More than a decade of MBLT-4 atrocities in Palawan

This article is available in Pilipino

For 11 years and six months, the Marine Battalion Landing Team (MBLT)-4 unleashed terrorism against the people of Palawan. The unit was praised for its supposed key role in “ending” the New People’s Army (NPA) in the province and maintaining “peace.” In truth, the real mark left by the MBLT-4 in the province is its long record of human rights violations.

War of suppression

The MBLT-4 is the primary implementor of the brutal and intense war against the people and revolutionary movement in the province. The unit is responsible for numerous human rights violations including hamletting, intimidation, threat and harassment, food blockade, illegal search, mass forced surrenders and others. The indigenous Palaw’an, Batak and Tagbanua minorities were not spared from their atrocities.

Among this unit’s rights abuses was forcing then 17-year-old indigenous Palaw’an Merkel Mansuna of Barangay Aribungos, Brooke’s Point to serve as guide in a combat operation in June 2020. Before the said incident, soldiers raided five houses in Sitio Bayog of the said barangay. More than 10 families evacuated to avoid military interrogation and threats.

During that time, soldiers mauled a farmer in Barangay Cacawitan in Quezon town. In Barangay Iraan, Rizal, a 17-year-old indigenous Palaw’an named Dipdip was forcibly armed and coerced to join combat operations.

The MBLT-4 is also involved in a rape case of an underage indigenous female in Barangay Mainit in Brooke’s Point. Involved are long encamped soldiers who residents have petitioned to be evicted from their communities.

Residents have also been prohibited from gathering firewood or timber, whereas soldiers themselves where illegally cutting trees for their camp construction. The MBLT-4 constructed three detachments to protect mining operations in the province.

Military troops of the MBLT-4 are also traitors to national sovereignty for holding military exercises together with the American troops in Palawan like the Marine Exercise (MAREX) 2022.

Terminator of revolutionary movement in Palawan?

On September 1, the US-Marcos II regime hyped that Palawan “insurgency-free.” It was ludicrous how the MBLT-4 was recognized as they key unit of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) which supposedly ended the revolutionary movement in the province.

According to the NPA-Palawan, it is utterly moronic and stupid for Marcos to presume that they could end the revolution and the people’s determination to fight all forms of oppression and exploitation. It adds, “no matter how difficult and cruel [the conditions], the NPA-Palawan is determined to advance the people’s war on the island and contribute to efforts to reinvigorate and intensify guerilla warfare nationwide.”

The real motive of Marcos and his minions is to claim counter-revolutionary victories to make the province attractive to foreign investment and imperialist plunder. At present, contracts and foreign investments in energy, ecotourism and mining in Palawan are in the pipeline.

Apart from this, amid tensions on the West Philippine Sea, the regime desperately wishes to show its US imperialist master the readiness of the puppet army to serve as cannon fodder in the event of an imperialist war with China.

Who is the MBLT-4?

The MBLT-4 was stationed in Palawan from November 17, 2011 to July 17 this year, before they were returned to Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City for retraining. MBLT-4 is currently headed by Lt. Col. Glen Lorrito who was appointed on July 2021.

MBLT-4 was last stationed in Camp Daypo in Barangay Abo-Abo, Sofronio Española in Palawan. Upon its arrival in Palawan in 2011, it first operated in the towns of northern Palawan and eventually transferred to the southern part of the province in 2017. In the south, its combat operations covered the towns of Bataraza, Rizal, Brooke’s Point and Quezon.

MBLT-4 was formerly under the operational control of the 3rd Marine Brigade of the Philippine Marine Corps (PMC). It operates together with the MBLT-3 on the island. MBLT-4 replaced the MBLT-7 which was used in the bombing of Marawi, in Sulu and Tawi-tawi. MBLT-9, which also came from Tawi-tawi, was also augmented to Palawan.

More than a decade of MBLT-4 atrocities in Palawan