Military rule persists in the country


Military rule persists in the country

Ang Bayan
September 21, 2012

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Military terrorism has not ceased in the country. Military rule remains a reality 40 years after Ferdinand Marcos' formal declaration of martial law on September 21, 1972 and 26 years after his regime was overthrown in a people's uprising in February 1986.

Marcos used martial law to perpetuate himself in power and strengthen the rule of foreign big capitalists, big bourgeois compradors, landlords and bureaucrat capitalists.

Despite the much-vaunted restoration of democracy, there is little to distinguish succeeding regimes from the despised Marcos fascist dictatorship. Even without a formal martial law declaration, state terrorism is able to prevail. The exploiters and oppressors backed up by martial law continue to lord it over the country.

This has been made possible through the intensified militarization of the country since the time of Corazon Aquino's regime up to that of her son Benigno Aquino III. The current regime bears the notoriety of launching massive and incessant military operations and maintaining a heavy military presence in peasant and urban poor communities nationwide.

To preserve the rotten and bankrupt semicolonial and semifeudal system, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), the Philippine National Police (PNP) and other armed minions of the reactionary state have been expanded and given major roles to play since 1972. The AFP's ascendance in many aspects of Philippine society is a manifestation of the continuously worsening crisis of the ruling system, which has made it necessary to strengthen the coercive forces of the state and suppress the people's growing resistance.

Marcos beefed up the AFP from 60,000 to 100,000 troops upon the declaration of martial law and further expanded it to 250,000 in mid-1975 after integrating the forces of the PC-INP. After martial law, the AFP's size further swelled to 200,000 and the PNP from 115,000 to its current size of 140,000. These figures do not include paramilitary forces like the CAFGU and other armed groups controlled by the military whose numbers have also grown severalfold.

The AFP not only serves as the strongest bastion of the reactionary ruling system. It is also US imperialism's most reliable instrument for ensuring its dominance over the country. The AFP is the US' most unflinching ally in the protection of its strategic interests in the Philippines and in stabilizing the reactionary political system, safeguarding foreign investments and suppressing the anti-imperialist and revolutionary forces. Towards this end, US imperialism has taken tremendous efforts to strengthen the AFP organizationally, supply it with weapons and train its personnel on current US doctrine.

The AFP and PNP, in fact, trace their origins to the first mercenary troops from Macabebe, Pampanga who were used by the American colonialists to pursue Filipino revolutionaries resisting US occupation troops from 1899-1903. These forces later evolved into the Philippine Scouts (which later became the Philippine Scout Rangers) and the Philippine Constabulary.

Key officers of the AFP are sent for training to US military institutions such as West Point Military Academy, Annapolis Naval Academy and Fort Benning and are recruited as agents of the imperialist Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

The AFP is supplied with weapons through the US Foreign Defense Financing Program, and arms procurements from other countries under the AFP Modernization Program are  supervised by US military advisers.

On the other hand, every counterrevolutionary campaign waged by the Philippine puppet government is patterned after US doctrine. The current Oplan Bayanihan is practically an exact copy of the US Counterinsurgency Guide of 2009.

The AFP was able to establish its politico-military power in all aspects of Philippine society during martial law's formal 14-year existence. The extent to which the Philippine social system has been militarized is boosted further as tens of thousands of former military officers occupy positions in the civilian bureaucracy. They are either appointed to various government agencies or elected to congress or local government posts. Militarizing the bureaucracy serves the purpose of accommodating retired ranking military officers who are cronies of reactionary politicians. In the same way, the AFP is able to use the civilian bureaucracy to advance its counterrevolutionary programs.

Using the military to deliver services that should be provided by civilian agencies of government has also become a widespread practice, and has become even more rampant under the US-Aquino regime's Oplan Bayanihan through the AFP's "peace and development organizing teams." Civil-military operations feature military troops conducting censuses and medical and dental missions, constructing and repairing schoolbuildings that are eventually used by them as barracks for as long as a year and even grotesque scenes of soldiers providing human rights education to schoolchildren.

