Solons slam AFP’s brutal air strikes on civilian communities

ACT Teachers Party-List Representatives Antonio Tinio and France Castro condemned the indiscriminate bombing by the Armed Forces of the Philippines in Malibcong, Abra yesterday.

Solons decried the brutality of the means used and the clearly intentional unconscionable damage caused by the military. According to reports from human rights monitor Karapatan and the Mabaka Banao Gubang Tribal Organization (MaBaGu) in Malibcong, four fighter planes of the AFP dropped at least eight bombs in Barangay Lat-ey in Bangilo early yesterday, endangering civilians and damaging farms and forests. No less than 14 reported explosions affected the uma or swidden farms of the Tingguians belonging to the Mabaka, Banao and Gubang tribes.

“By using air strikes, the AFP treats the entire community as a single military target instead of clearly distinguishing military objectives or targets from civilians and attacking only the former. They harmed at least 56 families including close to 200 children and their livelihood,” said Tinio. “These acts are blatant violations of international humanitarian law due to their massive damages to civilian communities.”

“Civilian life was disrupted and the right to education of children in the targeted communities is being trampled upon as the operations of the 24th Infantry Battalion of the AFP headed by Lt. Col. Dominic Baluga in the area led to the suspension of classes since Monday,” Castro said. “This is far from the peaceful Philippines that the President Duterte kept on promising us. His administration’s deceptively named Oplan Kapayapaan turns out to be a military counter-insurgency program that allows brutal means like air strikes.”

“We hold President Duterte directly responsible for the suffering inflicted on civilians by the air strikes—especially as the commander-in-chief who ordered the AFP to ‘flatten the hills’. It is an utterly inhumane policy to let civilians be collateral damage and just say ‘pasensya’. Oplan Kapayapaan must be scrapped and all militaristic pacification of social unrest ended,” said the solons. ###