A militant lawmaker over the weekend denounced the aerial bombings conducted by the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in Aguid village in Sagada, Mountain Province as part of the counter-insurgency efforts of the government.
“We strongly denounce the aerial bombings employed by the PNP and the AFP in its counter insurgency operations in Aguid, Sagada, Mountain Province,” Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan of the Gabriel Women’s party-list said.
Ilagan stressed that the resort to aerial bombings by the AFP in the pursuit of New People’s Army (NPA) rebels inflicts immeasurable damage to indigenous people’s communities, lives and livelihood.
The aerial bombings and indiscriminate firing reportedly affected not just Sagada but the municipalities of Besao, Sadanga and Bontoc where the Fidelisan, Dallic and Bontoc tribes reside.
“While community leaders and human rights groups have yet to give a complete assessment of the damage, initial reports show that several bombs were dropped on communities and farms. Crops and livelihood were destroyed and several lives were in danger,” Ilagan said.
Joint PNP and AFP forces, resorting to aerial attacks, pursued NPA guerillas from August 29 to 30.
According to Ilagan, aerial bombings traumatized residents of the communities, especially children.
“The trauma leaves permanent scars, making children constantly fearful if not violent,” the lawmaker said.
Initial reports also indicate that elements of the 50th Infantry Battalion (IB) are also encamped at the Aguid Elementary School and its nearby basketball court.
Ilagan also said that the incident was not the first time that Cordillera communities reported aerial attacks. A similar incident was reported last May 31 in Malibcong, Abra where the 503rd IB reportedly dropped several bombs some 40 meters away from minors gathering snails in nearby rice fields and 60 meters away from a rice granary.
The lawmaker said, “Aquino’s Oplan Bayanihan has wreaked widespread destruction among indigenous communities. We join calls for the immediate demilitarization of Cordillera communities and hold those responsible for these atrocities accountable.”