July 26, 2010 in Featured
By KATHLEEN T. OKUBO
BONTOC, Mt. Province — “We the people of Mountain Province demand the unconditional and immediate pull- out of the troops of the Armed Forces of the Philippines from our villages!”
The Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) here demanded in a chapter statement sent to Nordis.
The CPA, a legitimate regional alliance of some 130 sectoral, community people’s organizations leads in the campaign for the recognition and respect of indigenous peoples’ rights to ancestral land and self-determination.
The provincial chapter condemned what it described as “the shameless acts of the Philippine Army troops who are stationed in the Mountain Province,” in their conduct of their Civilian Military Operations (CMO).
It stated that, since January 24, 2010, 700 combat-ready troops of the AFP were deployed in 22 barangays of 10 municipalities of Mountain Province.
These troops stationed themselves in the dap-ays (village council house) in barangays Bangaan, Caneo and Betwagan. In the daycare centers and schools in barangays Sumadel, Aguid, Fidelisan, Tanulong, Betwagan and Saclit.
And, they even camped in homes in barangay Sumadel, Gueday, Dalican, Mainit, Bekigan, Sacasacan, Saclit, and Dacudac.
The presence of the soldiers in the villages puts “our innocent children in direct danger and exposed them to a violent atmosphere.” the statement said.
Adding a concrete experience of three ( 3) children in Gueday, Besao, who were threatened to be shot by a member of the 50th IB only because the children were not able to return the exact amount of change when they were sent to buy things for them.
The statement also pointed out that the AFP even threatens the integrity of our families by courting married women.
“Their presence in our homes violates our privacy. The troops presence in our Dap-ay is a direct insult and disregard of the sanctity of the Dap-ay, and prevents our elders from performing rituals and facilitating community activities.”
Also pointed out, was the AFP troops, “in organizing Barangay Intelligence Networks, Student Intelligence Networks;” the locals, town mates are used in the surveillance of active community members opposing the entry of destructive projects.
“When Barangay officials and the officers of the Peace and Order Movement and Development Organizations do not attend meetings and activities convened by the military, they are labeled as sympathizers of the CPP-NPA. Without let-up, the combat-ready troops dog our members and leaders,” the statement said.
The statement revealed that members of the organization are persistently told that the CPA is an NPA supporter and sympathizer and if this malicious propaganda fails the people are threatened and harassed by the soldiers.
“Winning hearts and minds” are integral to the civic-military operations (CMOs), which is part of the same formula of combat operations plus intelligence work the Army employs.
The statement said, “the soldiers promise farm to market roads, construction of barangay halls and basketball court, public toilet installation, and so many more… These are things government should have provided and the military has taken advantage of the government’s neglect to enter our villages.”
The statement criticised that the troops exert “all their efforts at sanitizing the true intent of the AFP” to crush the legitimate peoples’ resistance to destructive projects. # nordis.net