Progressive goups protest against indiscriminate bombing in Ilocos-Abra

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Progressive groups protested before Camp Aguinaldo on April 5 to condemn the latest AFP bombing of civilian communities and forests. The most recent of these cases was the bombing by the 5th ID near Pilar, Abra and Sta. Maria, Ilocos Sur on April 2. An AFP press release claims there was an alleged armed encounter between a military unit and the New People’s Army in the area. The latter has no confirmation till date.

The bombing brought terror and dislocation in civilian communities. Around 700 residents of these barangays were forced to evacuate. Classes at local schools were also suspended.

Kaammoyo ti Kappia, a local human rights organization, condemned the indiscriminate bombing.

“This endangers the civilian population in these areas,” according to the organization. “This is not a humane act as it not only puts a bigger burden on poor farmers in the area who are already affected by increasing prices of farm inputs, and the intense drought brought by El Niño, but also brings widespread fear, trauma, and panic.”

The protesters hold the Marcos regime and the AFP responsible for the bombing and called for an investigation into the rights violations in the area.

“It is infuriating that the Bongbong Marcos government has money for war, money for bombs but nothing for farmers,” according to Mong Palatino, secretary general of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan.

The AFP spends at least ₱250,000 per 500-pound bomb, equivalent to two crop cycles of rice in a 1-hectare land. This amount can feed a family of five for at least 1.3 years.

Kalikasan PNE, on the other hand, believes that underlying the AFP’s claim of a firefight with the NPA, the area was deliberately targeted because of planned and existing mining operations.

“Our ongoing research suggests a deeper connection between the airstrikes and the protection of major mining interests in Abra by state forces,” according to the group. Currently, there are seven exploration permits, two mining applications and an existing Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA) covering a total of 129,396.8188 hectares in the adjacent towns.

The group recorded the Abra-Ilcoos case as the 14th bombing in the past months. Like others, it targets communities which are resisting environmentally harmful projects. In the 14 documented cases, up to 100,000 individuals have been affected and 10 ecologically fragile key biodiversity areas were hit across various regions of the country.

AB: Progressive goups protest against indiscriminate bombing in Ilocos-Abra