NPA seeks justice for all in punishing the 19th IB*
Fr. Santiago Salas
June 1, 2011
The National Democratic Front-Eastern Visayas said today that the New People's Army in Leyte is making the 19th IB pay for its crimes, and that battalion commander Lt. Col. Federico Tutaan is doggedly covering up his unit's losses as well as its various atrocities. "The 8th Infantry Division through Col. Tutaan had long gloated that the NPA was finished in Leyte," said Fr. Santiago Salas, NDF-EV spokesperson. "But the NPA had made great advances in recent years, and from March 2010 to March 2011 inflicted losses on the 19th IB of at least 40 soldiers killed in action and 12 wounded in action, and the confiscation of high-powered rifles and other weapons. While Col. Tutaan denies the 19th IB's losses, it is no wonder then that military deployment in Leyte has been upgraded from a single battalion to approximately a brigade under the 802nd Ibde, now based in the island."
Fr. Salas also said the 19th IB had been touted as fearsome while it is in fact a "symbol of cowardice and impunity" for going unpunished despite accumulating human rights violations under three administrations. "While the 19th IB is full of military swagger, it is in fact the embodiment of cowardice because the majority of those it killed are helpless civilians or NPA captives. From Estrada to Aquino, the 19th IB had killed 27 civilians in four massacres in Northern Samar and Leyte, the latest victims being botanist Leonard Co and his two assistants last November 2010. The 19th IB also summarily executed Leyte CPP-NPA cadres Bibiano Rentillosa and Antonio Ramos, who were captured alive but killed while under custody. No one has been punished for these crimes."
Fr. Salas also slammed the AFP's Oplan Bayanihan as a "bayanihan of butchers" because it is the same old "counterinsurgency" scheme with a different signboard. "Under the table of peace negotiations with the NDFP, the Aquino administration is waging Oplan Bayanihan to destroy or cripple the NPA in the next three years. Despite the sugarcoating of "peace and development", Oplan Bayanihan remains essentially a military solution focused on combat, intelligence and civil-military operations. This means the climate of impunity prevails to give notorious human rights violators like the 19th IB the license to commit further atrocities."
The NDF-EV spokesperson also said the NPA is stepping up offensives to defend the people and punish human rights violators and other enemies of the people. "Without the armed struggle, the people have nothing against the human rights violators and other oppressors and exploiters. The cries of the victims of social injustices are ignored or stifled by the reactionary ruling system. It is the responsibility of the NPA to punish notorious fascist units such as the 19th IB. It is the main task of the NPA to destroy the fascist machinery of the state so the people can seize political power and attain national freedom and democracy. In the armed struggle, there is hope and justice for all."