NDF-EV: Condemn aerial bombing, indiscriminate strafing of Las Navas farmlands

This article is available in Waray

We have received reports that units of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) indiscriminately bombed and strafed farmlands in Brgy. San Francisco, Las Navas, Northern Samar last September 16. The aerial bombing was conducted exactly a month after the bombing spree in Dolores, Eastern Samar.

According to the local NPA unit, starting at 3:40am, FA-50 fighter jet all at once dropped six bombs at the farmlands. High-caliber machine guns and rocket missiles then indiscriminately strafed the area. This flurry of attacks lasted until around 10am. Cannon fire was also heard by local residents until early morning.

By midday, ground troops of at least eight helicopters were airlifted into the area. Combat operations from nearby Jipapad town, Eastern Samar towards the area were also reported. At least a week before the bombing, surveillance drones including an Hermes 900 unit which hovered the area every night as well as surrounding barangays.

No NPA unit was hurt in the attack. The local NPA unit is still investigating the extent of the damage caused on the peasants and the farmlands. These are areas frequented by farmers of coconut, vegetables and rattan, as well as hunters and fisher folk looking for alternative sources of food and livelihood. According to the initial report, peasant masses staying in the farmlands fled away to nearby barrios for fear that they might be hit by the bombs.

The National Democratic Front-Eastern Visayas vehemently condemns the attack. None other than the terrorist Duterte regime and its henchmen in the 8th Infantry Division-led Joint Task Force Storm are responsible for this indiscriminate attack. That it did not hit a unit of the NPA but local residents’ farmlands proves once again that their modern weapons and “smart” bombs are highly inaccurate, disproportionate, and unable to distinguish combatants from noncombatants.

This scorched earth policy forms part of their hell bent effort against the revolutionary movement before their self-imposed deadline in 2022. Such is their desperation that in PTF-ELCAC meetings such as last September 1, military officials repeatedly vowed to residents “to bomb and make Marawi out of Las Navas” and to make the town a “no man’s land.” It is a frenzied attempt by the AFP to ensure that their big-ticket and corruption-ridden road project traversing Brgy. San Francisco pushes through.

We condemn the Duterte regime for prioritizing funding for its counter-insurgency operations in the middle of the pandemic. Millions of pesos are spent for these indiscriminate attacks that cause widespread damage to farmlands and rivers, which peasants heavily depend for their livelihood especially amid worsening poverty and hunger.

We again call on the Commission on Human Rights to speed up investigation into the increasingly frequent cases of indiscriminate bombing in Samar. We also urge other rights-based organizations, church people, and peace-loving government officials and personalities to condemn the AFP and the Duterte regime for using these kinds of indiscriminate and superfluous weapons. They must continually call for the defunding of the NTF-ELCAC and reallocation of counter-insurgency funds in favor of the government’s anti-pandemic response.

We call on all Samareño and the entire Filipino people to expose and condemn the bombing and the Duterte regime’s all out war.#

NDF-EV: Condemn aerial bombing, indiscriminate strafing of Las Navas farmlands