By KATHLEEN T. OKUBO
Posted by Bulatlat.com
BONTOC, Mt. Province — “We the people of Mountain Province demand the unconditional and immediate pull-out from our villages of the troops of the Armed Forces of the Philippines!” The Cordillera Peoples’ Alliance (CPA) here demanded in a statement.
A regional alliance of some 130 sectoral and community organizations, the CPA leads in the campaign for recognition and respect of indigenous peoples’ rights to ancestral land and self-determination.
CPA condemns what it described as “shameless acts of the Philippine Army troops who are stationed in the Mountain Province” in its conduct of Civilian Military Operations (CMO).
It stated that since January 24 this year, some 700 combat-ready troops of the AFP were deployed in 22 barangays of 10 municipalities of Mountain Province.
These troops stationed themselves in the dap-ays (village council house) in barangays Bangaan, Caneo and Betwagan, in daycare centers and schools in barangays Sumadel, Aguid, Fidelisan, Tanulong, Betwagan and Saclit.
They even pitched camp in people’s homes in barangay Sumadel, Gueday, Dalican, Mainit, Bekigan, Sacasacan, Saclit, and Dacudac.
The presence of the soldiers in the villages “puts our innocent children in direct danger and exposes them to a violent atmosphere,” said the CPA.
In Gueday, Besao, a member of the 50th IB threatened three children of being shot at only because they were unable to return the exact amount of change when they were sent to buy things for the troops.
The statement also pointed out that the AFP also threatens “the integrity of our families by courting married women.”
“Their presence in our homes violates our privacy. The troops’ presence in our Dap-ay is a direct insult to and disregard of the sanctity of the Dap-ay. It prevents our elders from performing rituals and facilitating community activities.”
CPA also disclosed that the AFP troops have been “organizing Barangay Intelligence Networks, Student Intelligence Networks” among the locals, their town mates for “the surveillance of active community members opposing the entry of destructive projects.”
“When Barangay officials and officers of the Peace and Order Movement and Development Organizations do not attend meetings and activities convened by the military, they are labeled as sympathizers of the CPP-NPA. Without let-up, the combat-ready troops dog our members and leaders,” CPA said.
The statement revealed that members of the organization are persistently told that the CPA is an NPA supporter and sympathizer and if this malicious propaganda fails the people are threatened and harassed by the soldiers.
“Winning hearts and minds” is integral to the civic-military operations (CMOs) of the military, which is part of the same formula of combat operations plus intelligence work that the Army employs.
The “soldiers promise farm-to-market roads, construction of barangay halls and basketball courts, installation of public toilets, and many more… These are things the government should have been providing and which the military is taking advantage of in citing as reasons for entering our villages,” CPA said.
The statement criticized the troops for exerting “all their efforts at sanitizing the true intent of the AFP” to crush the legitimate peoples’ resistance to destructive projects. (Bulatlat.com)