“Surrendered” father and son in Kibawe, Bukidnon are civilians

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The Mt. Apo Subregional Command of the New People’s Army in Southern Mindanao strongly condemns the AFP’S 72nd Infantry Battalion over the fake surrender of a father and son, both civilian farmers, in Brgy. Magsaysay, Kibawe town in Bukidnon on June 23.

Residents of Brgy. Magsaysay were puzzled when they heard over the local radio and saw in social media that their neighbors Ernesto Ugmares, Sr. and his son Ernesto Jr., “voluntarily surrendered” as “full-time NPA members.” In the 72nd IB’s social media accounts, the two civilians were likewise photographed brandishing pistols, none of which were firearms that came from any NPA unit.

The so-called surrender happened following the month-long focused military operation of the 72nd IB in Brgy. Magsaysay and adjacent barrios that border the towns of Kitaotao and Kibawe in Bukidnon and Arakan in North Cotabato.

The AFP, specifically the 10th ID which recently declared majority of Southern Mindanao to be insurgency-free, is getting desperate to make it appear that its pronouncements are valid. However, it is fast becoming obvious that AFP units are now scrabbling to force as many civilians to surrender as NPA fighters in order to milk as much of the reward money that remains of the budget under the Enhanced Comprehensive Livelihood Integration Program (E-CLIP). They are already scraping the bottom and are upping their fascist drive to coerce civilians to pose as NPA fighters, even recycle those whom they have already previously declared “surrenderees.”

In Bukidnon and North Cotabato where the 72nd IB operates, surrendered individuals fetch as much as P65,000 (P15,000 cash and P50,000 in livelihood program) as per allocation from the E-CLIP. But many of the so-called “surrenderees,” majority of whom were civilians, reported that they had received only a fraction of the promised bounty while still others received nothing at all.

This surrender racket must be thoroughly investigated as it is a despicable violation of the masses’ human rights as civilians and a blatant corruption of the Filipino people’s hard-earned money.

In addition, the focused military operations conducted almost monthly by the 72nd IB in Bukidnon and North Cotabato in fact serve the devious encroachment of the plantations of multinational Del Monte Corporation and other agri-ventures poised to displace the Lumad and peasants in these areas. Masses in affected barrios report that several farmers have regretted renting out their land to Del Monte’s pineapple plantation. They said that the company’s methods of production are destroying the soil and water sources.

Despite the change in the leadership of the reactionary regime, state-sponsored terrorism and the corrupt tradition of the AFP to protect the interests of the ruling class steadfastly remain. The only change that the masses and the NPA expect and are prepared for under the new fake Marcos II regime is that the socio-economic crisis will worsen and continuously advance the people’s war.

"Surrendered" father and son in Kibawe, Bukidnon are civilians