The National Democratic Front of the Philippines in Southern Mindanao vehemently condemns the series of human rights violations perpetrated against two civilian women over the past week, as the ghastly extent of the US-Duterte regime’s culture of impunity and misogyny continues to take root in the town of Magpet in North Cotabato province. The recent attacks on women come at the heels of the implementation of Duterte’s newly-minted Anti-Terrorism Law.
Imelda Ansabo, a leader of the indigenous people in Magpet, was heinously murdered last August 23 in Sitio Tagaytay, Brgy. Mahongcog. In front of her pregnant daughter, Ansabo was shot to death by four men, who, apparently unsatisfied with the act, went on to hack her neck and other parts of her body.
A few days prior to this, 62-year old Gloria Lanutan was arrested in a “raid” by a joint contingent of the 72nd Infantry Battalion and the local PNP in her home on August 17 in the spurious charge of having “links” with the New People’s Army. To embellish the ludicrous accusation, the raiding team maliciously planted weapons and explosives in order to justify their illegal arrest and detention of the elderly woman.
Ansabo belongs to a clan known to be consistently critical of corrupt local reactionary officials and despotic landlords in the highland of Magpet. Her brother, Camilo, was a victim of state-perpetrated trumped-up charge, complete with the customary planted evidence of ammunition and explosives, and continues to languish in jail in Magpet.
The fascist regime is bound to reduce Ansabo’s murder to a simple case stemming from a mere land dispute between families. It is certainly trying to gloss over the fact that the incident is the direct result of the AFP’s coddling of armed paramilitaries such as the Bagani and Black fighters that it uses to beef-up its mercenary forces in waging its anti-people counter-insurgency war. For years, these paramilitaries under the command and control of the AFP have been able to get away with serious human rights violations, murder among them, in the pervasive culture of impunity made more blame-proof by Duterte’s fascism and terrorism.
It must be noted that in April 2017, Red fighters were able to round-up and seize high-powered arms from a despotic barangay captain in Brgy. Mahongcog. At the bidding of the AFP, the weapons were being used to sow fear among peasants and Lumad in the community, defend the land-grabbing interests of the local feudal gentry, and go after suspected sympathizers of the revolutionary movement.
Lanutan, meanwhile, is a straight-forward and unambiguous warning to anyone who dares to defy the present fascist reactionary regime. With the Anti-Terrorism Law in full swing, state armed forces have no qualms about throwing civilians, even elderly women, in jail. At the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, the fascist AFP troops in North Cotabato were busy arresting and detaining civilians on false charges and planted evidence. In July, they arrested farmer Jun Navales in Brgy. Inac, Magpet, and, a month later arrested farmer Durex Tanduyan of Brgy. Badiangon, Arakan town.
To be sure, Ansabo and Lunutan’s cases are no longer a novelty under Duterte’s draconian rule. Nonetheless, they manifest how this fascist regime and its armed forces easily victimize civilians especially the most vulnerable sectors—women and the indigenous people.
The Filipino people are outraged and demand justice to be served to these women, who should not remain an additional statistic to the long list of victims of the US-Duterte regime’s terrorism and misogyny. We also reiterate our call for all paramilitary forces being used by the AFP in its counter-insurgency war to be disbanded and made to answer for the crimes they have committed.
Revolutionary forces in Southern Mindanao must resolutely fight the dying US-Duterte regime, which finds it more and more necessary to bare its fascist fangs in order to keep its head above water. The Anti-Terrorism Law, its latest misnamed iteration of state fascism, must be confronted and defeated through all means of unyielding resistance as we topple down the real terrorist in our midst—the US-Duterte regime.