By CORDILLERA HUMAN RIGHTS ALLIANCE
Today, March 16, 2017, 4 fighter jets of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) indiscriminately bombed Malibcong, Abra as part of the military combat operations of the 24th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army under the 7th Infantry Division otherwise known as the notorious “Palparan Division”. The bombs razed the forested part of Barangay Lat-ey in Bangilo and affected the uma or swidden farms, grazelands and rice fields of the Tingguians belonging to the Mabaka, Banao and Gubang tribes. Since this morning, around 14 huge explosions were reported by residents in the area.
The AFP operations headed by Lt. Col. Dominic Baluga commenced last Monday forcing Dep-ed to suspend classes of public elementary and high school as the parents, adults and elders feared that children might be harmed.
As of this hour, an estimated 56 families including close to 200 children are reportedly affected in the villages of Malibcong.
The Mabaka Banao and Gubang Tribal Organization (MaBaGu) are accounting damages caused by the aerial bombings. Immediately, we join them in condemning the bombings and also stand with them in the demand to immediately cease the bombings and military operations that now sow fear and terror in the communities.
As this is not the first time that the municipality in Northern Abra experienced indiscriminate aerial bombings, they know that even after the military operations have stopped, they would have to deal with the long-term effects of what has been done within their ancestral domain. Hunger is sure to come with the forest and fields razed, and with time lost for economic production in the community. Reports this morning stated that most of the farm animals were in the area where the bombs exploded and the people fear the damages that may have happened.
State terrorism has scarred the people over and over again with the violation of rights.
As a 5th class municipality, Malibcong, Abra depicts the state of national oppression against indigenous peoples with how the government has neglected to provide social services and even decent roads for the people, with militarization and with development aggression. It is an insult to the Filipino people for the government to spend so much for bombs and bullets while most of its citizens, especially the national minorities, are wallowing in poverty.
We enjoin everyone to issue statements to denounce and hold the 24th IBPA and the 7th Infantry Division accountable for their human rights violations and to demand for the bombings and military operations to stop. We also urge for the pull-out of all AFP troops within our ancestral domain.
We call on President Rodrigo Duterte to sincerely choose the path to peace and to ensure the rights and welfare of the people.
Stop the bombings in Abra!
Stop state terrorism!
Hold the 24th IBPA and 7th ID accountable for their human rights violations! # nordis.net