The Armed Forces of the Philippines has been conducting aerial attacks in scores of rural villages in the southern Quezon-Bondoc peninsula and the Cordillera region, both in Luzon, since the start of January 2021, forcing tens of thousands of villagers to evacuate.
Cleo del Mundo, spokesperson of the New People’s Army in Quezon province, said that 22 villages in the towns of Buenavista, Catanauan, Mulanay and San Narciso have been targets of intensive harassment, aerial bombings and machine gun fire by the AFP, after an armed clash between the NPA and AFP in Buenavista town on 5 February 2021.
Human rights group Tanggol Quezon reports at least 26,200 villagers have been forced to evacuate their homes as a result of the bombings. It said that the AFP is also conducting “focused military operations” in 20 villages of Lopez, General Luna and Macalelon, in Quezon province.
About 1,000 armed troopers of the AFP 201st Infantry Brigade, combined with local police units, have been scouring the communities, subjecting residents to illegal arrests, extrajudicial killings and other cases of abuse.
Meanwhile, in the Cordillera region, the AFP Northern Luzon Command has been terrorizing the indigenous Igorot communities with aerial bombings since the onset of 2021. A total of 39 bombs have reportedly been dropped in the communities.
Most recently, on 11 February, the AFP dropped two bombs and strafed farmlands in the village of Tamboan, Besao, Mountain Province. There were no reported armed encounters between the NPA and AFP in the area at the time.
From 5 to 7 January, 23 bombs were dropped in the production areas of the villages of Lacub and Malibcong towns, Abra province. And from 24 to 25 January, the AFP dropped 14 bombs in the forested boundaries of Tubo, Abra and Besao, Mountain Province. Like in southern Quezon province, AFP armed troopers have been carrying out intense military operations in Abra, Mountain Province and Ilocos Sur.
Meanwhile, the revolutionary armed forces have been responding with increasing tactical offensives. According to the CPP Information Bureau, three NPA tactical offensives in January in the Cordillera have resulted in 16 casualties among the AFP mercenary troops.
AFP Southern Luzon Command chief Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade, Jr. boasted in January the acquisition of new Black Hawk attack helicopters, as part of a large shipment of sophisticated war materiel from US. The NPA-Quezon said the AFP is using the bombings to test its new equipment.