Villagers succeed in battling militarization in Central Panay

21 February 2012

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Under the Armed Forces of the Philippines' (AFP) repressive Oplan Bayanihan (OPB), fascist soldiers conduct so-called civil-military operations in order to "win over" the people. Under this program, the military maintains its presence in population centers.

The AFP builds detachments in the middle of communities or near schools, chapels, clinics and other civilian facilities in violation of the provisions of international humanitarian law and the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL). The militarization of communities has the objective of allowing a reign of terror, crime and antisocial activities, destroying the masses' livelihood, trampling on their human rights, forcing them to submit to the military's might and suppressing their struggles.

Contrary to the AFP and the US-Aquino regime's objectives, however, Filipinos nationwide are standing up to defy militarization and defend their democratic rights. In Tapaz, Capiz and Calinog, Iloilo, the people refused to be cowed by the AFP and resisted the terrorism of the 61st IB in a campaign that stretched from June to October 2011.

The 61st IB had a long and bloody record of human rights violations against the people of Negros. Due to the Negrenses' struggle, the 3rd ID was forced to transfer the butcher battalion to Panay at the end of 2010. Even in Panay, the 61st IB's record has been no less notorious. But the people of Tapaz and Calinog confronted the battalion head-on.

In Barangay Katipunan, Tapaz, villagers faced the soldiers twice to demand their pullout. Barangay officers, mass leaders and other barriofolk joined in confronting the military. Up to 50 villagers partticipated in the confrontation at Barangay Lahug where they gave the fascist soldiers up to two weeks to leave their village. In Barangay Tacayan, village leaders likewise led in confronting the soldiers and demanding their departure. Residents of Sitio Laugan, Barangay Aglinab also made a stand and told the AFP soldiers to leave.

To further dramatize their stand against militarization, the people drafted a petition against the soldiers' encampments at the village centers and circulated this among seven barangays from June to July. After the petition-signing, they brought the document to the office of the Tapaz town mayor and from here, to the office of the Capiz provincial governor in July.

They continued and expanded their petition-signing campaign up to the upland villages and brought up the issue before the Eighth Assembly of the TUMANDUK (Tumanduk nga mga Mangunguma nga Nagapangapin sa Duta kag Kabuhi) held in Calinog town in October. The progressive organization representing Central Panay's minority people had earlier held a march-rally at the Calinog town center joined by 1,000 indigenous people and their supporters.

The military troops were thus compelled to leave the village centers of Katipunan, Lahug and Tacayan.

Nonetheless, the military remains in the centers of many other barangays. The people's struggle therefore continues against the AFP's terrorism and military detachments in other village centers.