KMP claims ‘non-stop military ops’ forced 700 to flee residences

Published March 25, 2019, 8:58 AM

by Patrick Garcia


By Chito Chavez

The militant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) insisted the recent evacuation of residents of Toboso, Negros Occidental was a result of the non-stop military operations led by the 79th Infantry Battalion (79th IB) of the Philippine Army.

KMP Chairperson Danilo Ramos said hundreds of community residents were forced to evacuate over the weekend for fear of their lives.

He added the affected residents were scared the military and police would implement Oplan Sauron in their community like what happened in Guihulngan, Negros Oriental last December 208 when six residents were killed “Tokhang”-style, and several more were arrested for trumped-up charges of illegal possession of firearms.

The group claimed almost 700 residents from Escalante City and Toboso towns in northern Negros started to evacuate last Friday, March 22.

According to local peasant cooperative Pakigdait sa Kalambuan (PSK), on February 2, soldiers who identified themselves as members of the 11th Infantry Battalion stormed the peasant community in Sityo Magtuod, Brgy. Bug-ang, Toboso.

It added the AFP soldiers ransacked the homes of the residents and threatened to close down the farmers’ cooperative.

“The military conducted a ‘census of all household members’, and counted all the adult males in the village. The military threatened that if anyone will leave the community or disappear in an event of an armed encounter, the military would presume that the residents joined the News People’s Army (NPA),’’ KMP said.

“These activities of the Philippine Army has spread fear in our community, especially among the peasants, women and children. This has also affected our livelihood because farmers are now afraid to go tend their farms and plant food crops for the local cooperative. The army threatened us that they will return to our community again and again in the course of their operations,” added PSK chairman Rolan Alon.

PSK is a local chapter of the National Federation of Sugar Workers in Negros.

He noted that farmers and residents of the said village are calling on local government officials, the priests and Church people and local media to help demand the stopping of military operations.

“We only want to live in peace and and without any worries,” Alon added.

Last March 4, Alon noted members of the 79th IB, Special Action Forces-Philippine National Police (SAF-PNP) put up a checkpoint in Sitio Alamay, Brgy. Tabun-ac in Toboso town and surrounded the house of Arjie Marangga, a local leader of NFSW in Toboso and a barefoot reporter of Aksyon Radyo Bacolod.

He added that incident was just one of the many cases of harassment and intimidation against progressives and activists in Negros, noting that last November 2018, people’s lawyer Ben Ramos was gunned down by still unidentified assailants.