Sunday, June 25, 2017

CPP/Ang Bayan: Under the Duterte regim’ wars//A year of destruction and killings

Propaganda article from the English edition of Ang Bayan posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines Website (Jun 21): Under the Duterte regim’ wars//A year of destruction and killings

On its first year in office, the Duterte regime inflicted unprecedented destruction to the lives, livelihood and properties of the Filipino people.

Since coming into power, GRP Pres. Rodrigo Duterte seemed to have fulfilled his promise to kill all his enemies. He persistently belittled human-human rights and other processes and laws. In front of police and military personnel, he frequently promised I will take care of you in defense of their crimes and violations.

The regime has relentlessly attacked the people’s rights through wars using bombs and other heavy weapons, in tandem with extrajudicial killings. There have been 9,000 drug-related killings, more than a thousand killed due to bombings and militarization and more than 300,000 forcibly evacuated due to military operations. Majority of the victims are national minorities, peasants, ordinary workers and the urban and rural poor.

Duterte wages his wars in partnership with the corrupt police, fascist military, paid propagandists and factotums in congress and senate. To justify these, he envelops the wars with a fog of disinformation which his propagandists and factotums systematically disseminate.

Police and the military closely monitor information and those offering counter-data or opinions are persecuted.

To win police and military support, he promises its officials and personnel the moon and the stars. He appointed no less than 27 high-ranking military and police officers to his cabinet and government. He persists in bribing them with higher salaries, new arms and added benefits, such as the P50-billion fund supposedly for military dependents. He offers unstinting sympathy to soldiers and police personnel killed in his wars while displaying indifference to lost civilian lives.

Duterte’s wars

Duterte had yet to fully assume his presidential post when his war against drugs took off.
Under this, he and the PNP terrorized urban and rural poor communities. At the height of this one-sided war, around 30 people were killed daily in police operations, most of whom allegedly fought back. According to data from the PNP Double Barrel Secretariat, up to 3,002 have been killed by police from July 1, 2016 to May 23, 2017. This does not include the 5,000 plus killings still under investigation or killings perpetrated by death squads run by or made up of police personnel. Rival drug lords in police custody are blatantly killed, such as the case of Tony Co who was stabbed in a riot inside the Bilibid prison and Mayor Rolando Espinosa who was shot by the police inside a jail in Albuera, Leyte.

Duterte jailed Sen. Leila de Lima, his drug war’s number one critic. He made public three lists naming politicians, judges and entrepreneurs he wanted cowed or persecuted. He insulted a UN official and kicked her out of the country when the latter attempted to investigate the killings. His political rivals filed a case of mass murder against him in the International Criminal Court last May.

Side by side with the war against drugs, the regime implemented the counter-revolutionary Oplan (operation plan) Kapayapaan, which Duterte used to balance out the peace negotiations he was conducting with the NDFP and Moro groups. He intensified this Oplan when the AFP declared an all-out war against the New People’s Army in February. This war worsened when he ordered the AFP to flatten the hills in response to resurgent NPA offensives.

Under Oplan Kapayapaan, up to 67 activists and members of progressive organizations were killed by state forces from July 2016 to June 2017. Most of them were Mindanao peasants.

Arrests of ordinary civilians and harassment of progressives are rampant. In Davao City alone, more than 300 were arbitrarily arrested when martial law was imposed.

Up to 39 political detainees, including 19 NDFP consultants, were freed for the peace negotiations. But up to 39 have also been illegally arrested on trumped-up criminal charges.

They include four NDFP consultants and a bishop. They join more than 400 other political prisoners who are still detained in various jails despite the regime’s obligation to free them all under the CARHRIHL.

Aside from CARHRIHL, the regime also violated its ceasefire agreement with the revolutionary movement. From August 2016 to February, the AFP took advantage of the NPA’s ceasefire to forward deploy troops in 500 barrios and conduct combat and intelligence operations within.

After the CPP and NPA terminated its unilateral ceasefire, the AFP intensified attacks against areas it considers as NPA territories. From March alone, no less than 27 bombing incidents by the AFP have been reported, mostly near or inside communities they consider as NPA bases. These have displaced 4,000 families and killed a civilian. This excludes AFP bombings in Moro civilian communities in Maguindanao and Sultan Kudarat which pro-Maute groups supposedly occupied.

 When Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao this May, the Department of National Defense stated the NPA’s extortion activities as one of its reasons. Despite the DND and the GRP peace panel’s withdrawal of this statement, military forces remained in NPA areas. From May 23, skirmishes between NPA and AFP units continued in different parts of Mindanao. These include encounters in the provinces of Davao, Surigao, Agusan, Cotabato and Bukidnon. The AFP is also active in arrests and fake surrenders of individuals presented as NPA members. Troop deployment did not change even when the AFP was supposedly focused in Marawi. In some areas, they even boosted their presence.

In Marawi, extensive and severe destruction caused by AFP operations is indisputable. The frequency and severity of the bombings apparently aim to leave no structure standing as the AFP destroys the city’s infrastructures, including hospitals, schools, commercial buildings and houses. It has created a grave humanitarian crisis. (Read related article.)

The city’s economy is in tatters. More than half (60% in 2012) of the population live under the poverty line. Majority of them are in small enterprises (small stores, hollow block factories, construction and others). ARMM workers earn the lowest minimum wages (P255-P265) in the entire country. Before the AFP ground the city to dust, inflation was already high (4.5% in 2015, compared to 2.7% in Davao City and 4.1% average for the whole country). Prices further soared after martial law was declared.

Towns dependent on Marawi for their livelihoods are affected. The city serves as the commercial and trade hub for the entire Lanao del Sur. According to estimates by bureaucrats, it will take years and P30 billion to rehabilitate the city.

Even as his martial rule is yet to be concluded, Duterte has already warned that he will declare a second martial law which will be a copy of the Marcos dictatorship if the Supreme Court scraps his current declaration. The longer he stays in power, the clearer become his directions towards implementing more severe suppression campaigns. In the face of criticisms to his rule and his wars, he is more and more relying and toeing the line of the state’s fascist pillar and its imperialist master.

[Ang Bayan is the official newspaper of the Communist Party of the Philippines. Ang Bayan is published in Pilipino, Bisaya, Hiligaynon, Waray and English. Download Ang Bayan from the Philippine Revolution Web Central at  Ang Bayan is published fortnightly by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines.]

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