Unite against the US-Aquino regime!

Ang Bayan [UPDATED]
21 July 2011
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The Filipino people have gained nothing but more suffering, more grinding poverty and more oppression after a year under the increasingly repressive US-Aquino regime. They bear the brunt of an ever worsening crisis because Aquino treads the same antipeople and pro-imperialist path taken by the previous regimes.

The people were quickly disappointed with the Aquino regime's lack of resolve to prosecute, try and punish Gloria Arroyo and her cohorts for plunder and fascist crimes. There is no difference between Gloria-style cronyism and the many questionable appointments and anomalous transactions entered into by the Aquino regime with the so-called "Kamag-anak, Kaklase, Kaibigan at Kabarilan Inc." (relatives, classmates, friends and shooting buddies).

The people's anger at Aquino's regime is spreading like wildfire due to policies that have further condemned them to a life of poverty and starvation. He allows the foreign oil monopolies to keep on raising the prices of petroleum products in the local market. No less than Malacañang has paved the way for higher expressway toll fees, train fares, electricity and water rates, and charges for health and education. On the other hand, Aquino has blocked moves to raise wages despite the serious erosion of the real incomes of ordinary folk.

Hacienda Luisita and other vast estates continue to be deprived of genuine land reform. The Cojuangco-Aquino family has undertaken a series of maneuvers to deceive, divide, terrorize and suppress the struggling peasants and farm workers. Aquino was gladdened by a Supreme Court order calling for another referendum on the "stock distribution option" (SDO) contrary to demands from hacienda farmers for land distribution. He was also pleased by another Supreme Court decision upholding his uncle Eduardo "Danding" Cojuangco's claim over the "coco levy funds" which were exacted from the blood and sweat of coconut farmers under martial law.

Despite the crisis wrought by imperialist "globalization" in the past two decades, Aquino persists in pursuing its policies. He has pushed for the further liberalization of trade and investment, the privatization of remaining state assets and the enhancement of the roles of private and foreign capitalist interests in building public infrastructure. Urban poor shanties are violently demolished to give way to the interests of big comprador companies. Health and education budgets are slashed even as public schools and medical facilities are in a decrepit state.

Aquino has remained subservient to International Monetary Fund (IMF) policies. As before, he continues to allot more than half of the state's resources to service the country's gargantuan debt, which has largely failed to benefit the people. He continues to implement policies that perpetuate an economy oriented towards exporting semi-processed goods, an economy dependent on foreign debt and investments. He has proffered no long-term solution to the grave problem of unemployment. He facilitates plunder by foreign mining companies. His regime continually refuses to draft a program for building the foundations of local industry and a self-reliant economy.

Aquino feeds the people nothing but lies. The Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program or 4Ps is the biggest illusion being peddled by Aquino. He would have the people believe that by doling out a few thousand pesos every year to the "poorest of the poor," he could uplift them from poverty without resolving basic socio-economuc problems such as landlessness, unemployment and extremely low wages.

Aquino's 4Ps is merely part of Oplan Bayanihan which is in turn patterned after the US Counterinsurgency Guide. 4Ps has a simple objective: to veer the people away from the path of revolutionary resistance by making them hope that their lives will improve. The program is implemented in tandem with what AFP psywar officials call "peace and development" operations in order to obscure the military's brutality especially in the countryside.

Aquino keeps on mouthing human rights rhetoric but has done nothing significant to advance them. Not a single fascist criminal responsible for more than a thousand extrajudicial killings under the Arroyo regime has been punished. Gen. Jovito Palparan who was behind some of the past decade's most brutal crimes such as the abduction, rape and torture of UP students Karen Empeño and Sherlyn Cadapan and the involuntary disappearance of activists Manuel Merino, Raymond Manalo and Jonas Burgos remains scot-free.

The AFP has received not so much as a reprimand for its countless crimes under Oplan Bantay Laya from 2001 to 2010. Thus, the military continues without letup with its terrorist campaign during its triad operations consisting of simultaneous psywar, intelligence and combat operations. During "community organizing for peace and development" operations or COPD, the military imposes curfews, controls the population's movements and enforces food blockades. The AFP tramples on human rights on a daily basis. The first year of the Aquino regime saw an average of one activist killed per week.

The military continually refuses to recognize and respect the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL). In the past several months, it has also relentlessly violated the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) by arresting and detaining representatives and consultants of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) in the peace negotiations. Seventeen NDFP consultants are still in detention despite Aquino's signature on an agreement in January 2011 to release them. More than 300 political prisoners still languish in jail.

On the other hand, Aquino continues to reconcile with the Marcoses. His openness to consider the dictator Marcos a "hero" is a grave insult to the Filipino people and a reversal of their judgment when they overthrew Marcos during the EDSA Uprising of 1986.

Like the Marcos dictatorship and succeeding regimes, Aquino has demonstrated his shameless puppetry to US imperialism. He defends the Visiting Forces Agreement, the Mutual Defense Treaty amd other unequal treaties between the Philippines and the US. Around 700 American troops belonging to the Joint Special Operations Task Force (JSOTF)-Philippines continue to be stationed at Camp Navarro in Zamboanga City. US warships continue to dock in Philippine ports, bringing in thousands of American troops.

