Like Haciendero President Aquino, Like Haciendero General Mabanta

Edmundo Vencer
NDFP-Panay Region
July 10, 2012

Recently, General Mabanta, commanding general of the 3rd Infantry Division (3ID) of the reactionary Philippine Army  (PA) had the gall to bid out the land-grabbed Army Reservation to investors engaged in the tourism business and tourists as if he owns the land that the Division squats on.

He conveniently brushed aside the fact that the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) forcibly took the 33,000-hectare Tumandok ancestral land and has continually attempted to drive away the Tumandok branding them as squatters on the land of their forefathers.

General Mabanta subscribes to the haciendero land-grabbing ways of the Cojuangcos in Hacienda Luisita, President Aquino’s inheritance from his forebears who, until now, have not yet returned to the sons and daughters of the original  peasant-owners the aforesaid 5000 hectare land in Tarlac. Also, the General proposed to ‘develop’ the Tumandok’s ridor (inherited land) into the so-called eco-tourism business in addition to the already awarded-to-foreign-multinationals mining exploration and the dangerous Jalaur River Dam. He follows the footsteps of the President’s family in developing Hacienda Luisita into a lucrative agro-industrial-commercial complex while distributing alms to the original peasant-owners. Like father like son.

General Mabanta does not study the history of his own country well, much less the struggle of the Tumandok and the islands of Panay and Negros in which he leads the GRP’s main counter-insurgency effort. The Tumandok have been fighting for their land since the time of the ‘Siao’ (Spanish colonizers). Three generations of Tumandok have been fighting for the return of Tumandok land land-grabbed by the GRP for the PA in 1962 during the Macapagal regime. What General Mabanta’s 3ID  today attempts but fails to suppress, is the continuous rising of grandparents, parents and grandchildren of the Tumandok against all previous and up to the current haciendero regime. 

Recently, General Mabanta offered to talk peace with local revolutionaries while vigorously waging war on the peasantry. He continually expressed this offer even as the 301st Brigade (301Bde) under the 3ID saturate the heart of the Tumandok land and all other fighting fronts of Panay in order to quell the people’s rising. The battalions under the 3ID unrelentingly scour the mountains of Panay and Negros for years and decades and intensifying this up to now, committing numerous atrocities even on children. This carrot and stick approach conveyed to us that what  General Mabanta desires is the peace of surrender and of the grave while also engaging in  divide-and-rule tactics (splitting the regions from the national center of the NDF). And not only that, he is pushing for ‘peace’ in order for his benefactors to profit from mining, the Dam and lately, tourism.

If you want to talk peace, you recommend to your commander-in-chief, President Aquino to guarantee safety for the NDF’s negotiators and consultants via recognition of the JASIG (Joint Agreement on Securities and Immunity Guarantees) and release our peace consultants whom your security forces  continually arrest or salvage.  Then talk to our national peace panel and do not sow intrigue against the NDF regional leadership with your fake proposals for local peace talks.

If you want real peace, your first step would only be to return the Tumandok land that you land-grabbed and implement genuine land reform. Implement national industrialization and not bargain away our national patrimony to foreign mining interests or rely on the shallow benefits of tourism for the enrichment of big tourist business profits. But then this may be too radical for your US-oriented  military (Fort-Bragg) training and education of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, is it not?

Your suggestion of peace is far opposite from the tradition of Bonifacio and the Katipunan and the Tumandok revolutionaries who fought the foreign invaders more than a century ago. The very name of your Camp, Macario Peralta, honors an officer of the United States Armed Forces in the Far East (USAFFE), a puppet army of the American colonizers who imposed their armed brutal rule over the country that Bonifacio fought and died for to be free.

No boastful claims of having the New People’s Army on the run by your troops  capturing many empty NPA camps could cover the fact that the NPA could hit you and inflict casualties even on your officers in areas that you claim to have cleared—in the ambush of your officers in the highway of Bagong Baryo, Tapaz and before the town of Tubungan. You even hid the fact that recently the NPA was able to embed a command detonated mine inside a detachment in Acuna, Tapaz and detonated it when your troops were deep asleep. You falsely claim that the NPA’s employment of command-detonated explosives violates international statute when the said weaponry is not covered by the ban on mines of the Ottawa Treaty and is only inflicted against your armed troops in a revolutionary war. In your frustration, you desperately resort to human rights violations in the countryside while threatening Tumandok advocates and other activists with your Palparan berdugo solution.

Nor could you deny the fact that many Tumandok and other youth all over the island are joining the NPA in their disgust at a jobless future and grinding poverty and thus strengthening a growing revolutionary movement. Hundreds of thousands of workers, peasants and from the middle sectors support and provide the mass base thus propelling the revolutionary forces in Panay to contribute hugely to the leap of the people’s war in the country to the stage of the strategic stalemate in a few years time.