The US-Duterte regime is setting the stage for a repeat of the PNP raid in the bakwit school in University of San Carlos in Cebu City—this time, it is training its guns against the Lumad in Haran sanctuary of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines in Davao City. As Duterte himself professed, the vicious vilification and literal assault against the Lumad is part of the fascist regime’s counter-insurgency campaign.
Even as we raise the alarm for this pending flexing of state terrorism, the revolutionary forces in Southern Mindanao continue to demand justice for the victims of the violent raid in Cebu City, which included children, teachers and Lumad elders. At the start of the Women’s Month, we especially condemn the continued detention in isolation of Roshelle Porcadilla, one of the arrested teachers during the February 15 raid in the USC. The inhumane, notwithstanding illegal, circumstances of her arrest and detention speak volumes of how Duterte’s fascist armed agents are openly using torture to break Teacher Roselle, a woman of peasant origin, and use her as yet another pawn in its counter-insurgency war.
The heavily-funded fake news machinery of the Duterte regime’s National Task Force to End Local Communist Conflict has hijacked and muddled the current narrative of the Talaingod Manobo’s struggle. The old bogeyman stories of Communist indoctrination, kidnapping and human trafficking are again being woven by the state propaganda machinery as a prelude and excuse to an imminent assault against the Lumad’s sanctuary.
These desperate machinations to paint the attacks against the Lumad in their sanctuary as “rescue operations” are in fact state terrorism, plain and simple. They are in keeping with the NTF-ELCAC’s bid to ebb the tide of widespread criticism against its gargantuan P19-B budget, the biggest chunk of which has been cornered by the corrupt alliance of AFP and PNP generals and sycophantic politicians preparing their war chest for the 2022 elections in Davao City and in Southern Mindanao.
In grandstanding to “rescue” the Lumad in Haran, for instance, Davao del Norte Governor Edwin Jubahib is vending the construction of housing projects in the sitios of Dulyan and Tibucag, where they plan to jam-pack the Manobo people in vain effort to monitor and restrict their movement. Clearly out of his depth, the governor, whose reactionary provincial government is currently home to Regional Task Force – ELCAC’s Region 11 operations, wants the public to believe that the Talaingod Manobo are in Haran because they are merely homeless. He does not want to underscore the fact that the RTF-ELCAC’s modus operandi, with its penchant for relentless military operations, aerial bombings, selling out ancestral domains, paramilitary conscription, closing down Lumad schools, harassments and killings, to name but a few, is the very reason why the Lumad have decided to leave their communities in Talaingod and seek sanctuary in churches and the academe.
The US-Duterte regime’s blitz of state terror is all the more pushing the Lumad to wield their collective right to self-determination and push back, whether in the streets or even in the countryside in the ranks of the New People’s Army. When the bourgeois democratic space has been rendered not only constricted but fatal due to state-sponsored fascism, the indigenous people like the Talaingod Manobo are more than justified to rise up in arms.
The enemy has made its intent plain as day and there is no other recourse but to mobilize and mount all resistance to thwart its evil plans.
We urge all allies in the academe, the international community, the religious sector, health professionals and nationalist politicians to continue standing with the Lumad in Haran. The US-Duterte regime’s schemes can only be foiled when those who stand for truth and justice are as adamant to refuse to be silent as the enemy is to continue waging its war against the oppressed.
It is clear that this anti-people counter-insurgency is fast becoming Duterte’s centerpiece program. He has zeroed in on quashing not only the revolutionary aspirations of the oppressed but even the exercise of legal and democratic rights of the masses, especially the Lumad and peasants of Mindanao. In so doing, the tyrant himself has finally offered the final nail on the coffin of his reactionary presidency.