Following US directives, Aquino has been drumming up the Spratly Islands issue in order to foment diplomatic and military tensions in the South China Sea. The US wants to create a situation where its military forces could intervene in the name of "extending assistance" to the Philippines. It is the US' strategic objective to deter China's rise as a power as it views the latter as a growing threat to US worldwide hegemony.

The US-Aquino regime is the current reactionary administrator of the ruling semicolonial and semifeudal system. The Filipino people have nothing to hope for under Aquino's rule. Aquino will only lead the toiling masses, the petty bourgeoisie and the national bourgeoisie to relentless and ever worsening crisis.

In their desire for national and democratic change, the people have no other recourse than to wage mass struggles and advance the armed revolution. Aquino's enforcement of antipeople and pro-imperialist policies spur the people to intensify their struggles. It will not be long before these struggles culminate in the rising of millions of people against Aquino's puppet and reactionary rule.

Guerrilla warfare is being advanced nationwide in order to overcome weaknesses, surpass previous victories and achieve the requisites for advancing people's war towards the strategic stalemate. Amid advancing mass struggles, the New People's Army must be ready to recruit thousands more Red fighters. It must continually launch tactical offensives that it is capable of winning in order to weaken the enemy, accumulate more weapons and inspire the people to advance their own mass struggles.

The Aquino regime is fast becoming isolated from the people despite being in power for only a year because of its antipeople, pro-imperialist and repressive policies. Soon, Aquino's rule will be consumed by the fires of the Filipino people's struggles.

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State of the Youth Address

Youth-student groups launched coordinated protest actions on July 19 dubbed "State of the Youth Address" (SOYA) to demand from Benigno Aquino III a sufficient budget for state universities and colleges (SUC). They assailed the continued reductions in the budgets for SUCs, saying the dwindling allocations have led to a deterioration in the quality of education in the country.

Hundreds of youth-student organizations joined the nationwide protest action. The activity was also supported by the 112-member Philippine Association of State Universities and Colleges (PASUC), Kabataan Partylist and Pres. Alfredo Pascual of the University of the Philippines.

In the National Capital Region, the protest action was marked by student walkouts, candle-lighting ceremonies and "planking" where rallyists lay on the street face down.

Meanwhile, in Iloilo City, some 2,500 students walked out of their classrooms and marched to the Iloilo Provincial Capitol for the SOYA. Among those who walked out were students of Western Visayas College of Science and Technology, University of the Philippines in the Visayas and West Visayas State University. Students in Baguio, La Union, Sorsogon, Cotabato, Cebu, Davao and Cagayan de Oro also walked out of their classes.

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Farmers of Hacienda Luisita defy Supreme Court decision

Despite prohibitions from the Cojuangco-Aquino family, more than 200 farm workers of Hacienda Luisita Inc. (HLI) tilled a 500-hectare lot that had been fenced off and claimed by Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC) and its business partner Luisita Industrial Park Corp. The activity was conducted within the disputed sugarcane plantation in Barangay Balete, Tarlac City.

The collective farming activity which was joined even by barangay officials was an organized protest action against the pro-landlord Supreme Court decision on July 5. Although it rescinded the Stock Distribution Option (SDO), the decision also ordered the conduct of another referendum where farmers will be asked whether they prefer the SDO or land distribution.

The farmers and farm workers were able to till more than two hectares in a day, using bolos and a few hand tractors.

They had earlier declared their rejection of the court decision and their boycott of any referendum that would be called as a result.

The hacienda workers know full well that the Supreme Court decision favors the Cojuangco-Aquino family. With a vote of 6-4, the court upheld an earlier decision by the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council (PARC) in 2005 to revoke the SDO. But it also disregarded the decades-long struggle of the farmers and farm workers for land.

The Cojuangco-Aquino family had already used referenda in the past to renege on their obligation to distribute the hacienda lands. They first used this tactic in 1989, under Corazon Cojuangco-Aquino's regime.

Because Corazon Aquino then prided in saying that agrarian reform was a cornerstone of her regime, she expanded its scope. But she exempted Hacienda Luisita to keep it in her family's hands and subjected it to the SDO scheme. Instead of land, the farmers were given worthless shares of stock.

In August 2010, a new referendum was called in an attempt to derail the hacienda workers' growing resistance. The referendum was marked by rampant bribery and terrorism by armed goons in the Cojuangco-Aquino clan's employ in order to manipulate the voting and make it appear that the farmers favored the SDO. The farmers denounced the referendum and the resulting compromise deal offered by the Cojuangco-Aquino clan.

The Cojuangco-Aquino family has actually never had any intention of distributing the 6,453 hectares of productive hacienda lands despite statements to this effect by the landlord president. It used the highest court in the country to legalize the clan's continuing claim over the land that has never been theirs to begin with.

In the 1950s, the funds used by the Cojuangcos to purchase Hacienda Luisita which was then owned by Spanish businessmen were sourced from the Government Service Insurance System and loans from a number of US banks, all of which were guaranteed by the Philippine government. The government then allowed the use of GSIS funds and agreed to guarantee the Cojuangcos' US bank loans on the condition that the land would be distributed to the farmers and farm workers after 25 years.

The Cojuangcos did not keep their end of the bargain. Through a combination of legalistic manipulations and outright deception, they claimed the land as their own and suppressed the resistance of the land's real owners.

