By BAGONG ALYANSANG MAKABAYAN — ILOCOS, ILOCOS HUMAN RIGHTS ALLIANCE and SOLIDATIRY OF PEASANTS AGAINST EXPLOITATION
September 21, 2017
Today, we commemorate the 45th anniversary of the declaration of Martial Law by the dictator Ferdinand Marcos. For more than four decades, Marcos and his cronies plundered the coffers and resources of the country while enjoying the protection of state security forces. Martial Law victimized people from all walks of life, but the hardest hit were the poor, the peasants and indigenous peoples – activists who relentlessly fought with their tooth and nail, life and limb until Marcos fell in 1986.
After four decades, we are again at a trying time, facing a rising tyrant.
Grandstanding to be the savior of the Filipino people from drug addiction, corruption and oligarchs, President Rodrigo Duterte through his policies and pronouncements has unmasked himself to be a Marcos wannabe. More than a year in office, Duterte has already unleashed three bloody wars – the war on drugs, the war against the Moro people and its all-out war against the revolutionary movement. These wars have victimized and displaced thousands of Filipinos – mostly from the urban poor, peasant and indigenous peoples’ communities.
His rants against the United States has changed into silence of their intervention in Marawi, troop exercises and construction of bases. Not a single unequal treaty or agreement with the US was reviewed or abrogated. He continues to follow the US designed counter insurgency campaign, unleashing the deceit and barbarity of Oplan Kapayapaan on the Filipino people.
In Ilocos, the poverty and hardship of the people caused by corporate greed and plunder are compounded by widespread corruption, warlordism and militarization.
The Duterte administration absorbed into its folds the local warlords led by the Singsons, Marcoses and Fariñases. Feudal exploitation remains, made complex by corporate schemes such as contract farming and plantations. Destructive mining continue to wreck watersheds and pollute rivers and streams.
Under the US-Duterte regime’s Oplan Kapayapaan, the 7th Infantry Division and Philippine National Police have wantonly violated the rights of the people, targeting leaders and members of progressive organizations.
In less than a year, peoples’ organizations have recorded two cases of extra-judicial killings excluding those who fell victim of Duterte’s war on drugs; 18 cases of threat, harassment and intimidation; 14 cases of encampment in communities; and four cases of trumped-up charges.
The 81st Infantry Battalion led by Lt. Col. Eugenio Julio Osias is responsible for most of 18 cases of threat, harassment and intimidation victimizing 46 individuals. Elements of the 7th Civil-Military Operations Battalion put the office of Ilocos Human Rights Alliance (IHRA) under surveillance since March. Just recently, a Grey Toyota Innova with plate number AKG 1149, the same vehicle used by military men led by a certain Col. Castro who harassed two peasant leaders in Narvacan and Burgos, circled and took photos of the IHRA office. Three student researchers from UP Manila who were helping peasants with their issue on tobacco and irrigation were harassed and threatened with arrest by members of PNP Sudipen. These came after Retired Police Colonel Noel Amoyen associated the students with the armed revolutionary movement.
Soldiers and special police units encamped in communities, with utter disregard of established international norms on the conduct of military operations. As of date, 14 cases of encampment in communities in 18 barangays in Salcedo, Quirino, Cervantes and Sta. Lucia in Ilocos Sur, and Pinili and Piddig in Ilocos Norte have been documented. These actions are in violation of Rules 23 and 24 of the Customary International Humanitarian Law and domestic laws – Republic Acts 7610 and 9851 that prohibit encampment and locating military targets near or in populated places and public buildings.
Twelve individuals have been indicted for trumped-up charges, three are detained in the Provincial jail including NDFP Consultant for Northern Luzon Promencio Cortez, who is covered by the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG). The remaining nine individuals are composed of human rights, health and development workers, civilians who have been implicated by the 81st IB in a fabricated encounter in Mabileg, Sigay.
Despite these attacks, the people persevere in their struggle. Early this month, peasants and indigenous people from the province attended the national protest in the National Capital Region. They rallied for the pull-out of military troops in their communities, the cancelation of mining permits and applications, the just price of tobacco and their rightful share from the tobacco excise tax share of local governments.
Through the assistance of human rights advocates, people’s organizations and individual victims were able to file 14 cases of human rights violations in the Joint Monitoring Committee of Comprehensive Agreement on Respect of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law against the 81st IB and members of the PNP.
These undertakings and today’s gathering in the different parts of the country are testaments that the people refuse to be cowed, silenced and coerced by a blood thirsty madman and his militarist minions. Today, we don’t only remember that dark period in our history and those who fought and died to topple the dictatorship of Marcos. Today we commemorate our courage and commitment not to allow tyrants to reign in our country.
We will never forget, we will never tire, never again to martial law! # nordis.net