Fake surrender and money-making modus of AFP persist despite COVID crisis

Farmer arrested in Quezon province falsely presented as NPA leader

Peasant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) condemned the Philippine Army’s 85th Infantry Battalion for its unrelenting military operations that terrorize peasant communities in Quezon province despite the ongoing Enhanced Community Quarantine.

Last April 13, 2020, farmer Nomeriano Fuerte, 43 years old, was arrested and forcibly taken by armed 85th IBPA soldiers. Fuerte was at the house of farmer Barok Perlas in Sitio Tagbakin, Barangay Magsaysay, General Luna town when he was arrested. The soldiers did not present any warrant to Pwitri when he was accosted and forcibly taken to the battalion camp in San Nicolas, Macalelon, Quezon.

On April 14, the soldiers “invited” Fuerte’s wife, Amalia, and she was brought to the military camp to see her husband. While at the camp, the soldiers advised the couple to “change their ways and go back to the folds of the government.” Later on, Fuerte was falsely presented by the 85th IBPA as a leader of the New People’s Army (NPA) who surrendered to the military. Fuerte was brought to General Luna town Mayor Erwin Matt Florido and was introduced as Ka Mar, a Vice-Squad Leader of the NPA Platoon in Southern Luzon.

“Fuerte’s unjust arrest is another case of fake surrender and money-making racketeering by the 85th IBPA which intends to collect reward money from the E-CLIP. Despite the lockdown and the ceasefire, the 85th IBPA have been conducting non-stop operations in rural barangays in the municipalities of Lopez, Catanauan, Macalelon, Unisan, Agdangan, Padre Burgos, and Atimonan to force residents to “admit to being members of the NPA.”

Last March 16, a soldier of the 85th IBPA accused a tricycle driver of bringing supplies to NPA guerrillas in Macalelon. It turned out that the tricycle driver was simply delivering the goods he purchased in General Luna and made a stop-over in Macalelon to relieve himself. It was also known that Philippine Army soldiers invited residents of Brgy. San Francisco, Lopez to offer them money from the E-CLIP. 

AFP, particularly Philippine Army units get commissions from the Task Force Balik Loob reward money for each surrenderer or firearm that they are able to turn over to the E-CLIP program. The reward money could range between Php15,000 to Php50,000 for each former rebel/surrenderer.

“We are appalled that while millions of farmers have yet to receive aid from the government, the AFP is continuing with its vile mercenary activities,” says KMP leader Danilo Ramos.

Coconut farmers in Quezon province are seeking urgent assistance from the government to aid them during the lockdown especially as prices of copra and coconuts have dwindled to Php13 per kilo and Php4 per nut, respectively. Residents of rural villages in Bondoc Peninsula have only received two kilos of rice, two canned sardines and instant noodles since the start of the lockdown and are still awaiting for the second wave of food aid from the LGUs and barangays and the promised Php5,000 cash aid from the social amelioration program.

Last April 11, peasant leader Francisco ‘Sisoy’ Torralba, 71 years old, was arrested at his residence in Barangay Bonbon, Butuan City. Torralba is a long-time leader of the Unyon sa mga Mag-uuma sa Agusan del Norte. He was falsely charged with kidnapping and illegal possession of firearms. Torralba who suffers from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, asthma and ischemic heart ailment, is very vulnerable to COVID19 transmission.

“We condemn these series of attacks against farmers and the rural sectors at this time of national public emergency,” Ramos concluded. ###

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