Various peasant groups and sectors have condemned the Supreme Court decision. Different protest actions have already been launched by the farmers and farm workers in Hacienda Luisita to assert their right to the land.

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One killing a week under the Aquino regime

The Armed Forces of the Philippines' (AFP) campaign of extrajudicial killings goes on unabated under the Aquino regime. In the regime's first year, there was practically one activist killed every week by the state's armed agents. This underscores the hollowness of the regime's declarations of advancing human rights.

The human rights watchdog KARAPATAN recorded 48 extrajudicial killings in Aquino's first year. Among the victims were activists from the peasantry, workers, national minorities, government employees, businessmen and urban poor as well as environmental advocates. Abductions, torture, arbitrary arrests, illegal detention and other military atrocities have also been perpetrated relentlessly throughout the country.

The Aquino regime has likewise showed no intention of punishing the fascists responsible for the more than 1,000 extrajudicial killings and other crimes under the Arroyo regime. Despite two successive orders from the Supreme Court to the Armed Forces of the Philippines to surface the activists it had abducted, Aquino has not taken any steps to hold accountable the AFP officers and personnel who perpetrated and masterminded these crimes.

In June, the Supreme Court ordered in back to back decisions the surfacing of Jonas Burgos, Karen Empeño, Sherlyn Cadapan and Manuel Merino. The court took note of the evidence showing that the abduction of Burgos in April 2007 and Empeño, Cadapan and Merino in February 2006 were the handiwork of AFP personnel.

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3 farmers beaten up by 801st DRC

Military abuses continue without letup in the countryside. Three farmers were beaten up by soldiers conducting operations in May and on June 11 in a village in Basey, Samar.

On June 4, Jessie Odel, 35, suffered fractures and severe bruises all over his body after being beaten up by soldiers from the 19th IB in Sitio Biga, Barangay Mabini after he could not provide any information on the whereabouts of the New People's Army.

On May 26, soldiers from the 801st Division Reconnaissance Company (DRC) arrested and mauled "Jerry," 30.

The day before, the same military unit also arrested and beat up a farmer named "Dacoy," 30, in Sitio Bagti, Barangay Mabini.

All of the victims were warned against reporting on their plight. Odel was told by the soldiers that they would pay his hospitalization expenses only if he keeps silent about the torture he suffered.

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Demolition in Davao City

Ten residents of Barangay Soliman, Agdao District, Davao City were injured during the demolition of their community on July 1. Among the victims was a 12-year old child.

Tanggol Bayi, a group of women human rights advocates strongly condemned the violent demolition, which occurred just ten days after another urban poor coomunity was demolished in Tigatto, Buhangin District in the same city.

More than 200 families would have lost their homes in Barangay Soliman had the demolition been completed. They would have had nowhere to go since Davao City had just been devastated by severe flooding a few days before.

Not all the houses were demolished because of Mayor Sara Duterte's arrival at the scene to confront Court Sheriff Abe Andres who was implementing the demolition. The mayor has earlier asked the court sheriff to postpone the demolition for a few hours and wait for her arrival to avoid bloodshed. When the court sheriff ignored Duterte's request, the mayor hit him. This incident grabbed the media and the public's attention. Duterte was criticized by several quarters, many of whom failed to take notice of the violence inflicted on the urban poor residents.

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Military abuses in Tubo, Abra

Grave human rights abuses were part and parcel of the 41st IB's military operations from March to April in Barangay Alangtin, Tubo, Abra and in May in Barangay Baclingayon, also in the town of Tubo.

In Baclingayon, soldiers illegally arrested Sayan Pimmangen Macaiba on May 24 at around 6:15 a.m. Macaiba, a resident of Belwang, Sadanga, Mountain Province had gone to Baclingayon with a companion who was also from Belwang to buy a carabao. While trekking the Belwang-Baclingayon Trail on their way back, they met a section of the 41st IB Recon Platoon Alpha Coy led by 2Lt. Aries M. Tagayun in Kadawilan. Macaiba's companion was able to run away.

The military demanded the ownership documents for the carabao, but Macaiba could not produce them. The soldiers seized the carbine and .45 pistol he was carrying, and shot the side of Macaiba's foot three times, leaving a hole in one of his slippers. He was made to wear a poncho and was brought along with his carabao to Baclingayan. The soldiers gagged him to prevent him from talking.

The carabao was transferred to the custody of barangay officials. Macaiba was kept away from view. At around 11 p.m., he was brought to the town center and transferred to police custody. The military charged him with illegal possession of firearms. Bail was set at P80,000. Macaiba is out on bail but still faces trumped-up charges.

On May 22-29, the military positioned two 105 mm howitzers in Barangay Kili, Tubo.

On May 22, Manuel Bagsao, a village resident was detained for several hours by the 41st IB at the power house of Barangay Kili's Micro Hydro Power generator. He was freed only when the barriofolk went to the military to demand Bagsao's release.

Lt. Col. Noli Anquillano, 50th IB chief also threatened the father of Ka Andy, a Red fighter to force the old man to point to his son's whereabouts.

In Sitio Beew, Alangtin town, Colonel Anquillano's men stationed a mortar launcher in front of the village church and fired it several times. They also stayed for a month in civilian facilities such as the dap-ay (the elders' meeting place) and the barangay hall, aside from the residents' houses.

