The military rule of the US-Duterte regime is in Negros despite the claims that its formal or declared imposition is only in Mindanao.
As early as Duterte’s announcement of Proclamation 360 in the last quarter of 2017 that cancelled the peace talks between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), and the succeeding pronouncement of Proclamation 374 declaring the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and New People’s Army (NPA) as terrorists, the Armed Forces of the Philippines has been adamant in its scheme to escalate the counterrevolutionary armed campaign against the revolutionary movement and the people in the different parts of the country including Negros under Oplan Kapayapaan–the barbaric military campaign of the Duterte regime in accordance with the dictates of the United States.
The series of killings of activists and peasant leaders immediately followed. Elisa Badayos, Karapatan Negros Oriental Coordinator, and Flora Jemola, chairperson of the National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW) in Sagay, were killed before the end of 2017. Badayos was shot to death in Bayawan City, Negros Oriental while Jemola was stabbed to death in Sagay City, Negros Occidental. Prior to the Sagay massacre, Ronald Manlanat and Julius Barellano, local leaders of the NFSW, Jerry Turga, chair of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) – Negros, and Jaime Delos Santos, president of the Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya (PAMALAKAYA) – Guihulngan City were also murdered.
Militarization in the countryside was intensified upon the addition of two battalions to the 303rd Brigade of the Philippine Army. The 15th Infantry Battalion (IB) arrived in March while the 94th IB in June. Psy-war operations of the AFP in Negros became widespread through the so-called Peace and Development Teams that is part of its triad operations involving combat, intelligence and civil-military operations. Human rights violations are concomitant of it. Cases of forced entry and occupation of homes, assault of civilians, banning of residents from going to their farms while military forces are present, forcing the masses to surrender as NPAs or NPA supporters, and more, run rampant.
Extrajudicial killings (EJK) are systematically executed by the AFP and Philippine National Police (PNP). They sow intrigue against activists, mass leaders, progressive organizations and mass struggles by associating them with the CPP and NPA in order to malign them in the eyes of the public ahead of the spate of killings.
The ‘bungakalan’ or Land Cultivation Areas organized by the NFSW and KMP were accused by the 303rd Brigade as milking cows of the revolutionary movement on April of this year. Six months thereafter was the massacre of nine farmers who launched a ‘bungakalan’ in Hacienda Nene, Barangay Bulanon, Sagay City, the most brutal incident of killings under the US-Duterte regime.
The most recent EJK victim is Atty. Benjamin Ramos, Jr. who was shot to death in Kabankalan City last November 6, 2018. The renowned “lawyer of farmers and the exploited masses” became a victim who experienced threats from intelligence agencies and civil military operations since 2006 and was maliciously tagged as lawyer of the NPA. Just this year, pictures of activists and mass leaders, including Atty. Ben’s, were put together with those of alleged NPA members in posters displayed around Moises Padilla. In a Sangguniang Bayan meeting in Cauayan, the 15th IB presented the same personalities as members of the NPA wherein Atty. Ben was named third among alleged frontliners. Atty. Ben Ramos is the 45th victim of political killings in Negros under the US-Duterte regime.
It is AFP/PNP policy to deny accountability and blame these killings on the NPA. Similar with the shooting of Benjie Bayles, a church worker who helped organize farmers in Himamaylan City. Despite the arrest of two 61st IB soldiers and then Department of National Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin’s confirmation that they are soldiers belonging to the 61st IB, the AFP continually denied the murder. Up to now, almost a decade has passed, justice has not been given to the victim.
When the Sagay massacre happened in October 20, 2018 on the hands of the Special Civilian Armed Auxiliary of the AFP, the AFP was quick to blame the NPA and AFP Chief of Staff Carlito Galvez capitalized on this in order to declare an “all out war” in Negros. The 302nd Brigade was immediately redeployed to complement the 303rd Brigade while waiting for additional AFP troops from the Eastern Mindanao Command.
The timing of Col. Benedict Arevalo’s assignment as commanding officer of the 303rd Brigade is consistent with the “all-out war” scheme. He is a clone of his commander-in-chief who uses arrogant words and outright lies intended to defame the revolutionary movement in Negros, confuse the public, intimidate the media, church sector and the people, and justify fascist violence.
Duterte even used the Sagay massacre as basis for his declaration of banning ‘bungkalans’ and the occupation of unused AFP/PNP housing projects. He directed the PNP to shoot those who resist arrest in operations concerning drugs, criminal activity and also personalities suspected to have links with the revolutionary movement.
The actions of the US-Duterte regime together with the executioner AFP/PNP propagate terror among the Negrosanons. This goes to show that in the absence of a formal declaration of Martial Law in Negros, it is already in effect. This proves that the “all out war” and climate of Martial Law in Negros serves the purpose of the reactionary state of securing the land monopoloy of big hacienderos in the Island.
All these form part of Duterte’s desperate desire to intensify plunder of government coffers and exploitation of neoliberal policies dictated by foreign monopoly capitalists and local big bourgeois compradors, brutally oppress the revolutionary movement and other nationalist and democratic struggles of the people, and continually concentrate power and corruption within his family and cronies.
The Negrosanons and the whole Filipino people with the revolutionary forces are not terrified of Duterte’s fascist dictatorship. Like the fight against the counterrevolutionary armed campaigns of the previous regimes, the people will courageously face the tyranny and fascism of the current regime. Spurn outright intrigues and lies of the AFP and PNP especially that of Duterte-clone Col. Arevalo. Expose and oppose the violations of human rights, the escalating militarization in the countryside; and systematic killings of farmers, fisherfolk, workers, activists, mass leaders and supporters of mass struggles through expansive protest movements and building the broadest anti-fascist alliance of all democratic forces in the region.
The people has nothing to gain from a system ruled by US imperialism and the local ruling clique of big bourgeois compradors and land lords. As always, the advance of the armed struggle is the solution to foil the open military rule nationwide, overthrow the US-Duterte regime and achieve genuine freedom. Intensify tactical offensives to frustrate combat operations in the countryside and weaken the enemy; launch widespread agrarian revolution principally among the despotic and powerful land lords; and further expand the mass base until the organs of political power in the locality are established. The Apolinario Gatmaitan Command calls on all the people, specially the youth, support and join the NPA, the true fighters of the masses! ###