By RUBI DEL MUNDO
Spokesperson, NDFP-Southern Mindanao
The National Democratic Front of the Philippines-Southern Mindanao assails the relentless and sustained suppression campaign and proxy war by the 10th Infantry Division-Eastern Mindanao Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) against the Lumad communities in the tri-boundaries of Davao del Norte, Compostela Valley and Agusan del Sur provinces.
By far, the AFP has poured in the largest number of Army battalions in Southern Mindanao and other areas in Mindanao, with the objective of decisively crushing the revolutionary movement. But their intensified campaign has merely gained them further notoriety in the hearts of the masses.
The AFP has directed its sharpest fangs in Barangay (village) Gupitan, Kapalong, Davao del Norte, by deploying more troops from the 68th Infantry Battalion and the 46th Infantry Battalion to reinforce the existing 60th Infantry Battalion troops in the area. It has instigated hamletting, occupation of villages, and control of movement of Lumads and peasants. They unleashed a reign of terror, forcing peasants to cease from going to their farms, thus affecting their only source of livelihood. In the pretext of helping a road construction, the soldiers have also used civilians as shields whenever they use military vehicles in entering the communities.
Worse, the AFP has revived the (paramilitary) Alamara recruitment among Lumad opportunist leaders and dealers, to instigate a pangayao (tribal war) against the revolutionary forces, in a desperate attempt to destroy the Red army and overturn the positive gains of the revolutionary forces in Kapalong.
In cahoots with the local GPH (government of the Republic of the Philippines) led by Mayor Edgardo Timbol, the 10th Infantry Division-EastMinCom is using the proxy war to direct goons led by Larris Mansaloon, and to force their Lumad lackeys to be at the frontlines and annihilate their own tribe. Mansaloon and his ilk have uttered the worn-out script of waging pangayao, using the lies, intrigue and deceit fed by their military masters.
Mansaloon led the declaration of a manifesto early this month to spread the distorted notion of a fake Lumad autonomy backed by the fascist AFP, National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) and the local GPH. Leaders who were invited to the 1-2 September 2014 meeting were forced to sign the manifesto without the benefit of a genuine consultation.
Out of fear and clearly under duress, several leaders signed the manifesto. Participants who came from sitio Patil, Kapogi and Paiton were members of the Mansaloon clan; they readily agreed to become Alamara paramilitary forces. Other leaders, already traumatized from military abuses and hamletting in their communities in Tagasan, Taongatok and Kapatagan, Gupitan, were also forced to sign the fake manifesto.
The lies and intrigues contained in the manifesto clearly showed a poor understanding of the agrarian revolution being waged by the revolutionary movement in Kapalong. The masses have put up communal farms, greatly improving their sources of livelihood after suffering from government neglect in the wake of Supertyphoon Pablo that destroyed their farms and forests since December 2012.
Peasants and Lumads have set up corn and rice farms, engaged in mutual aid groups, and formed simple cooperatives. In less than a year since rebuilding their farms, the masses have enjoyed higher and more productive yields. They have become aggressive in farming instead of relying on short-term and temporary sources of income like small-scale logging. Their situation is a far-cry from the falsehood spread by the AFP and the Alamara that the masses were forced to develop farms to provide food for the NPA.
While the AFP and the Alamara try to obliterate these gains, the Kapalong local GPH has falsely announced that “peace” and “normalcy” have been restored in Gupitan. Local GPH officials led by Mayor Timbol have merely sent rations and dole-outs of relief packs to residents without truly seeing the suffering of the masses from the intensified RSOT operations (Re-engineered Special Operations Teams), psychological warfare, harassments and threat of Alamara abuses.
Local GPH officials should heed the call of the Lumads to defend them from the abuses of Alamara and to stop the proxy war being waged by the AFP. Mayor Timbol should see to the welfare of his constituents and respect the right of Lumads to struggle and protect their ancestral domain.
Lumads and peasants in Kapalong and elsewhere in the region should not be deterred in this fight to protect their lands. As the Red fighters continue to wage and intensify tactical offensives against the enemy, the revolutionary forces are ever prepared to struggle against enemy suppression and raise the level of people’s war.