This is an insidious effort to erase from the people's collective memory the evil role played by the reactionary military in sowing fascist terror and preserving the exploitative and oppressive ruling system. With the people's consciousness anesthesized into accepting the pervasiveness of the military and turning a blind eye to military abuses, their militant resistance to militarization wanes until they become tolerant of repression.

But all these efforts by the AFP, the Aquino regime and their US imperialist master are in vain. An institution that is puppet, repressive, corrupt and mercenary to the core can never be deodorized and will never evolve into a positive force in society.

With open fascist rule during the dark days of the Marcos dictatorship, the people became witness to militarization at its worst. Marcos' martial law has left a poisonous legacy of pervasive militarization and persistent military repression, perpetuated in the guise of "peace and development operations." This is the truth that must be brought to the fore with every commemoration of the martial law declaration.

There is no fitting response to relentless military repression other than for the people to tirelessly expose the truth and persevere in their resistance.

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Traces of martial rule

The legality of the laws that were enforced during the Marcos fascist dictatorship has been generally upheld, except for some that were discarded by Corazon Aquino in her first days in power and those rescinded by the Supreme Court.

Corazon Aquino allowed the existence of repressive laws such as Batas Pambansa (PB) 880 that banned people from gathering in public and General Order (GO) 66 that allowed the military and police to set up checkpoints in roads and schools. GO 67, on the other hand, allowed warrantless arrests. Presidential Decree (PD) 1866 penalizes the illegal possession of firearms in relation to rebellion. Executive Order (EO) 129 allows the demolition of urban poor communities.

Corazon Aquino also legalized the existence of the Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU) when she issued EO 264 which placed the hated paramilitary unit under AFP supervision. Like his mother, Benigno Aquino III maintained the paramilitary units despite massive opposition from the people. He claims that the CAFGU and other paramilitary units are force multipliers under the AFP's Oplan Bayanihan.

Upon the US government's direction, Corazon Aquino likewise wholeheartedly welcomed into her government the officers and men of the AFP despite the strong clamor to prosecute and punish military and police officers involved in major cases of corruption and widespread human rights violations under the Marcos dictatorship. Instead of holding them accountable for their grave crimes against the people, Aquino appointed to top positions key implementors of martial law such as Juan Ponce Enrile and Fidel Ramos who turned against Marcos only when the latter was already severely isolated from the Filipino people. Aquino reinstated Enrile as Secretary of National Defense and Ramos, who headed the Philippine Constabulary-Integrated National Police was appointed AFP chief.

Many other military and police officers were likewise appointed to key government positions under succeeding regimes, until the civilian bureaucracy became highly militarized. In 2009, Gloria Arroyo appointed 25 retired generals to important civilians positions. A few of them are Gen. Eduardo Ermita as Executive Secretary; Gen. Angelo Reyes as secretary of the Department of Energy; Gen. Leandro Mendoza as secretary of the Department of Transportation and Communications; and Gen. Hermogenes Ebdane as secretary of the Department of Public Works and Highways.

Benigno Aquino III's regime has appointed Gen. Voltaire Gazmin as defense secretary; Gen. Danilo Lim as Bureau of Customs deputy commissioner; Gen. Benito Ramos as NDRRMC chief; former AFP chief of staff Ricardo David as Commissioner of the Bureau of Immigration; and PNP Dir. Gen. Nicanor Bartolome as replacement for ousted DILG Undersecretary Rico Puno.

A military record has become sufficient credential for election as legislator, even in the absence of further training. Some examples are former senator and now Rep. Rodolfo Biazon, a former AFP chief; senator and now Mayor Alfredo Lim, former Manila Police Department and National Bureau of Investigation chief; Sen. Panfilo Lacson, former PNP chief; Sen. Gregorio Honasan, a former AFP colonel and leader of the Reform the Armed Forces Movement; and Rep. Roilo Golez, a former colonel and graduate of the Annapolis Naval Academy.

