We strongly condemn General Eduardo Año’s announcement of a P100,000 reward for the capture or killing of members of the NPA because it makes indigenous peoples open targets of more extrajudicial killings as our experience in the Cordillera shows.
This is an outright license for the AFP and PNP to commit more extrajudicial killings among indigenous peoples, who are consistently red-tagged and accused as supporters and members of the New People’s Army. Año’s pronouncement is gruesome and murderous, as it legitimises and promotes further the human rights violations of State security forces.
The AFP and PNP does not differentiate civilians and unarmed activists from the armed revolutionary NPA. They are all targets of the continuing State policy of impunity and murder under the guise of counter-insurgency. Over 7,000 civilians have been killed by the AFP and PNP under Oplan Tokhang, the so-called war against drugs; civilians and activists under the guise of counter-insurgency, and now, this pronouncement from the AFP chief of staff is practically a State policy of mass murder of civilians if not genocide.
Año’s pronouncement is an invitation to kill. Government’s “IP centric approach” in its counter-insurgency program claims that 74% of the NPA are Lumad (collective term for indigenous peoples in Mindanao) and that 90% of the NPA are in ancestral lands of indigenous peoples. This only means the AFP wants to make killing fields out of our indigenous territories! Out of 23 extrajudicial killings of IPs documented under the year-old US-Duterte regime, 14 were killed because they are accused as members of the NPA.
In the Cordillera, we continue to demand justice for the extrajudicial killing of indigenous farmer-hunters slain by the AFP, all accused to be members of the NPA: Johnny Camareg of Sadanga, Mountain Province, slain by elements of the 22nd Special Forces Company and 3rd Special Forces Battalion in 2001; Etfew Chadyaas of Sadanga, Mountain Province, slain by elements of the 54th Infantry Battalion (IB) under Lt. Sia-ed in 2003; Victor Balais of Pinukpuk, Kalinga slain by elements of 77th IB in 2003; Bernabe Bangguey and Gavino Lawagey of Abra, slain by elements of the 41st IB in 2005; student Michael Uyad of Agawa, Besao, Mountain Province slain by elements of the 54th IB and Special Reaction Force in 2006; and Rocky Aboli of Lubuagan, Kalinga slain by elements of the 21st and 77th IB in 2008.
We have not forgotten either the Punks 11, a group of young backpackers, who were detained and tortured by the PNP in Buguias, Benguet in 2006. They too were accused of being NPA members.
Progressive indigenous peoples’ organisations are also made open targets of this pronouncement, as we, CPA and its network of organisations, have long been tagged as “terrorist fronts” and NPAs, when all we are fighting for is respect and recognition of the rights and welfare of the Cordillera indigenous peoples and Filipino people.
Before Año’s pronouncement was Pres. Duterte’ declaration of an all-out-war against revolutionary forces, the Cordillera region among the targets of the AFP upon Duterte’s directive to “flatten the hills”.
Militarization, implemented by the AFP Northern Luzon Command, intensified in the Cordillera resulting to a week of forced evacuation in Namal, Ifugao, indiscriminate air strikes using phosphorus bombs in Malibcong, Abra that accompanied ground operations by the 24th IBPA under the 7th Infantry Division and heavy military operations by the 50th IBPA in Kalinga under the 503rd Brigade where cases of violations include the divestment and destruction of properties, and the physical assault of civilians and barangay officials. The Cordillera Human Rights Alliance (CHRA) documented 14 cases of illegal arrest and detention based on trumped-up charges, and there is intensified harassment, surveillance and vilification of people’s organisations and community leaders. Ten political prisoners are currently detained in Mountain Province, Ifugao, Kalinga and Baguio City.
Militarist and fascist solutions like martial law declaration in Mindanao, the all-out war against revolutionary forces and the barbaric reward system dangled by Año will not address the root causes of the armed conflict in the country. We call on the Duterte government to stop the killing spree and Oplan Tokhang, stop the all-out war, lift martial law in Mindanao, stop the militarization of indigenous communities, resume the peace talks with the NDFP and agree on the Comprehensive Agenda on Socio-Economic Reform (CASER) with recognition of indigenous peoples’ rights.
Today, 21 days before the 45th anniversary of Martial Law, we call on every Filipino to stand against worsening State fascism, human rights violations and impunity. Cordillera Peoples Alliance/August 22, 2017
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