By NATHANIEL FABIAN
“Terrorism — government by intimidation,” defines the Merriam Websters. One tiny word that bears the most influential use that changed history forever after 9/11.
This word is now being used to justify foreign-sponsored ‘liberation’ movements in some war-ravaged middle east countries, to rationalize the building of military bases of a powerful country in the territories of its ‘friends’ and ‘allies’, and to vilify political opponents and democratic movements. It helped the spread of Islamophobia across many countries, feed much war-profits into the US military intelligence complex, and assisted the stay of US influence in the Philippines and other resource-rich countries.
But still, there is no commonly agreed justification of what terrorism is.
Terrorism terrifies understanding
Destruction of cities and countries have always been a result of terror-tagging. For example, instead of the speedy solutions to the Marawi incident (which the Armed Forces of the Philippines claimed that it can be done), the Philippine government has implemented the US methods of war on terrorism which has always resulted to destruction and then further more wars to tackle thereafter. Of course, terror-tag is the handy tool under it. It was used in maximizing all justifications to allot excessive amounts of funds to war (on drugs, terrorism, and insurgency), to push through for Mindanao-wide military rule, and to further increase political and propaganda influence among Filipinos.
But that was just half of the story. Years before the Maute insurgency in Marawi, there has always been local wars among clans and groups in the area. And that all these are rooted in the problem of landlessness of Filipinos. Thus, as a result, the actions of Maute can be explained that the group wants ISIS funding for their war. Thus, terror tag — along with all its consequences — bolsters barriers rather than give aid to understanding.
Today, 200,000 Marawi folk are in peril of ever being able to return to their hometown again. Furthermore, Chinese, other foreign and Filipino investors are already laying out plans to exploit the city for profit (sounds like closure of Boracay and the plan to replace Burnham Park with profit-making structures).
But here goes, added woes to Filipinos. Recently, Duterte administration thru the Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a proscription petition to declare the CPP and the NPA as terrorist groups and included some 649 individuals.
Astonishingly, these ‘terrorists’ are known public servants: rural, urban, and agricultural development workers, indigenous peoples’ rights advocates, human rights experts, and leaders and members of farmers, workers, and peoples’ organizations and alliances. These people have been petitioning the government to uphold human rights and to hear the plea of the people for genuine land reform, end of contractualization, and for national industrialization.
No wonder, they have been vocal critics of Duterte, opposing policies he has implemented under his administration. For example, instead of land reform, the Duterte administration has been busy identifying, vilifying, and killing peasant leaders in many provinces where landlessness is rampant, as well as among human rights activists and development workers.
This terror list includes: Randy Malayao, Vice President for Luzon of Makabayan Coalition; Beverly Longid, Global Coordinator of the International Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self-Determination and Liberation; Windel Bolinget chairperson of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA); Joanna Cariño, co-convenor of Sandugo and founding member of CPA; and Sherwin De Vera, an environment activist and Northern Dispatch Weekly columnist.
Even CPP founder Joma Sison; Benito and Wilma Tiamzon; former Bayan Muna representative Satur Ocampo; and United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Victoria Tauli-Corpuz were not excused from this careless terror tagging.
But it does not end there. Human Rights Watch describes this as a ‘government hit list’. But the tag or label as 649 critics against Duterte—is worth it.
The real terrorist
Who is the real terrorist around here then? What is the foremost priority?
In our case, terrorism is not the root of all threat to millions of lives. Across the country, farmers are still landless, workers still suffer insufficient wages and oppressive working conditions, urban poor are still hacking ways day-to-day to be able to live, youth still struggling for decent and inexpensive education, and the children have an uncertain future ahead.
One hundred million lives are in danger due to these and still, the biggest sum of peoples’ money go towards expensive, aggressive, insufficient “wars” on terrorism, drugs, and insurgency that are rooted to basic problems of landlessness, insufficient wages, lack of public services, poverty that shall only find solutions in national industrialization and genuine land reform.
Still, the Duterte government remains ruthless. It has increased taxes on the poor and reduced it for the rich; it has scandalously doubled the salaries and budget for the military but not for the minimum wage workers or the teachers and health workers, or for the education of the youth, it terror tags critics, journalists, and generously oils its propaganda and prettifying machinery of trolls and information manufacturers. All of these at the people’s expense.
The Duterte regime is now seated on a bejeweled throne guarded by paper dogs and tigers, high rolling in a millionaire’s lifestyle, projecting itself in the international community as an iron fist hero loved by the people, rubbing elbows with the Chinese and American masters on top of a crumbling edifice built on bones and blood of the Filipino people. Real terrorists aim to gain attention to themselves and their misleading shows to make people submit to their selfish demands. The real terrorist is seated there, looking grand and holding its glistening paper Crown.
Activists are not terrorists
When we say activists are terrorists, we are insinuating that people who take the cudgels (with courage and commitment) to arouse, organize, and mobilize communities to action for the environment’s protection, for the defense of human rights, and for the welfare of the Filipino majority, are terrorizing us. Furthermore, it will be even harder to find who the real extremists is if we irresponsibly label a lot of people terrorists. It even poises more danger if one points an accusing finger everywhere and anywhere, one may likely find the fight one does not want.
Thus, terror-tagging is a dangerous direction for the government to take. Rodrigo Duterte has already failed with the peace talks with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) — New Peoples’ Army (NPA) who are pioneering the advancement for genuine land reform and national industrialization; he has already failed the Filipino people when he did not defend our sovereignty over our off-shore territories; he has failed us by raising unfair taxes, foreign policy, labor policy, and land reform; he has long been fooling the Filipino people, and has long been the real terrorist all along.
It is then proper and honorable for the Filipino people to drop this terror-tag. We must not allow Duterte’s government fail us or sell us to the Chinese or to any super power. We shall not wait for a tyrant to sow terror across the country.
Drop the terror-tag! Stand up for integrity and democracy! # nordis.net