Naga City youths, targets of 9th ID repression
Threats and intimidation perpetrated by the 9th ID agents against campus journalists of a univerisity in Naga City last September 21 were like scenes during the Marcos Sr dictatorship. They were set join the protest action when approached by soldiers and jeered at for planning to participate in the rally. The fascists tried to forcibly take their personal information.
These acts by the 9th ID in Naga City is not new. In fact, in September alone, at least five youths and students were “visited” by soldiers. State agents mouth the same script: do not join rallies and activists to avoid the “CPP-NPA.” In these cases, soldiers commit multiple violations and abuse of people’s rights to privacy, against profiling and for press freedom.
Suppression of critical reporting
The latest case is the intimidation of journalists of The DEMOCRAT, the University of Nueva Caceres campus newspaper. On September 22, soldiers used barangay officials to “invite” and “talk” to the two journalists without cause. The soldiers even attempted to extract personal information from the barangay captain. Another newspaper staff was “invited” earlier.
The soldiers also summoned the chief editor of ThePILLARS, the Ateneo de Naga University (ADNU) student newspaper in September. From July 15 to September 3, the newspaper recorded three incidents of surveillance, red-tagging and interrogation against former and current staff.
Campus journalists know that these pressures are atttacks against critical reporting.
Military subjugation of barangays
To pressure the youth, generals and military officers treat the civilian bureaucracy—the barangay captains and officials—as pawns in their dirty counterinsurgency war. They freely impose their authority within the framework of the National Task Force-Elcac’s “whole-of-nation” approach. Barangay officials are subordinated to military rule. Anyone who objects is accused of supporting the revolutionary movement and suppressed.
In Naga, barangay halls serve as soldiers’ headquarters while conducting their Retooled Community Support Program (RCSP) and “lecturing” the youth. The barangay is compelled to produce documents to summon those whom the military suspect of having links with the revolutionary movement. They are also used to profile their constituents and surveil them.
The 9th ID spearheads the repression campaign against young people and citizens throughout the Bicol region. From July 2022 to August 2023, a total of 160 cases of human rights violations of this division have been recorded. These cases include 27 extrajudicial killings and 47 illegal arrests and detention.
The division is stationed in Pili town, adjacent to Naga City. Maj. Gen. Adonis Bajao is the current commander of the 9th ID while also serving as head of the Joint Task Force Bicolandia.
The 83rd IB, stationed in Tigaon town, works with the division in sowing terror in Camarines Sur and Catanduanes. This battalion’s record is stained with the blood of civilians whom they have extrajudicially killed. They usually falsely claim that their victims are NPA fighters despite widespread refutation by relatives and acquaintances.
Since 2018, at least 30 have been killed by this battalion in Camarines Sur and Catanduanes. At least 171 various cases of human rights violations by this battalion since 2018 have been recorded.
Since the implementation of Memorandum Order No 32 in Bicol in 2018, the battalion has become more aggressive in launching counterinsurgency campaigns including militarization of cities such as Naga City.