Series of Military Bombing Causes Fear and Destruction in the Communities of Escalante, Negros Occidental and San Joaquin, Iloilo

April 26, 2024


ILOILO – Within a week, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) carried out two separate bombings in the Western Visayas region that created fear among the residents and a serious threat to their livelihood.

On February 21, the 79th IB of the Philippine Army conducted an operation in Escalante City, Negros Occidental where they dropped about 10 bombs through an airstrike. According to the AFP, they responded after a series of alleged “encounters” with the New People’s Army (NPA). However, in a statement, the NPA Northern Negros Guerilla Front denied that there was an encounter before AFP’s bombing.

According to Human Rights Advocates Negros (HRAN), these attacks were not targeted, and the civilians who were injured or killed were only considered “collateral damage.” The group added that this operation is prohibited under international law, particularly in Protocol 1 of the Geneva Conventions.

The operation in Escalante City resulted in the evacuation of nearly 300 families and the LGU suspended classes in nearby 9 barangays.

On the other hand, the 61st IBPA also carried out the same bombing in the mountains of Torocadan, Dongoc, and Langca in San Joaquin town, 55 km away from Iloilo City, on February 28. According to the residents, they were awakened by the sound of explosions and ground movements at around 3:00 in the morning.

According to the 61st IB, they received intel that there were alleged NPAs camping in the mountains of Barangay Lomboyan and that there was an “encounter” that happened between the AFP and the NPA before the bombing. Moreover, BGen. Michael Samson of the 61st IBPA said that the incident was not an airstrike but a direct strike using a canon.

However, residents stand by their claim that there was an airstrike. In a radio interview, Barangay Captain Francisco Sesdoryo of Barangay Lomboyan, said that he saw four fighter jets and not just ordinary helicopters. Meanwhile, other residents also saw what they believed to be bombs being dropped from said fighter jets.

Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) – Panay strongly condemns this act as it is a clear violation of the International Humanitarian Law that prohibits the use of weapons designed to spread terror among the civilian population.

Based on initial reports, around 193 families were affected and many were displaced due to fear. Classes were also suspended in schools that are less than 2 kilometers away from the said place of the incident./PT



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