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Onslaught of militarization in the countryside

As in the US-Marcos dictatorship, military power prevails in wide parts of the country. But unlike during Marcos' time, martial law reigns, especially in the countryside, without any formal declaration by Aquino.

This is the legacy of martial law. Militarization has become an intrinsic part of the ruling political system and is one of its key instruments in preserving the rotten social system.

As before, the AFP wields its power the most in areas where antifeudal mass struggles and armed struggle are most active. The main target of brutal repression are impoverished peasants and national minorities. Militarization is made widespread and sustained in order to suppress massive people's resistance and crush their fledgling democratic power. Since the Arroyo regime, urban poor communities covered by projects under the Public-Private Partnership have likewise become militarized.

Militarization is also particularly intense in foreign mining areas, commercial plantations, big haciendas and agribusiness sites. It is likewise severe in areas where megadams and other destructive "development" projects aimed at providing the needs of foreign companies are being constructed. The object of militarization is to pave the way for the entry of foreign and commercial interests.

Serious cases of militarization, abuse and other violations of human rights are currently raging in the Bicol region, especially in Albay (within and around Legazpi City) and Camarines Norte. There are more than eight battalions of fascist soldiers spread out in big haciendas in the Bondoc Peninsula, surpassing the number of troops deployed to the area during the height of militarization under the US-Marcos dictatorship.

Militarization is likewise intense in mining areas in the Caraga and Cordillera regions and various parts of Southern, Far South and Western Mindanao, and in Bukidnon where giant dams are being built.

The most brutal forms of repression and terrorism are being unleashed. Extrajudicial killings, forced disappearances, torture, illegal searches, illegal arrests and detention and other human rights go on unabated.

Bombings, strafings and massacres are rampant. These operations destroy the people's livelihoods, homes and property. Tens of thousands have been forced to evacuate for their own safety. Villagers are conscripted into paramilitary groups.

Since 2011, under Oplan Bayanihan, brutal military operations have been conducted using the mantle of "peace and development." Through the so-called Community Organizing for Peace and Development (COPD), long-term "special operations" are launched by teams of soldiers to subject villagers to military power. The troops use schools, barangay halls and other civilian structures as their bases of operations. The AFP violates the international laws of war when soldiers forcibly stay in peasants' houses.

Using the AFP's official funds, soldiers target women and youth by befriending or courting them. The AFP encourages and benefits from illegal drugs, drunkenness and other antisocial practices. The antisocial elements are later recruited as intelligence personnel in the barrio.

The military also keeps a close watch on village activities. They go from house to house in the name of census-taking to identify individuals and organizations opposed to reactionary state programs and place them under surveillance. They impose curfews and other repressive measures similar to policies under openly declared martial law. They maliciously accuse those who oppose them as members of the New People's Army.

The soldiers spread disinformation and propagate deceptive programs to destroy the people's unity and derail their resistance. Troopers directly implement the reactionary regime's counterinsurgency program, including the organization of so-called Agrarian Reform Communities under the CARPER framework (see related article) and the distribution of doleouts under 4Ps.

THE MILITARY'S political power stems from its power to suppress and destroy. They determine the laws wherever they are able to exercise power. The rhetorics of "democracy" and "civilian authority" are mere camouflage to conceal brutal military rule.

Because the military is the main instrument to buttress foreign big capitalists, the big comprador bourgeoisie and landlords, the anti-militarization struggle is part and parcel of the anti-imperialist and antifeudal struggle of the Filipino people. The people must intensify their defense of their human rights along with advancing their democratic struggle for agrarian reform and the national right to self-determination.

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Commemorating the 40th anniversary of martial law

Widespread protest actions of youth activists, a hunger strike by political detainess in prisons across the country and the mounting of an exhibit marked the commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the imposition of martial law.

Youth and students launched a week-long strike and walked out of their classrooms nationwide from September 17-21. The protest actions were led by the League of Filipino Students in partnership with Anakbayan, KARATULA, Student Christian Movement of the Philippines, National Union of Students of the Philippines and Kabataan Partylist. They demanded the abrogation of the Education Act of 1982, which is one of former dictator Ferdinand Marcos' evil legacies.

