By JORGE "Ka Oris" MADLOS
Today, September the 21st, the National Democratic Front of the Philippines – Mindanao (NDFP-Mindanao) joins the Filipino people in recollecting the tens of thousands of victims of grave human rights abuses upon the declaration of Martial Law.
It was the Dictator Marcos's virulent edict that plunged the nation into the darkest period of its history — 14 years of brutality when the people's national democratic aspiration was single-handedly snuffed out through unrivalled and widespread repression.
Today, 23 years since the ouster of the fascist Marcos, and after the rule of four almost equally brutal regimes from Corazon Aquino to Gloria Arroyo, the symptoms of those dark years remain with us as summary executions, enforced disappearances, barefaced militarism and other appalling forms of human rights violations continue to persist.
On account of the newly installed Aquino government, it has carried on the infamous militarist legacy of the vile period of Martial Law despite the euphoria created by Mr. Aquino's pre-programmed victory in the recent presidential elections and its hard sell campaign for 'change.'
Point of fact: During the election period, human rights violations seemed to have ebbed as the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) neared its (national security program) OBL 2 deadline. But, when it became obvious that Mr. Aquino would be the next president of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP), his assumption into power led to the extension of Oplan Bantay Laya 2, the resumption of which escalated to a more vicious nationwide military campaign.
Human rights abuse cases in Mindanao have risen as a direct result of this more brazen and intensive military campaign. In three regions in the island alone, Noynoy Aquino demonstrated in his 80 days in office a staggering record of 90 cases of human rights abuses, victimizing close to a thousand families and more than 8,000 individuals.
In the Southern Mindanao Region (SMR), where more than a dozen AFP battalions have been mobilized to counter revolutionary forces, 42 human rights violations cases, affecting 640 families and 7,721 individuals, have been documented.
In the North Eastern Mindanao Region (NEMR), 41 cases of 14 various types of human rights abuses that affected 286 families, 1,252 individuals, 3 communities and 1 school have been recorded. The recent evacuation of nearly 300 families from communities in Surigao del Sur, Agusan del Norte and Surigao del Norte as a result of heightened AFP combat operations marked the height of barefaced militarism in the region.
In the Far Southern Region of Mindanao (FSMR), 7 cases of human rights abuses committed by government troops, including rape, looting and illegal arrests, were initially documented in the months of July and August.
The New People's Army have resolutely fought back by means of launching tactical offensives to defend the well-being of the people and to preserve the gains of the revolutionary movement. There have been 59 tactical offensives thus far launched since Noynoy Aquino took his oath of office. This shows how the NPA defended revolutionary areas and the people's welfare, and how determined the Red fighters are to frustrate the exacerbating militarist salvo of the new puppet regime.
Since July, the NPA in SMR was able to launch more than 20 military actions that resulted in the death of 11 enemy soldiers and paramilitary CAFGU elements, and the wounding of 13. These NPA tactical offensives also led to the confiscation of a number of firearms.
Similarly, with the entire Caraga Region saturated with four AFP battalions almost simultaneously undergoing offensive military operations, the New People's Army in NEMR has, in defense of the masses, launched 32 military actions that lent stinging blows against advancing enemy forces in the countryside. A series of 4 tactical offensives were initiated in FSMR since June 30, highlighted most recently by Red fighters launching punitive action against the most notorious land-grabber in North Cotabato in the person of Manny Pinol, which disabled his banana plantation machineries and confiscated 7 high-powered rifles (HPRs) of its security personnel in Brgy. Blaas, Tulunan, North Cotabato on September 16.
Similar attacks against human rights have also been committed with impunity by the AFP, the Philippine National Police (PNP), the CAFGU (Citizens Armed Forces Geographical Unit) and other paramilitary groups in the North Central and Western regions of Mindanao. These have been promptly responded to with NPA military action, particularly in the North Central Mindanao Region (NCMR) where 3 tactical offensives were launched.
The killing of media practitioners and workers and other vile forms of repression against them continue to worsen and done with utter impunity. Barely a hundred days after Aquino's inauguration, three media persons have been murdered in the country. In Mindanao, other media workers face harassment with no let up. The most vicious of these harassments is the outright termination of three media practitioners and the threat of suspension aimed at other personnel of radio station dxDC RMN Davao for their progressive stance in public opinion.
These brazen manifestations of militarist treachery clearly show what the Filipino people could expect under Benigno Aquino III's 6-year term of 'undeclared Martial Law': more human rights violations and suppression campaigns in order to protect the interest of US imperialism and the ruling landlord and big bourgeois comprador classes.
The intensity of violence of Mr. Aquino's 'martial rule' is expected to escalate because the only way for it to prevail is to silence the people's growing clamor for genuine land reform and nationalist industrialization, while it desperately attempts to please US imperial power by agreeing to the basing rights of US military forces in the country and falling subservient to its geo-political interests in the Asia-Pacific.
The attacks against revolutionary forces and the people are seen to intensify even further, mainly because the New People's Army and the revolutionary masses are ever more becoming the major threat to the ever decaying ruling system of the Philippine society. Also because it is a revolutionary movement that continues to stand firm in defending people's rights and is doubly steadfast in its stance against the reactionary government's militarist policies.
It is most disturbing to know that Noynoy Aquino, the son of one of the most celebrated victims of Martial Law – Ninoy Aquino, is now the one on the warpath implementing the Marcos weapon that ultimately killed his father and crushed the entire nation. But he would be mistaken to think that this fascism would go on without reckoning because Noynoy Aquino's dawn of 'undeclared Martial Law' would only usher in the further advance of the people's democratic revolution towards a new and higher level, towards the strategic stalemate phase of the people's war.
In light of these, the NDFP-Mindanao strongly calls upon the Filipino people to unite and firmly stand against the US-backed Aquino regime's 'undeclared Martial Law' and much more against what it intends to achieve, which is the further exploitation and oppression of the nation.
We call on the NPA to totally frustrate the extension of OBL and further intensify the level of tactical offensives to defend the masses and the revolutionary forces, especially now that it is clearer that Benigno Aquino III is far from being interested in solving the root causes of the armed conflict by way of the peace process.
We also reiterate our challenge to Noynoy Aquino to give justice to the victims of human rights violation during the Martial Law years, of the Mendiola massacre during the term of his mother Corazon Aquino, and of the Hacienda Luisita massacre and other victims of extra-judicial killings during the US-Arroyo regime.