Cordillera youth group hits AFP-imposed blockade in Abra


BAGUIO CITY — The Regional formation of the youth group Anakbayan Cordillera demand that government cease their food blockade in war-affected areas of Abra as food scarcity rises with the coming of the dry season and the restrictions imposed on the people by the military occupation of their communities.

Reports from Anakbayan Abra disclosed that army checkpoints were in place since March 16, prohibiting the entry of food and other necessary supplies while military operations against alleged members of the New People’s Army continue in Malibcong, Abra.

The group cited that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is deliberately violating international humanitarian laws in the conduct of its war against insurgency as they continue to restrict the people from their daily movement and livelihood with the use of checkpoints and preventing aid from outside the besieged communities.

Citing Part 4 Art. 4 Par. 6 of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIL) which states that “all persons deprived of their liberty for reasons related to the armed conflict shall be treated humanely, provided with adequate food and drinking water, and be afforded safeguards as regards to health and hygiene, and be confined in a secure place.”

“Government military operations seem to target civilians. Instead of providing relief supplies for the communities they ravaged, they even prevented the people to meet their needs,” said Luke Bagangan, secretary general of Anakbayan Cordillera.

Bagangan cited an incident in March 17, where sacks of rice purchased for the fiesta of Barangay Bangilo, Malibcong were taken by the AFP. The group also expressed disappointment that despite appeals from the barangay officials for assistance for food and relief, almost none came from the government even if they knew of the disruption of civilian livelihood caused by the military operations.

“As of today (March 23), farmers are not allowed to go to tend their farms, harvest crops or check on farm animals. Aside from the restrictions imposed on their movements the civilians are afraid that the AFP will misidentify them as members of the NPA or they be used as AFP-human shields in their operations,” said Bagangan.

The youth leader also cited news reports of the recent “AFP airplane bombing” of the forests and farmlands in the said town has forced civilians to leave their farms to neglect.

Moreover, the youth leaders repeated the appeal for the AFP to stop harassing local civilians and humanitarian volunteers from different human rights groups.

The demand came after Anakbayan monitored several reports that non-residents of Malibcong, especially human rights watchdogs were barred from entering the town. #