By KIMBERLIE NGABIT-QUITASOL
BAGUIO CITY—The Cordillera People’s Democratic Front (CPDF) criticized the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) for making a fortune out of bounty for the capture of New People’s Army (NPA) members.
In a statement sent through email, CPDF spokesman Simon “Ka Filiw” Naogsan accused the AFP of inventing positions for alleged NPA returnees to get higher reward money. He cited as example the case of alleged rebel returnee Connie Santiago Valera aka Yasser, 29, from Lacub, Abra whom the AFP tagged as one of the top five leaders in the Ilocos-Cordillera Region’s Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) hierarchy.
Naogsan slammed the Department of National Defense (DND) and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG)Joint Order No. 14-2012, raising the bounty for some 235 revolutionary leaders. He added that the said joint order resulted to heightened human rights violations against innocent civilians due to bounty-hunting activities of AFP generals. He also accused AFP generals of pocketing reward money for alleged NPA returnees.
“From then on, bounty hunting became the preoccupation of generals who inflicted human rights violations against the oppressed masses. Every alleged revolutionary captive or surrenderee is tagged a high ranking official of the armed revolutionary movement ostensibly to qualify for the reward money,” Naogsan said.
Naogsan stressed that the AFP “psy-war experts” spun lies about supposed criminal activities of the revolutionary movement as the reason for Valera’s surrender. “In truth, the AFP fear most is the revolutionary movement’s ‘crime’ of halting the historical perpetuation of national oppression against the indigenous people that has reached ethnocidal levels,” he said.
According to the rebel leader, among the atrocities against the national minorities that the NPA combats is the non-respect for the integrity of ancestral lands, and the widespread plunder through destructive large scale corporate mining, hydropower power dams and geothermal plants. He added that military encampment in schools, health centers and barangay facilities only exacerbate the social discrimination against the minorities as they are deprived of their right to basic social services.
The rebel leader lauded the indigenous people’s response of forming revolutionary mass organizations to resist destructive and repressive development projects to protect their territories and resources.
“These are not “crimes” to the indigenous people, but heroic acts to stop the eradication of national minorities in genocidal proportions. What the AFP spins fail to obscure is the military’s crime of protecting and securing the economic aggression of multinational firms acting as investment defense forces,” he said.
Moreover, Naogsan condemned the illegal arrest, arbitrary detention and torture of several civilians including a 14-year-old in Lagangilang, Abra last January 30. He added that the incident happened after a clash between the NPA and government troopers where two soldiers were wounded.
CPDF data showed that four farmers from Kayapa, Lagangilang, accosted near the encounter site were held for three days, then freed after being cowed into silence for fear of retribution. Another civilian working in a small-scale mine nearby was manhandled for no apparent reason by an intelligence asset wearing a bonnet who was accompanying the soldiers.
The same data showed that two other youngsters who were tending their carabao in nearby Palpalitpit, Lagangilang were also accosted by the operating troops. Sensing danger, one scampered for safety but his other companion, the 14-year old was illegally detained, harassed and accused as an NPA. He was dragged to the municipal hall the next day to be presented as a captured NPA. Only after it was found out that the boy was not an NPA but a relative of the Mayor did the soldiers of the 503rd Brigade admit their mistake and released the minor.
“These are real crimes of the AFP against the people, one which the NPA will surely bring to justice alongside the advancing people’s war,” Naogsan said. (Northern Dispatch/Posted by )