54th IB aerial bombing in Kalinga affects 2,700 residents

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The aerial bombing of the 54th IB under the 503rd IBde in Barangay Maling today, June 7, brought terror and disruption to the lives and livelihoods of the people of Balbalan, Kalinga. The Cordillera Human Rights Alliance (CHRA) said the bombing and combat operations affected an estimated 2,700 residents of the Barangay Maling and its adjacent barangays of Dao-angan and Balantoy.

Residents observed two helicopters circling, then dropping bombs in Balbalan barangays. The 54th IB used an alleged encounter with the New People’s Army (NPA) at 10 a.m. as an excuse for carrying out these operations and indiscriminate bombardment.

The CHRA condemned the 54th IB for the bombing. It said this violates international humanitarian law because it is indiscriminate and may harm civilians and destroy their properties and livelihoods.

Apart from this, the 54th IB reported the arrest of an alleged NPA-Kalinga fighter in Barangay Balantoy yesterday, June 6. The military said they arrested a certain Gap-idan Claver Bawit who is charged with attempted and frutstrated murder.

In this regard, the CHRA demanded the 54th IB to follow the provisions of international humanitarian law regarding prisoners of war. The group emphasized on providing humane treatment and fair trial to those arrested.

In March 2023, the mountainous part of Barangay Gawa-an in Balbalan also became the target of successive aerial bombings by Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) jet fighters. Residents reported disruption by excessively noisy jet fighters and terror caused by AFP terrorist attacks on communities. Nine residents of Sityo Uta and Codcodwe of Barangay Gawa-an were illegally arrested and detained for seven hours during this time.

AFP combat operations continue in Balbalan to pave the way for the construction of hydroelectric power plant projects such as the 49-megawatt Saltan D and 40-megawatt Mabaca. National minority tribes and people of Kalinga strongly oppose these projects.

AB: 54th IB aerial bombing in Kalinga affects 2,700 residents