The National Democratic Front-Eastern Visayas today commemorates with the people of Sag-od the anniversary of the brutal massacre perpetrated by armed goons during the Marcos regime. Almost four decades later, the struggle for genuine peace and justice for the victims remains relevant as the Duterte regime continues to wield state terrorism as a weapon of suppression against the people of Sag-od and the rest of Samar island.
In 1981, armed goons serving as security guards for then-martial law administrator Juan Ponce Enrile’s logging operations brutally murdered 45 peasants whom they falsely tagged as NPA members. They almost wiped out the entire village after raping dozens of women and indiscriminately strafing the residents, young and old.
The Duterte regime uses the same brand of state terrorism against the people of Sag-od. In 2019, hundreds of families from Sag-od and nearby village of Caputoan were forced to evacuate after the 8th Infantry Division-Philippine Army dropped eight 500-pound bombs on the peasants’ farmlands as part of a month-long combat operation in Las Navas town. This costly Joint Task Force Storm, which targeted the New People’s Army as well as civilians whom they accuse as NPA supporters, failed to wipe out a single NPA unit. Moreover, it failed to crush the militancy of the people of Sag-od and their long tradition of opposition to state fascism.
As declared by Duterte’s Memorandum Order 32, the entire island of Samar is under a de facto martial law. In the time of the pandemic, the 8th ID has maximized the lockdowns and the economic crisis to implement population control and suppress democracy. have intensified their “counter-insurgency” campaign, Red tagging civilians left and right and forcing entire peasant communities to surrender. They have shelled farmlands and forced peasants at gunpoint to surrender or be prohibited from tending to their rice fields. They secure environmentally destructive projects, such as in San Jose de Buan town where clearing operations persist for the large-scale mining of bauxite which is expected to destroy the livelihood of thousands of residents.
Duterte and Marcos are the same monsters, the former only far worse. Duterte plagues the people of Sag-od and all the people of Samar with the same terrorist regime that is a mere regurgitation of persisting semicolonial and semifeudal conditions. The grave abuses wrought upon the people can be righted when together with the broad masses, they destroy the ruling system and usher in national and social liberation.
In the immediate, they can inspire the people to remain brave and militant in the midst of the Duterte regime’s fascist onslaught. They can lead the broad united front calling to remove Duterte from power and to end his tyranny.#