The renewed extension of martial law in Mindanao continues to wreak havoc in the lives of civilians in the region, especially victimizing steadily increasing number of children and other civilians.
On February 18, at around 11:00 in the morning, a platoon of fascist soldiers of the 88th Infantry Battalion accosted and seized 17-year old Loujean Antian Lumbatan, a Grade 7 student of Sinuda High School, and 10-year old Ara Mystica Antian Pangcat, a Grade 5 student of Cabalansihan Elementary School at Sitio Sanggiapo, Brgy Sinuda, Kitaotao in Bukidnon province. For no apparent reason, the two unarmed Lumad minors were arrested and held incommunicado at the unit’s camp in Sitio Sanggiapo between 11:00 in the morning and 11:00 in the evening.
Early in the afternoon, the parents and some relatives searched frantically for the missing children and proceeded to confront the soldiers but were crudely rebuffed by the latter who insisted they knew nothing of the children’s whereabouts. The girls later recounted that they could hear their parent’s voices but were warned by the soldiers not to make any sound. At around 11 in the evening, the two girls were brought to the 88th Battalion Headquarters in Maramag. While on military custody, the children were intermittently subjected to harrowing interrogation and were only released late in the afternoon of the next day, February 19. When confronted as to why they arrested and detained the two girls, the soldiers had to gall to claim it was “for the safety of the children.”
The Bukidnon incident of children abuse is but an addition to the spate of recent attacks against minors under martial law, including notably the January 30 seizure of two toddlers, a one-year old and a 2-year old, and their subsequent forced separation from their parents and guardians, by AFP and PNP troops following an illegal raid of the office of Misamis Oriental Peasants Association (MOFA) in Villanueva, Misamis Oriental. In Lumad areas in Compostela Valley, Davao del Norte and elsewhere in the Southern Mindanao, bombings, shelling and indiscriminate firing within populated communities by AFP troops and their paramilitaries Bagani and Alamara have terrorized hundreds of children.
Meanwhile in Compostela Valley, three civilians were arrested by members of the 71st IB on February 20 at Sitio Binogsayan, Brgy. Napnapan in Pantukan town. Eddie Avila, Graciano Embalsado and Pulpy Lariwan were later forced to “surrender” as members of the New People’s Army, even as local government officials insisted that the three were in fact civilians. The masses report that the families of the three fear for their safety and are terrified to press charges.
These fascist crimes perpetrated by the AFP, PNP and their paramilitaries, hardly isolated cases under Duterte’s martial law in Mindanao, are what is fuelling unrest in the countryside and pushing more and more Lumad and peasants to seek relief and justice from the revolutionary movement.
We urge all democratic forces, especially in this day as we commemorate the 1986 EDSA revolution that toppled a fascist dictator, to demand justice for all victims of the US-Duterte regime’s martial law in Mindanao and by Oplan Kapayapaan elsewhere in the country. As NPA units nationwide continue to launch attacks against fascist reactionary armed forces and thousands upon thousands march the streets, we call upon the people to learn the lessons of history: prevail in the current economic and political quagmire by overthrowing the rotten US-Duterte regime.