An open letter to paramilitary and AFP troopers, junior officers and policemen

ImageBy Simon "Ka Filiw" Naogsan
Spokesperson, Cordillera Peoples' Democratic Front

Last January 22, Jose Wayangen, a militiaman of the Citizens Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU) from Betwagan, Sadanga, Mountain Province shot dead Sgt. Pauig Pattaguan of the 77th Infantry Battalion in the army detachment in Tocucan, Bontoc. The incident underscores yet again the inherent disunity in the fascist armed forces brought about by the chain of abuse, discrimination and corruption that goes from the highest command to the lowest ranking soldier and militiaman in the field.

There is a limit to the levels of abuse and humiliation that even the lowliest militiaman will tolerate. Pattaguan ordered Wayangen to perform a menial chore, which the latter did. Afterwards, Pattaguan reprimanded Wayangen for performing the chore. Wayangen replied that he merely obeyed Pattaguan’s exact orders, to which the sargeant responded with a sneering comment and twisted Wayangen’s ear. Wayangen took his M14 rifle, pumped four bullets into Pattaguan, and called on his fellow militiamen to abandon the army detachment. Ten other militiamen, all villagemates of Wayangen, joined him and abandoned their posts.

The AFP treats CAFGU militiamen as second-class citizens, cannon fodder and errand boys. The CAFGU are the bottom of the military totem pole, the doormat that upon which are piled the dirtiest and most humiliating tasks. During combat operations, CAFGU are sent in advance as protective screen for operating army troops, which shows how lowly they are regarded by the AFP. And for what? A measly and often delayed monthly allowance that barely pays for a sack of rice. The salary of the lowest ranking soldier is equivalent to the allowances of four CAFGU militiamen. "Kapit sa patalim," aptly describes the situation of many impoverished peasant men in the Cordillera and the rest of the Philippine countryside who become easy pickings for the AFPs CAFGU recruitment drive.

The killing of Sgt. Pattaguan is not an isolated incident. There are numerous cases of militiamen killing regular army troopers; of low-ranking troopers killing their own officers; of junior officers rising in mutiny against their generals and commander-in-chief. The fascist armed forces is rife with discontent fomented by a culture of violence, corruption, discrimination and greed. Officers discriminate against their men; troopers discriminate against militiamen; members of the majority discriminate against national minorities. It is Jose Wayangen’s misfortune to be a poor, uneducated, Igorot militiaman serving in an army that demeans him. He responded in the manner that he was treated, violently. Some would call it justice.

The Cordillera People’s Democratic Front calls upon all militiamen, troopers and junior officers of the fascist armed forces and the police to look into their situation and see how their lives are put at risk by their generals and commander-in-chief who profit from the largesse of jueteng, illegal drugs and other syndicated crimes. Are you willing to lay down your lives for those who treat you with such disdain?

True patriotism and service to the people means taking a stand against those who oppress and exploit the majority of our fellow Filipinos. There are several options for you to join or support the armed revolutionary struggle for national democracy. First, militiamen, troopers and junior officers can defect with their weapons and join the New People’s Army. Those who wish to remain in the AFP and PNP can join the Lt. Crispin Tagamolila Movement or the Tirad Pass Brigade which are clandestine revolutionary organizations for members of the fascist armed forces. Second, refuse your orders, especially those that serve the ruling classes and are against the interests of the Filipino people. Third, quit the armed forces and revert back to civilian life.

You are at a crucial point in history. The bogus, corrupt and brutal regime of Gloria Arroyo and her US imperialist master has its back against the wall. It faces a tsunami of intensifying people’s protests and tactical offensives by the New People’s Army. The regime becomes increasingly violent as it seeks out means to stay in power beyond 2010. It will call on its armed forces to wreak greater havoc on the people. You will receive orders to maim, kill, pillage and burn. Refuse these orders and do the right thing, stand with the people in their battle to win for themselves a truly free and humane society.

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