The “bloody war” perpetrated by the Duterte regime has widened and intensified.
In the last three years, President Rodrigo Duterte has launched a three-pronged war against the Filipino people. One is the deflating of Marawi and the more than two-year old Martial law in Mindanao. Second is the time and again all-out war declaration against the New People’s Army despite engaging in peace negotiations in a year and a half and five rounds of formal talks. And the last is the bloody Oplan Tokhang (from the words “toktok” or knock and “hangyo” or plead) or Duterte’s deadly war on drugs.
The “tokhang” of poor people who are suspected to be using or selling drugs in the country that claimed 27,000 lives at present is expanded and intensified.
Now, the “tokhang” includes people who are perceived as ‘insurgents.” The “tokhang” for government rivals and critics is being used in Mindanao, then Samar, Negros Bicol and Cordillera. And it is now implemented in Metro Manila.
President Rodrigo Duterte, during the anniversary of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) in Tarlac, warned of “very radical change.”
“I’m serving notice to everybody that in the coming months, it will be not really bloody, but there will be at least, a little trouble for our country,” the President said.
The administration is waging a total war or “whole-of-nation approach” against “insurgents” and even non-combatants under the counterinsurgency program Oplan Kapanatagan, with Oplan Sauron in Negros and Oplan Kalasag in Metro Manila as local versions. The “whole-of-the nation approach” is carried out with the formation of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), which has an allocated budget of more than 500 million this year pending approval in Congress.
Though, this war, like the previous “counterinsurgency programs” of the government, will fail because the bureaucracy and its agencies are corrupt but it will cost many lives especially non-combatants or civilians.
The “approach” has already claimed so many lives as the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and Philippine National Police (PNP) are actively vilifying and discrediting progressive and legal organizations that make them open targets of death squads and the military operatives. It is expected that like in Negros, the National Capital Region Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NCR TF-ELCAC) will be created to carry out this anti-people and anti-progressive organizations campaign.
In Negros Occidental the “Provincial Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict was created through a resolution unanimously approved by the Joint Provincial Development Council and the Provincial Peace and Order Council at a meeting in Bacolod City on August 27, 2019,” according to Visayas Today.
The national and local government agencies, mayors, local planning and development officers and heads of peace and order councils had attended a planning workshop on August 22, 2019 initiated by the Philippine Army and decided to form the task force. It is in compliance with Executive Order No. 70 issued by Duterte, which mandates the “approach” to address the “insurgency”.
In Metro Manila, the illegal arrest and detention of National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace consultant for Mindanao Esterlita Suaybaguio last August 26 at Quezon City is a concrete example of the Oplan Kalasag as the NCR version of Oplan Kapanatagan signaled the intensification of the military campaign. Suaybaguio told lawyers she was pinned by police women operative away from her belongings and then after presented her a gun, a hand grenade, and live ammunition inside the shoulder bag she uses regularly. PNP Chief Oscar Albayalde stated in a press conference last Tuesday, August 27, that “she has no standing warrant, only a search warrant was used by the PNP to arrest her.”
The unilateral termination of peace talks by the government unmasked the Duterte administration’s sham commitment to peace as it equated with “whole-of-nation approach” peace campaign against the “insurgents” without distinction.
The Duterte regime, his political, military and police agents are engaged in red-tagging of the critics and opponents of his regime as “communists” and “terrorists”. It projected that they are “the biggest problems afflicting the country.” They are targets to all kinds of “neutralization” using intimidation, harassment and even to be killed if they “resist arrest” or “manlaban.”
Duterte is also ordering to amend the Human Security Act or the Anti-Terrorism Law in order to facilitate his political and military agents in labeling his critics and opponents as “terrorists.” He wants his armed agents of a period of two months to make anyone disappear temporarily or permanently and remove any liability of his armed minions for the arbitrary detention of people.
In addition to this, Duterte wants also to revive the old discredited Anti-Subversion Law as if the repressive policies like Memorandum Order 32 ad Executive Order 70 and oppressive laws were not enough. The plan to revive the Anti-Subversion Law is to “terrorize the people” with the provisions for outlawing progressive and legal organizations. It is to suppress the human and democratic rights of the people and would also mean that the people be subjected to death penalty on those who are “convicted” as criminals on the basis of guilt by association, even before they are tried.
As the regime’s proposals have yet to pass in Congress, his “bloody war” had already intensified and engaged in mass murder under the “nanlaban” doctrine and under the cover of fake encounters. Duterte’s state forces use the method of planting firearms and explosives in making arbitrary arrests to detain indefinitely or kill extra-judicially of the victims.
Martial law in Mindanao and de facto martial law nationwide (without formal proclamation) are being used by the Duterte regime to intimidate the entire Filipino people. Those victims which are labelled as “enemies of the state” are murdered or arrested with fabricated charges.
The International community is alarmed of the killings and other human rights violations in the Philippines. But the US government has tolerated the Duterte regime for the reason that Duterte and his highest pro-US military advisers and officers have assured the US that they will end the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the Filipino people’s democratic revolution at the end of Duterte’s term.
The US as reigning principal imperialist country in the world believe that it can continue to dominate the Philippines, especially if there is charter change and federalism will be put in place.
But the intensified “bloody war” of the Duterte regime cannot “wipe out” the “insurgent” in the Philippines.
As long as the root causes of armed conflict are not properly addressed the “civil war” in the country continue, the struggle of the Filipino people with armed and non-armed will continue as long as the “foreign monopoly capitalism, domestic feudalism and bureaucrat capitalism” exist.
Prof. Jose Maria Sison said, “These are the root causes of the civil war. They exploit and oppress the Filipino people and drive them to engage in armed revolution for national and social liberation.”
Duterte’s “threats” to wipe out the CPP “have always been futile not only because of the evil character of the forces that he represents but also because he has been exceptionally tyrannical, treasonous, murderous, corrupt and deceptive. Thus, the armed revolutionary movement has become stronger from year to year,” Sison said.
“Of course, the CPP and NPA have an even far lower regard for Duterte. They always recall that the 14-year fascist dictatorship of Marcos could not wipe them out but served only to incite more people to join the revolutionary movement. In comparison, the Duterte tyranny has incited more people at a faster rate to join the revolution in less time. Even then Duterte disregards the fact that he is detested by the people and is aiming to impose a fascist dictatorship on them,“ Sison added.
Thus, the intensified “bloody war” of the Duterte regime will fail. It is only sad to note that this “bloody war” will further claim so many lives, dislocate the people and destroy their properties, before it can be stopped.
But the victims, the people and the revolutionaries will not stand idle. They have to resist this criminal “bloody war.”
A time will come that Duterte can be ousted or will be replaced. Duterte’s allies in Congress are now filing a bill for succession.
Sison said, Duterte will be dumped “by a combination of pro-US military officers and patriotic elements in the Armed Forces of the Philippine who are opposed to Duterte’s traitorous dealings with China as well as his notorious collaboration with Chinese criminal triads in the smuggling of illegal drugs, rice and other commodities and the operation of casinos and offshore gambling.”
The hope of the people for a genuine and lasting peace will surely come. When the time that the government has no option at all, it will return to the negotiating table to talk for just and lasting peace.