Condemn the AFP’s fascist bombardment campaign in Escalante City

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The Apolinario Gatmaitan Command-New People’s Army Negros Island Regional Operations Command (AGC-NPA) condemns in the strongest terms the morning bombing and evening airstrike conducted by the 79th IB in Sitio Mansulao, Barangay Pinapugasan, Escalante City, Negros Occidental on February 22, against what they estimated as “more than five Red fighters.”

According to initial reports from the Roselyn Jean Pelle Command-NPA’s Northern Negros Guerrilla Front (RJPC-NPA), as of yesterday noon, the only legitimate encounter occurred on February 21, around 11:00 in the morning, along the border of Sitio Mansulao, Barangay San Isidro, Toboso, Negros Occidental and Sitio Mansulao, Barangay Pinapugasan, Escalante City, both are part of the Trangkal Range.

As clarified by the RJPC-NPA, there was no firefight in the area yesterday morning. Instead, over 10 bombs were dropped on Sitio Mansulao, part of Escalante City, between 6:00 to 9:00 in the morning, damaging livelihoods and the environment.

The same perimeter was strafed using machine guns mounted on helicopters and was bombed at least five times, thereafter. Residents around the area observed that the explosion from the morning bombing was different compared to the evening airstrike.

The 79th IB and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chain of command consciously violated the protocols of war by bombing the area. The use of bombs against guerrilla fighters armed only with rifles and less powerful weapons is a disproportionate and unnecessary use of force. Clearly, the AFP violated international humanitarian law.

The destruction and trauma the military bombing have caused on the community and the environment is also unforgivable. We do not discount, as well, the possibility of the military killing its own troops as as result of yesterday’s bombings.

It is both heartless and shameful for the AFP to declare the Northern Negros Guerrilla Front “dismantled” and yet it continues to employ tactics such as aerial bombings to “pursue rebel remnants.” In truth, they are desperate to maintain their false sense of security while adamantly harming the masses in the process.

The AFP chain of command, from 79th IB commander Lt. Col. Arnel Calaoagan, 303rd Brigade commander BGen. Orlando Edralin, 3rd Infantry Division commander MGen. Marion Sison, Visayas Command chief Lt. Gen. Benedict Arevalo, all the way up to AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr and their Commander in Chief Ferdinand Marcos Jr, must be made accountable for such bombardment campaign.

Like their imperialist US master, the AFP ignores the Geneva Conventions and international humanitarian law, as a whole. As these merciless attacks continue, it is only the AFP generals and commanders who are proving themselves unable to hold up to their ostentatious claims and further pushing the people to armed struggle.###

Condemn the AFP's fascist bombardment campaign in Escalante City