BAGUIO CITY – A revolutionary group condemned the massive military operations in the tri-boundary of Mt. Province, Ilocos Sur and Abra, claiming these have resulted to the illegal arrest and detention of civilians.
In an e-mailed statement, the Cordillera Peoples Democratic Front (CPDF), said soldiers “have again resorted to arresting innocent civilians and using them as human shield in their maneuvers against the New People’s Army (NPA).” The NPA is the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines.
The group said that since September 23, at least four residents from Cervantez, Ilocos Sur and one from Mankayan, Benguet have been arrested and detained by soldiers under the 50th Infantry Battalion and 503rd Infantry Brigade and 5th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army.
Civilians arrested and detained were identified as Kidsol Keeg from Remedios, Cervantes;
Edward Galao from Cabaroan, Concepcion, Cervantes; Mathew Sawey and Francis Tengngedan, both
from Aluling, Cervantes and Hilario Bantio from Tabio, Mankayan.
The CPDF said Sawey and Tengngedan were released but the others remain in military custody as of press time. The group the civilians are accused of being members of the NPA and are forced to sign documents as surrenderees.
“Lacking support from the masses, the operating troops resorts to summary arrest and detention of anyone they accost along the way and by the use of torture and harassment to extract information about the whereabouts of the NPA and cow the residents into submission,” the CPDF said.
These acts, CPDF added, along with the desecration of the remains of a fallen red fighter that was then displayed by the AFP in a public place are blatant violations on the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect of Human Rights and the International Humanitarian Law (CARHIHL).
Four other civilians tending to their livestock were also held, threatened and used as human shields by the same operating troops, according to the group.
“The current massive militarization in the Abra-Mountain Province-Ilocos Sur tri-boundary area, involving possibly three battalions from three brigades (the 54th IB from the 501st Bde, the 50th IB from the 503rd Bde, and the newly deployed Ilocos Sur-based 3rd IB from the 7th IDPA) makes a mockery of the pretensions of the AFP that they respect human rights and the provisions of CARHRIHL,” the CPDF said.
It added that the proposal of the local government units of Mountain Province calling for a province-wide peace zone “runs smack against the reality of military maneuvers that trample upon the rights and welfare of civilians.”
The CPDF views the ongoing military operations as proof of the AFP’s mercenary investment defense
force initiative in protecting expanding mining interests of Lepanto-Goldfield, Cordillera Exploration
Inc./Nickel-Asia, Golden Lakes-Philex, Phelps Dodge and other large scale corporate mines in Benguet, Abra, Ilocos Sur and Mountain Province.
“The CPDF and the various NPA commands in the Ilocos-Cordillera region will meet this armed aggression of the AFP head-on, in the defense of the ancestral lands, livelihood, rights and resources of the indigenous people,” the statement read.