AFP terrorist operations bring disaster to Central Luzon

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Extensive and successive terrorist operations by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in the provinces of Aurora, Nueva Vizcaya, and Nueva Ecija left extensive devastation to civilian farmers, farm workers, and even children last May and June.

Fascist soldiers displayed overwhelming violence and contempt for international humanitarian law. Civilians were the victims of the AFP’s ire after the clash between the 72nd Division Reconnaisance Company and the New People’s Army (NPA) on May 20 and 21 in remote areas of Dipaculao in Aurora, and May 29 in Maria Aurora, until in the bloody killing of 10 Red fighters in Pantabangan, Nueva Ecija on June 26. The salvo of bullets and bombs on Alfonso Castañeda in Nueva Vizcaya on June 20 was unprovoked.

The 91st IB statements admitted that the successive operations were part of its “focused military operations” (FMO) in the region aiming to suppress the reported re-strengthening and expansion of the NPA in the past months in Central Luzon.

The FMO in Aurora started in 2021. Residents said they have suffered various forms of human rights violations in recent months, from fake surrenders that they say are milking cows for the military and local politicians, molesting women, and enforcing mobility restrictions even in farming.

These violations intensified a few weeks before the May 20 encounter and continued until the end of June in several other barangays. The military implemented checkpoints, curfews, ransacking, interrogations, and other tactics. These severely agonized the communities. The ban on farming was the most severe, especially for small landless farmers who survive in coal gathering in the mountains of Dipaculao and Maria Aurora.

Residents said a planting season has passed without them planting or cultivating anything. Even farm workers who haul coconuts and vegetables are affected due to the AFP-imposed restriction on movement. In effect, El Niño’s impact on their livelihood is said to have doubled.

Brazen attacks on civilians

Not only the deployment of hundreds of thousands of soldiers in the towns of Dipaculao and Maria Aurora can be considered “overkill” but also the use of two attack helicopters and other aircraft.

Most of the bombs seemed to have been dropped aimlessly in the mountains, residents said. Meanwhile, homes, rice paddies, and even the residents’ livestock were hit by strafing.

To cover up their crime, the soldiers quickly patched up the roofs damaged by the strafing, but no compensation was given for the damage to their livelihoods caused by the operations. Residents concluded that despite the military’s desperation to hide evidence of their terrorism, it is still blatantly indifferent to the damage their operations have left on crops and livestock.

Military operations spread terror, especially among children victims. Parents said their children were no longer able to go to school because classes were suspended due to the operations.

Possible involvement of American troops

Meanwhile, reports of several witnesses that American troops based in Fort Magsaysay, Nueva Ecija were involved in the bloody encounter on June 26 that claimed the lives of 10 red fighters in Pantabangan, Nueva Ecija are still being investigated.

In the initial report of the witnesses, some American troops were said to be with the 84th IB in the Pantabangan encounter. It is not clear what the role of the foreign troops was, but it is possible that foreign soldiers came from Fort Magsaysay, which is one of the nine “agreed locations” used by the reactionary government in the US under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA). Fort Magsaysay is only one and a half hours away by road from Pantabangan.

AFP terrorist operations bring disaster to Central Luzon