The youth activists assailed Benigno Aquino III not only for his violation of the youth's right to education but for trampling on other human rights as well. They cited the irony of an administration led by someone who hails from a family victimized by Marcos now enforcing virtual martial rule.

Meanwhile, some 300 human rights lawyers, 200 law students and paralegals from 18 regional and provincial branches of the National Union of People's Lawyers (NUPL) held a hunger strike from September 14-21. They demanded that the Aquino regime release more than 350 political prisoners incarcerated in various detention centers across the country.

Political detainees from Southern Mindanao, Central Visa-yas, Eastern Visayas, Iloilo, Batangas, Isabela, New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City and Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City also conducted their own hunger strike.

An exhibit was mounted by KARAPATAN and SELDA (Samahan ng Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto) at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City on September 12-21. Entitled "Himagsik at Protesta: Apatnapung taon ng Batas Militar," it called to mind the lessons of 14 years of military terrorist rule under the Marcos dictatorship.

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Rights groups oppose militarization of schools

Human rights advocacy groups vigorously assailed the military's use of the country's public schools. ACT Teachers Partylist Rep. Antonio Tinio conveyed this in a dialogue with    Atty. Alberto Muyot, Undersecretary for Legislative and Legal Affairs of the Department of Education (DepEd).

The participants, who included representatives from the Katribu Partylist, Dinteg (Cordillera Indigenous Peoples Legal Center) and Children's Rehabilitation Center (CRC) demanded the pullout of government soldiers who have been using public schools nationwide to implement the Aquino regime's Oplan Bayanihan. The military has thus been violating the schoolchildren's right to education.

Before the dialogue was over, Undersecretary Muyot promised to issue a memorandum that would revoke all existing memoranda of agreement between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and DepEd school divisions.

In Mindanao, the military has been terrorizing teachers and students in a number of Lumad schools such as those run by the Center for Lumad Advocacy and Services in Sarangani and the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines in Agusan del Sur, Bukidnon and Compostela Valley.

Meanwhile, the B'laan Community Literacy School in Malapatan, Sarangani and the Alternative Learning Center for Agriculture and Livelihood Development (ALCADEV) in Lianga, Surigao del Sur have had to close down because of the forced evacuation of the local populace due to continuing military operations in these areas.

These schools were established by the national minorities themselves and are supported by non-governmental and religious organizations. Their objective is to provide education to communities victimized by government neglect.

In the Cordillera region, the existence of an agreement between the Department of Education-Baguio City Division and the 5th Civil-Military Operations Battalion of the Philippine Army 5th ID to cooperate in launching counterinsurgency operations was disclosed in a recent exposé. Soldiers conduct anticommunist seminars among Grade 6 and high school students.

RA 7610 or the Special Protection of Children against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act prohibits the military from using schools, hospitals and health centers as command posts, barracks, detachments and supply depots for its armed forces.

Meanwhile, CRC executive director Jaqueline Ruiz challenged the Aquino government to promote the children's right to education by addressing the grievances of children and their communities and ordering the immediate pullout of military troops from civilian areas.

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People's lawyer Romeo Capulong passes away

Atty. Romeo T. Capulong died of a heart attack on September 16 at the age of 77.

Ka Romy, as he was fondly called by his friends and comrades, was the founder and president of the Public Interest Law Center which provides legal services to the poor. He also headed the National Union of People's Lawyers (NUPL). Before this, he was elected as a delegate to the 1970 Constitutional Convention.

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), all its allied organizations, and the NDFP Negotiating Panel, its consultants and staff coveyed their heartfelt gratitude for Ka Romy's many years of invaluable service to the peace negotiations and other arenas of the people's struggle.

Ka Romy served as Chief Legal Counsel in the peace negotiations from 1986-1987 until his death. The NDFP said he played a key role in the formulation and negotiation of The Hague Joint Declaration, the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG), the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) and other bilateral agreements. He made full use of his legal expertise and persuasive powers to achieve consensus in the most difficult issues. All 12 bilateral agreements signed between 1992 and 2004 were forged with the help of his legal expertise and firm stand for the revolutionary movement. He was able to do all this despite his tight schedule as lawyer for political prisoners, peasants, workers and other victims of political repression.

