Captured drone personnel violated NPA policy on counter-revolutionary intelligence & environmental plunder

Spokesperson, NPA ComVal-Davao Gulf Subregional Command

In culpable violation of the policy of the People’s Democratic Government for bringing in of surveillance gadgets, for undertaking reconnaissance of base guerrillas of the New People’s Army and, thus, abetting the enemy’s counter-revolutionary campaign against the revolutionary forces and environmental plunder, the NPA Comval Davao Gulf Subregional Command detained four personnel belonging to the Sky Eye UAV services, namely: Ken Wong, manager and team leader; Chrisandro Favela, Tim Sabino, and Nico Lasaca. Confiscated from them were one sky surfer drone and two multi-rotor drones, two laptops and one GPS. Their driver, Jonas Loredo of the Maria Ave car rental service, was also arrested on 30 May 2014 in Barangay (village) New Leyte, Maco, Compostela Valley. The five arrived in the area on 28 May 2014.

Initial investigation following the arrest showed that the Sky Eye UAV was hired by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines, GPH) for its so-called greening program. The four personnel were conducting mapping thru aerial surveillance using drones that have high definition cameras and videos. The company’s owners are Matt Cua and Carlos Ezekiel. They started last year and have already visited Bislig, Kapalong, Monkayo,Montevista, Polomolok,Tacloban, Panay, and Appari areas.

The investigation confirmed earlier pronouncement made by local GPH environment officials who announced that it will tap the ‘Sky High’ project using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or drones to pinpoint so-called illegal logging ‘hot spots’ in Davao Oriental, Compostela Valley, and Davao del Norte provinces. The same GPH officials have said that they will tap the UAV services of a private company based in Makati called Sky Eye Inc.

The NPA maintains that the DENR/Skyeye’s anti-logging aerial reconnaissance is merely a pretext to intensify imperialist mining plunder and counter-revolutionary intelligence in Southern Mindanao. The motives of Skyeye’s reconnaissance are suspicious, considering that Maco is not a hotspot for logging as its forests are largely denuded and its mountains mainly mineral-rich. It would appear that Sky Eye is mainly protecting, if not linked towards the big mining operations in Maco and mountain boundaries of Pantukan and Mabini, areas under the control of foreign large scale mining concessionaires Apex Mining and St. Augustine Mining Corp. The DENR’s UAV use is far from protecting the environment, but is mainly to defend the interest of the big mining companies that are guilty of destroying and plundering our environment.

The NPA denounces the use of drones and other reconnaissance devices that are ultimately indiscriminate weapons of mass genocide and civilian destruction. The UAVs are not only surveillance gadgets but are also weapons for aerial attacks and strikes, designed and used by US imperialism. Most well-known among drones is the Predator and the Reaper, which have carried out assassinations and massacres in the Middle East, Asia and North Africa. Thousands of civilians have been killed by these drone air strikes.

This is not the first time that US gadgets were used in the revolutionary territories of Southern Mindanao. In May 2008, four US soldiers manned a tactical command post of the 1003rd Brigade of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in Barangay Ngan, Compostela, Compostela Valley, as the AFP launched a 10th Infantry Division-wide military operation. The US troops were spotted operating a UAV. Similar looking gadgets were found in Paquibato and Marilog districts in Davao City last year.

The NPA will release the captive drone personnel on condition that the Sky Eye will stop its surveillance and intelligence activities in the areas of People’s Democratic Government. The NPA, likewise, urges civilian entities to desist from pursuing defense of large-scale mining and environmental plunder, and to cease performing counter-revolutionary intelligence activities against the revolutionary movement.