By ALAN JUANITO
Spokesperson, NPA Julito Tiro Command
NPA North Central Mindanao Regional Operations Command
Bullets from a sniper team of the New People’s Army under the South-Central Bukidnon Sub-Regional Command ended the life of the rabid counterrevolutionary mayor Mario Okinlay of Impasug-ong, Bukidnon at 8:00 AM of 2 July 2014. Okinlay’s convoy of three four-wheeled vehicles and 20 motorcycles with 50 8th Infantry Battalion troops, six police officers, and civilian employees of the municipal government, as well as Lt. Col. Landingin, commanding officer of 8th Infantry Battalion, and Impasug-ong Chief of Police Pinohan on board, were on their way home from Barangay (village) Bontongon.
What Okinlay and the reactionary Armed Forces of the Philippines flaunted as “peace and development” activities in Impasug-ong barrios (villages) are, in reality, an implementation of the US-Aquino regime’s counterinsurgency strategy, Oplan Bayanihan, and essentially consist of psy-war and forced surrender of civilians. He has almost completed the pulong-pulong (community meeting) rounds in all 13 barangays of Impasug-ong together with the 8th Infantry Battalion which has been conducting COPD operations in the area since October 2013.
Okinlay was unmindful of CARHRIHL and the international humanitarian law. As a local tyrant of Impasug-ong, he has given the reactionary troops of the 8th Infantry Battalion full backing to live among civilians, occupy public buildings in a number of barrios, putting up checkpoints wherever and whenever they see fit. In some barrios, they starve the civilian population by unjustly regulating rice procurement to five kilos per family per week, and violate their freedom of movement and means of sustenance by unreasonably imposing the farmers’ work schedule from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM daily.
He outrightly ignored the revolutionary movement’s reminder in 2006 to address the issues the people have raised against him. In 2013, he merely tricked the NPA unit operating in the area that admonished him for his counterrevolutionary deeds. Lately, in his fiery anti-communist tirades during mass meetings condemning the revolutionary movement, he was poised as a formidable titan fearing nobody. But Okinlay was well aware of the weight of his crimes against the revolution that, despite his notoriety in Bukidnon as a Texas-style sharp-shooter, he moved around with heavily armed escorts.
Aside from being a counterrevolutionary, the citizens of Impasug-ong endured his oppressive and exploitative rule for a long time. He has grabbed lands from no less than 50 people, promised them compensation then left the poor landowners waiting for years as they watched their lands in Impasug-ong converted to oil palm plantations. During elections, he hit back on voters who did not vote for him. There have also been cases of harassment and manhandling of civilians who opt to suffer in silence for their own safety.
The 8th Infantry Battalion failed dismally to protect their close ally in the local government despite the fact that their battalion headquarters have just been transferred to Impasug-ong on February 2014. They found in Okinlay a dedicated partner who acts like a rabid dog running after suspected NPA supporters. The death of Okinlay is a big slap to the face of battalion commander Lt. Col. Landingin who was with the convoy himself. For failing again, as their record proved on many occasions after successful military actions of the NPA, the 8th Infantry Battalion will surely vent their ire on innocent civilians.
Okinlay’s death is grieved by the oppressors and exploiters like him. On the other hand, for his many poor victims, justice has finally been served.
The message of Okinlay’s death may well serve as a warning to local officials of the reactionary government to end their active role in the AFP and US-Aquino regime’s counter-insurgent operations and campaigns. They should stop grabbing the lands of the poor, the favouring of foreign plantations and investors which deprive many poor people in the countryside of their livelihood. The must also end their oppressive practices, the suppression of tax-payers’ airing out of their legitimate demands, witchhunting of suspected subversives and persecuting their political rivals. Most of all, plunderers of the people’s money and pork barrel beneficiaries must change their ways and genuinely serve the interests of the poor who have put them in power.