Ka Romy took the side of the 10,000 peasants of Hacienda Looc in Batangas who were struggling against their eviction. As the son of a farmer from Nueva Ecija, it was easy for him to integrate with the Hacienda Looc farmers and unite with them in their struggle against those who wanted to displace them. Because of this, he was called "Hulog ng Langit" (heaven-sent) by the people of Hacienda Looc.

Neither was he deterred from helping the peasants and farm workers of Hacienda Luisita by threats from the military. He did so even after the Hacienda Luisita Massacre and the assassinations of other supporters like Bishop Alberto Ramento, Councilor Abel Ladera, Fr. William Tadena and other worker-leaders.

Ka Romy's expertise was likewise recognized internationally. He was elected by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly to be a UN Judge ad litem at the UN International Tribunal on the former Yugoslavia. He also served as one of Prof. Jose Maria Sison's lawyers before the European Court from April 2003 until their legal victory in September 2009. Ka Romy was one of several legal luminaries from Belgium, Germany, France and The Netherlands comprising Sison's team of lawyers.

Ka Romy may have passed away, but his spirit and inspiration live on in the hearts of the people he served, said the NDFP.

Ka Romy is survived by his wife Sofia, children Alex, Eduardo and Roma Pia and other relatives. He will be buried at Everest Hill Memorial Park in Susana Heights, Muntinlupa City on the morning of September 22.

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Attacks on the livelihood of peasants in Albay

Peasants in Guinobatan, Albay strongly belied claims by the 2nd IB that the latter's land distribution scheme under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program with Reforms or CARPER was a success. In fact, what the 2nd IB actually did was to sabotage the peasants' struggle for land.

Since the 1980s, the peasants had already been fighting for their right to the lands they have been tilling in a number of large haciendas in Guinobatan. Their struggles bore fruit after the peasants launched several campaigns to reduce land rent, improve production and occupy parts of the haciendas. The peasants had already won their struggle for these lands long ago. Despite this, the 2nd IB announced that it would be targeting them for distribution.

When the peasants refused to go along with the 2nd IB's plans, they were accused by the soldiers of supporting the New People's Army (NPA). On many occasions, such malicious accusations served as precursors for extrajudicial killings, forced disappearances, illegal arrests and detention and other violations of the people's human rights.

The 2nd IB's objective is to destroy the Guinobatan peasants' unity and wreak havoc on their just campaign to occupy idle lands. The military hated battalion desperately wants to camouflage its counterinsurgency campaign which has long been despised by the residents of villages covered by the AFP's Community Organizing for Peace and Development (COPD) teams. It has gotten to the point that even the 2nd IB's efforts to sabotage the residents' livelihood and simple things like escorting a surveying team from the Municipal Agrarian Reform Office have been counted by the battalion as among its "victories." The 2nd IB also wishes to negate the peasants' struggles and suppress demands for the pullout of the COPD teams, which have been on a rampage in the area for more than a year now.

The peasants firmly believe in the justness of their decision to occupy the lands, and have refused to recognize the 2nd IB's land distribution. The peasants know that genuine land reform cannot be achieved through CARPER and definitely not through the COPD, which is part of the Oplan Bayanihan framework. It can only be achieved through their unity and perseverance in struggle.

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CAFGU tortures, kills minority leader in Agusan

CAFGU elements tortured and killed a minority leader in Agusan del Sur on the night of September 13. Twenty-three year old Genesis Ambason, the secretary-general of Tagdumahan, a group fighting large-scale mining was killed in Km. 39, Barangay Binikalan, San Luis town.

