NPA-Negros: The military is depriving the people of much needed resources in the fight against Covid-19

The Apolinario Gatmaitan Command (AGC) of the New People’s Army (NPA) in Negros Island said in a statement today that it is the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), not the NPA, that has been depriving the people “bigtime” of much needed resources amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

This is in response to the 303rd Infantry Brigades’s seeming nonstop tirades of late against the NPA’s alleged exacting of hefty cuts from government cash aids distributed to the rural poor of Negros.

“It is the 303rd Bde chief Col. Inocencio Pasaporte together with the entire rotten military bureaucracy in fact who has a lot of explaining to do as to why the government appears now to be scrimping on funds in the middle of a humanitarian emergency, or why, for example, the Department of Social Work and Welfare is discontinuing disbursement of social amelioration to areas where community quarantine has already been lifted but whose populace continues to suffer the debilitating effects of the two-month long lockdown,” said Ka Juanito Magbanua, spokesperson of the AGC.

According to Magbanua, the Duterte government’s obstinate refusal to deprioritize its all out counterrevolutionary war in the countryside to better focus on the Covid-19 situation has meant the unfortunate withholding as well of billions of pesos of public funds from being spent on much more urgent and essential medical and socioeconomic demands of the current crisis.

“At a time when what’s in dire need of funding are the setting up of mass testing and contact tracing systems, the hiring of an army of medical personnel, the purchase of protective equipment, the construction of quarantine centers, Duterte and his mad military dogs are shopping for choppers and bombs,” Magbanua said, referring to the P75-billion worth of attack helicopters, missiles and other war materiel the government is currently trying to procure from the United States.

Magbanua also chided Duterte’s recent announcement that Malacanang and the AFP are offering a reward of P2-million, land and a new identity to anyone who could either kill an NPA commander or inform the military where NPA units are holding camp.

“Duterte is so hardfisted when it comes to providing ample and expedient financial and food relief to millions whose meager livelihoods had been ruined by his own miserably incompetent and heartlessly repressive Covid response, but he is now quick to offer them generous sums when he wants to deprave them into becoming helpless accomplices to his self-serving and evil plans,” Magbanua said.

The AGC said that Duterte is desperate to intensify the AFP’s attacks on the NPA because he is well aware that it is the armed revolutionary movement that poses the greatest challenge to an out-and-out fascist dictatorship that he ultimately intends to impose and to which his Covid-19 lockdown measures has so far served as immediate prelude,” Magbanua said.

Magbanua, however, pointed out that the AFP is incurring one fatal setback after another against the NPA owing to the latter’s perseverance in employing guerilla tactics and because it continues to genuinely and selflessly serve the democratic interests of the people who in turn give it extensive support.

“The patent tyranny of the US-Duterte regime and the onslaught of its neoliberal policies are causing a deluge of toiling masses to join the NPA while the AFP could only orchestrate the fake surrender of an outrageously massive number of Red fighters,” Magbanua said.

According to Magbanua, the more or less 3,000 NPA fighters who the AFP claims to have surrendered in Negros over the last year alone are either ordinary civilians coerced to attend highly publicized surrender ceremonies or simply a fictitious list.

The AFP is said to have earmarked at least P50,000 worth of so-called livelihood assistance for each surrenderee, an amount legally pooled together from its existing budget and those of a cluster of other national agencies including the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process and the DSWD, consistent with the government’s whole-of-nation approach to “counterinsurgency.” On top of this, according to Magbanua, the AFP has also been arm-twisting local government units to spare the amount of P15,000 for each surrenderee identified to belong juridically to their respective municipalities or cities.

“But those who had been forced to falsely present themselves as rebels returning to the fold were lucky enough to get P10,000 with many receiving just the token amount of P1,000 or the customary package of a few kilos of rice, instant noodles and sardines. By our estimate, the AFP in Negros could have easily pocketed P150 million from its NPA surrender scam from September last year up to around the time that the lockdown started in March,” said Magbanua.

“The history of bureaucrat capitalism in the Philippines is the history as well of bigtime military corruption, a sort of resident evil in the semicolonial and semifeudal ruling system that manifests itself most viciously during dark times of fascist dictatorship,” Magbanua said.###