Presence of GPH Military Camps Near Schools and Civilian Population are Blatant Violations of IHL but AFP and CHR Sees Nothing Wrong in Militarizing Civilian Communities

15 August 2011

The New People’s Army (NPA) in Compostela Valley province today lambasted the 10th Infantry Division-Philippine Army-Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Commission on Human Rights (CHR)-XI for blaming the NPA for the unintended wounding of a CAFGU’s kin during the August 9, 2011 attack on an army patrol base in Barangay Tagnanan, Mabini while conveniently skirting the fact that the presence of its army camps near schools and civilian population are continuing acts of serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law.

In the recent tactical offensive by the Crucifino Uballas Command of Guerilla Front 2 that resulted in the seizure of seven high-powered rifles, the killing of three GPH combatants and the wounding of two other paramilitary CAFGUs, it was unfortunate that two family members of one of the CAFGU casualties were also hit in the course of the battle. While the CUC-NPA asserts that it only targeted the enemy combatants in a raid of a legitimate military target, it must be pointed out that the close proximity of the 72nd Infantry Battalion detachment to the civilian population is in fact the real culprit. While it was unintentional on the part of the NPA, it is deliberate on the part of the AFP to imperil the lives and properties of the civilian population, said Anvil Guinto, spokesperson of Crucifino Uballas Command, Guerilla Front 2 Operations Command of New People’s Army in Southern Mindanao.

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Early last year, the National Democratic Front of the Philippines-Southern Mindanao has informed the public and the media that the 10th ID-PA-AFP is putting the lives of about 300,000 civilians in danger as its detachments and camps were established within civilian communities and close to civilian structures and facilities such as schools, barangay centers, health centers and places for public recreation like gyms and plazas. Apart from army patrol bases usually of the 72nd IB/Cafgus, the operating units of the 10th ID-PA-AFP regularly avail of these civilian structures and facilities as their quarters and as tactical command posts during combat operations by its maneuver battalions and special operations by its special operations teams or SOTs.

To argue that these are part of their “civili-military operations” is an acceptance that the AFP purposely use civilians as their unwitting shields.

It becomes more condemnable when a GPH agency such as the CHR condones this blatant violation of the Geneva Conventions and its Protocols and the GPH-NDFP Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL). When CHR-XI Regional Director Atty. Alberto Sipaco denounces the NPA for the wounding of the two civilians but turns a blind eye on the larger issue of the AFP militarizing the places of abode of the civilian population, we can only say that he is a coddler of an HR/IHL violator. And by failing to criticize this, the CHR is all the more exposed as an apologist for the AFP. Department of Education (DepEd)-XI spokesperson Mr. Jenelito “Dodong” Atillo fare better than him in that the former recently expressed serious concerns over confirmed reports about army camps situated near public schools which endanger the schoolchildren.

Hereunder is a partial list of elementary schools in the towns of Maragusan and Maco in Compostela Valley alone where there are 72nd IB-10th ID detachments in the vicinity. This is merely part of a long lost list which Atty. Sipaco and the CHR see as a non-issue and a perfectly acceptable set up. Definitely, more of the same set up can be seen in numerous army camps in Southern Mindanao and elsewhere.

1. Paloc Elementary School (Maragusan);
2. Tandik Elementary School (Maragusan);
3. Parasanon Elementary School (Maragusan);
4. Cambagang Elementary School (Maragusan);
5. New Leyte Elementary School (Maco); and
6. Sangab Elementary School (Maco).

Also, we provide an initial list of the numerous PA camps in Mabini, Maco and Pantukan located dangerously close to the civilian population. Their continuing existence directly violates Article 12, Part IV of the GRP (now GPH)-NDFP CARHRIHL which provides that “Civilian population shall have the right to be protected against the risks and dangers posed by the presence of military camps in urban centers and other populated areas”.

1. 2nd Scout Ranger Battalion camp in Brgy. Pangibiran, Mabini;
2. 71st IB headquarters at the back of the municipal hall in Brgy. Poblacion, Pantukan;
3. 72nd IB patrol base in Brgy. Anitapan, Mabini;
4. 72nd IB patrol base in Brgy. Panamin, Mabini;
5. 72nd IB patrol base in Brgy. Cabuyuan, Mabini;
6. 72nd IB patrol base in Brgy. New Visayas, Maco;
7. 72nd IB patrol base in Brgy. New Asturias, Maco;
8. 72nd IB patrol base in Brgy. Libay-libay, Maco;
9. 72nd IB patrol base in Brgy. Kinuban, Maco;
10. 72nd IB patrol base in Brgy. Mapaang, Maco;
11. 72nd IB patrol base in Sitio Palo, Brgy. Napnapan, Pantukan;
12. 72nd IB patrol base in Sitio Bukobuko sa Anay, Brgy Napnapan, Pantukan; and
13. 72nd IB Patrol base in Sitio Gumayan, Brgy. Napnapan, Pantukan.

Dodging the issue would only further expose the 10th ID-PA-AFP and the CHR as state instruments of repression of the people’s rights and interests. All the necessary measures should immediately be undertaken to remove the conditions for such continuing acts of violations by the GPH armed forces. The AFP strategy of militarizing civilian communities must be exposed, denounced and opposed.

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