The soldiers controlled the people's movements, listing down the names of everyone leaving the barrio, their destination and their date and time of return.

They arbitrarily mauled a number of civilians. A soldier hit Wail, a 30-year old villager when the trooper disliked the way Wail had answered his questions. The elders fined the soldier for his disrespect.

Suspected NPA supporters were harassed in Beew. Four households in particular caught the soldiers' ire because they were suspected of hosting NPA guerrillas. These were the homes of Lorenzo and Rita Cayandag; Benedicto "Bakday" Oloan; Tessie Bakilog; and Totoy Palino. The military took pictures of Palino's daughter Jennifer who was accused of being an NPA courier. Oloan's dog was also suspected of being an NPA hunting dog.

Troops from the 50th IB tore down enclosures that fenced in the farmers' carabaos, thus allowing the animals to enter farms and trample on the crops. Several carabaos also fell off cliffs and were maimed or killed. The soldiers never even bothered to repair the fences they had torn down.

The military burned forested and mountainous areas where they believed the NPA was staying. The fire gutted a large area, prompting the villagers to impose a fine on the soldiers. They were too late, however, as the troopers had already left.

Their most serious violation involved the abduction of Martin "Baldo" Chupchupen, a resident of Mainit, Bontoc, Mountain Province. Chupchupen had come from Mainit to buy a carabao in Alangtin and thus didn't know that there was an ongoing military operation. He met the 50th IB troops while hiking along Mt. Layaban. The soldiers arrested him and brought him to their headquarters in Manabo, Abra. Chupchupen's fellow villagers who looked for him at the 50th IB camp were told that he had already been released. In fact, the military has not surfaced him to date.

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NPA in Sorsogon metes blows on 49th IB

Operating troops of the 49th IB have suffered several casualties in Sorsogon. Red fighters of the New People's Army (NPA) got wind of their presence every time they were on the attack and mounted ambushes against the military forces.

On July 4, an NPA unit then stationed at Barangay Togawe, Gubat town was informed that a team from the 49th IB was headed on foot towards the Red fighters' location. The guerrillas immediately planned an ambush. They detonated explosives along the approaching soldiers' path before opening fire. Four of the enemy troopers were reported killed.

The day after, the military vented its ire on innocent civilians. At around 9:30 a.m., soldiers seized Rosabelle Mangampo, a 32-year old housewife and her children, 2-year old Mark Jay and 1-year old Mark Anthony, and her nephew Ricky Calayo, 23. They were brought to the Gubat municipal hall, and were allowed to go home only at around 2 p.m. after the Togawe village chief followed them up and demanded their release.

Earlier, the 49th IB had already attempted to encircle an NPA unit that was temporarily stationed in Barangay San Ramon, Barcelona town in the afternoon of June 30. The NPA got wind of the plan and seized the initiative by detonating explosives and raining automatic fire on the troopers. At least three of the soldiers were killed and five were wounded.

That night, the military launched hot pursuit operations in Barangay San Ramon and confiscated the cellphones of villagers Rosanna and Rosemarie Estiller.

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NPA seizes 23 firearms in anti-mining offensives in Palawan

Palaweños are cheering at the successive victories of the New People's Arny (NPA) against destructive mining operations in the province. The Red fighters were able to seize 23 firearms from six tactical offensives launched by the Zacarias Sarsidillo Command (NPA-Palawan) from June to July.

In a statement, NPA-Palawan spokesperson Ka Samuel Caballero said the NPA was able to seize mining equipment on June 2 from Orebucks Mineral Traders, a chromite mining company in Barangay Paly, Taytay town. The Red fighters were also able to cart off 11 firearms of various caliber consisting of a baby M16, two Ingram machine pistols, two KG9 machine pistols, two shotguns, two .45 pistols and a .38 revolver. They also seized three grenades, six communication radios, a sniper scope and ammunition of various caliber.

Also in Taytay town, an NPA unit meted punishment on the abusive Bantay Lawa Security Group on June 27 in Danao Lake, Barangay Poblacion for serving as an instrument in seizing the lands and burning down the farms of peasants in the area. The guerrillas confiscated a "Street Sweeper" shotgun, four .45 pistols and an ICOM radio.

The NPA-Palawan also attacked on June 26 the security guards of Ipilan Nickel Corporation in Barangay Ipilan, Española town. Seized were a shotgun, a 9 mm pistol and six communication radios. That same day, the guerrillas seized from security personnel of Macro Asia a shotgun and a .38 revolver. Macro Asia mines nickel in Barangay Pulot 3, also in Española.

Meanwhile, an NPA squad disarmed the abusive criminal private army of Abet Pacia in Barangay San Jose, Taytay on June 6, seizing a carbine, two shotguns, a .45 pistol and a pair of night vision goggles.

Said Caballero, the Palaweños are pleased with these offensives launched by their people's army. They have long been complaining about the destruction of their environment due to the operations of mining companies and the terrorism being perpetrated by their armed guards, especially against children and youth.

In spite of this, the local government has turned a deaf ear to these grievances and has even conspired with the mining companies.

