NDFP condemns Philippine Army’s barbaric attacks against Lumad civilians

[The Lumads are an indigenous people in Mindanao among whom the CPP, NPA, NDFP and mass organizations have been working for decades.  They have been putting up fierce resistance against big mining firms in recent years.  The National Democratic Front of the Philippines describes these latest Philippine Army attacks on anti-mine activists as “a manifestation of the real implementation of Noynoy Aquino’s counter-insurgency program ‘Oplan Bayanihan.’— Frontlines ed.]

PRESS STATEMENT
Ka EFREN, Far South Mindanao Region, National Democratic Front of the Philippines
05 October 2012

The contentions of Philippine Army 27th Infantry Battalion commanding officer Lt. Col. Alexis Noel Bravo that his troops conducted a raid, killing two armed members of the New People’s Army in Barangay (village) Telafas, Colombio on 29 September is a sheer highfalutin and shameless fibbing of the fascists to conceal their ruthless and barbaric act towards innocent civilians.

Their victims were ordinary peasants and innocent civilian residents, not NPA members, and no legitimate military encounter happened. Past 3 o’clock at dawn, the patrolling Philippine Army indiscriminately strafed the farm shack where the victims were sleeping.

Dead on the spot were Andy Datuwata, a 24 year old farmer, and Ronald Malley, a 16 year old student in Brgy. Telafas National High School. The fascists also apprehended Tata Malley, 22 years old, mauled him before turning him over to the police station in Colombio town. The victims are Tiruray residents in the area.

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines – Far South Mindanao Region strongly condemns this inhuman attack done by the 27th Infantry Battalion against the civilians. We also express our sympathy to the families, the Tiruray folk, and friends of the victims at this time of their grief, pain and injustice.

The 27th IB inisists that the rifles they recovered in the crime scene are substantial “proof” or “evidences” to establish that the victims are NPA guerillas. But it has long been known in Colombio that possessing and retaining firearms is common among the locals for their defense. Keeping arms is a traditional practice of the Lumads, and having at least one has become necessary for their survival and for their livelihood.

This ferocious crime committed by the 27th IB is a blatant and grave breach of the CARHRIHL and the laws espousing the protection of human rights. Furthermore, it unambiguously hounds the rights and the life and being of the Lumad minority and young victims. Such barbaric act is the character and a usual practice of the 27th IB in carrying out their duties as mercenary defenders of foreign agribusinesses and mining companies. This is a manifestation of the real implementation of Noynoy Aquino’s counter-insurgency program “Oplan Bayanihan” which apparently promotes and protects “peace and development”.

The Malley and Datuwata families and the Tiruray folk are the occupants of Sinalkuhan, Brgy. Telafas, and tillers of the lands persistently being targeted for agricultural plantations and mining operations. The area is within the FTAA (Financial or Technical Assistance Agreement) acquired formerly by the Western Mining Corporation and now owned by the Xstrata-SMI. This company is currently bankrolling the operations being conducted by the 27th IB and the Philippine National Police in the area. These families and their Tiruray folk strongly oppose the agri-plantations and large-scale mining.

The 27th IB elements’ wicked and spiteful killing of Ronald Malley and Anthony Datuwata adds up to the lengthy list of violations and bloody crimes perpetrated by the Armed Forces of the Philippines against the people. Never would the innocent civilians put behind the fierceful attacks meted out by the AFP against them, such as the brutal killings of Rogelio Lagaru in Brgy. Datal Blao, Colombio in 2006; Boy Sarino in Sityo Tinansang, Brgy. Palavilla, Lutayan in 2008; Tuliano Dalumatan in Sityo Takol, Brgy. Sinapulan, Colombio in 2009; Boy Billanes in Koronadal City in 2008; the Bolani family massacre in Sityo Latil, Brgy. Abnate, Kiablawan in 2004; and many others.

The executors of these crimes, the 27th IB led by Lt. Col. Bravo, the AFP, and the US-Aquino regime, who is the real tyrant behind these ploys, are accountable and must be punished for the recurring offenses, injuries, and injustices they wreak onto the innocent civilians.

————————————————————-

[An earlier news report (July, 2012) gives further background on the struggle of the Lumad and the role of the NPA. — Frontlines ed.]

Moros, Lumad urged to take up arms against mining companies

By: Jefry M. Tupas, Interaksyon.com
July 9, 2012

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) in Mindanao called on Lumad and Moro people to take up arms against mining companies, saying these are “exceedingly damaging to Mindanao, to its people and to the environment.”

The group, a coalition of left-wing organizations, also called on all units of the New People’s Army (NPA), its armed component, to be “more daring in their defense of the people’s interest against the greed and capacity of the local ruling classes and their imperialist master.”

