AKLAN, Philippines — At dawn on Dec. 30, 2020, police officers raided Indigenous villages within a military reservation camp in the central Philippines in search of alleged members of the New People’s Army, the armed wing of the banned communist party. During the raid, authorities killed nine leaders and arrested 16 members of the Tumandok ethnic group. The Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), who led the synchronized raids on the island of Panay, said the members were rebel sympathizers. Human rights and environmental groups have linked the raids to two major dam projects in the area: one on the Jalaur River and the other on the Panay River. Lawmakers and local groups say the targets of the raid, especially those who were killed, had been opposed to the ongoing construction of the controversial Jalaur dam in the nearby municipality of Calinog. Indigenous groups there have long complained that the project is destroying their ancestral domain. An illustration of the JRMP II high dam. Image courtesy of the National Irrigation Administration JRMP Project Stage II Facebook page. Conflicting narratives The PNP’s internal affairs division has opened an investigation into the raids, but insists those killed and arrested were NPA supporters. Roger James Brillantes, a police colonel who heads the internal affairs office for the Western Visayas region, said at a press conference that the operation was part of a government campaign against rebels. “The PNP did the raid because it is armed with warrant…This article was originally published on Mongabay Läs mer

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