AFP's focused military operation in haywire, terrorizes Lumad and peasants in North Cotabato and Bukidnon


In the mere two weeks of intense military operations of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, state soldiers managed to victimize at least 21 Lumad and peasants and their families in 15 separate cases of human rights violations in the provinces of North Cotabato and Bukidnon. In their fascist trail of attacks between November 10 up to the present, Duterte’s heartless armed minions continue to sow terrorism against unarmed civilians in the towns of Kitaotao and Antipas who are still reeling from the economic downturn brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic.

On November 12, brothers Loloy and Archie Corrales were mauled by 16th Infantry Battalion soldiers in their farms in Sitio Bato-Bato, Brgy. Dalurong in Kitaotao. Loloy was forcibly collared and held at knifepoint in the neck in front of his underage children.

The next day, November 13, another section of the same operating 16th IB troops held at gunpoint farmer Toto Pueblo of Sitio Bato-Bato, Brgy. Sinaysayan, Kitaotao. The fascist thugs pulled down a bag of cellophane over his head, impeding his breathing. The soldiers later accosted and roughed up his elderly father, Ramil, while accusing him of being an NPA sympathizer.

On November 14, two teenagers of Purok 2, Brgy. Dalurong were likewise held at gunpoint and subjected to psywar and interrogation. One of the children fainted in terror during the incident.

Another column of the 16th IB terrorized another elderly, Carlito Sordilla, and ransacked his house in Sitio Ngaran, Brgy. Kitubo in Kitaotao on November 15. The mercenaries took his cash of P50,000 and told him to flee his house if he were not an NPA sympathizer. His cash was returned only the next day when he sought the help of masses in the community.

Following the November 18 encounter between Red fighters and 16th IB troops in Sitio Kinamot, Brgy. Kitubo in Kitaotao where 2 soldiers were killed, AFP troops stepped up their fascist attacks and trained their guns squarely on the masses.

Seventeen-year old Ruben Dano suffered unimaginable horror at the hands of his fascist captors who took him at gunpoint on November 19 while he was tending his carabao in Sitio Dulapong, Brgy. Balangigay, a village straddling the boundaries of Kitaotao and Quezon towns. He was beaten repeatedly, taken incommunicado and forced to guide the operating troops for five days. The soldiers were only forced to release him on November 23 when his family sought the help of village officials.

Five other unarmed farmers of Sitio Dulapong were separately assaulted the days following Ruben’s forcible abduction. Soldiers of the 16th IB struck a teenager (name withheld) with the butt of a rifle. Titing Genita was punched in his side while his relative, Elmer Genita, was also hit several times and interrogated in his home. The soldiers falsely accused Elmer’s wife of being a member of the NPA. Benito Lapatis was forced by soldiers to strip naked down to his underwear while subjecting him to torturous interrogation and psywar.

As the terror march of the 16th IB reached Sitio San Jose, Brgy. Balokbokan on November 21, a teenager (name withheld) was also kicked in his sides for refusing to yield his cellphone to the soldiers. That same day, soldiers also held Itag Tamaryong at gunpoint while tending to his animals in Sitio Tumopa, Brgy. Metibagao, Kitaotao and was only freed when he introduced himself as a village official.

Hard-earned possessions, including poultry and other animals, were reported to have been missing after marauding 16th IB troops ransacked the houses of Eber Sugoran and Pedi Puli in Sitio Kinamot and Andring Gamaya in Sitio Sto. Tomas, Brgy. Balokbokan.

Meanwhile in North Cotabato, Demetrio and Carmela Gayosa, and three other members of their family, were terrorized by 16th IB soldiers on November 20, who forced entry into their house, subjected them to psywar, photographed them, and took their cellphone in Brgy. Malangag, Antipas town. At present, masses report more troop deployment in the nearby towns of Dangcagan and Quezon in Bukidnon which they fear will only escalate the cases of human rights violations.

Amid utter hardship due to Covid-19 restrictions to their economic activities, the poor Lumad and peasants of these towns in the region are doubly victimized by the fascist attacks of AFP troops. We are therefore justified in our hatred against Duterte and his armed minions, whom we know enjoy the dictator president’s fondness and financial favor. In the face of our escalating penury with no significant assistance from the US-Duterte regime, the massive P19B budget for the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict is not only unacceptable but altogether criminal.

To add insult to injury, the peasant masses in the region are aware that this focused military operation serves none but the unimpeded entry of the Duterte regime’s favored but impractical projects it only ever implements for their well of bureaucratic loot. Infrastructure projects such as the notorious South Pulangi Hydro-Electric Power Plant in Kibawe, Kitaotao, Dangcagan, and their adjacent towns will not only displace thousands of Lumad and peasants but has gained broad resistance for being utterly useless and environmentally destructive. In the boundary villages of Kitaotao and Davao City, Lumad and peasants are being quietly evicted from their farms, their only means of survival, to make way for an expansive telecommunication infrastructure project being bankrolled by a Singaporean transnational company.

The US-Duterte regime cannot but rule with state terror and impunity in order to maintain its stranglehold on power, especially at this time of widespread indignation for its despicable corruption in the midst of its botched handling of the pandemic and criminal negligence in the wake of recent natural calamities that devastated the nation. Filipino peasants are being pushed against the wall and we have no other means of relief but to demand Duterte’s ouster, resist resolutely, and bear arms to fight the regime’s tyranny and fascism.

AFP's focused military operation in haywire, terrorizes Lumad and peasants in North Cotabato and Bukidnon