The Information Bureau of the Communist Party of the Philippines reported on 15 July that bombing operations conducted by the Armed Forces of the Philippines from May 2017 until April 2022 have been gruesomely indiscriminate. The CPP said, “Up to 82.89% of its aerial strikes and shelling operations had no clear targets, more than 35% of which dropped near civilian communities,” killing at least 10 and wounding four more, causing damages to property and resources, widespread trauma, economic displacement and the forced evacuation of more than 10,000 families.
The Updated Report on AFP Aerial Bombing and Strafing, and Shelling contains information about 151 incidents of bombings, strafing and shelling by various units of the AFP, as reported by various units of the New People’s Army, “as well as news stories on incidents publicized by the AFP.” Of the total, 108 involve aerial bombings, 66 of artillery shelling and 49 of aerial strafing.
“One of the worst incidents was the early morning bombing of a Moro community in Maguing, Lanao del Sur, on 1 May 2022, where at least five civilians, including children, were killed,” the CPP said. The bombing damaged the local mosque, as well as homes and farms.
Earlier this year, on 29 January, the AFP dropped at least five bombs on a community of small miners in Santa Clara village, Gonzaga, Cagayan province. “Reports indicate that the AFP mistook the community as an NPA camp… The number of civilian casualties have yet to be determined.”
The intensified aerial attacks and artillery shelling were part of the Duterte government’s counterinsurgency operations against the NPA. However, of the total bombing operations, “only 10 actually hit an NPA camp, three hit abandoned NPA camps,” the report said. The AFP strikes in 2020 and 2021 killed 66 NPA Red fighters and wounded 15 more. There were no NPA casualties in 2017, 2018, 2019 and this year.
The report revealed that the indiscriminate and inaccurate attacks also hit their own forces, killing 68 and wounding at least 20 AFP soldiers and police personnel.
In a related news, Juanito Magbanua, NPA-Negros Island Spokesperson, reported the killing of three civilians by troopers of the AFP’s 62nd Infantry Battalion in Trinidad village, Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental province, in the morning of 26 July. “Former day care worker Christina Jacolbe, her 16-year old daughter Everly Kee and relative Rodan Montero were massacred by butcher soldiers at their hut,” Magbanua said.
The Manila government’s security forces, he said, “have long been senselessly killing farmers and innocent civilians to increase their NPA death count and make their fake encounters believable!”
He called on human rights advocates, church people, the media and civil society “to launch fact-finding missions and expose these merciless atrocities perpetrated by state forces.”