On aerial bombing of civilian communities in Lanao del Sur, Mindoro and Masbate

This article is available in Bisaya

1. The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) condemns in the strongest terms the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) for dropping at least 12 heavy bombs yesterday on a Moro civilian community of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in Barangay Runggayan, Maguing, Lanao del Sur. At least five civilians, including children, were killed in the bombing that started at 2 a.m. Scores of others were injured. The local mosque was reportedly hit and all houses in the barangay suffered damages. Local residents in and around the community are terrorized and gravely traumatized.

2. The bombing in Lanao del Sur against civilians mark the AFP’s heightening campaign of aerial bombardment. It follows a similar bombing over the weekend (February 26) against Mangyan communities between Bongabong, Mindoro Oriental and San Jose, Mindoro Occidental which terrorized the people and forced them to evacuate their communities. A few days earlier (February 21), the AFP also dropped at least six bombs on communities in Barangay Igang, Masbate City, forcing people to leave their homes to seek safety. A few weeks earlier, the AFP dropped bombs over Agta communities in Barangay Sta. Clara, Gonzaga, Cagayan Valley forcing more than 60 families to flee their homes.

3. These incidents underscore the fact that aerial bombing is indiscriminate and endangers the lives of civilians. Over the past few years, the AFP has dropped countless 500-lb bombs and rocket bombs in mountains inhabited by minority communities, in agricultural fields and in the proximity of communities, in violation of international humanitarian law. Aerial bombings aim primarily at terrorizing people to make them kneel before the fascist authority of the AFP founded on their superior armed strength.

4. The Party condemns the AFP for its campaign of disinformation aimed at deceiving the people and covering up their crimes. In yesterday’s bombing in Lanao del Sur, the AFP whipped up Islamophobia and claimed they were targeting “ISIS” fighters, when it is a known fact in the locality that Barangay Runggayan is a community of the MILF, as confirmed by town officials. Claims that aerial bombings aim to “clear the area of landmines” are a false pretext. If this were true, why would the AFP drop bombs or fire their cannons on agricultural fields or near villages and in mountain communities? It has become standard operating procedure for the AFP to impose a news blackout on areas that it has bombed, preventing the media and even local officials at times access to the area. A group that was set to conduct a fact-finding mission in Gonzaga, Cagayan Valley last Monday were prevented from proceeding to the area and were later harassed with the unlawful arrest of one of the participants.

5. The Party enjoins the broad sectors of the Filipino people, together with the Moro people, to build a united front to demand an end to the AFP’s aerial bombing, aerial strafing and artillery shelling campaign which has caused widespread terror and trauma especially among children, deaths of civilians, superfluous injury, and destruction of civilian property, environment and wildlife. The Filipino people must demand an accounting and investigation of all cases of aerial bombing, strafing and artillery shelling, including an assessment of the deaths and injury caused by the bombings especially against civilians, damage to farmlands and forest resources, wild animals and birds, noise and air pollution caused by hours of overflight of drones, helicopters and attack aircraft, as well as the costs that the Filipino people have to shoulder for this dastardly campaign. We also call on the people to vigorously fight the AFP’s disinformation campaign by exposing by all means possible all cases of abuses and violations of human rights being perpetrated by the military and police forces.

6. The AFP’s campaign of aerial bombing, strafing and artillery shelling is a costly strategy that is designed and dictated by the US military advisers and supported by US military financing, despite lessons of its failures in Vietnam and Afghanistan. The United States has long been pushing militaries around the world to purchase drones, jet fighters, attack helicopters, bombs and artillery shell from companies forming the US military industrial complex and their allied companies in Israel, South Korea, Poland and other countries.

7. Units of the New People’s Army (NPA) have quickly adapted to the AFP’s use of aerial bombing and are raising their capability at guerrilla maneuvers and tactics to deny the AFP of a target and render these weapons ineffective. In their desperation to hit the NPA from the air and use up its annual supply of bombs and artillery shells, and thus justify new purchases in the coming years, the AFP is increasingly becoming careless and indiscriminate in dropping their heavy bombs and firing their rockets. Many more innocents are bound to be killed, terrorized and traumatized by the AFP’s bombs and cannons. The Filipino people must raise their voices and demand that this be put to a stop.

On aerial bombing of civilian communities in Lanao del Sur, Mindoro and Masbate