Cordillera youth group hits AFP-imposed food blockade in Abra

Regional formation of youth group Anakbayan Cordillera demanded the government to cease their food blockade in war-affected areas in Abra as food is getting “scarce” among civilian population in the area.

Reports from Anakbayan Abra disclosed that army checkpoints were placed since March 16, prohibiting the entry of food while military operations against alleged members of the New People’s Army are still ongoing in Malibcong, Abra.

The group cited that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is deliberately violating international humanitarian laws in the conduct of war, saying civilians were deprived of their right to humanitarian aid.

Part 4 Art. 4 Par. 6 of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIL) states that “all persons deprived of their liberty for reasons related to the armed conflict shall be treated humanely, provided with adequate food and drinking water, and be afforded safeguards as regards to health and hygiene, and be confined in a secure place.”

“Government military operations seems to target civilians. Instead of providing relief supplies for the communities they ravaged, they even prevented the people to meet their needs,” said Luke Bagangan, secretary general of Anakbayan Cordillera.

Bagangan cited incident in March 17, saying that sacks of rice to be used for the fiesta of Brgy Bangilo in Malibcong town were held by the AFP.

The group expressed disappointment as almost no relief came from the government despite disruption of civilian livelihood brought by military operations.

“As of today, farmers cannot even go to their farmlands to tend their crops and farm animals. If they do, the AFP may either misidentify them as members of NPA or they may be used as AFP-human shields in their operations,” said Bagangan.

The youth leader cited that the recent “AFP air bombing” in forests and farmlands of the said town forces civilians to leave their farmlands.

Moreover, the AFP was urged to stop their “harassment” of humanitarian volunteers from different human rights groups.

The demand came after Anakbayan monitored several reports claiming that non-residents of Malibcong, especially human rights watchdogs, who failed to present identification cards were barred from entering the town.

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