Witnesses said it was dusk when Ambason and several companions decided to take a rest from walking after working on their small-scale mine. They stopped at an area some 200 meters from Sitio Tambo that was visible from the 26th IB detachment. Afterwards, they heard heavy footsteps coming towards their position. When Ambason trained his flashlight at the direction of the sound, they suddenly heard several shots fired. Ambason's companions fled, while the tribal leader was left behind because he was wounded.

The following morning, Datu Umay, a tribal leader from Sitio Tambo went to the area and found Ambason's body some 130 meters from the 26th IB detachment. Ambason had two bullet wounds in his right chest, two other gunshot wounds in his right thigh and two other wounds in other parts of his body. He also had contusions in his face and chest.

The 26th IB falsely claimed in its official report that Ambason was killed in an encounter between the New People's Army and the CAFGU.

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5 soldiers killed in NPA-Negros ambush

Five soldiers were killed in an ambush by a unit under the Armando Sumayang Jr. Command of the New People's Army (NPA) on a composite force of the 47th IB and Scout Rangers in Sitio Magboto, Barangay Cabia-an, Candoni, Negros Occidental on August 14. Several other soldiers were wounded.

At 3:20 p.m. that day, the military tried to encircle an area in the Southwest Negros Guerrilla Front where the Red fighters were temporarily encamped. The guerrillas were able to outmaneuver the soldiers, however, and mount an ambush against them. The military vented its ire on the people after suffering defeat in the hands of the NPA, said Ka Andrea Guerrero, spokesperson of the Armando Sumayang Jr. Command.

A number of residents of Sitio Magboto were forced to provide information on the NPA's whereabouts and used as guides in pursuit operations against the guerrillas. The soldiers also imposed a curfew, which affected the villagers' livelihood and curtailed their freedom of movement.

Before the August 14 firefight, the NPA was able to launch a series of tactical offensives in the guerrilla front. On the night of June 28, an NPA team harassed a military detachment in Sitio Bactolon, Barangay Camindangan, Sipalay City, wounding a CAFGU element. The day after, June 29, another NPA team harassed a Reo truck of the 47th IB, wounding a soldier. In a partisan operation against the 47th IB in Sitio Cambogui-ot, Barangay Camindangan on June 19, Red fighters were able to confiscate a .45 pistol and two fully loaded magazines from a soldier.

The 47th IB shamelessly camps in the houses of civilians in Sitio Indangawan, Barangay Manlocahoc, Sipalay City, forcing one of the houses' owners to sleep in the village's daycare center instead. The soldiers have also been occupying the public market at Sitio Cambogui-ot which is surrounded by a thickly populated residential area. The military has been using the residents as human shields against attacks by the NPA guerrilla forces who have been heeding the people's demand to drive out the military troops.

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NDF-SMR pays damages to injured civilians

The National Democratic Front-Southern Mindanao Region (NDF-SMR) paid damages to 41 residents of Barangay Fatima, Paquibato District, Davao City who were wounded when a unit under the 1st Pulang Bagani Company threw a grenade at a military detachment in the area on the evening of September 1. The victims were then at a carnival being held near the detachment.

The Merardo Arce Command (New People's Army-Southern Mindanao) immediately issued a self-criticism and a public apology. It promised to undertake concrete measures to compensate the wounded and impose appropriate disciplinary action on the NPA unit involved.

Acting on a recommendation by the Merardo Arce Command, the NDF Regional Council of Southern Mindanao ordered the payment of P5,000 in damages to each victim. The compensation, which was distributed on September 19, was coursed through church people, media personnel, lawyers and NGOs.

The payment of damages formed part of the NDF's compliance with its commitments under international humanitarian law and were in accordance with the revolutionary principles contained in the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law, the Guide to Eastablishing the People's Democratic Government and the Basic Rules of the New People's Army.

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Battle of Balangiga, Eastern Samar:
Commemorating the armed resistance of the peasant masses

On September 28, the Filipino people will be commemorating the 111th anniversary of the people's armed uprising in Balangiga, Eastern Samar against the town's military occupation by American troops. The residents of Balangiga demonstrated unparalleled courage in this battle. More than this, however, they showed how the armed masses could defeat a bigger military force armed with superior weaponry.

