Samar residents evacuating because of rights violations including election-related violence by AFP troops
“It is the spate of human rights violations and election-related violence by troops of the Armed Forces of the Philippines that are terrorizing residents of San Jose de Buan, Samar and forcing them to evacuate their communities – not the New People’s Army (NPA),” said Ka Karlos Manuel, spokesperson for the Efren Martires Command of the NPA-Eastern Visayas, today in a statement. “Captain Reynaldo Aragones of the 8th Infantry Division-Philippine Army only shows his heartlessness for discrediting the legitimate protest of the people against the soldiers’ occupation of civilian communities, forced election surveys, outright campaigning for politicians, hamletting, surveillance and harassment.”
Last March 18, residents of Brgy. Hagbay were forced to leave their homes after elements of the 87th Infantry Battalion insisted on camping in their community to illegally dabble in the electoral campaign. “The residents of Brgy. Hagbay have long complained of how soldiers mix with the civilians. The soldiers even wake them up in the middle of the night to answer election-related surveys, intimidating them to vote for electoral bets supported by the military, as well as to vote against progressive party-lists and candidates,” Manuel commented. “Such election-related violence is what is driving families out of their communities and depriving them of peace and livelihood.”
Manuel noted that recent harassment operations carried out by the NPA against the 87th IB in San Jose de Buan, such as last March 17 in Brgy. Can-aponte, have been in response to the residents’ intensified clamor for the soldiers to stop their combat operations misleadingly named as “community support programs.” “According to the residents, the troops sleep in the residents’ homes, school and clinic, use them as human shields and take their pictures without consent in violation of the CARHRIHL and international humanitarian law,” he added.
“We commend the people for standing up for their rights and uniting in the call to end the militarization of their communities. Meanwhile, they can rest assured that their true army, the New People’s Army, will serve justice against their transgressors by intensified tactical offensives versus the AFP, as it has for 50 years, and will carry forward the people’s war to end the fascist US-Duterte regime once and for all,” Manuel ended.#