An alumnus of Southern Mindanao’s fascist coterie has once again ascended to the highest office in the Armed Forces of the Philippines, continuing the long-held tradition of US subservience, fascism and mercenary corruption in the GRP’s main armed state machinery. The appointment of Lt. Gen. Filemon Santos, Jr., erstwhile commander of the Eastern Mindanao Command, as chief of staff of the AFP portends to a more difficult path to the achievement of just peace and will exacerbate the already wretched state of human rights in the country.
Lt. Gen. Santos’ steady stellar scaling of the corrupt and brutal ladder of AFP leadership has made him one of the most detested AFP commanders in Southern Mindanao since starting as an officer of the 39th Infantry Battalion, a cabal of mercenaries with a notorious human rights record in the region. Since January 2019, he sat in the highest helm of the EMC when AFP troops victimized children and the youth, including 2 toddlers in Villanueva, Misamis Oriental in January and 2 underaged girls in Kitaotao, Bukidnon in February. He revelled in triumph as his minions murdered 2 civilian youths and later branded them as members of the NPA in Pantukan, Davao de Oro in March, executed a farmer Tokhang-style in Arakan, North Cotabato in September and committed many other grisly crimes.
He deputized paramilitary forces Bagani and Alamara during the overdrawn martial law implementation in Mindanao to sow intrigue and mayhem among Lumad communities in order to force them to surrender as “NPA sympathizers” and perpetrate cold-blooded murder in Talaingod, Davao del Norte, Kitaotao, Bukidnon, Arakan, North Cotabato and in the hinterland barrios of Davao City.
Lt. Gen. Santos oversaw the EMC’s implementation of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict in the regions of Southern Mindanao, Soccksargen and Caraga. For the entirety of 2019, he mastered the greedy art of deception of parading civilians as armed combatants, forcing or faking surrenderees, overhyping their “achievements” by coercing barangay and municipal GRP officials to sign persona non-grata declarations, and siphoning millions in public coffers from specious programs under the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP). He spat on international war protocols in allowing his rabid dogs to summarily execute an hors de combat NPA member early last month.
Lt. Gen Santos has an outright aversion to the peace process and its advances, arresting and jailing peace consultants like Benito and Wilma Tiamzon in 2014, and expressing neither adherence nor support to the formal negotiations. He actively sabotages the peace process, forward deploying troops in NPA areas even during the GRP’s unilateral ceasefire declaration. Up to now, there are operating combat troops in hinterland areas in 5 provinces around Southern Mindanao, with the latest in at least 6 barangays in New Bataan and Compostela towns in Davao de Oro.
Like all AFP chiefs before him, Lt. Gen Santos is a US imperialist lackey to the core, fully indoctrinated in the US counterinsurgency tactics and strategies, and is therefore woefully ignorant of the root causes of the people’s armed revolution. Under his watch, Southern Mindanao became a virtual garrison, with 17 combat battalions of the AFP and the PNP marauding the hinterlands of the region. This show of sheer superior force proved futile, however, as NPA units, with the boundless support of the peasant and Lumad masses, parried enemy forces’ fascist attacks and launched tactical offensives, agrarian campaigns and mass base building.
Lt. Gen. Santos, in assuming his new post, declares an imminent end to the revolutionary armed struggle of the Filipino people. He is not the first one to do so, and neither will be the last to fail miserably in such fruitless, brainless attempt.