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NPA harassment operation in Samar

A SOLDIER was killed and three other troopers were wounded in a harassment operation launched by a unit of the New People's Army Jorge Bolito Command on May 29 in Sitio Biga, Barangay Mabini, Basey, Samar. The casualties belonged to a 35-man troop under the elite 801st Division Reconnaissance Company which was then in the thick of military operations. The NPA suffered no casualties. The attack was a punitive measure against the 801st DRC which was involved in several cases of physical assault on villagers during its military operations in Basey.

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Medical services delivered in Samar

UP to 120 patients from several villages of Pinabacdao, Samar benefited from various medical services provided by Red fighters of the New People's Army (NPA) and local medics last June. The patients received medical checkups, underwent minor operations and tooth extractions and availed of other health services.

The interbarrio clinic was launched after a medical training conducted by the NPA Jovito Ragay Command in Calbiga, Samar from May 23-June 10. Fifteen guerrillas and ten members of local mass organizations joined the training, which was conducted to raise the participants' competence on health-related matters and their ability to contribute to the advance of people's war through medical work.

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Brains behind fascist crimes punished in Batangas

THE New People's Army implemented the death sentence meted by the people's court on P/Supt. Rodney Ramirez after he was found guilty of masterminding the killing of two mass leaders in Southern Tagalog. The death penalty was enforced by the Eduardo Dagli Command on the morning of June 12 in Barangay Butong Bayan, Taal, Batangas.

An investigation revealed that Ramirez ordered the killing of mass leaders Sabina "Nanay Sabeng" Mendoza Arriola in Santa Rosa, Laguna on March 23, 2009 and Kenneth Reyes in Lemery, Batangas on April 11.

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Bishop Purugganan, people's servant

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines hailed Most Rev. Miguel Purugganan, Bishop Emeritus of the Diocese of Ilagan, Isabela who died on July 8. The NDF extended its heartfelt condolences to his family, colleagues, friends and the many people he helped.

Bishop Purugganan was one of seven Catholic bishops who courageously denounced martial law and the Marcos dictatorship. He set up the Basic Christian Communities Community Organizing (BCC-CO) nationwide and organized and mobilized the oppressed and exploited to stand up for their rights, collectively advance their interests and fight for their fundamental national and democratic aspirations. He served as BCC-CO chair for many years.

He had no qualms in taking in as staff organizers even those on the wanted list of the Marcos dictatorship and were branded enemies of the state. He helped and defended staff who were arrested and detained by the military. Even before he became a bishop, he was known to be a just and caring person. Said the NDFP, the people whose lives he touched will never forget his exemplary spirit of service to the people.

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Colonel Sumagaysay's pipe dream

The New People's Army (NPA) has been earning brilliant victories in Negros, contrary to virtually daily claims by Col. Jonas Sumagaysay of the 3rd ID that the NPA is on a losing course.

Colonel Sumagaysay is dreaming if he really believes that the NPA in Negros is on the verge of collapse. According to his latest pack of lies, the AFP has been able to monitor the NPA's latest activities because it has planted "deep penetration agents" (DPA) or "insiders" within the revolutionary movement. He added that the revolutionary movement in the island is currently conducting a purge called "Oplan Panghilamon" against these imaginary DPAs.

The NPA is gaining strength, and not weakening in the island. In fact, the NPA was able to launch 21 coordinated tactical offensives from June 5 to July 6. In a press statement, Ka Juanito Magbanua, spokesperson of the Apolinario Gatmaitan Command of the NPA in Negros said seven soldiers were killed and 15 were wounded in these gunbattles. The NPA was also able to seize six high-powered firearms, and punish military assets.

The latest NPA tactical offensive was an attack on a fish farm owned by a nephew of Negros Occidental governor Alfredo Marañon in Barangay Bulanon, Sagay town on June 16. Two M14s, an M16, a shotgun and a .22 pistol were seized in this raid.

The Negrenses hailed the attack on the antipeople and pro-capitalist governor. Marañon is behind the mining operations in the mountainous areas and coastal areas of Sagay and Cadiz towns. He systematically evicted 8,000 people living within the Northern Negros Forest Reserve in order to convert the area into pastureland.

The NPA had earlier raided the compound of Philex Gold Mining Corp. in Barangay Nabulao, Sipalay City in Negros Occidental on July 6. Red fighters under the NPA Armando Sumayang Command in Southwestern Negros Front disarmed its armed guards and destroyed three vehicles and two barracks. They seized four shotguns, a .357 revolver and three communication radios.

NPA-Southwestern Negros spokesperson Ka Andrea Guerrerro said that Philex Mining Corp. is responsible for destroying the lives, livelihood, health and environment of the people. It dumps toxic waste into the Mantubay stream and the Bacuyangan and Sipalay rivers which has resulted in fish kills along the coastal areas of Sipalay and the depletion of irrigation water for farmlands.

Due to the mining company's operations and exploration activities, thousands of people have been evicted from their homes in the villages of Camindangan, Manlocahoc, Cabadiangan and San Jose in Sipalay City and in Barrio Camalandaan in Cauayan town.

