Truth and Consequence: The AFP’s lies and war vs the Filipino people

“The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has further exposed themselves as lying, desperate fascist dogs. In the military’s malicious attempts to justify its dirty war and rights violations against the people, meanwhile sabotaging efforts for a just and lasting peace, it is resorting to laughable narratives, ridiculous plot twists, and raw dishonesty,” said Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay during a mass action of peasants and Lumad at the Department on National Defense (DND), Quezon City, on April 7, 2017 to call for an end to AFP’s all-out-war and the pull-out of troops in communities.

The following are among the AFP’s fictitious narratives that circulated in the news and several online platforms:

1.     On February 20, 2017, the 86th Infantry Battalion-Philippine Army claimed they had a run-in with the NPA in Maddela, Quirino, to which the residents disproved.  There were, however, forcible evacuations of some 691 residents of the said community because of the deployment of troops in the area.

2.     On February 24, 2017, elements of the 61st IBPA killed two farmers in Sitio Maknoy, Brgy. Jebaca, Maayon, Capiz. They later released a statement that the casualties were members of the NPA. The punong barangay, along with the families, insisted that the victims were not members of the NPA, but were farmers. The punong barangay even attested he knew the two victims since they were children. Maayon’s mayor, Wilfredo Borres, relative of the victims, also refuted claims made by the AFP. Criminal charges were filed by the victims’ kin against the soldiers; the soldiers retaliated by filing trumped up charges against the witnesses in the community. 

3.     On March 8, 2017, the Western Mindanao Command released a statement that it killed four bandits in a clash with the Abu Sayaff group in an operation in Basilan. However, the casualty involved a 1-year old child, a 59-year-old Bayan Muna coordinator and an MILF member in Basilan. Another 11 year old was also injured. The WestMinCom eventually acknowledged their mistake, offered their apologies, and hoped it would be enough to evade accountability.

4.     On March 16, 2017, the PNP and the AFP’s 24th IBPA claimed there were no aerial bombings in the communities of Malibcong, Abra. This is despite testimonies of residents that at least 14 phosphorous bombs were dropped in the rice fields and forests of Brgy. Lat-ey and Bangilo, as well as photos of forest areas razed by fire due to the bombings. Villagers also attested that four military fighter jets were seen circling the community. The incident prompted at least 56 families to evacuate.

5.     On March 23, 2017, the AFP released a statement that reported hostaging and looting of some 237 families who evacuated in Antipas, North Cotabato. The mayor of Antipas, however, later clarified that the evacuation was voluntary, with residents fearing an armed encounter given the President’s pronouncement of an all-out-war. The mayor also refuted statements of hostaging and looting.

6.     On March 26, 2017, the AFP released yet another statement blaming the NPA for the burning of Concepcion National High School in Valencia City, Bukidnon. The AFP also added reports of extortion of the school’s feeding program fund. The City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (CDDRMO) later released its findings that the fire was due to a short circuit. Residents and the barangay captain also refuted reports of seeing the NPA in the area. A teacher at the said school also belied reports of extortion and said the school had no feeding program fund. 

“In the context of the ongoing peace talks, there is a need to be vigilant against warmongers in the AFP and the Duterte administration who have more to gain in an all-out-war setting. With the intensification of rights abuses, the AFP should know that it will not win. State repression can only replicate an environment of fear, but it gives credence and justification to the resistance of the people,” concluded Palabay.