People's war in ST advances despite intense militarization

ANG BAYAN
7 April 2012

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The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has been unleashing vicious military operations in the Southern Tagalog (ST) region, targeting the provinces of Quezon, Rizal, Laguna and Batangas as well as the island provinces of Mindoro and Palawan.

Killings have been rampant, such as the massacre in February of civilian minors who were hunting in Magdalena, Laguna.

Operations to control the population have led to forced evacuations and economic dislocation among minority people in Mindoro and Palawan. The torture of suspected members of the revolutionary movement is widespread in Quezon and Mindoro. Extrajudicial killings and forced disappearances are common in Batangas, Mindoro and Palawan. There are several cases of illegal arrest and detention and molestation and rape of women. Minors are forced to join the CAFGU and progressive leaders and people's organizations are maliciously linked to the armed revolutionary movement. These are only a few examples from the long list of crimes perpetrated by the AFP against the people.

In the region's urban areas, several urban poor communities and factories have been militarized. Military detachments have become a common sight in workers' communities and impoverished areas around Laguna de Bay under the so-called peace and development and community development operations.

There are a total of 16 AFP battalions concentrated in the guerrilla fronts of ST under the 2nd ID and the Western Command. The number excludes the PNP Special Action Force and public safety maneuver battalions as well as CAFGU units under the 59th Cadre Battalion of the Philippine Army.

Quezon is the region's most militarized province, with four Philippine Army battalions under the 201st and 202nd Brigade: the 74th IB in the 4th District; the 85th IB in the 3rd District; the 76th IB in the 2nd District; and the 1st SFB in the 1st District. The enemy is most concentrated in South Quezon and the Bondoc Peninsula (3rd and 4th Districts) where there are about six battalions of combined AFP, PNP and CAFGU forces deployed in 57 camps and detachments.

Next is Mindoro island with three Philippine Army battalions under the 203rd Brigade--the 80th IB, 4th IB, a battalion-size force of the 23rd Division Reconnaissance Coy and a company of Scout Ran-gers, a PNP assault battalion and three CAFGU battalions with more than 2,400 men in total spread out in 54 camps and detachments.

Third is Palawan with two battalions of Philippine Marines--the 4th and 12th Marine Battalion Landing Tea--under the Western Command, a Philippine Air Force battalion (740th Combat Group), a PNP battalion and a CAFGU battalion spread out in 20 camps and detachments.

Meanwhile, the 202nd Brigade which has jurisdiction over the provinces of Rizal, Laguna, Batangas and the 1st and 2nd Districts of Quezon has six strike battalions--the 76th IB in North Quezon, the 1st SFB in Central Quezon, the 1st IB in Laguna, the 730th and 733rd CG of the PAF in Batangas and the 16th IB in Rizal. In addition, the 58th IB under the 5th ID has also been launching military operations along the Rizal-Bulacan border.

Despite the AFP's overwhelming superiority in terms of number and weaponry, the New People's Army in Southern Tagalog valiantly faced every attack by the mercenary military and police forces of the puppet US-Aquino regime. According to incomplete reports from the provinces and military areas, a total of 89 tactical offensives were launched in the past two years that killed 63 enemy forces and wounded 39 others. A total of 85 firearms were seized, comprising 48 high-powered rifles, 37 pistols and low-powered rifles and several pieces of military equipment such as nigh vision goggles, communications radios, gre-nades and ammunition.

AFP military offensives are being launched relentlessly in all guerrilla fronts with the revolutionary forces enjoying very short respites. Despite this and amid hardships, the more than ten guerrilla fronts in the region's seven provinces have succeeded in preserving themselves. The relatively snaller and weaker units of the people's army maintained initiative and flexibility to avoid battles that they had not fully prepared for and were not sure of winning even as they looked for opportunities to strike at and deal casualties on the enemy's relatively weaker and more vulnerable parts.

The people's army took full advantage of the short rest periods between military operations to arouse, organize and mobilize the masses, launch antifeudal struggles and agrarian revolution, participate in production, set up local organs of political power and people's revolutionary organizations, and step up politico-military training. Thus, the base of support for the people's army and the armed struggle continues to arise and expand from the countryside while the people's army develops its iron discipline and steels its will to fight.