By RANDY FELIX P. MALAYAO
“Bad signs of the times when a priest and a pastor are killed one after the other,” posted Coni Ledesma, Member NDF Peace Panel, on her FB account December 5.
Indeed, we are in perilous times. No one is safe. There is utter disregard for people’s lives.
Why the killings on activists and civilians? On November 18, President Rodrigo Duterte declared, “NPA mga terorista! Arrest communist legal fronts!” On November 23, he issued Proclamation 360, terminating peace talks with the National Democratic Front. In a speech on Nov. 29, Duterte exhorted soldiers, “Shoot armed members of the New People’s Army (NPA)!”
And on December 5, President Rodrigo Duterte signed a Proclamation 374 declaring the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) as a terrorist organization, yet another complete turn-around when he declared “they are no terrorists,” sealing whatever
Soon after Duterte’s threat of crackdown, everyone would be alerted by Karapatan’s sending out one urgent alert after another, about various human rights violations happening all over the country.
At 10:45 Dec. 4, Catholic priest Marcelito “Tito” Paez, 72, died from nine gunshot wounds by motorcycle-riding men. He was the first Catholic priest killed extrajudicially under Duterte.
On Dec. 3, Pastor Lovelito Quiñones, 57, was shot dead by the Police Regional Mobile Group in Mansalay, Oriental Mindoro. Quiñones, a pastor of King’s Glory Ministry, was on his motorcycle heading home in Don Pedro village when he was shot in the chest. The Army’s 4ID alleged that there was an encounter in the area.
On the same day, Dec. 3, in South Cotabato, 8 T’boli and Dulangan Manobo farmers were massacred and two wounded by a composite team of soldiers of the 27th IBPA and Philippine Marines in sitio (subvillage) Datal Bong Langon, Ned village, Lake Sebu.
The indigenous peoples were occupying the area langrabbed by the Consunjis, used by their DMCI corporation as a coffee plantation. The said land area, however, is part of the Dulangan Manobo and T’boli ancestral domain.
The killings are most brazen, reminiscent of the open fascist rule during the Marcos Dictatorship. This regime has turned the entire country into a killing field. On top of Tokhang victims, now estimated at 13,000, unarmed civilians have become open targets by state security forces, repeatedly emboldened and reassured by their commander-in-chief.
Illegal arrests, food blockade
On November 18, eleven (11) human rights (HR) workers – 9 from Batangas and 2 from Western Mindanao region – have been illegally arrested and detained, a systematic attack against HR workers under the regime.
In Lianga, Surigao del Sur province, a military food blockade have barred the delivery of relief aid to the evacuation site of some 1,173 individuals or at least 244 families – from at least 9 Lumad communities in Brgy Diatagon, Lianga and Brgy. Buhisan, San Agustin in Surigao del Sur. They were forcibly evacuated due to military operations of the 75th IBPA. The number includes 406 Lumad students and 59 teachers of 9 Lumad schools.
On December 1, 2017, due to the incessant attacks of the 73rd IBPA in Blaan communities, around 210 households have started evacuating from the villages of Lilab, Basyawan, Balataan, Banlas, and Makol, all situated in the boundary of Alabel and Malapatan in Sarangani.
In the Northern Mindanao region, at least 21 Banwaon families, composed of 139 individuals, from the villages of San Pedro, Binicalan and Mahagsay in San Luis town, Agusan del Sur forcibly evacuated from their communities on December 4, 2017 due to military operations of the 26th IBPA.
On December 5, Quezon City police forcibly arrested transport leader George San Mateo of Piston, even as he was already posting bail at the Quezon City Hall of Justice. A court issued a warrant for his arrest based on an old Commonwealth Law, in connection to a transport strike in February. Police eventually released San Mateo.
There is a similar pattern and manner of killings under Duterte’s Oplan Kapayapaan to the Arroyo administration’s Oplan Bantay Laya, or OBL. Karapatan documented 1,206 victims of extrajudicial killings under OBL, mostly activists and supporters who were tagged by government as NPA combatants or supporters.
Under Oplan Kapayapaan, there are now 113 EJKs, 222 frustrated EJKs, 256 illegal arrests, 924 illegal arrest without detention, 426,170 forced evacuation, 39,623 use of public places for military purpose, 364, 617 indiscriminate firing and bombing (Karapatan, July 16, 2016 – November 16, 2017).
As to political prisoners (PPs), Duterte inherited 401 PPs from Noynoy Aquino. More than 70 were released as cases were dismissed for lack of evidence, while 2 elderly and sick died. 121 more were detained. And counting.
Add to the draconian laws and recent presidential proclamations 360 and 374, the GMA’s Anti-Terror Law (or the Human Security Act) or Republic Act 9372, has now become a tool to criminalize any and all political dissenters arbitrarily. Genuine opposition could be tagged as terrorists and be charged of conspiring with the CPP-NPA.
Given all these, as in the darkest days of Marcos, there is no other recourse for the people but to wage all forms of resistance. Valiantly. # nordis.net