Editorial: Tora, tora!

www.nordis.net

“Tora, tora,” a term used and made popular from 2nd World War stories that translates to “Tiger, tiger” and is said to have been a Japanese miltary call code then for “attack”. World War II ended more than half a century ago but the term is still used by many Filipinos especially in the countryside where they are targets of airstrikes or airplane bomb attacks of the Philippine Air Force (PAF).

Since the 70s (Martial Law era) and almost under every other president after, the acquisition of the fighter planes of the PAF was justified to be “for defense against the enemies of the country.” The president now said that to modernize the armed forces, he will purchase new fighter planes to use against insurgency and “armed groups”.

Communities of indigenous people (IP) in Northern Luzon particularly the farms and community forests in Zinundungan and Marag Valley and in the Cordillera were bombed several times under previous national administrations. In 2014, IPs in Sagada, Mountain Province and in Marag Valley in Cagayan were bombed under the 503rd Brigade. A few days ago, the people of Malibcong in Abra experienced the bombing run from newly acquired fighter planes from South Korea, the FA-50PH. These planes were first used in Mindanao to pursue the Abu Sayaff in 2015. Even with the newer designed fighter plane, the people of Abra still reported that “Tora toras dropped bombs again in Malibcong.” Malibcong was also bombed in 2013.

From news stories, people can easily deduce that the country solicits from big imperialist countries or makes large loans against Filipino taxes as collateral to purchase these expensive war machine that is used against other Filipinos and not in the defense of Philippine territories as in the rumored invasions by Korea or China. The whole Armed |Forces of the Philippines (AFP) even failed to guard against China’s occupation (as in ‘squatting’) of the Spratley Islands.

Anyway, all the villages or communities directly affected by the bombings are civilian communities of farmers whose livelihood is tied to agriculture. The bombings left large holes on the ground, felled trees, poisoned or drained water sources, widespread forest fires, dead or lost cattle, and traumatized women and children.

The earlier bomb affected communities hardly received help from the government agencies responsible. Especially, that the military are quick to deny such atrocities unless exposed by the people or local government unit (LGU) officers but even then it took “a camel through the needle” to get help for the community to recover. The militarization and wanton destruction, in the name of the state’s anti-insurgency drives, in these remote civilian agricultural communities simply heightens the conditions of poverty and drives people into desperation.

Meanwhile, the revolution rages, and in search for the solution to the roots of this armed conflict, people clamor and demand for the continuation of the peace negotiations between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP). Pressure from imperialists and big business interests, political and militarist bunglers have however called off or broke down the peace negotiations. Such failures in the peace negotiations tend to throw out valuable gains made or forged at the table for the greater Filipino citizenry. Would not anyone be frustrated?

Especially when the hard work and sacrifice of both negotiating panels are set far back by a mere tantrum or militarist blunder. If so, the present administration shall continue to be the star recruiter for the NPA. For where else or to whom will the people go to be able to uphold and defend the development and the future they want for their communities? For their people and for their family? To a government that sends them bombs? Or to be part of the revolution for change?

Stop the bombings now. Call off the tora tora. Render immediate relief and rehabilitation service to the bombing affected communities, pay for the lost cattle, destroyed fields, farms, forests and livelihood. Work to give peace a chance.# nordis.net

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