Mindanao is priority target of fascist US-Aquino Regime’s counter-revolutionary offensives

Spokesperson, NDFP Mindanao Chapter

At the end of its term, the fascist US-Aquino regime, through its Oplan Bayanihan (OPB counter-insurgency program), has unleashed a counter-revolutionary offensive of massive proportions against the revolutionary movement and the Filipino people, desperately aiming to once and for all defeat the people’s revolutionary struggle. The priority target of the brutal OPB campaign is the island of Mindanao, even as it continues to launch its widespread suppression campaign in Luzon and in the Visayas.

The deployment in Mindanao of more than 60% of the Armed Forces of the Philippines forces (Army, Marines and Special Forces) is a concrete expression of this, while 22% are deployed in Luzon and 18% in the Visayas. In Mindanao, 60 battalions of the Philippine Army and Marines have been deployed, including the Light Reaction Battalion. Also deployed in Mindanao are 63% of the AFP’s Light Armor and Mechanized Brigades, 72% of its Field Artillery Brigades, the Philippine Air Force and communications units.

The Special Action Forces of the Philippine National Police have also been sent to Mindanao and, together with the Regional and Provincial Public Safety Battalion and companies, actively participate in the bloody counter-revolutionary campaign in the island. They have accelerated the recruitment and training of paramilitary CAFGUs and CAAs, and armed anti-people Lumad groups, alongside establishing counter-revolutionary mass organizations such as the ‘Alsa Masa’.

Why is Mindanao currently the focus of the US-Aquino fascist regime’s military campaign?

First, Mindanao is host to the super-profit-making investments of big landlords, big comprador bourgeoisie and imperialists, whose big businesses of enormous scale wantonly plunder our natural resources, ravage the environment, grab vast tracts of arable land, displace peasants from their farms and the Moro and Lumad from their ancestral homes, and inhumanly exploit the workers. These investments include giant mining companies, large agribusiness plantations, businesses that exploit natural gas and other energy sources and many others. It is the primary objective of AFP operations to protect the rapacious interests of the ruling classes.

Second, the resistance of the oppressed and exploited peoples in the island, non-Moro and Moro alike, against the ruling elite is strong and widespread. On the one hand, the revolutionary movement led by the Communist Party of the Philippines, the New People’s Army and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, has further gained strength despite the intensified attacks of the successive Oplan Bantay Laya (2001-2009) of the US-Arroyo regime and the OPB (2010-present) of the US-Aquino regime. On the other, after it became clear that the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) had already completely abandoned the armed struggle, the armed resistance of the Moro people has had a resurgence in the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) and other Moro groups in order to continue the armed struggle for their right to self-determination against the oppressive US-Aquino regime.

The US-Aquino regime is evidently desperate because it has staggeringly failed to obliterate the revolutionary movement in Mindanao. It is unsuccessful even in hindering the further advance of the armed revolution in Mindanao. It has also become even more desperate in its supposedly successful talks with the MILF because instead of pacifying the armed resistance of the Moro people, the fire of the Bangsamoro armed struggle has in fact been rekindled.

Indicative of its desperation, the OPB has brutally attacked the people in the five NPA regions in Mindanao, where it has intensely razed the countryside with full-scale military operations almost without let up, using unspeakable terrorist methods like the murder of innocent civilians, warrantless arrests, torture, bombing and shelling, destruction of farms and farm produce and the divestment of farm animals and other property of poor peasants and Lumads. This has resulted in the displacement of millions of families and the loss of their livelihood, forcing innumerable peasant and Lumad communities to flee from their land.

The AFP has also launched psywar operations, such as the Re-engineered Special Operations Team (RSOT), Community Organizing for Peace and Development (COPD), Peace and Development Team (PDT), and the like, to take control of communities, threaten and harass the people, break their unity and organize counter-revolution and anti-people aggrupation such as the ‘Alsa Masa’ and establish CAFGU detachments. COPD operations are even being undertaken in urban areas like in school campuses and urban poor communities to impede the youth, students, urban poor and workers from taking part in the movement that defend and fight for their basic rights and economic well-being. Trumped-up criminal charges have been leveled against activist mass leaders in the desperate attempt to spread fear and shatter the legal mass movement.

But even early at this stage, the US-Aquino regime has sorely failed to hinder the ever growing people’s open protest movement against escalating militarization and grave human rights violations in Mindanao, large-scale imperialist mining and plantation. It has failed to douse the mass outrage against its continued outright refusal to implement genuine agrarian reform and national industrialization, to decisively address worsening corruption in government (case in point: the DAP and the PDAF), and to end Benigno Aquino III’s puppetry to the interests of US imperialism.

If the US-Aquino regime has itself convinced that its brutal military campaign can in fact decimate the NPA in Mindanao, well, it is gravely mistaken. According to initial reports from the regions of Southern Mindanao, Northeastern Mindanao, North Central Mindanao, Western Mindanao, and Far South Mindanao, the forces of the NPA, together with the fighting masses, has courageously and heroically fought against the enemy, and has inflicted numerous casualties on the part of operating AFP troops by way of harassment, using a combination of firearms and CDEx (Command Detonated Explosive), and of a few head blow tactical offensives aimed at confiscating the firearms of the enemy.

On the other hand, there is a clear resurgence of the armed resistance of the Moro people, intensifying and spreading in Mindanao. The BIFF and other Bangsamoro groups have initiated many armed attacks from the Cotabato provinces to the islands of Tawi-Tawi, Basilan and Sulu, and it cannot be denied that the casualties suffered by the AFP have increased in Bangsamoro areas. All these have rendered the GPH-MILF Agreement absolutely moot and irrelevant.

Presently, the people of Mindanao has sent its delegation to Metro Manila to march alongside a broad network of peoples and alliances in open protest against fascism and militarization in Mindanao and in the entire country, the continuing plunder of natural resources and the environment, and the exploitation and oppression of workers, peasants, Moro and Lumad. They have also amplified the demand for genuine agrarian reform and national industrialization.

The NDFP-Mindanao calls upon the people to further strengthen and broaden our unity and join the entire nation in resisting against the brutal OPB of the fascist US-Aquino regime and fight to attain the basic demands and aspirations of the people.