DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/ 23 May) – A lawmaker has raised concern over what she called the “indiscriminate” use of aerial bombs in a village here by the military, saying it had destroyed farms and caused fears among the residents.
Gabriela Party list Rep. Arlene Brosas was referring to the bombing run in Barangay Dominga during a military operation against the New People’s Army (NPA) last May 10.
She called it an “economic blockade” that is slowly killing the farmers by depriving them of their livelihood.
The progressive lawmaker joined the fact-finding mission conducted on May 20 to 21 in Barangay Dominga where 251 families, or 1,041 individuals, were displaced due to encounters between government and rebel forces from May 6-11.
Aerial bombs could also potentially damage the environment, she said.
Last May 12, Capt. Alenel Valles, civil military operations officer of the 3rd Infantry Battalion admitted using aerial bombs as “close air support” provided by the Philippine Air Force.
He said they made sure the area was clear of residents before commissioning it.
He also dismissed as “propaganda” the allegations of human rights violations in Barangay Dominga.
Brosas said it was never acceptable to use aerial bombs, as it would only affect the children, who have grown anxious of the presence of the soldiers and helicopters hovering above their houses.
“The problem with indiscriminate aerial bombing, the communities would be affected. The military could not just home in on their target and drop bombs but they must also protect the lives of the people and their livelihood,” she said.
She said she believes there are other means to combat the communist rebels without resorting to aerial bombs that would cause huge damage on properties of civilians, in particular the small farmers.
“Hindi lang po mga tao, pero pati na ang kanilang kabuhayan. Kapag nagutom, in short, pinapatay mo sila, unti unti nga lang walang aanihin at kakainin (Not only would it affect the people, but also their livelihood. If they go hungry, you are slowly killing them because they have nothing to harvest and nothing to eat),” she said.
She added depriving the farmers of their livelihood due to military operations is a human rights issue in itself.
Jay Apiag, spokesperson of Karapatan-Southern Mindanao, reported 19 incidents of aerial bombing in the region that affected about 6,000 families.
He claimed residents saw six bombs dropped by the military last May 10 in Barangay Dominga. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)