The Christmas all-offensive mounted by the 4th Infantry Division in the Kalabugao plains in the Bukidnon-Agusan del Sur-Misamis Oriental boundary is a costly and brutal campaign of artillery shelling and aerial and combat operations involving more than 400 ground troops with the aim of taking away the ancestral land of the Lumad people.
It should be sharply pointed out that the military offensive of the AFP has focused on the Kalabugao Plains in order to suppress the resistance of the Lumad people to defend their ancestral domain. Under the Kalagbuga Plains Peace and Development Convergence Program, the Duterte regime plan to construct roads, spillways and other infrastructure in the area in line with its plans to take away the resources of the plains from the Lumad people in order to operate an oil palm plantation and carry-out commercial reforestation for timber.
The 4th ID’s all-out Christmas offensive is mostly counterproductive. After spending several million pesos in scores of rockets and artillery rounds, fuel for daily flights of helicopters and supply for operating troops, the AFP succeeded only in retrieving an old generator set and a few medical supplies which the NPA left in the mountainous areas.
It is up to the 4th ID to deny the fact that it suffered at least 14 casualties (2 killed and 12 wounded in action). Indeed, there is a reason why they always order ambulances or military trucks to enter barrio roads in the dead of the night to evacuate their dead or wounded foot soldiers. Helicopter-evacuation are reserved only for lieutenant or higher officials.
After more than two-weeks of operations, combat troops of the AFP are tired and anxious to go home especially with Christmas and New Year fast approaching. They have mounted one operation after another all year round. They are unwanted by the local residents because of the economic hardships they cause. They are demoralized that their casualties are being publicly denied. They are disenchanted that the top officials of the AFP did not declare a unilateral ceasefire to give them even a brief respite to be with their families.
Lumad residents are calling for an end to more than two weeks of military offensives in their area. The incessant bombing have caused them grave trauma. The livelihood of residents, mostly agriculture and hunting, are severely affected, as they could not freely move around because of the presence of fascist soldiers. The AFP is coercing residents to join and undergo training as paramilitary troops under its command.