Monday, April 25, 2005

NR0426:AFP's routine operations in Samar

Mula sa Tanggapan ni Anakpawis Rep. Crispin Beltran
News Release April 26, 2005
House of Representatives, South Wing Rm 602
931-6615 Ina Alleco R. Silverio, Chief of Staff
Cellphone number 09213907362

AFPs' 'routine operations' in Samar include aerial bombardments
and ground attacks against civilians

Anakpawis Representative Crispin Beltran today called attention anew to the worsening human rights situation in Samar, citing reports from members of the media in the island that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) continue to conduct operations that directly put civilians in serious jeopardy. He demanded that Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as the AFP's commander in chief acknowledge and take responsibility for the violations. "Even without a national ID system and an anti-terror law, military forces are running amok and violating civil and human rights with impunity," he said. "This situation can only worsen with these two aforementioned draconian measures are in place."

According to reports aired over DyDW (Radyo Diwa)last April 22, there were constant bombardments from AFP helicopters apart from ground attacks from the military at the boundary of Brgys Gibatangan in Laoang and Palmera of Pambujan towns, in Northern Samar allegedly by the elements of the 63rd IB headed by Col Manuelito Usi. It was learned that the military launched a simultaneous aerial and ground attack, sending the residents, most of whom were peasants, running for their lives. The same attacks were reported by journalists Jasmin Bonifacio and anchorperson Jun Estoya in the radio program "Tambulig (Helping Out)" the same day.

Beltran also cited reports from human rights groups in Northern Samar that April 16 and 17, aerial bombings were undertaken by military men in the upland villages of the provincial capital of the province, in Catarman town. The damages to peasant communities however, have yet to be fully determined.

"These attacks against civilian life and proprety are not being reported in the national media. And it's clear that the AFP in Samar under the command of Brig Gen Jovito Palparan are behind these operations," he said. "Only last March 5, the new 8th ID commanding officer Palparan declared in at the interview with local media in that he will "end all. Since that declaration, there have been a series of attacks against leaders and members of progressive party-lists and multisectoral organizations."

As early as February 20, Col Manuelito Usi had already threatened Bayan Muna members on air in the military-run radio program The Innovator (Hot FM-Catarman) that they would put up a military encampment in front of the BM provincial office in Catarman. He also vilified Bayan Muna member Atty Alfonso Cinco, and the Rev Fr Walter Corbito and Rev Fr Fernando Bugtong, both members of Promotion of Church Peoples' Response-Northern Samar (PCPR-NS) during the same radio program.

On March 6, more than 30 soldiers in full battle gear and an Armored Personnel Carrier (APC) positioned themselves in front of the BM provincial office located in Sitio Bukhasan, Brgy Cawayan, Catarman, Northern Samar. On the same day, armed men riding motorcycles threw six Molotov bombs, of which five (5) exploded, at the BM-NS office, injuring Anakbayan member Oscar Turla, Jr (he suffered first degree burns in the face). The police discovered that the wick used for the bombs were made of a military newspaper.

In the meantime, Major Neneveigh Alcovindas of the 34th Civil Relations Service of the 8th Civil Affairs Unit (CRS-CAU, AFP) has also been quoted as saying over the military radio program that such incidents were only part of their "routine security operations" in reference to the total counter-insurgency procedures.

"This is what the AFP refers to 'routine operations?!' Hundreds of civilians are being terrorized, frightened out of their wits and forced to flee their homes, and the military has ceased to show even the slightest respect for civil and human rights. The AFP's failure to strategically defeat the New People's Army (NPA) has made the AFP an even more violet, vicious and mercenary force. The AFP mercenaries are attacking civilians and hamletting communities in the twisted hope that this will weaken the NPA," he said. "These are all part of Operation Plan Kalinaw Visayas (or "Peace in the Visayas"), the anti-insurgency campaign plan being implemented by the AFP 8th Infantry Division, directly under the Central Command (CENTCOM) based in Lapu-lapu City, Cebu. Palparan earlier declared that while they intend to address the three (3) most active NPA-infested" areas in Samar island, Leyte province is also considered a priority.#


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