Apolinario Gatmaitan Command
The plan of the fascist US-Duterte regime to launch a so-called “all-out war” against the revolutionary forces and the people of Negros has already been in the works even prior to the massacre of nine members of the National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW) that took place more than a week ago in Sagay City, Negros Occidental.
For the past several months, the pronouncements and actions of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) concerning Negros have all been ostensibly building up towards yet another period of intensified counter-revolutionary armed suppression in the island.
It has multiplied the deployment of peace and development teams or PDTs in the barrios, to the detriment of course of real peace and development thereabouts. It has in fact added two entire battalions this year, the 15th and 94th IB of the Philippine Army. It has increasingly gone high-tech in military surveillance and sustained reconnaissance sorties that constantly portend combat.
It has maliciously labeled the collective food production initiatives of farm workers in land cultivation areas (LCAs) as front projects for finance of the New People’s Army (NPA). It has publicly emboldened landlords to file criminal charges against starving Negrense tillers who organize LCAs and call for genuine agrarian reform. It has unfailingly been complicit with powerful landed elites in murdering one peasant leader after another.
Clearly, it has never been the NFSW nor the NPA, but the AFP, the Philippine National Police (PNP), the hacienderos and their goons, who have all along been trying to act out a badly written, yet all too fatal “script.”
They have been aggressive in projecting the utter lie that the struggle of thousands of sugar farm workers for higher wages, benefits and free land distribution is unlawful, criminal and terroristic. They have, consequently, been setting up leaders and organizers of the NFSW and the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) as “legitimate” targets not only of vilification but also of the obviously more serious threat of extrajudicial killing.
They have in fact been anxiously waiting for a carnage distressingly as high-profile as the Sagay massacre to happen — one which they could readily, however falsely, blame on militant peasant organizations and the revolutionary movement; one with which to expediently justify further state-sponsored carnage by way of “all-out war,” and possibly in combination with an island-wide imposition of martial law.
The October 20 Sagay massacre, the single most brutal incident of peasant killing under the US-Duterte regime thus far, and the announcement of “all-out war” in Negros by AFP chief of staff Gen. Carlito Galvez a few days later, demonstrate the brutal and devious extent to which the armed apparatus of the state could be mobilized in defense of the big landlords and compradors.
The rulers of Negros are single-minded in protecting their thousands of hectares of landholdings. Land monopoly allows them not only to preserve the old hacienda system in the sugarlands, with all its confounding layers of feudal and semi-feudal exploitation, but also to bankroll into other agricultural or property-based ventures, especially with multinationals, that are as scandalously exploitative and plunderous.
Malacañang’s imaginary red October terror scare, the continuing militarization of the civilian bureaucracy, the impending extention of martial law in Mindanao, Duterte’s recent marching order to “shoot to kill” anyone who would resist arrest, and the still unfolding episode of “all-out war” in Negros, all prefigure a nationwide and open fascist dictatorship scenario playing itself out in the coming months.
Amid the worsening contradiction among factions of the reactionary class, the US-Duterte regime is likely to use martial law to win as many seats in Congress as well as in the local governments. This should not only bolster the chances of the ruling clique’s drive to effect charter change and the shift towards a federal form of government, but also ensure that no impeachment complaint against the president will ever prosper.
Moreover, finding itself in a desperate run-up to make true its thoughtless promise to decisively defeat the revolutionary armed movement by 2019, the US-Duterte regime wants martial law imposed, either in one part or in the whole country, and its counterinsurgency program leveled up in intensity depending on its areas of priority. Thus, the indefinite perpetuation of martial law in Mindanao and the recently launched “all-out war” of the AFP in Negros.
With “all out war” hanging over Negros, a general escalation of militarist counter-insurgency measures is expected to take effect in both provinces o
f the island, presumably with the employment of greater resources and logistics and the deployment of a greater number of personnel.
Gen. Galvez himself has announced that troops from the AFP’s Eastern Mindanao Command will soon be dispatched to augment the four maneuver battalions already deployed in Negros. These units, and their usual mercenary force multipliers like the Special Civilian Active Auxiliary and the Revolutionary Proletarian Army, are likely to carry out more frequent military operations that, as always, do not distinguish armed belligerents from civilian masses.
“All-out war” also entails that the AFP and the PNP will further expand the scope of the ongoing political crackdown on activists of the legal democratic mass movement, especially the organized farm workers. The public in general will be subjected to rights curtailment and threats of the tokhang and martial law types of fascist actions.
The people of Negros, however, are not wont to remain passive. The militant ranks of the democratic and patriotic legal mass movement in the island will stand their ground and continue leading antifascist actions, even as they take special steps in effectively ensuring the safety of their comrades who are known targets of violent attacks by armed state forces. Their brave resistance will awaken a broad range of masses and earn the active support of various democratic sectors.
A sustained civil libertarian campaign against “all-out war,” coupled with increasing mass actions that expose and condemn government’s crisis-generating and anti-people economic policies and its hard-core brand of bureaucratic corruption, should accelerate the formation of a broad united front of anti-Duterte forces in the island, and contribute in the advance of a national people’s movement that will completely isolate and eventually oust the rotten US-Duterte regime.
Tempered in fighting one armed counter-revolutionary campaign after another – from the Marcos-era martial rule, through Operation Thunderbolt, and the more recent Oplan Bayanihan that deployed at least 30 combat companies in the island – the NPA in Negros will not now waver.
Expertly carrying out the principle of launching extensive and intensive guerilla warfare based on an ever widening and deepening mass base, the Red fighters and commanders of the Apolinario Gatmaitan Command, together with the revolutionary masses in the whole island, will frustrate the fascist US-Duterte regime’s “all-out war” in Negros.#