Crimes against the masses highlight AFP’s week-old all-out war in SMR

NDFP | Southern Mindanao Region
Press Statement | February 17, 2017

Following Pres. Rodrigo Duterte’s termination of the GRP’s sham unilateral ceasefire, AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Eduardo Año on February 4 announced that his troops “will go after the NPA to prevent them from conducting atrocities and criminal activities against the public.” On February 7, GRP’s Secretary of Defense Delfin Lorenzana declared all-out war against the NPA, saying the Red army is a “security threat” they will “hunt down.” 10ID Commander Maj. Gen. Rafael Valencia followed suit, subsequently proclaiming that their operations will “spare civilians from extortion cases of the NPA.”

In the following week since these grandstanding pronouncements and despite their self-professed deployment of almost all of their ground troops, all the AFP is able to show for itself, however, is a grisly testament to what the all-out war has in store for the masses in Southern Mindanao. These are the facts that the AFP in the region tries desperately to sweep under the rug:

  • On February 6, AFP and PNP operations summarily killed Glenn Ramos, an activist, in Brgy. Maa, Davao City and Emelito Rotimas, a purok leader, in Brgy. Lapu-lapu, Maco, Compostela Valley. In Pantukan, Compostela Calley, Edwin Catog, an activist-farmer, was killed by motorcycle-riding tandem on February 16. The AFP claimed that Ramos resisted arrest and fought back in a shootout which resulted in his death. It is clear the AFP and PNP are trying to duplicate the vigilante-style killing of Oplan Tokhang in the summary-executions of civilians and activists under Oplan Kapayapaan.
  • Almost 1,000 families or more than 5,000 individuals have become victims of forced evacuation due to AFP troops’ shelling of 105mm Howitzer artillery cannon in the villages of Macopa, Kibagyo and Bullucan in Laak, Compostela Valley on February 11 and in several villages of Manay, Davao Oriental on February 1 and the aerial bombing in Lupon, Davao Oriental on February 14. These indiscriminate bombardments have resulted in several reported cases of civilian injuries and left homes and livelihood damaged in peasant and Lumad communities already reeling from feudal exploitation and the recent spell of floods and heavy rains.
  • On February 12, health workers, doctors, scientists and representatives of the GRP’s Department of Social Welfare and Development conducting a medical mission in Talaingod, Davao del Norte were threatened by the fanatical paramilitary Alamara of the 60IB.
  • Since the NDFP-initiated peace forum on January 10, masses, allies, members of the private sector and even officials of the GRP local government unit who participated in the activity continue to be harassed and in constant surveillance by the 60IB in New Corella, Davao del Norte. In Davao City, meanwhile, anti-communist posters that lumped together the CPP-NPA-NDFP with legal progressive organizations were plastered all over the city’s thoroughfares as an evident prelude to the crackdown of activists and progressives.
  • The illegal arrest of NDFP consultant Ariel Arbitrario and his civilian companion Roderick Mamuyac on February 6 lay bare the lengths the AFP and the GRP reactionary courts will go to to flout its own laws and sabotage the advances in the peace process. Legal maneuvers such as trumped-up charges and fabricated criminal cases have always been a convenient pretext of the GRP to put civilians and revolutionaries behind bars.

CIA-henchman Sec. Lorenzana and the AFP’s fascist top brass are quick to decry exaggerated lies about NPA atrocities when it is their rabid counterinsurgency Oplan Kapayapaan that is spawning scores of savage crimes against Lumads, peasants, activists and the people.

Around the region, revolutionary organizations have reported that the 10ID has deployed almost all of its ground troops and paramilitaries in the hinterlands of Veruela, Loreto and Trento in Agusan del Sur; in Asuncion, Kapalong and New Corella in Davao del Norte; in Laak, Montevista, Monkayo, Pantukan, Compostela, Monkayo, Maragusan and Maco in Compostela Valley; in Baganga, Caraga, Lupon and Manay in Davao Oriental; in Magpet, Arakan, Matalam, Makilala, Antipas and Kidapawan City in North Cotabato; and in Sta. Cruz, Digos City, and Bansalan in Davao del Sur. A massive fascist troop deployment that carries out the AFP’s all-out war in peasant and Lumad communities can only result to escalated rights violations which will all the more push the Filipino masses to persevere in the national-democratic revolution.

Instead of this exorbitant but ultimately futile all-out war against the revolutionary movement, Pres. Duterte must do away with the US-kowtowing neoliberal policies that rob tillers of their land, drive down wages and cement labor contractualization and pillage our resources and sovereignty with impunity. He must not yield to the pressure of the ultra-right militarists and imperialist lackeys in his government who are clearly out to isolate him from the masses and forward the interests of the ruling class. He must listen to the thunderous appeals of peace advocates and the people to terminate the all-out war and resume the peace negotiations.

The fact that the masses whom he professes to serve are fast becoming mere collateral damage in the AFP’s all-out war is the only compelling reason Pres. Duterte needs to go back to the negotiating table.