Even before this tactical offensive in southern Negros, the police and military had already been caught by surprise by the successive military actions of guerrilla units under the Leonardo Panaligan Command in Central Negros. (See related article in AB's July 7, 2011 issue)

Meanwhile, in Northern Negros, 62nd IB chief Lt. Col. Eduardo Gubat was also taken aback by a series of NPA attacks. On the night of June 8, the NPA Roselyn Pelle Command opened fire on 62nd IB troops stationed at Sitio Magkalape, Barangay Tabun-ac in Toboso, Negros Occidental. Two soldiers were killed and an undetermined number were wounded. The day after, another NPA unit harassed soldiers posted in an upland area of Sitio Gabon-gabon along the border of Barangay Tabun-ac and Barangay Pantao, Calatrava.

On June 12, the NPA ambushed a column of the PNP Regional Mobile Group (RMG) in Sitio Banag, Libertad in Escalante City. Six RMG elements were killed.

Meanwhile, a soldier from the 11th IB was wounded in an encounter between the military and an NPA unit in Sitio Lag-asan, Barangay Tacpao, Guihulngan, Negros Oriental on July 4.

These failures caused the removal of Col. Francisco Patrimonio from his post as 303rd Brigade chief on June 20. The 3rd Scout Ranger Company was also transferred back to Negros from Samar.

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Series of offensives in Leyte against the 78th IB

Twenty-one (21) soldiers of the 78th IB were killed when they were confronted head-on by tactical offensives launched by Red fighters under the Mt. Amandewin Command of the New People's Army in Leyte (MAC-NPA-Leyte). Leyteños applauded these NPA victories which have raised the morale and fighting capability of the people's army, according to belated reports from the Efren Martires Command (EMC-NPA-Eastern Visayas).

These reports give the lie to claims by Col. John Bonafos, 802nd Brigade chief that the 78th IB suffered only one casualty.

In fact, said EMC spokesperson Ka Karlos Manuel, aside from the 18 troopers killed by the NPA in three tactical offensives, the enemy suffered three more casualties in a misencounter among confused and demoralized soldiers of the 78th IB. On the NPA side, four Red fighters were slightly wounded in these firefights.

On March 2, the newly deployed 78th IB immediately launched military operations in Leyte. Nonetheless, the Red fighters were able to prepare for the enemy offensive because of their familiarity with the area's steep mountains and the strong support of the peasants who were often victimized by the military.

On March 8, a unit under the Mount Amandewin Command ambushed a platoon under the 78th IB at around 4 p.m. in Sitio Mati, Barangay Antipolo, Albuera. Six 78th IB troopers were killed after a 40-minute gunbattle, paralyzing the majority of the platoon.

The day after, March 9, a smaller NPA unit came back to the demoralized soldiers. At around 6 a.m., the Red fighters harassed them, adding another five to the list of enemy casualties.

On March 13, at around 10 a.m., the NPA mounted an ambush on another platoon under the 78th IB in Sitio Buwak, Barangay Tinag-an, Albuera. Seven enemy troopers were killed in the gunbatle, which lasted more than an hour.

Because of their successive defeats, the demoralized and extremely confused soldiers had a misencounter on March 18, leading to the deaths of three more troopers.

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Expose the 8th ID's pretensions

Proof of the 8th ID's reprehensible character is its exploitation of the bishops of the Catholic Church to push an immoral, unjust and allout war through Oplan Bayanihan.

In a statement, Fr. Santiago Salas, spokesperson of the National Democratic Front-Eastern Visayas (NDF-EV) assailed Arned Forces chief of staff Gen. Eduardo Oban and 8th ID chief Gen. Mario Chan for gloating that they had gained the support of the church, the local government and other sectors for Oplan Bayanihan. The NDF-EV called on the Catholic Church and other sectors to be critical and cautious to prevent them from falling into the military's trap and be taken in by its bloody campaign against the people of Eastern Visayas. Through Oplan Bayanihan, the military projects itself like a wolf in sheep's clothing, said Salas. This must be thoroughly exposed not only in Eastern Visayas but throughout the Philippines.

The NDF-EV enjoined all sectors to expose and oppose Oplan Bayanihan. Salas said that the people must recognize Oplan Bayanihan's deceptiveness and pretensions at being a program for peace and development. Instead of treading the wicked road to war of Oplan Bayanihan, the NDF-EV called on the Catholic Church and other sectors to support the peace negotiations between the Aquino government and the NDFP and the struggle for a just and enduring peace. They must also support the struggle to attain justice for victims of human rights violations. The peace talks' current agenda is to come up with solutions to socio-economic problems, which are among the root causes of the civil war in the country.

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Landgrabbing and land monopoly in Southern Tagalog

Four-hundred thousand (400,000) hectares of agricultural land are currently embroiled in landgrabbing cases in the Southern Tagalog region. They cover 76 towns and 168 barangays. Among the landgrabbers are 67 landlords and 49 real estate corporations. More than 150,000 people are being threatened with eviction in 50 of these cases.

Landlords and real estate developers use various reactionary laws and policies to seize land. Land-use conversion (LUC) is widespread in the region. This involves landlords shifting from agriculture to other ways of utilizing their land in order to avoid having their property subjected to agrarian reform.

Farmlands are transformed into residential subdivisions, industrial enclaves, commercial centers and so-called eco-tourism projects such as golf courses, leisure and ecological farms, and theme and nature parks. In some cases, existing laws on land ownership are brazenly manipulated to deceive and swindle farmers. In other parts of the region, cancellations of certificates of land ownership awards (CLOA), certificates of land title (CLT) and emancipation patents (EP) are rampant. These are all provisions of existing agrarian reform laws.

