End the AFP's injustices against indigenous women! Fight Oplan Bayanihan and militarization in the countryside!

Simon "Ka Filiw" Naogsan
1 April 2012

Oplan Bayanihan (OpBay) rears its ugly head with the revelation of rapes-cum-kidnapping of minors from Mankayan, Benguet, by a certain Army Captain Danilo Lalin of the 86th IBPA. The two girls, "Isabel" and "Katrina", not their true names, were seduced by the military officer at different periods. Isabel, age 16, disappeared for four days last February this year. She was brought to an undisclosed place in Pangasinan and reportedly gang-raped by the officer and his companions as corroborated by medico-legal findings. Likewise, her friend Katrina who also comes from a poor peasant family suffered the same fate when she disappeared for three days before Christmas last year.

The 86th IB mainly operates in Ifugao and now extend to northern Benguet including Mankayan town. As gathered from the victim's account, after befriending her Katrina was brought by the Army captain to a Christmas party in Tinoc, Ifugao.

Capt. Lalin's shoddy treatment of Igorot lasses reflects OpBay's culture of impunity and the decadent perception of women as sexual objects and exploitation. Indeed, the AFP's conduct not only among national minorities but in all countryside communities wherever the AFP troopers are deployed includes not only molestation, but also the seduction and deception of barrio women, including married women, some of whom became pregnant and forced to bear children. In recent times, OpBay strategy utilized such scandalous relationships to gain entry and encampment in indigenous villages, thus exploiting the supposed respect given to a "pakamang" for the furtherance of counter-insurgency program.

The case of Capt. Lalin exacerbates the social chauvinism that heightens national oppression of the indigenous people, with the abused women forced to carry the stigma of disgrace. Capt. Lalin, an Igorot himself imbibing this culture of impunity while disrobing himself of the sacred indigenous culture of inayan in regard to womanhood perfectly fits himself in the pervading culture among the reactionary soldiery, "in every landing there is a darling". In the distant past, this would trigger a bloody tribal war between the aggrieved woman's tribe and the perpetrator for disgracing the honor of the victim's tribe. In Isabel's plight, her disarrayed mental state coupled with medical trauma after the incident forced her not to take the final exams and affects her high school graduation.

Capt. Lalin is one of the 254 CPLA integrees in the AFP under the auspices of the US-Arroyo Regime. While we take credence in Arsenio Humiding's announcement recently that Capt. Lalin is not a CPLA bearer, it just shows how bankrupt this CPLA Integration program is whatever shade it is and further shows that this CPLA listing is the aggrupations of traitors, thugs, opportunists, land grabbers, hold uppers and rapists rolled into one. Posturing such as being ever ready to effect arrest on Lalin if requested is just magnanimity in thin air! You need not wait for a request, you should account for the conduct of your ranks. Do it!

The Mankayan incident is not an isolated case, but an oft-repeated tale perpetrated by a military establishment that has long gone berserk, encouraged by a culture of impunity and traitor to a tribe's cherished regard to womanhood. The list of military atrocities against Cordillera women is endless. To recall a few: in 1995, a 17 year college student from Ahin, Tinoc, Ifugao was gang-raped by a 16-man unit of the 69th IB at Mt. Amtinangad. They left her unconscious. In 1999, a 14-year old Abra girl was gang-raped by three soldiers. On July 12, 2003, a 15-year old student of the Mountain Province State Polytechnic College who was made a mistress of a certain Sgt. Edwin Bautista, married and deployed with the 54th IB, was shot and killed inside Bautista's quarters in the Bontoc Barracks.

In Kin-iway, Besao, in 2002 there were two cases of broken families due to the womanizing of the members of the 22nd Coy under the 3rd Special Forces Batallion. Earlier in 2001, still in Kiniway, Besao a high school student was raped by a member of the 22nd SF Coy. In Guinaang, Bontoc, a 15-year old student was made pregnant by a member of the 54th IB but was left abandoned. A 4th year college student was courted by a certain Roel Ocampo of the 3rd SF Bn, but was also left behind when Ocampo's wife found out. Another 28-year old got married to a Sgt. Closa of the 54th IB but was abandoned when Closa's original wife found out.

The litany of sexual abuses by the military goes on up to the present. With the encampment inside several schools of soldiers ostensibly undertaking civic-military operations in Sadanga last year, young girls were again courted. It is always the case that the AFP is the perfect model of "mangallong" to rapist!

The Cordillera people have had enough of these sexual atrocities. It is high time that all military detachments inside villages be removed. At the same time, perpetrators of these injustices by the men in uniform--officers and rank and file alike--must be brought to account.

The Cordillera People's Democratic Front calls on the indigenous people to unite and prepare for battle to defend the victims of injustices. Fetad! Let us put an end to the violation of indigenous women by raising the banner of inter-tribal unity for the defence of land, life, livelihood and rights.

We call on the indigenous communities to send forth their finest sons and daughters to join the swelling ranks of Red fighters struggling for genuine justice.

Justice for Katrina and Isabel!
Resist Oplan Bayanihan!
Mabtad taku amin!