AFP's full-blast ops in region meant to instill fear and punish Lumads

Rigoberto F. Sanchez
NPA-Southern Mindanao Regional Operations Command
April 7, 2014

Behind the atrocious AFP operations in Talaingod, Davao del Norte and the Eastern Mindanao Command's deployment of more Army units in Southern Mindanao is the mistaken conjecture that the US-Aquino regime could crush the revolutionary movement within the next five years.

The state's use of overwhelming force against the NPA, its display of superior armament and forces in rugged mountainous terrain of guerrilla zones and bases has been proven in history as a failed formula. The enemy attacks a guerrilla force that is not a fixed military target. It drops bombs against empty camps, it attacks in thin air. Failing that, their overwhelming military force takes a cowardly retreat by instilling fear in the minds of the rural populace and innocent civilians.

The AFP's mission in Talaingod--their unspoken objective-- is to punish Lumad Manobos for having practiced their right to self-determination by prevailing over stage neglect and national oppression. The Lumads were in the process of building their own self-sufficient economy, a thing which the state finds abominable, hence the bombing and other abuses. Lumads are fair game to the 10th Infantry Division-Eastern Mindanao Command's psychological warfare and inhuman operations.

The AFP's overweening arrogance and unconcern for the welfare of civilians is also displayed in its recent sortie in Talaingod April 4 when the NPA discharged command detonated explosives against their troops. It was obvious that the military exploited the civilians and the media as their protective cover under the pretext of relief operations for displaced Manobos. The AFP does not care one whit if civilians are killed or maimed.

Thousands of displaced Lumad Manobos who have sought sanctuary in Davao City have triumphed over decades of extreme deprivation and state exploitation of their ancestral domain. They have waged *pangayaw* in the past against the private army, paramilitary (including those who have been coopted by the enemy) and state army to pave the way for corporate logging of Alsons. They have waged campaign against landgrabbers, large-scale miners and against reactionary laws and programs that try to subvert their rightful claim over their lands. Vastly neglected by the reactionary government, they nurtured farms, schools, under auspices of their own tribal system of leadership.

To say that they are under the sway of the NPAs, if we are to believe the AFP 1003rd Bde-AFP spokesperson, insults their intelligence and dignity. To take AFP's justification seriously is to perpetuate the same conditions of national oppression being suffered by the country's national minorities.

As a consequence, the people's army is forced to defend the masses. Red fighters and the militia have initiated at least seven sniping and small-scale attacks against the 68th IB that suffered 9 fatalities since March. The latest was earlier today (Monday) at 12:30 pm in sitio Bagang, where a member of the 68th IB took a fatal snipe shot from a militia.

Indeed, the AFP, while superior in a war of quick decision, is inutile against a people's army waging widespread and intensive guerrilla warfare in the framework of a protracted people's war.  The military troops build-up in the region further fans revolutionary fervor and gives impetus for strategic advance. The 1003rd brigade's promise to pursue counter-revolutionary operations until it defeats NPA is a futile pronouncement that will only hurt civilians, displace Lumads and peasants.