Amid drought, AFP’s aerial bombing and artillery shelling in Panay and Negros outrage the peasant masses


The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) condemns in the strongest terms the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), particularly its 3rd Infantry Division, for carrying out a campaign of aerial bombing and artillery shelling in Panay and Negros Islands. This nationwide campaign of state terror is becoming even more brutal under the US-Marcos regime in its desperation to suppress the growing restiveness of the peasant masses amid worsening socioeconomic crisis, and crush their armed resistance to oppression and exploitation.

In the early morning hours of February 28, the AFP carried out an aerial bombing drive along barangays Torocadan, Dongoc and Langca in San Joaquin town, Iloilo, in the southern portion of Panay island. The bombing started at around two in the morning, and was augmented with strafing and rocket-firing from helicopters, and artillery shelling using truck-mounted howitzers, lasting several hours.

Residents of upland communities were roused from their sleep by the noise of drones and the roar of war planes which flew above, and by the explosion of 500-lb aerial bombs which shook the ground. The aerial bombing and artillery shelling caused deep fright and trauma among the children, women and elderly people. There are reports that people in the communities are being rounded up and prevented from working in their fields.

The bombing and shelling in San Joaquin was an overkill, resulting in the reported loss of three Red fighters. Claims by the AFP that the aerial bombing was carried out to support their disadvantaged ground troops are false. According to reports of the NPA in the area, no armed encounter preceded the bombing and shelling, and AFP troops were not in the vicinity until the bombing ceased.

The week earlier, on February 21-22, the AFP carried out a similar aerial bombing, helicopter strafing and artillery shelling drive in and around communities in the barangays along the border of Escalante and Toboso towns, in the northern part of Negros Occidental. No less than five rockets from attack helicopters were fired a day after an encounter with an NPA unit. The bombing drive was carried out despite the fact that the NPA unit had already withdrawn and shifted to another area. More than a thousand residents from Barangay Pinapugasan, Escalante and from several communities in San Isidro, Toboso were forced to flee their communities out of fear of the AFP’s bombing and shelling operations. The areas were placed under military control and people were prevented from working and going about their daily lives.

By dropping powerful bombs in the proximity of civilian communities, the AFP endangered the lives of nearby residents, in gross violation of the international humanitarian law. The aerial bombing are also in direct contravention of the principles of proportionality under international rules of war. Goaded by its US imperialist master, the AFP is displaying complete contempt of human rights and IHL, in a starkly similar fashion to how the US-puppet Israeli Zionists are carrying out its genocide against Palestinians in Gaza.

Over the past few months, units of the New People’s Army have been dispatched to assist the peasant masses cope with their problems brought about by worsening drought conditions amid the El Niño climate phenomenon. The conditions of the peasant masses in the Panay and Negros, and across the country, are rapidly deteriorating as crops are failing amid the lack of rain nor irrigation, and worse, the lack of attention and support of the reactionary Marcos government. Millions of peasants are deep in debt and growing hungry following failed crops.

As the people’s army, the NPA is currently concentrating its efforts to organize the masses to collectively respond to the calamity, to search for possible sources of water and means of bringing these to their crops, to protect the mountains and watershed areas against encroachment of mining and other big capitalist operations, and demand crop insurance and emergency subsidies amid the calamity.

The AFP is mistaken that they will make the people and their people’s army bow before them by dropping their 500-lb bombs, parading their truck-mounted howitzers in the rural villages, and showing off their superior firepower. On the contrary, by squandering hundreds of millions of pesos for jet fuel and bombs, the AFP is only deepening the people’s resentment.

The Filipino people are deeply outraged that while Marcos allotted ₱250 billion to buy bullets and bombs, and spending hundreds of billions more to line up the pockets of generals, and pay for their salaries and pensions, he allotted a mere ₱30 billion to respond to the threats of drought which will affect millions of peasants across the country.

By displaying their military power and showing their gross disregard of the people’s plight, especially the peasant masses in the rural plains and mountains, the AFP is succeeding only in putting a spotlight on the anti-people priorities of the Marcos regime, and the anti-people character of the war of terror it is waging.

Amid drought, AFP's aerial bombing and artillery shelling in Panay and Negros outrage the peasant masses