AFP attacks against civilians in Himamaylan

This article is available in PilipinoBisayaHiligaynon

At least 500 troops of 303rd IBde and police have laid siege on the villages of Himamaylan City in Negros Oriental beginning the night of October 5. They subjected several villages of Himamaylan City to nearly 10 days of lockdown. They evacuated approximately 18,000 residents (or 16% of the total population) and curtailed their movement and economic activity.

Six soldiers were killed in an ambush by the NPA-South Central Negros against 94th IB troops combing Sitio Sig-Ang, Barangay Carabalan in the city on October 6. Another clash erupted on October 8 in Sitio Malangsa where the military admitted that two of its soldiers were killed and six injured.

The AFP used these encounters to justify intensified militarization in the area. It poured the troops from the 94th IB, 62nd IB, 16th Scout Ranger Company, and Special Action Forces in the city, with helicopters, drones, spotter planes and cannon in a massive operation.

The military shelled Barangay Carabalan, in particular Sitio Sig-ang, and Barangay Mahalang from October 6 to October 8. Residents recorded eight rounds of shelling that hit sugarcane fields, rivers used as source of water and nearby forests.

The military concentrated fire on Barangay Carabalan where they long to build a detachment. Since October 6, they cordoned off sitios Sig-ang and Medel despite the fact that the NPA unit had already withdrawn from the area. Seven farm workers were arrested, imprisoned for three days and subjected to severe torture and interrogation. Pablo Abela Jr, Lito Abela, Angelo Abela, Alpredo Abela, Homer Liansing, Angelo Alejo and Hendro Alejo were bruised and wounded when they were sent home by the military.

The military claimed that NPA-Negros spokesman Ka Juanito Magbanua was killed in an encounter in Sitio Medel. It also reported as an “encounter” the 94th IB’s indiscriminate firing at 15 homes of the Ituman-Maghat-Bukidnon tribe in Purok Maliko-Lico, Sitio Cunalom in the same village on October 12.

Soldiers controlled the movement of residents. They put up many checkpoints where people were required to present documents in order to pass through. Residents were driven from their homes and detained in evacuation centers. They were prohibited from talking to the local media.

At the height of the operation, the military entered and ransacked numerous homes they suspect as NPA supporters. The soldiers even killed some farm animals. The evacuees were allowed to return to their villages on October 15 upon their insistence.

The 94th IB has long been conducting combat operations in Himamaylan to pave the way for the entry of destructive mining and logging operations and other infrastructure projects, one of which is the Ilog-Hinabangan River Basin Project. Its mountains are abundant in minerals that are targeted by mining companies. These projects are firmly being opposed by local residents.

Expanding focus of militarization

The troops also poured troops in the areas adjacent to Himamaylan. An estimated 200-300 soldiers of the 62nd IB are operating the boundaries of the mountainous parts of Canlaon, Guihulngan, Moises Padilla and Vallehermoso.

The military started its focused operations on October 10 after a 30-man unit of the 62nd IB surrounded the home of Plesing Menosa home in Barangay Calupaan, Vallehermoso. The Menosa family suffered grave trauma as a result.

In Barangay Hilaitan and Hibayo in Guihulngan, soldiers forcibly entered and search the homes of people. The soldiers brough with them pictures of people accused of being the members of the people’s army.

In Moises Padilla, soldiers fired at Merlinda Benero’s home in Sitio Tagbak, Barangay Macagahay on October 13. They stole five chickens of the Benero family.

In response, the people’s army launched an operation on October 12 against the 62nd IB in Sitio Mapun-as, Barangay Guba, Vallehermoso. One soldier was killed.

AFP attacks against civilians in Himamaylan