Thousands of hectares have also been taken over by mining companies and "development projects" such as megadams. Some examples are the exploration activities of Mindoro Resources Ltd. on 24,000 hectares of land in Batangas, the impending construction of the Laiban Dam which will swallow up 28,000 hectares along the Rizal and Quezon border, and the conduct of off-shore mining by Pitkin Petroleum Ltd. Mining Corp. on 645,000 hectares of land and sea in Mindoro.

The transformation of agricultural land to corporate farms is also growing. The corporate farms are dubbed as agro-ecological and agro-industrial in nature, all in the name of shifting to more large-scale, productive and systematic land use. The striking examples are plantations in Quezon and Palawan provinces that grow industrial crops like jathropha and cassava for bio-fuel, and moringga for medical and nutritional uses.

In the region's mountainous areas, the Integrated Social Forestry (ISF) and Community-Based Forest Management Programs (CBFMP) are being implemented. These programs have caused the displacement of farmers who depend on growing food crops for a living. This is common in Batangas and even more common in Palawan and Mindoro where there are more expansive forestlands.

Landgrabbing cases bring to the fore the monopoly control over land in Southern Tagalog. The biggest landlords, comprador bourgeoisie and land developers lord it over the region, among them the Ayalas, Sys, Tans, Zobels, Roxases, Puyats, Lopezes, Yulos, Reyeses and Murrays.

Also in the region are the biggest real estate corporations such as Ayala Land Inc., SM Development Corporation, Manila Southcoast Development Corporation, LandCo, Fil-Estate, San Cristobal Realty Corporation, Laguna Estate Development Corporation, Guevent Industrial Development Corporation, Green Circle Properties, Crown Asia, Kuok-Philippines Property, Inc., Moldex and Cathay Land, Inc., whose owners are capitalized by or are in the same circles as the previously mentioned landlords.

It is not only in Southern Tagalog where massive landgrabbing is taking place. In various areas of the country, local landlords and foreign corporations compete in cornering the most favorable and most fertile land for their benefit. Spurring this development is the reactionary state's policy of hewing to "imperialist globalization" and trade and investment liberalization. The policy gives them free rein to plunder the country's natural resources to the detriment of the local economy and the people.

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Exploitation in vegetable farms of Southern Tagalog

Vegetable farming is one of the sources of income of peasants in Southern Tagalog (ST) and other parts of the country. Vegetable production has been expanding, particularly in Quezon and Laguna, erstwhile known for their coconut plantations.

Laguna has the biggest vegetable production in the region, producing up to 86,091 tons in 2006. Quezon is also one of the region's biggest vegetable producers. It has the advantage of having a climate favorable to vegetable growing in Mt. Banahaw and fine soil in Sariaya, Lucban and Candelaria towns.

Feudal exploitation of farmers. Vegetable production in the region is small-scale and dispersed. Farming implements used in planting, cultivating and harvesting are backward.

Because most farmers in ST are landless, they are forced to rent land from landlords.

Various forms of usury and unfair trade practices by merchants are prevalent in the region. Landlords, although not significant in number, control about 100 hectares. They rent their land out to poor peasants. Even government agencies such as the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the Project Development Assistance Center (PDAC) have private corporate farms whose land is likewise being rented out instead of being made available for free. DOLE has 36 hectares and PDAC 11.5 hectares. No less than the Department of Agriculture rents out land to farmers who have to pay 20% annual interest.

Land rent exacts a huge portion from the farmers' incomes. Even if the average vegetable farmer only uses one to two hectares, he pays up to P20,000 per hectare in rent annually. In the quintosan system, which is widespread in Laguna, farmers pay a fixed rental of P2,000 for every Πhectare, whether or not they have a successful harvest. Middlemen who buy the farmers' produce shortchange the peasants during harvest time.

Middle peasants face hardships during the planting season because the smallest investment needed to produce one vegetable variety in a hectare of land is P30,000. Some are forced to approach "5-6" loan sharks who charge 20% interest daily, just to be able to plant.

Seeds and fertilizer are sold to the farmers at exorbitant prices. For instance, in one area in Quezon, two sacks of fertilizer cost P1,100 while a bottle of pesticide costs P560. Plows are rented out for P300 per day. The government has not been of any help in relieving the peasants' burdens since it only gives out one packet of seeds per farmer. Pests, typhoons and other calamities are also factors that contribute to reduced incomes. Sometimes, farmers end up earning nothing at all.

Farm workers receive very low wages. The average wage is that set by the Regional Wage Board of Southern Tagalog which is only P200-250 daily. Farmers' are paid only P1 per kilo of cargo for the use of their horses in hauling. Vegetable pickers and farm workers who haul produce are likewise paid on a per kilo basis.

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Vegetable production in Southern Tagalog

The expansion of vegetable farms in Southern Tagalog has not been spurred by the peasants' conversion to high-value cash crops. In a study by the Southern Tagalog Regional Peasant Secretariat, the growing hectarage of land planted to vegetables nationwide is the result of massive tree-cutting in the forests. There are also cases in Southern Tagalog where the depletion of coconut lands in Quezon province paved the way for the emergence of widespread vegetable farming.

