Lift military news blackout on Miag-ao bombing
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is preventing media and other organizations from independently seeking the truth about the aerial bombing last Wednesday early morning in Barangay Alimodias, Miag-ao, Iloilo.
In line with its martial law mindset, the AFP wants to impose a news blackout to control the flow of information so that these will fit into the military narrative of supposed eight NPA fighters killed in an armed encounter. Local media reporters and other organizations, are now being prevented from getting into the area.
What we know so far is that at early dawn last December 1, while most people were still asleep, two FA-50 jet fighters flew over Barangay Alimodias and dropped two 500-lb bombs on the nearby mountains, around one and a half kilometer from the civilian communities. This was soon followed by artillery shelling which fired at least eight rounds in the same direction.
The heavy bombs were so powerful that it left a crater 15 feet deep and 20 feet wide. The bombs violently shook the ground that was felt by residents in nearby communities. People in the communities were struck with fear and traumatized by the aerial bombardment.
As far as we can infer from information, there was no armed encounter between the AFP and the reported NPA unit in the area of the bombing or its proximity. In such bombing incidents, an NPA unit would have quickly withdrawn to a safe distance to avoid further casualties.
We are still determining the additional facts as to what really transpired last Wednesday in Miag-ao. We are investigating reports that a number of civilians, including a child or children, were killed in the incident. We are also still assessing the casualties on the side of the NPA unit.
Dropping 500-lb bombs from fighter jets are inherently indiscriminate and causes widespread damage and superfluous deaths and injury. Their use are a brazen violation of international humanitarian law and rules of war and constitutes serious war crimes.