THE National Democratic Front of the Philippines in Eastern Visayas (NDF-EV) has accused the military of firing at civilian communities in Lope de Vega, Northern Samar, on September 28 and 29.
The NDF-EV spokesman, defrocked priest Santiago Salas, also slammed the military for allegedly committing human-rights violations in other parts of Northern Samar.
“We support the people’s demands to end Oplan Bayanihan and the militarization of Northern Samar and elsewhere in Eastern Visayas. Officials of Barangay Pagite, Lope de Vega have trooped to the local government and the media to complain of military operations that put civilians in danger. From September 22 to 29, the 34th Infantry
Battalion launched search-and-destroy operations in the barangay’s Sitio New Sumuroy and Ginbauyan without the knowledge of the village council. The village officials point out this violates the 2008 memorandum of agreement between officials of Lope de Vega’s villages and the military that the civilian officials must be informed of any military operations so that civilian lives would not be put at risk,” Salas said.
On September 28 soldiers allegedly indiscriminately fired their weapons allegedly against the New People’s Army (NPA), but the firing forced the majority of residents in the two sitios to evacuate to the village center.
The following day, two attack helicopters allegedly strafed New Sumuroy, to convince those who remained behind to flee for their lives.
“The soldiers only showed themselves in the village on September 30 and left on October 2. Meanwhile, the civilian residents of Barangay Pagite have been unable to return to their homes because of fear and uncertainty over military operations. Children have been left in shock after their traumatic experience. Even though it is already the harvest season, the ricefields are rotting because the barrio folk are too afraid to venture out. The people are forced to take refuge in the village center and rely on relief assistance from the local government and humanitarian groups,” Salas claimed.
“The climate of impunity caused by Aquino administration forces reigns in other parts of Northern Samar. Only this September, about 100 village officials and leaders of the peasant organization Alyansahan mga Parag-uma Kontra Kakablasan ha Las Navas [Apklas or Peasant Alliance Against Poverty in Las Navas] petitioned against ‘peace and development team [PDT] operations by the military.
These PDT operations are, in reality, psywar, intelligence and combat operations that violate human rights and ruin the livelihood of the peasantry. In fact, suspected military elements gunned down Las Navas Councilor Nelson Mercader on August 5 on mere suspicion that he supported the NPA,” Salas also said.
“There are earlier incidents of human-rights violations. There is the harassment and threats by the 34th IB against Raul Durin, a village treasurer in Barangay Imelda, Las Navas, who is accused of supporting the NPA. The 803rd CMO Company also monitors the movement of civilians and threatens reprisals against village residents in Barangay Osang, Catubig, if any soldier were to suffer any harm from the NPA. Because of this, the people are reluctant to work in their farms out of fear,” he noted.