The NDFP-Mindanao also hailed the series of attacks against mining companies in many parts of the island, its spokesperson Jorge Madlos, or Ka Oris, said in a statement sent to the media on Sunday.

On July 6, NPA rebels stormed VPO Mines, Inc., in the town of Rosario, Agusan del Sur.  In the attack, the NPA confiscated 30 firearms which included seven M16 rifles, two carbines, nine shotguns, six .45 pistols, one M203, two M14 rifles and an AK-47 rifle. 

However, Oris made no mention of the three mining personnel and the reported P25-million ransom they are asking for their freedom.

A report quoting Agusan del Sur Gov. Santiago Cane Jr., said the NPA are demanding the amount in exchange for the release of VPO Mining operations officer Christopher Ocite, assistant operations manager Gani Altaya, and chief security officer Joel Jayuma.

The attack was VPO’s sanction for “maintaining a disproportionately large number of armed goons, with more than 60 high-powered rifles and other weapons…” Oris said.

Operations of the revolutionary movement and people’s opposition against mining operations and large-scale transnational agricultural plantations across Mindanao have become widespread recently, Oris said.

“In Caraga, where the number of mining companies is most concentrated, a stronger and more far-reaching opposition led by the Lumads, church and local government groups and a broad range of people’s aggrupation against large-scale mining’s destructive effects, as well as against the ever-expanding Dolefil, Del Monte, and Sumifru plantations, is at present gaining unprecedented groundswell,” he said.

“The NPA has already simultaneously sanctioned three giant mining companies in Claver, Surigao del Norte on October 3, 2011. In the last two weeks alone, the NPA was able to launch 10 military actions against enemy troops protecting these mining companies and plantations.

One of these was the NPA attack on June 27 in Puog, Tandag City, against 29th IB troops, where 2Lt. Martinez was killed, and 2Lt. Gomez and Cpl. Cabahis were wounded. The NPA was able to seize one M16 rifle,” he added.

He also cited the ambush staged by B’laan natives on June 26 in Kimlawis, in Kiblawan, Davao del Sur that killed police officer Yolly Jean Singkolan.

On June 6, an ambush also staged by armed B’laans also resulted in the death of former Police Supt. Villamindo Hectin, the chief security officer of SMI Mining Corporation. Also dead in the ambush was PO2 Rey Tonzo and the wounding of SPO1 Wenefredo Sengonnigue and PO1 Glen Beltran.

SMI, Oris said, is holding the “largest gold mining operation in operation in Southeast Asia, covering 90,000 hectares in the quadri-boundary of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Davao del Sur and Saranggani, corpulent with a capitalization of $5.9 billion.”

Oris also noted the opposition against the operations of Russell Mines and Minerals, Apex Mining Corp., and Philco in Southern Mindanao.

“In the past, small-scale miners’ associations launched, in several occasions, protest actions against an imperialist mining company which, together with its local partners, aimed to grab from the small-scale miners the very source of gold in Diwalwal, Monkayo, Compostela Valley.

There were also several instances in the region where the NPA sanctioned highly destructive mining operations as well as militarily targeted units of the AFP, CAFGU, PNP and other security forces actively protecting large-scale mining companies,” Oris said.

The same opposition is also happening in North-Central Mindanao, he said, citing companies such as Indophil in Quezon and in San Fernando, Bukidnon.

Target of attacks also include agricultural companies Dolefil, Del Monte and Sumifru plantations.

“On the other hand, within two weeks alone, the NPA in the region has launched five tactical offensives against operating troops of the AFP, CAFGU, and the PNP. One of these was the ambush conducted by the NPA on June 17 against operating 8th IB troops in Sikayab, Bunacao, San Fernando, Bukidnon, where 9 army personnel were killed-in-action (KIA) and 2 others wounded; the NPA sustained no casualty,” he said.

Over in Western Mindanao, he said, the revolutionary movement and the lumad and Moro communities, along with the Church, have also showed opposition against the operations of the Toronto Venture Inc. (TVI).

“If one recalls, more than 400 families were forced to evacuate their ancestral lands because of TVI and the ruthless military operations that ensued to protect it in Buug, Zamboanga del Sur. In order to defend the people’s human rights and general well-being, the NPA launched tactical offensives against TVI as well as against units of the AFP-PNP-CAFGU protecting it, such as the ambush on February 2012 that hit elements of the army intelligence group operating on the behest of TVI,” he said.

“The imposition of the local government to allow TVI mining operations on Subanen ancestral lands is one of the bases the NPA raided on April 9 the PNP station in Tigbao, Zamboanga del Sur,” he added.

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