Farmers hit army battalion for harassment, forced surrender racketeering

NTF-ELCAC desperate in fabricating accomplishment

Farmers complained that soldiers from the 80th Steadfast Battalion of the Philippine Army led by Lt. Col. Christopher Diaz are constantly harassing farmers and residents of Sitio Dalandanan and other sub-villages in Barangay San Roque in San Jose Del Monte City in Bulacan. Other army battalions also have prominent presence in other villages in SJDM.

According to the residents, army soldiers are conducting daily house-to-house visitations and requiring villagers to sign forms for the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (ECLIP) of the National Task Force on Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC). Farmers who fear for their safety signed the forms under duress. This morning, soldiers from the 48th IBPA went to the house of Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Bulacan-KMP coordinator Ronnie Manalo in Sitio Ricafort.  

“These will be maliciously reported by the NTF-ELCAC as their effort in allegedly quelling local insurgents and supporters. Mga magsasaka ang palalabasing milisyang bayan o suporter ng NPA. It is already public knowledge that the NTF-ELCAC led by General Antonio Parlade Jr. have long been fabricating its accomplishments, especially of alleged surrenderees and arrested NPA leaders,” says Danilo Ramos, chairperson of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas. He noted the case of soldier Novelo Naag presented as a rebel returnee last September 2019 and of photoshopped surrenderees released by the AFP last December 2019. Each fake surrenderee are worth tens of thousands in cash rewards. “Ginawa na nilang raket ang pamemeke ng mga sumusuko.” 

“The residents are forced to surrender and ‘come back to the folds of the law.’ Paanong susuko ang mga magsasakang sibilyan na wala namang armas at nagtatanim lang ng gulay sa bukid?” says Ramos.

The soldiers further threatened the residents and said that those who will join rallies and activities with ‘partylists that are communist fronts’ will be charged with rebellion.

“These kind of military operations in peasant communities are sowing further terror and fear among the population already facing an anxiety-inducing pandemic. We demand the local government of Bulacan and the Commission on Human Rights to urgently intervene. Different units from the 80th and 48th IBPA have encamped in San Jose Del Monte City since 2018. Soldiers rented houses and are conducting surveillance work in peasant communities to target farmers active in land struggles. The said communities are part of the disputed Araneta lands that cover 3,500 hectares and are inhabited by almost a thousand farming families. Farmers are resisting the land grabbing of several real estate entities in San Jose Del Monte City.

“Residents and local farmers associations under the Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Bulacan have launched a petition signing to demand the pull-out of AFP soldiers and stop the military encampment and operations. This petition is still with the Office of Mayor of San Jose Del Monte City,” says Eriberto Pena of AMB. #

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