Thieves, liars, and human rights violators

Statement of the NPA–Abra on ongoing combat operations by the 41st Infantry Battalion

Spokesperson, Agustin Begnalen Command
New People's Army – Abra

The 41st Infantry Battalion is at it again; living up to it's reputation of being thieves, liars and human rights violators!

As part of the Aquino Government's program of extending the much-discredited Oplan Bantay Laya 2 (OBL2, national security program of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines), the 503rd Brigade is conducting continuous military operations in Abra and in Ilocos Sur. In Abra, the 41st IB has been conducting SOT (Special Operations Teams repackaged as Special Outreach Teams) in the municipalities of Malibcong, Lacub, Baay-Licuan, and Sallapadan for almost 3 years now.

Despite superiority in numbers, armaments and other logistics, the 41st IB suffered big battle casualties during the past 3 years. They seek to offset defeat in the battlefield through emphasis in Civil-Military Operations, or the political and economic component of their counter-insurgency campaign. And to this end, they capitalize on resources at their behest, or under their control or influence through imposition or deceit.

Such is the case during an incident on September 11, 2010 at 5PM in Sitio Lapungaw, Barangay Buneg, Lacub, Abra. Soldiers from the 41st IB, most probably belonging to the Charlie Coy, arrived at Sitio Lapungaw early in the morning, and later marched and occupied the strategic ridge serving as passageway between Buneg and Sicanao-Serwaben in Tineg Town.

At 5PM, 3 youths from Buneg who went to the forest to hunt were walking with 2 others from Sicanao-Serwaben when they met the soldiers, clad in rubber boots and civilian clothes, vainly disguised as NPA guerillas. One of the soldiers resembles the description of the notorious intelligence agent "Lloyd Tega". The soldiers disarmed the hunters, and even pointed a cocked pistol and their rifles at them. The soldiers got all their belongings before letting them go towards Buneg. But only about 100 meters away, gunfire and explosions were heard with some live firing aimed at the fleeing civilians. The mock battle lasted for about 20 minutes, with intermittent firing until about 6:30 PM.

The following day, September 12, 2010, the 41st IB claimed to have engaged the NPA in a firefight, and that they were able to recover guns and a laptop computer.

On September 13, at 7:20am a platoon from the Charlie Coy 41st IB arrived at Buneg, claiming to have come from Baay-Licuan Town. The soldiers occupying the ridge at Sitio Lapungaw were observed to have marched down the mountain during the night, and most probably were responsible for looting the belongings of a youngster and a youth at Sitio Dagnin, Barangay Buneg where 3 armed people again clad in civilian clothes and rubber boots stopped them while on their way to small-scale mining communities upstream, carrying supplies of salt, sugar and other basic items for their families.

Earlier in the morning of September 11, 2010, there were also reports of a firefight near Mataragan Proper, Malibcong, Abra. A quick check with the field units of the Agustin Begnalen Command confirmed that no firefights occurred between the NPA and AFP either in Lacub or in Malibcong.

What may be the reason for these mock battles? Are these for the sake of complying with orders and submission of fake accomplishment reports by tired and disillusioned field commanders and NCOs of the AFP? Or are these the handiwork of crooked psywar experts, out to justify the AFPs military presence in the area and to terrorize the people, to pave the way for the entry of large-scale mining companies such as that of the exploration project of Magdaleno M. Pena, a dummy of Philex Mining Co.?

It is said that a medical mission is to be held at Barangay Bayabas, Malibcong, Abra, adjacent to Barangay Buneg, Lacub, Abra. The medical mission, to be held on September 18, 2010, is supposed to be one of the culminating activities of the SOT in the area, along with the inauguration of some dole-out projects. But can they really fool the people?

The AFP may have huge resources at their command, control or influence to be used and mobilized in consonance with Oplan Bantay Laya 2; they can re-train and re-orient their troops and officers to act like "professional soldiers" and disguise themselves through a change in their outfit and vainly conduct themselves properly when integrating with the people; and they can fool some officials in the LGU. But ultimately, the people can see through these façade and charade. The ultimate and decisive question is "whose interests is the AFP working for?" When the question is answered and the dividing line is set clear, no amount of force and deception can cow the people into submission and allow large-scale mining companies to ravage their ancestral and other agricultural lands.

When the AFP, along with the PNP and some of their running dogs in the LGUs fail to decieve the people, they resort to brute force, intimidation, and terrorism. They never learn their lesson. The AFP is becoming the best recruiter for the NPA as more and more peasant youths are joining the armed revolutionary army. Lies, theft and human rights violations are the harsh experiences of the masses that compel them to wage and uphold the validity of armed revolution. The extension of the failed Oplan Bantay Laya is doomed as the people and the national democratic revolutionary movement will resolutely advance the revolution towards a new and higher level.