Residents expose 20th IB anti-social activities in "cleared" barangays in Las Navas, Samar

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The 20th IB elements are conducting unrestrained anti-social activities and human rights violations in the so-called “cleared” barangays in Las Navas, North Samar. These barangays have been under the Retooled Community Support Program (RCSP) for two years. This is the bitter reality behind the military’s hollow promises of “peace” and “prosperity.”

Drunkenness. The indiscriminate firing of drunken RCSP soldiers in Barangay San Francisco, Las Navas on the night of April 9 was captured on video and posted on social media. This forced the 20th IB officer to summon the drunken soldiers to the 20th IB headquarters to be reprimanded and punished in the plaza. However, the said official also “visited” the teacher who posted the video on social media and threatened him not to post again and to file a complaint instead. In fact, the 20th IB often ignored complaints against their drunken forces and simply allowed them to continue terrorizing the barangays.

Sexual assault. A CAFGU named Lando, along with a drunken soldier, aimed a gun at and molested a 15-year-old girl on her way home from a dance in Barangay Hinagonoyan, Catubig on April 12. Lando is an active military agent who acts as a guide of military operations in the barangays in the mountains of Las Navas and Catubig.

Economic blockade. The 20th IB continues to prohibit farmers in all barangays covered by the RCSP from bringing rice or any other food to their farms, to allegedly prevent them from “giving support” and to “starve” the New People’s Army. On April 10, four soldiers set up a checkpoint at the border of Barangay San Miguel and confiscated buckets of rice seedlings. They forced the farmers to dispose the unhusked rice they brought from the farm because it might still “reach” the NPA. The soldiers closely monitor the pots they carry. Because of this, farmers suffer hunger in their farms.

Restriction of mobility and livelihood of farmers. The expected amount of harvest was reduced and harvesting was further delayed due to farmers’ fear of interacting with the soldiers. They are forced to return early from their farms for fear of the curfew. Many have stopped going to the fields at critical times to prepare the land or plant crops for the upcoming rainy season for fear of crossing paths with abusive soldiers. Due to this harassment, communities face a looming food crisis.

Report from Bandilyo Guerilla, April 25, 2024.

AB: Residents expose 20th IB anti-social activities in "cleared" barangays in Las Navas, Samar