By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA – Peace advocates condemned the indiscriminate bombings and shellings in the communities of Balbalan, Kalinga.
Justice and Peace Advocates of Kalinga (JPAK) said that on March 9, bombings and gunshots were heard in Balbalan.
Northern Dispatch also reported the bombing after a concerned resident from Balbalan sent a video of the incident.
“We condemn the indiscriminate bombings and shellings and the atmosphere of terror brought about by the continuing military combat operations,” the JPAK said in a statement.
They appealed for the military operations and indiscriminate bombings be stopped because the lives of the civilians, especially children, are put in danger.
“We call on the local government to ensure the safety of the affected residents and provide the necessary assistance,” the group said.
They also call for the Commission on Human Rights, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) peace advocates and government agencies to conduct independent and impartial investigations of the incidents, and to provide immediate assistance to the affected communities.
This is the second reported bombing in the area, said JPAK. On March 5, the group said they also received reports that jet fighters and drones were seen and heard in the mountains of Balbalan at 2:00 a.m. within and around barangay Gawaan.
“Residents woke up to the sound of aircrafts and indiscriminate bombing from operating troops of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. The military aircrafts were also seen and heard by residents of Upper Tabuk and of Limos, Pinukpuk,” the group said.
Cordillera Human Rights Alliance (CHRA) also reported that nine civilians – two were supposed to check on their carabaos, and seven who were supposed to rescue the first two – were held by the military “for clearing purposes.” They were released after seven hours, the group said.
“We raise alarm and concern over the safety and security of civilians in the communities, and the long-term socio-economic impacts of military operations in Balbalan and neighboring municipalities. The gunfires and bombings are reported too close to the civilians and residences. The International Humanitarian Law that guarantees the safety and security of civilians should be ensured,” the CHRA said in a statement.
Meanwhile, JPAK calls on the concerned local government, peace-loving advocates and the general public to “help them campaign and urge the government to return to the table of peace talks and seriously craft resolutions that may help lead to the resolution of the root causes of the ongoing civil war.” (RTS, JJE)