Fr. SANTIAGO "Sanny" SALAS
Spokesperson, NDFP Eastern Visayas
As the 2010 election campaign drags on, the 8th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army is stepping up its psywar attacks to justify intensifying political repression and keep Gloria Arroyo in power. In the face of the 8th ID's psywar attacks, we call on the mass media and the public to be vigilant and critical. Let us resist the Arroyo regime's intentions to stay on in power. Let us expose and oppose the enemy's psywar by investigating and coming out with the truth.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines is the Arroyo regime's main instrument for remaining in power. The military made it possible for Gloria Arroyo to commit widespread cheating and win in the 2004 presidential election. Today, the Arroyo regime is so widely despised that its own candidates in the election have little chance of winning even through widespread cheating. Thus the regime is even more hell-bent on using the military, such as in imposing martial law and extending its rule as a "transition government".
This possibility was highlighted when Arroyo tested the waters by imposing martial law for a time in Maguindanao to widespread outcry, and becomes even more ominous considering that the proposed poll automation remains in shambles. There is also the strengthening of the military's hand in intervening in the election through the Joint Security Coordinating Centers (JSCC) of the military and police, down to the city and municipal levels in areas that are in the election watchlist. While the JSCC seemingly safeguards the election, its real intention is to ensure that the Arroyo regime remains in control, and to stifle the certain popular uprising should it remain in power.
The Arroyo regime has long been killing and persecuting its most unwavering opponents and critics, and this could take a turn for the worse as the regime grows more desperate to cling to power. The regime's increasing unruliness is in striving to prove itself as the top dog of US imperialism as its rivals fight keenly to replace it.
Apart from carrying out an all-out war since 2001 through Oplan Bantay Laya, the military has been pushing a vicious political and propaganda offensive against the revolutionary movement and even the legal democratic movement. As the election campaign continues, the 8th ID's psywar also increases in virulence as if in preparation for more political killings like that of Fr. Cecilio Lucero, blatant repression of progressive organizations and party-list, and the quelling of all political opposition against the looming Arroyo term extension.
Among the 8th ID's psywar is deceiving the media about the so-called "victory" of Oplan Bantay Laya, which is set to end with Arroyo's long-awaited stepdown from office.The 8th ID is feeding the media false information about the so-called dismantling of New People's Army guerrilla fronts, so many hundreds of firearms taken from the NPA, and that the revolutionary movement is a spent force. But the truth is that NPA tactical offensives in Eastern Visayas have been rising and more firearms were taken by the NPA than in previous years.
In 2009, there were 60 tactical offensives that dealt 90 government soldiers killed in action and resulted in 45 firearms confiscated by the NPA. Not a single guerrilla front was dismantled in the region, and though the 8th ID gloated that the NPA was finished in Leyte, the Mt. Amandewin Command promptly belied this with 12 tactical offensives in 2009.
The rising NPA tactical offensives are rapidly disproving the military hype that Oplan Bantay Laya is successful. Thus, the 8th ID also spew lies that the guerrilla offensives are terroristic and violate human rights and international humanitarian law. But these plain distortions are easily disproved, because unlike the 8th ID, the NPA is a disciplined, principled and democratic revolutionary army, and firmly observes international humanitarian law to which the National Democratic Front of the Philippines has formally committed adherence. In contrast, the 8th ID's psywar attacks bare its fascism, ignorance, anti-people stance and barbarism.
For example, it is plain deception of the public for the 8th ID to claim that an NPA raid on an Army engineering battalion in Calbiga, Western Samar last December 2009 was a violation. But under international humanitarian law, these armed troops were legitimate targets who were conducting a regular military operation in the guise of a humanitarian mission. Meanwhile, the 8th ID also covered up its violations, such as slamming residents in the interior of Basey, W. Samar by insinuating that their evacuations last November-December 2009 were make-believe. But the peasants in fact exposed the violations of their rights and demanded indemnification, because the 8th ID had been bombarding their communities and had even burned their rice harvests, in gross violation of international humanitarian law.
While insisting that its claims of Oplan Bantay Laya's victory are valid, the 8th ID's desperation is revealed by its virulent psywar attacks during the 2010 election campaign period, not only against the revolutionary movement but also the legal democratic movement. The 8th ID smears the revolutionary movement with wild inventions like a "permit to win" ostensibly given to politicans to assure their winning, as if the revolutionary movement will sell out the interests of the people to the rotten politicians.
The military is consumed with rage in trying to cover up the reality that there are already two governments in the country, the reactionary government and the people's democratic government in the revolutionary territories. As a matter of principle, the revolutionary movement does not participate in the reactionary election, but recognizes that many people still vote in the hope of change. The revolutionary movement educates the people to regard the election as a form of struggle to win concessions favorable to them, though it is far more inferior than the democratic mass struggles. Meanwhile, the reactionary politicians have to seek permission from the people's democratic government to campaign in the revolutionary territories.
Moreover, while pretending to be non-partisan, the 8th ID vilifies the legal democratic movement, especially the progressive party-list organizations, and tries in vain to link them to the armed revolutionary movement though these have been in parliamentary struggle for many decades. This has the darker motive of paving the way for more political killings such as what happened to Fr. Lucero. The Arroyo regime and the military also loathe the very real possibility that the progressive candidates will win and sit in the congress and senate, because they carry the interests of the people and will certainly bring the regime to account.
Let us all stand up to the Arroyo regime and the military's barefaced attacks by insisting on the truth and demanding fundamental changes, Those who have genuine concern for the people and desire for truth will also embrace revolutionary victories, expose the lies and rottenness of the ruling system, and encourage the people to participate in the revolutionary struggle. The revolutionary movement will persevere in awakening the people to their power to make change. We aim in five years to reach the strategic stalemate in the people's war, and in ten years advance to laying the conditions for making a truly democratic government of the people possible.