The Cordillera Peoples Alliance vehemently condemns the continued attacks of the 24th Infantry Batallion of the Philippine Army against indigenous communities in the municipalities of Malibcong and Sallapadan in Abra province.
The Abra Human Rights Movement has reported that since May 2018, soldiers belonging to the notorious 24th IB continue to commit human rights violations in the conduct of their military operations, which victimized individuals and communities belonging to the Mabaka, Banao and Gubang indigenous groups in Malibcong. These include:
Up to the present, the communities in Malibcong continue to experience harassment and intimidation by the 24th IB soldiers whom they have often seen engaging in gambling and drinking alcohol, making women and children vulnerable to abuse.
Meanwhile in Sallapadan, the 24th IB bombed parts of the forests and swidden farms of the Masadiit Itneg communities in Ud-udiao and Sallapadan Barrio last July 25, destroying portions of the forests and swidden farms that are the the main source of livelihood of the people in the area.
It was also the 24th IB that has bombed forests and farmlands in Malibcong in March 2017, following Duterte’s declaration of “Flatten the Hills” under the regime’s counter-insurgency policy Oplan Kapayapaan.
Clearly, the 24th IB has no regard to the basic rights of indigenous communities in Abra. They are the unwanted visitors in our ancestral lands whose main objective is to harass, intimidate and victimize civilians, peasants, women, elderly and youth who have organized themselves to fight the entry of destructive mining and energy projects that plunder and destroy our lands.
The 24th IB also clearly serves as an investment defense force of the government. The militarized communities in Malibcong and victims of human rights violations are mostly those opposed to destructive projects in their lands, such as the plunderous mining exploration application of the Cordillera Exploration Company Inc. - Nickel Asia (CEXCI Exploration Application No. 14), which covers 13,269 hectares of land.
We demand the immediate pull-out of the 24th IB from our homes, barangay halls, schools and indigenous communities. We also demand the AFP to stop its vicious attacks against indigenous peoples in the region.
We also seek the support of our fellow Filipinos and the international community to put pressure on the Duterte regime to put a stop to the intensifying attacks of the Duterte government against indigenous peoples.
Secretary General, CPA