The battle of Balangiga is one of the starkest examples of Filipino mass resistance to foreign occupation and heavy-handed rule. It shows that there has been a longstanding practice of organizing armed groups among the people to defend themselves and their communities, even as the masses carry on with their day to day economic activities.

It was the 28th of September, 1901 when Balangiga peasants attacked the American troops deployed to their town. They were able to seize 100 rifles and 25,000 rounds of ammunition from the troops of Company C of the 9th US Infantry Regiment. Up to 44 American soldiers were killed, including all of their officers. Twenty-two were wounded, four went missing and four escaped.

The attack by Balangiga residents was in reaction to the fascist abuses, exploitation and grave violations of human rights committed by the American troops who had imposed martial law on their town.

The residents carefully planned their attack. They scheduled it at a time when many of the townspeople were in the municipal center to prepare for the arrival of a number of US military officers. They used superior numbers against the American forces and their powerful weapons. The women and children were brought to safer ground. Thirty-four men dressed up as women and posed as churchgoers attending the early morning mass. These men also carried small coffins where they hid their bolos and other weapons. An American soldier manning a checkpoint did not suspect anything after he opened one of the coffins and saw a child inside who had died from an ongoing cholera epidemic.

The residents began their attack at around 6:30 a.m. with the ringing of the church bells as their signal. Their weapons were bolos, knives and axes against the American troops' rifles.

Twenty-eight residents were martyred in this battle and 22 were wounded. The Americans' stunning defeat prompted then US Pres. Theodore Roosevelt to crush the Balangiga residents' struggle by authorizing Gen. Jacob Smith to implement what is now known as the Balangiga Massacre. "Burn all, kill all, loot all" was Smith's command to his men. More than 50,000 civilians from Balangiga were massacred by American soldiers and the entire town was put to the torch. The troops also stole the church bells and displayed them at the former 11th Infantry Regiment camp at F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne, Wyoming, USA and at the 9th Infantry Regiment headquarters at Camp Red Cloud, Uijeongbu, South Korea. The US officials' continued refusal to return the three church bells is a mark of their contempt for Philippine sovereignty. To date, they refuse to bear responsibility for their heinous crimes against the Filipino people.

The Balangiga uprising was one of the most courageously fought battles in the Filipino-American War that erupted on February 4, 1899. Aside from this battle, the people of Northern Samar and other parts of the country also waged armed resistance, in addition to the uprisings launched by the Moro people in Mindanao. One battle was called the Siege of Catubig where the armed peasant masses from this Northern Samar town fought American troops from April 15-19, 1900.

The tradition of harnessing the people's armed strength and supporting their armed resistance to grave repression and armed attacks against their communities is very much alive.

In various parts of the country, self-defense forces under local Party branches and militia units of the New People's Army under the leadership and direction of the Communist Party of the Philippines are being formed. These armed people's units add to, complement and support the regular fighting units of the NPA. They are provided basic training to enable them to fulfill their duties in maintaining internal security to allow Red fighters the freedom to operate and perform their tasks on a broader scale.

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PNP corruption exposed amid infighting

Anomalies were revealed this September involving Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Undersecretary Rico Puno, one of Benigno Aquino III's closest cronies.

One of the companies that had joined the bidding to supply weapons to the PNP accused Puno of railroading the awarding of contracts to prevent incoming DILG secretary Mar Roxas from interfering with the process. The contract to supply more than 56,904 9 mm pistols to the PNP was awarded to Glock Asia Pacific Ltd despite irregularities in the bidding and weapons testing process. The contract is worth more than P1 billion.

Puno was already involved in an anomaly as early as 2011 when an investigation revealed that the guns scheduled to be purchased by the PNP from an Israeli company were overpriced. Puno then admitted that he requested the contract to be exempted from public bidding and for the PNP to conduct direct negotiations instead with the Espineli Company and Israeli Military Industries (IMI), the companies he had chosen. In the middle of the bidding process, it was further revealed that the two companies had financed Puno's trip to Israel in May.

