By PAOLA ESPIRITU
CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, La Union – The government is now on a rampage in Ilocos, targeting progressive groups the Duterte administration accuses of having links with communist rebels.
“The crackdown against government critics is real, with more concrete evidence of its dangers surfacing each day here in the region,” said Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) Ilocos spokes Engr. Eduardo Rimando.
According to him, the spate of killings and arrests started with the kind of attacks their members and allies are now receiving.
The most recent reported incident is the harassment of Anakbayan members in Salcedo, Ilocos Sur. This came a week after Bayan Ilocos was informed of soldiers giving lectures in schools and naming its allied organizations and progressive partylists as CPP-NPA recruitment fronts.
In an alert posted on Facebook, Anakbayan Ilocos said that soldiers from the 81st Infantry Battalion harassed their members in Brgy. Lucbuban, Salcedo.
“Continuous surveillance and threats are being experienced by our community members, “ said Jennybeth Mariano, Anakbayan secretary general.
She said the army employed similar tactics to threaten 19 of their members from Candon City and Galimuyod.
Mariano said the youth leaders, including minors were forced to attend a program where they were presented as surrenderees.
Salcedo has been under military operations since December last year that has spread fear in the communities.
“We call for the immediate end of the continuing militarization in the 2nd district of Ilocos Sur. Stop the attack against peoples organizations,” she petitioned.
Meanwhile, Rimando pointed out that soldiers are sowing disinformation in schools, “using red-scare tactics” to malign and isolate progressive groups and partylists.
Bayan Ilocos last week said that concerned school officials and students reported the 81st IB is conducting lectures tagging legal democratic organizations and partylists as terrorist and fronts of the CPP in different schools in the Ilocos region.
Rimando named a certain Captain Domrigue as leading the activity.
“Sinabi din ng AFP sa mga teachers and students na huwag ipagsabi na nagdiscuss sila sa school. Ayaw din ipakopya ang powerpoint presentation nila,” he said.
She expressed concern that “this kind of propaganda will intensify and more violent attacks will happen as the election nears.”
Rimando underscored that tagging of legal organizations and partylist as enemies of the state makes them target of Duterte’s total war.
His group also condemned the use of schools, that are by law supposed to be conflict free, but are being drawn as part of the war against progressives.
He challenged school authorities to uphold DepEd Order No. 44, series of 2005, or the Declaration of Schools as Zones of Peace.
Rimando said they are consulting their legal team to pursue possible legal actions and hold the organizers of the forum accountable. # nordis.net