BAGUIO CITY: The recent New People’s Army (NPA) attacks in Ilocos Sur that left 6 soldiers dead on May 1-2, 2014, were carried out allegedly because of the human rights abuses of soldiers belonging to the 50th Infantry Battalion (IB) who are said to be serving the interests of large mining companies in the area.
This was revealed by the Alfredo Cesar Command of the NPA that blamed the army’s peacekeeping forces for the bloody encounter.
“These are part of the NPA’s campaign to render justice for the countless victims of human rights violations committed by the 50th IB and to punish the said battalion for its utter subservience to the interest of large scale and destructive corporate mining,” said NPA spokesperson Armando Silva.
The NPA claimed the 50th IB “is notorious for heinous crimes committed against the people and the revolutionary movement.”
“Since it was deployed in Ilocos Sur in 2001 and later redeployed to encompass parts of Abra, the Mt. Province and Benguet, numerous civilians and activists became victims of illegal arrests and detention, torture and various forms of harassment and intimidation, including the sexual abuse of women,” Silva added.
On May 1, three members of the 50th IB were killed while two were wounded when they were ambushed in Remedios, Cervantes, Ilocos Sur, less than a kilometer away from headquarters.
On May 2, reinforcing troops, also of the 50th IB, were again ambushed in Barangay Malideg, Quirino, Ilocos Sur, about two kilometers away from headquarters. Three soldiers were killed in the encounter while many more were wounded.
In both ambushes, Silva said the rebels “were able to withdraw safely without any casualties.”
The Northern Luzon Command, however, condemned the attacks, saying its troops were on “peace missions” in the province.
From 2005-2011, the NPA said the 50th IB was responsible for bombing and strafing villages in Tubo, Abra yearly.
Operating troops allegedly mutilated and beheaded the corpse of ‘Ka Cholo’ whom the NPA said died in battle in 2008. The soldiers were also blamed for raping two women in Barangay Dilong, Tubo, Abra.
In Cervantes town, Ilocos Sur, Silva said nine civilians from Sitio Maipit, Barangay Comillas Sur were wrongly accused as NPA rebels or supporters and illegally arrested in 2009.
They were reportedly brought to the 5th ID headquarters in Gamu, Isabela and “were subjected to continuous interrogation and mental and psychological torture for weeks,” according to Silva.
In 2011, seven civilians were arrested in different barangays after a battle that ensued between the NPA and the 50th IB in Remedios, Cervantes. They were also accused as rebels and detained for several months.