Ongoing military operations by government troops against communist rebels have greatly disrupted production and further impoverished the communities in Abra.
BY KATHLEEN T. OKUBO
Posted by Bulatlat
BAGUIO CITY (246 kms. North of Manila) – Ongoing military operations by government troops against communist rebels have greatly disrupted production and further impoverished the communities in Abra.
Military operations by the 41st Infantry Battalion under the 503rd Infantry Brigade of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in pursuit of the revolutionary forces of the New People’s Army (NPA) have been continuous in the province of Abra.
However, the effects of the military operations are not limited to the two contending forces. Dependent on farm produce and their small-scale mines for food and cash, people in the barrios (sub-villages) of Talampak, Pacoc, Buneg and Guinabang in Lacub raised concern about the prolonged government operations that reportedly destroyed farm crops and disrupted continuing farm production activities.
In February last year, there were aerial bombings in the area of Tubtubo where 191 bombshells were reportedly dropped. The bombings have frightened the people in the affected and surrounding communities that many of them have preferred to stay away from their farms, reducing harvest in the first cropping season.
Again, sometime in June to July last year, battalion troop movements through the farms of the above mentioned barrios have trampled and destroyed a substantial area of newly planted rice fields with young seedlings for the second cropping further causing reduction in farm produce.
This year’s beginning of the cropping season has again been disrupted.
Stifling local livelihood
Initial interviews and reports made by the Abra Human Rights Alliance (AHRA) indicate that military war initiative in the area has greatly limited the daily economic activities in the communities.
The soldiers have enforced curfew hours to limit movements and facilitate monitoring of the villagers, preventing them from completing farm production schedules.
They have also prevented and limited the residents from traveling out of an imposed perimeter, preventing them from checking on the irrigation water flow and from going to their mine areas.
It is an age-old farm practice for residents there to go out at dawn and work until mid-morning then go home for brunch to avoid the tropical mid-day heat, and return to work again when it is cooler at mid-afternoon until late night.
Under the military impositions, the people just move around the village housing area as their fields and mines are farther out of the perimeters imposed.
Under these circumstances and for lack of something to do, the people tend to deviate to anti-social activities like drinking and gambling.
In the same initial report, war shock was apparent as was indicated that villagers, especially children, who have complained of deafness, hysteria and trauma from the loud and prolonged period of gunfire exchange and shelling. (Northern Dispatch / Posted by Bulatlat)