CAFGU element, who served guide to the 8th IB’s combat operations, was killed in Barangay Busdi, Malaybalay City. On May 13, another 8th IB agent was killed in Barangay Indalasa, Cabanglasan. He was instrumental in forcing civilians from the Talaandig tribe to surrender and the murder of two peasants, both members of the peasant organizaton Ogyon.
The NPA-Bukidnon fired at a CAA detachment in Barangay Bolunay, Impasug-ong on May 14, at 2 a.m. The same detachment was harassed a week earlier, on May 5.
In Central Panay, the NPA conducted harassment operations on May 12 and May 3. One was against a CAA detachment in Barangay Anhawan, Janiuay and the other against a CAFGU detachment in Barangay Barasan, Igbaras.