Because agricultural production in the country remains backward, small-scale and dispersed, farmers gamble on vegetable planting for a quicker return on their investment.

But poverty in the countryside has obviously not been resolved by the shift to vegetable farming and planting other high-value cash crops. The age-old problems of the peasantry persist such as the lack of capital and government subsidies, high costs of production vis a vis the very low prices commanded by agricultural products during harvest time, and the lack of storage, harvest and processing facilities.

The importation of cheap agricultural products from other countries has also had a huge impact. The resulting oversupply of vegetables depresses the prices of local products, eventually killing the industry.

It cannot likewise be denied that landlessness among the peasantry due to the inutility of the agrarian reform program being implemented by the government remains the fundamental problem of poor peasants in the countryside.

In 2000, there were 585,000 hectares planted to vegetables nationwide. In the same year, up to 4.5 million tons of vegetables were produced, comprising 30% of total agricultural production and 9-10% of the total sales of agricultural products throughout the country.

Vegetables are mainly produced in provinces with cool climates such as Benguet, Mountain Province, Northern Mindanao and the upland areas of Cebu. Vegetable production is also widespread in lowland areas like the Ilocos provinces, Nueva Ecija, Tarlac, Pangasinan, Laguna and Quezon.

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ILPS: A decade of struggle and triumph

Ten years have passed since the International League of People's Struggle (ILPS) launched its first international assembly in The Netherlands. The ILPS was formed to serve as a broad anti-imperialist and democratic alliance of mass formations and mass movements. Its objective was to expose and oppose inhuman policies and acts of the multinational companies, reactionary governments and international institutions such as the IMF, World Bank, WTO and military alliances.

The ILPS facilitated the unity, cooperation and coordination of democratic and anti-imperialist organizations such as trade unions and organizations of women, youth, peasants, teachers, health workers, journalists, writers, scientists, technologists, lawyers and other professionals, as well as popular movements and campaigns.

The ILPS has launched three international assemblies. Its fourth assembly was held in the Philippines on July 7-9.

The League has been outstanding in providing political education on major international concerns and issues. It has achieved a high level of unity and militancy due to rigorous study and by holding fast to anti-imperialist united front policy. It has succeeded in frustrating the attempts of a few pseudo-Maoist sectarians to undermine the unity of the League and swerve it towards the anarchist or Trotskyite path.

The League stands today as the foremost global formation of mass organizations comprehensively covering all major concerns and issues in the people's struggle for national and social liberation. Guided by the international united front policy, it can initiate or join mass campaigns or occasional activities of mass mobilization and broad international conferences. It brings together and coordinates mass organizations according to common interests and purposes. At the same time, it joins and supports the initiatives of its member- organizations.

One of the first campaigns launched by the League's member-organizations was the struggle against the policy of neoliberal globalization and the US "war against terror." In February 2003, they joined millions of people to condemn the war of aggression against Iraq and support the Iraqi people's struggle.

They joined protest actions against imperialist plunder during summits of the imperialist leaders and during meetings of such imperialist-controlled institutions as the IMF, WB, WTO and the World Economic Forum. They initiated campaigns in Asia and Africa against the Millennium Development Goals as a form of shedding crocodile tears and glossing over the problem of imperialist plunder. They launched campaigns to demand the release of political prisoners, such as ILPS vice chairperson Memik Horuz and the ILPS Auditor Irene Fernandez.

When the ILPS General Consultant Jose Maria Sison was branded a terrorist by the US and Dutch governments and the European Union, the League set up DEFEND Committees to uphold his rights.

The ILPS organized the Mumbai Resistance 2004 to oppose the reformist line of the Mumbai World Social Forum that same year. In 2005, it joined actions and conferences opposing the US war of aggression and called for the immediate release of political detainees. The ILPS actively defended officers and members who were being persecuted by reactionary governments.

Along with other international campaigns, ILPS member-organizations are also active in protests in their own countries and spheres. Among the issues addressed were human rights violations in the Philippines, Turkey, India and Brazil. Member-organizations were also active in local issues in Nepal, Palestine and Turkey, among others. In 2008, the League held the First International Conference on Migrant Workers and Refugees.

That same year, the ILPS reactivated RESIST as an international campaign against neoliberal globalization and war. It organized a conference attended by prominent economic experts from The Natherlands, Indonesia, the US, South Africa and the Philippines. It advocated and put forward anti-imperialist and propeople analyses in various international conferences.

In the current year, the League also called for, joined or supported campaigns against the US and NATO military attacks on Libya, for the freedom of Julian Assange and the defense of other victims of political persecution. It actively advances the commemoration of International Women's Day, the building of peasant solidarity in Asia and the solidarity of peoples victimized by calamities and disasters wrought by imperialist plunder.

These are but a few of the campaigns, protest actions and international conferences joined or initiated by the ILPS and its member-organizations in the past decade.

The League stands today as the global formation of democratic and anti-imperialist mass organizations. Its mass strength is in the millions and its member-organizations are able to carry out campaigns in their own spheres while actively participating in international campaigns organized by its center. Through the united front policy and by directly organizing the masses, the League has been able to augment and amplify its own organized mass strength and take advantage of contradictions among the imperialists. and reactionaries.