IMI, which is owned by the Israeli government is notorious for corruption in landing contracts. The PNP was thus forced to cancel the contract in August. Puno used to be a supplier of arms and ammunition before he was appointed to government.

Puno has also been accused of accepting payola from big jueteng lords and involvement in illegal logging.

In the face of such anomalies, the Aquino regime's "righteous path" is clearly nothing but an empty slogan. Worse, Malacañang even attempted to protect Puno despite the many anomalies that had been exposed, one of which was Puno's breaking and entering former DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo's residence a day after the secretary's plane was reported missing. The Senate called for an investigation on the breakin.

On September 11, Puno resigned to avoid an investigation but the Senate proceeded with its hearing. Aquino ordered his senator-allies and cabinet members called to the investigation not to attend the Senate's second hearing to stymie the probe and prevent further disclosures on anomalous PNP contracts.

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4 residents injured, 6 nabbed in violent demolition

FOUR residents were injured and six arrested when an urban poor community in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City was violently demolished on September 19.

Up to 1,400 policemen and members of a demolition team raided the community on the orders of the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA). Two backhoes and a bulldozer were used to tear down some 100 houses on a 10.3-hectare lot along Lawton Street, Consular Area Gate 2 at McKinley Hills.

Hundreds of residents fought back by throwing stones. Most of the affected residents are families of active and retired soldiers. They have refused offers from the BCDA to relocate them to Rodriguez, Rizal because the relocation site is a flood-prone area.

The BCDA has sold the lot to Megaworld Corp. which plans to build a P20-billion high-end residential and commercial project at the site.

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South African miners' strike spreads

A STRIKE movement by South African miners has expanded. From the work stoppage waged by miners at the Ma- rikana Platinum Mine (MPM) on August 16 that was viciously attacked by police, killing 34 strikers, the workers' protests have spread to other mining companies.

On September 11, more than 4,000 miners marched, bringing machetes, bows and arrows and other weapons to confront the MPM management. They were met by policemen carrying high-powered firearms. The marchers refused the company's offer of a 1,000-rand ($120) raise in their monthly wages, which was supported by the National Union of Miners (NUC), a yellow union. They demanded a wage hike of up to 12,500 rand ($1,500).

Earlier, on August 31, some 12,000 miners staged a protest against the KDC East Mine in support of the 34 massacred miners and to express their loathing for the NUC. On the same day, some 15,000 miners from KDF West Mine also launched their own protest.

The MPM has stepped up its repressiveness in connivance with the government's armed minions. The company strictly bans any form of workers' assemblies. Workers who mass up are arrested and their picket lines dismantled. Up to 45 strikers have already been killed by policemen in a series of brutal assaults on protest actions.

Meanwhile, some 15,000 miners from the US and British-owned Implats Platinum Mine have threatened to strike to demand a 10% wage hike.

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Anti-US protests erupt in Middle East

Protests against US imperialism have erupted this September in various countries in the Middle East after an anti-Islamic movie produced by an American was posted on the internet. The movie entitled "Innocence of Muslims" portrays Muhammad as a false prophet, murderer and womanizer.

In Libya, armed groups attacked the US Embassy in Benghazi on September 11. Armed men broke into the embassy despite tight security and fought embassy guards using rocket-propelled grenades and high-powered firearms. They also destroyed and burned all embassy property. US ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans were killed in the attack.

Forces under the North Atlantic Treaty Organization led by the US had invaded Libya in 2011. Libyan president Muammar Gaddafi was killed by armed groups financed by the US government, which later installed a puppet regime. Nonetheless, the US has been unable to fully control the various armed groups in the country.

Since the movie came out on September 9, protest actions have broken out in Arab countries such as Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen, Lebanon, Syria and Iraq, as well as in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The protests continue and have spread to other countries with Muslim populations like the Philippines, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Britain and the US.

The US government has also been assailed in these rallies and demonstrations for its interventionist and occupationist policies and for instigating conflicts between Muslims and Christians to serve its own interests.