Lumads flee as military bombs Kalabugao plains in NorMin

Members of the New People’s Army of Northern Mindanao Guerilla Front 68 in formation during a ceremony in Barangay Tikalaan, Talakag town in Bukidnon in this file photo taken last April 17, 2017 when the NPA released a police officer it earlier held captive. MIndaNews photo by FROILAN GALLARDO

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/ 14 December) – Lumads or Indigenous Peoples fled their homes as government planes bombed suspected New People’s Army guerrilla bases in Kalabugao plains in Northern Mindanao ahead of the 50th anniversary of the Communist Party of the Philippines on Dec. 26.

Col. Edgardo de Leon, commander of the 403rd Infantry Brigade said the bombings and military operations are focused in the mountain villages in the Kalabugao plains straddling the  tri-boundary of Agusan del Sur, Bukidnon and Misamis Oriental.

“We discovered a major NPA hideout that is probably a projected venue of the CPP anniversary celebration,” de Leon said.

An NPA source identified as Ka Emil confirmed the bombings have been going on in the past 13 days and have dislocated the Higaonon lumads around barangays Hagpa and Kalabugao in Impasugong town, Bukidnon.

He blamed the local government officials of allowing the military to harass the lumad.

“Classes were stopped as schoolchildren refused to go to school while the elderly and pregnant women left their villages to live with their relatives far away from the fighting,” Ka Emil said.

The CPP has declared a unilateral two-day ceasefire from Dec. 24 midnight until Dec. 26 for the party’s 50th anniversary.

“No amount of military offensives by the AFP can stop the Filipino people and their revolutionary forces from mounting rallies and other mass gatherings and meetings all over the country to celebrate the Party’s achievements and victories,” the party’s statement published in their website, Philippine Revolution Web Central said.

Unlike in the past, the Philippine government did not reciprocate the ceasefire offered by the communist and instead ordered its military forces to continue to hunt the rebels.

The continuing communist insurgency was cited as one of the reasons cited by Philippine Congress to extend Martial Law in Mindanao for another year. (Froilan Gallardo/MindaNews)