Soldiers forbid only rice harvest for the year to peasants resisting AFP surrender campaign in Samar
The National Democratic Front-Eastern Visayas today assailed the 8th Infantry Division-Philippine Army for barring peasants in San Jose de Buan, Western Samar from harvesting the only rice harvest they have for the year should they refuse to surrender as members of the New People’s Army. “We condemn this surrender campaign by the 8th ID which is essentially an economic blockade and is a blatant violation of humanitarian law,” said Fr. Santiago “Ka Sanny” Salas, spokesperson for the NDF-Eastern Visayas.
Citing reports from the Arnulfo Ortiz Command (NPA-Western Samar or AOC), Fr. Salas said that soldiers barred at least 39 families in Brgy. San Nicolas from harvesting an estimated 2,808 sacks of palay (unmilled rice) unless they declare themselves as Red fighters who surrendered to the military. “If they do not harvest now, they will not have any rice to harvest for the next 12 months. They will have wasted away an entire year’s labor and will need to look for alternative sources of income whose economic prospects are grim in the face of continuing lockdowns, rising COVID-19 cases in the region, and intensifying military operations.” Last July, the 8th ID fired at least 88 rounds of mortar towards farmlands in San Jose de Buan.
“They are forcing innocent civilians an gunpoint to choose between surrendering or dying by hunger in the midst of an economic recession, unprecedented poverty, hunger and lack of livelihood,” Fr. Salas said.
He further said that the AFP’s surrender program is big fluke as surrendering does not guarantee a peaceful life thereafter, proven by the cold-blooded murder of active military agent and San Nicolas resident Freddie Mabanan by 8th ID troops last August 19. “The military maliciously implicated the NPA in this extrajudicial killing even though Mabanan himself identified his killer to his wife while he was dying. Mabanan is proof that even those who are willfully participate in the AFP’s counter-insurgency operations are not spared from their violence.”
More than 60 families have fled the barangay in the last week because of the nonstop surrender campaign that began since the last week of May. In Sitio Salvacion, only five families have yet to evacuate, according to the NPA-AOC.
“Such is the nature of state terrorism by the Duterte regime and as implemented by the 8th ID. In the midst of the pandemic, it targets innocent, hard-working peasants such as the people of San Nicolas in its all-out war. The 8th ID under Maj. Gen. Pio Diñoso III is keen on performing the most heartless crimes against the people for its vain objective of wiping out the revolutionary movement in the region and the broad opposition against the Duterte regime. The oppressed people’s hatred of his tyranny can only swell into greater numbers and the call for his ouster will echo even louder.”#