The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) lambasted the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Tuesday for “twisting facts to cover up military abuses behind the evacuation of thousands of Lumads in Surigao del Sur” by claiming that they were “duped” by the New People’s Army about military atrocities.
The CPP denounced Col. Noel Detoyato, AFP public affairs office chief, for dismissing the suffering and hardships of the evacuees by claiming they are only being used in the “bakwit tactics” of the NPA. Detoyato issued this statement after reports revealed that AFP troops are conducting food, aid, and information blockades at Diatagon Gym in the town of Lianga, Surigao del Sur, where about 1,600 Lumad residents are staying after evacuating from their communities in past weeks.
The CPP denounced Detoyato’s “grand cover up” for making incredulous claims that thousands of Lumads left their communities because of unfounded claims. “Detoyato, furthermore, is twisting facts for claiming that government food aid have not reached the Lumad evacuees because these are being blocked by the revolutionary forces, when in fact, AFP soldiers are the ones manning checkpoints near Diatagon Gym to prevent aid agencies from getting near the evacuees. Such impertinence!” the CPP said.
“Fascist soldiers of the AFP are not only terrorizing communities but are also making a thousand evacuees suffer more from hunger because of the food and aid blockades they are imposing. The AFP clearly has no ascendancy to talk about duping or preying on people’s lives, when their troops are relentlessly committing savage and barbarous atrocities against the Lumad,” the CPP said.
Starting July 16, residents of Barangay Diatagon, largely minority Manobos, marched for close to 10 hours from their sitios to the barangay center to seek safe haven from military attacks and protest the construction of an AFP detachment in their barangay. Combat troops of the AFP’s 75th IB attempted to block the roads, prevented journalists from covering the story and stopped relief workers from extending assistance. The evacuation of residents of Lianga is the fourth time since martial law was imposed last year in Mindanao, and the third since the 2015 killings of their community leaders.
Theirs is just the most recent case of mass exodus. Several hundred barangays suffer from AFP infestation nationwide. Peasants and minority people are subjected to relentless attacks by AFP troops under Duterte’s Oplan Kapayapaan and total war against civilians. Millions of peasants suffer from de facto martial law conditions nationwide. Minority peoples are especially targeted. Extrajudicial killings, illegal arrests, forcible “surrender,” maltreatment, harassments and other military abuses run rampant.