Unite the people against the US-Aquino regime's war of suppression

Editorial
Ang Bayan
December 7, 2011

After only a year and a half in power, the US-Aquino regime leaves behind a “road of righteousness” stained with the blood of victims of human rights violations committed in the course of the war of suppression being waged by the regime against the people. Benigno Aquino III's catchwords of “peace” and “respect for human rights” are not enough to cover up the brutality of his regime's armed minions against the Filipino people.

As soon as he came to power, Aquino gave marching orders to the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police to crush the New People's Army in three years. The AFP thus framed Oplan Bayanihan (OPB), a far more brutal war of suppression against the people.

Under OPB, military operations are being launched against villages suspect by the AFP and PNP of being active in the revolutionary movement. The AFP has positioned teams of soldiers in barrio centers to wreak havoc, terrorize and attack people it considers as “enemies of the state.” These vicious operations are patterned after those launched by the butcher Gen. Jovito Palparan from 2004-2010.
Wherever they operate, the AFP and PNP impose martial rule. They enforce curfews and conduct illegal searches. Persons suspected of involvement in the revolutionary movement are persecuted by the military through various means. Travel as well as work in the fields are restricted. Limits are imposed on the volume of food and other supplies that residents could purchase. Soldiers violate the people's domiciles. Military troops camp out within or beside campuses and other public places. Gambling and drunkenness among troopers are rampant.

This is the face of “people-centered” terrorism. The worst and most brutal of these AFP and PNP operations are conducted in areas where peasants wage intense struggle for land reform and minority peoples fight the incursion of foreign big plantations and mining companies on their ancestral lands.

In the cities, it is the urban poor communities that bear the brunt of the US-Aquino regime's brutality. Thousands of families have fallen victim to violent demolitions. Aquino's government conducts at least one demolition per month to pave the way for big bourgeois comprador projects. Workers' unions continue to suffer persecution, with not a few unionists becoming victims of extrajudicial killings.

The US-Aquino regime aims to suppress those who stand for the people's rights and interests. Just like the past regimes, the current government targets activists and leaders who are at the forefront of mass struggles. Illegal arrests, forced disappearances and extrajudicial killings are mounting. An activist or mass leader is killed almost every week by Aquino's armed minions. There are more than 350 political prisoners (including 78 arrested under the Aquino regime). But like Marcos, Aquino and his officials insist that there is not a single political prisoner in the country.

Among the political detainees who continue to languish in jail are 13 peace talks consultants of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP). The US-Aquino regime refuses to set them free despite having promised three times to release them. The consultants should long have been released in accordance with the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) which safeguards against the conduct of surveillance, arrest, imprisonment and other forms of harassment against personnel of both parties involved in the peace talks.

Aquino's refusal to comply with his obligations in the peace talks is proof of his lack of interest in negotiating with the NDFP. He gave off some soundbytes last year about the peace talks, but has since then put up one obstacle after another to prevent the talks from making any significant progress. With Aquino's rhetoric about “peace” and “respect for human rights” nothing but hot air, it has become evident that for him, the peace talks are nothing but an exercise in hypocrisy.

Aquino's genuine interests lie in intensifying the war of suppression against the people, using the military, police, CAFGU and the other state armed forces as his instruments. It therefore comes as no surprise that not a single military officer or element responsible for past fascist crimes has been charged and punished. Aquino continues to implement measures that overwhelmingly favor soldiers and policemen. The US has been providing military assistance to further upgrade the AFP and PNP's weaponry and equipment.

In the face of the US-Aquino regime's relentlessly intensifying war of suppression, the people must further raise their courage and fighting spirit. They must be roused to take a collective stand against military abuses. Human rights education must be propagated among their ranks, as provided for in the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL). Consciousness-raising is the key for them to determinedly defend their homes, livelihoods and freedoms.

Every single fascist crime must be cause for outrage. Every human rights violation committed by abusive soldiers, policemen and paramilitary forces must be made known to the entire nation and the whole world. Venues for the quick dissemination of information from farflung villages to the mass media, social media and other information channels over the internet must be invigorated. Every grievance emanating from the remotest sitio must be made to resonate over the entire archipelago.

The struggle for justice is the struggle not just of a few individual victims against particular soldiers or military and police units. To trample on a person's human rights is to trample on everyone's human rights. One person's cry for justice must become the nation's cry for justice.

It is not only the state's officers and armed minions who should be held accountable. The masterminds of the fascist war of suppression against the people must also be held responsible. The struggle to make Gloria Arroyo and her fascist followers pay for implementing the brutal Oplan Bantay Laya must continue.
At the same time, Benigno Aquino III must also be held accountable for his implementation of the repressive Oplan Bayanihan and his refusal to confront and resolve the basic social issues that lie at the roots of the people's armed resistance.