Bandillo: We shall overcome


These are dangerous times. The atmosphere is intimidating. I have been included in the Depatment of Justice (DOJ) proscription list of alleged “terrorists.” Now, fellow peace advocates, rights defenders and progressive activists are arbitrarily tagged as “terrorists,” too.

Just recently, I received an e-file of a malicious propaganda on Anakpawis Partylist (AP) being distributed in the AP office neighborhood in Cagayan. It alleges AP as a “terrorist” organization and its Cagayan Valley Regional Chairperson, Isabelo Adviento, a member of “Sparu” unit of the New People’s Army. Clearly, this is a handiwork of the state’s coercive forces who take their cue from no less than President Rodrigo Duterte and PNP Chief Bato Dela Rosa.

Earlier in Isabela, Dagami Chairperson and Anakpawis-Isabela Secretary General Reynaldo Gameng, the Archbishop of Tuguegarao Monsignor Sergio Utleg and the National Union of People’s Lawyers were also subjects of malicious grafitti along the Maharlika hi-way portraying them as “recruiter ng NPA”, “tuta ng NPA,” and “supporters ng NPA,” among other tags.

For the record, Anakpawis is a legitimate organization of peasants, workers, urban poor and other marginalized sectors. It is a registered national partylist, and has since been represented in congress since 2004. In fact, AP Party list representative Rafael Mariano became Secretary of the Department of Agrarian Reform albeit briefly. There are tens of thousands of members in different towns and provinces not only in the Cagayan Valley region but in the whole country.

Anakpawis has always been above board and forthright about its programs and aspirations. Since its inception, it has earnestly advocated programs for the welfare of people especially the toiling masses of peasants, workers, urban poor, fisherfolks, indigenous peoples, migrant workers, among others. It has always been at the forefront of the peasant’s democratic struggle for genuine agrarian reform, be it in Congress, the courts or in the parliament of the streets. It is the key author of the free irrigation and other peoples laws and measures.

Locally, AP has, as of late, actively pressed for emergency shelter and seed assistance from the Department of Social Work and Development (DSWD) and the Department of Agriculture (DA) respectively, after the great Lawin disaster. Its efforts paid off as thousands of households earlier not included among recipients have been reconsidered to avail of seeds and shelter support. The DSWD would then launch revalidation process to accommodate more recipients; and the DA would order the release of corn and rice seeds for farmers. These have earned the ire of the state’s armed forces and some politicians who would not accept the idea of AP working hand in hand with government agencies competently and satisfactorily.

“Terrorist” tagging is nothing new to AP and other progressive organizations belonging to Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan), the Makabayan Coalition, Karapatan, and other progressives. The AFP and PNP have been demonizing and vilifying these organizations to justify the state’s acts of repression and suppression.

The state has been unleashing terrorism to quell the growing peoples’ dissent against wanton poverty, landlessness, unemployment and human rights violations. State forces are in a spree – they relentlessly murder, intimidate, harass, file trumped-up cases against the leaders and members of the progressive and patriotic organizations, militarize communities, force civilians to surrender, protect destructive anti-people projects and expel communities from their ancestral domain and dwellings.

The Philippine resistance movement has a wealth of lessons learned from various regimes. Marcos declared Martial Law and adopted authoritarian measures to prolong power yet he was eventually deposed by people power. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo also tried to impose the same draconian tactics but miserably failed. So will Rodrigo Duterte.

The people shall prevail. We shall overcome. #


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