In Leyte, troops of the Armed Forces of the Philippines led by 802nd Infantry Brigade commander Gen. Lope Dagoy continue to use the Enhanced Community Livelihood and Integration Program (E-CLIP), the Duterte regime’s program for forced surrenders, to conduct large-scale land-grabbing among poor peasants and corruption of millions of public funds.
Gen. Dagoy offers relocation, money and benefits under the E-CLIP to residents in San Isidro and Calubian towns so despotic landlords and bureaucrat-capitalists can again seize thousands of hectares of lands the peasants have rightfully won through successful anti-feudal campaigns. Should they accept his offer, they must surrender as members of the New People’s Army and leave their land. To force their hand, he commands his mercenary troops of the 93rd Infantry Battalion and 78th Infantry Battalion to attack them and frighten them into surrendering.
The military, big landlords and local bureaucrats inconspicuously collude to conduct this scheme. Recently, Gen. Dagoy’s right hand man Thelma “Mayang” Pundulanan promised each of the 600 families three hectares of land, housing benefits worth P400,000, and livelihood benefits worth P15,000 in exchange for them leaving their land and surrendering. Escorted by an entire squad of soldiers, last May Pundulanan brought several individuals they identified as leader-peasants to a military camp in Ormoc so members of the landlord clan Larrazabal can offer to buy their lands. When the peasants refused, she brought them to Leyte 3rd District Representative Vicente “Ching” Veloso who then offered “relocation” and other benefits under E-CLIP in exchange for their land.
The peasants had already won not less than 2,018 hectares of land from the Larrazabals, who systematically sequestered them in the 1980s. This land is part of the almost 15,000 hectares in different parts of San Isidro, Villaba, and Calubian they had won from the Larrazabal, Torres, Pongos and Locsin clans in the history of their anti-feudal campaigns. By 2018, around 300 families have positioned themselves in 708 hectares of land. They insist that the Larrazabals have not been honoring their past agreement that the landlords will leave them to till their land. Hence, they decided to launch once again an anti-feudal campaign against landgrabbing.
Since then, and especially after a soldier was killed in their own offensive against a unit of the NPA last December, elements of the military under Gen. Dagoy’s command have been conducting sustained operations in their area. Since February, a whole platoon of 93rd IB troops have been camping in Brgy. Taglawigan, San Isidro. Meanwhile, soldiers illegally arrested peasants Emilio Adrague, Jr. and Nathaniel Agustin, whom they threatened and forced into identifying innocent civilians accused of supporting the NPA. They eventually forced into surrendering the 600 families to whom they promised E-CLIP benefits, who feared suffering Gen. Dagoy’s terror when he was still commander of the 19th IB during Oplan Bantay Laya II of the Arroyo regime. Around 1,200 individuals were also forced to surrender under the guise of a “peace rally” in San Isidro last April.
Gen. Dagoy’s true objective as promoter of E-CLIP is the corruption of public funds. To each NPA surrenderer he promises benefits worth at least P620,000, where P450,000 will be for housing, P15,000 as immediate financial assistance, P50,000 as livelihood assistance, P5,000 for conditional cash transfer, P100,000 worth of livelihood kit, and additional benefits should firearms be surrendered, too. This means the program has allocated a budget of P744 million for the 1,200 who “surrenderred” in San Isidro. Millions of pesos of this have surely been pocketed by Gen. Dagoy and his cohorts among the upper military ranks, because hardly any of the surrenderers report receiving their entitled benefits. Gen. Dagoy incessantly promotes E-CLIP because the more the military forces into surrendering, the greater the amount he and other officials can swindle. Meanwhile, he makes the landlords happy by supplying the soldiers who serve as mercenaries driving away the peasants from the lands they have been tilling.
Under the Duterte regime, landlessness remains an epidemic. Whatever land redistribution or relocation Duterte and his dogs in the AFP present is fake, corrupt and innately fascist. Through the E-CLIP, his fascist troops forcibly take the poor peasants’ lands, reconcentrate land into the hands of despotic landlords and colluding bureaucrats, and secure the land monopoly in the countryside. Ranking officials in the military are left fattened by the millions of pesos of public funds they have swindled from the program. #