Sunday, November 29, 2015

iNet: On the violence involving the lumad in Eastern Mindanao especially Caraga, and the proposed peace zones

Center for Peoples Rights and Participation (CPRP) 30 November 2015

In the past year there has been an escalation of armed and political conflict between the Communist Party of the Philippines – New Peoples Army – National Democratic Front (CPP - NPA – NDF) against the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), involving lumad communities in Eastern Mindanao, especially in Caraga and particularly in Surigao del Sur. In this conflict, it is evident that the CPP, NPA and NDF, including their legal mass organizations and support groups, are using disinformation and induced migration and evacuation of its organized masses and influenced groups for at least two main objectives.

The first objective is to stave off AFP effort to wrest control of Andap Valley of Surigao del Sur and 
other areas in Eastern Mindanao from the CPP-NPA-NDF.

The second objective is to increase the thinly veiled NDF representation in the House of Representatives, mainly through party-list groups (such as Bayan Muna, Anakpawis, Gabriela, ACT, and Kabataan), by KATRIBU party-list, ostensibly representing the indigenous peoples, obtaining seats in the House of Representatives in the 2016 elections.

Some politicians are helping the CPP-NPA-NDF achieve their objectives. These politicians include some high profile local government officials who are aspiring to gain high public office at the national level in connection with the 2016 elections. Some very prominent Surigao politicians are big mining operators, in collusion with the CPP-NPA-NDF who share part of ill-gotten gain from mining. These politicians echo and amplify the CPP-NPA-NDF line that the NDF-led lumad evacuees are victims of militarization‖ of their habitat, as well as of killings, physical injuries, terror, intimidation, and destruction of communal facilities at the hands of the military or military-led or -tolerated lumad forces, whose alleged aim is to protect big mining and other big business interests intruding into lumad ancestral domain.

These induced migration and evacuation are in fact political mobilizations of the organized mass base of the CPP – NPA – NDF and of some groups influenced by this organized mass base. Some lumad families were induced to join the mobilization, not knowing it was such, on the assurance of the organizers of the mobilization that they would be able to meet President B. S. Aquino and Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, and receive some material help. During their journey to the urban centers where they were supposed to meet these personages and receive the material help, and subsequently in the places where they are made to stay (sports center, church compound, and so forth) they have lost freedom of movement and of communication. Their movement and communication with media and people outside their group are tightly controlled by their handlers, who are leaders of support groups‖ identified with the CPP – NPA – NDF. Distraught lumad who wish to leave the places where they have been confined for many weeks already and to return to their homes have been refused permission by their handlers. At least two lumadhusband and wife, according to reliable reportshave committed suicide in the custody of these handlers. Indications are that the lumad staying under miserable and stressful conditions in their sites of confinement will not be allowed to leave until the political and armed objectives of the CPP-NPA-NDF have been accomplished.

Regarding the violence among lumad, the bulk of this has been and is being committed by the CPP-NPA-NDF. They have killed hundreds of lumad, most of them noncombatants, in their effort to secure, consolidate, or recover control over several areas in Eastern Mindanao and Northern Mindanao, especially in Caraga and the Davao region. On 19 October this year 2015 they abducted and killed the lumad Mayor Dario Otaza, effective and much-loved mayor of Loreto, Agusan del Sur. Mayor Otaza, himself formerly with the NPA, was known for his successful peace and development efforts, incuding the liberation of 21 rural barangays from the influence of the NPA and the surrender of about 200 NPA rebels. Killed with Mayor Otaza was his son Daryl.

Former NPA bagani (warriors) who rebelled against dictatorial ways of the CPP NPA NDF are fighting back against NPA Pulahang Bagani (Red Warriors). Unfortunately the bagani who are resisting the NPA have had to employ violence, sometimes of the kind that the NPA Pulahang Bagani and other NPA units employ.

The AFP is disadvantaged in media because it is taking legal route, facilitating court cases against lumad accused of killings, and disarming the lumad that they can reach, but unable to disarm NPA lumads and autonomous anti - NPA bagani who are fighting for survival and refuse to be disarmed. CPP NPA NDF hope that church and local governments harassed by massive lumad evacuee" presence in their facilities will be induces to pressure the AFP to withdraw from the contested lumad-inhabited areas, leaving the CPP NPA NDF in undisputed control.

National Transformation Council (NTC) understands and supports the AFP. Their duty is to remain in the contested areas to protect the citizenry who do not agree with the CPP NPA NDF and to assert the control of the government over the whole national territory. The Philippine Republic cannot survive long if it tolerates a CPP – controlled state-within-a-state.

The so-called "peace zones" are not answers to the need of the lumad for human security. In other peace zones‖ set up in the past, such as that in Sagada, Mountain Province, only the AFP tried to observe it. The CPP-NPA-NDF continued clandestine political and armed activity even in the poblacion, and open political and armed activity in the more remote barangays. Experience shows that the NPA use the exclusion of the AFP from the "peace zones" to intimidate, injure, or kill inhabitants opposed or cold to the CPP-NPA-NDF, and to strengthen and consolidate their organizations, their organs of political control, and their recruitment and training for their people's militia‖ and the regular NPA. For example, these barangays are used as drop-off point for youth coming in by public transportation and bound for exposure and indoctrination in CPP or NDF – controlled areas or NPA camps. The CPP, NPA, and NDF then pick up those going on exposure there, and bring them to their areas or camps. After their exposure and indoctrination they are brought back there and fetched by public transportation. The local governments in these peace zones‖ have not been concerned about this dangerous situation, or have not been effective in preventing it.

The MANILAKBAYAN NG MINDANAO 2015, held from 19 October to 20 November 2015, was launched by NDF elements. Its call was Stop the Attacks on Our Schools, Communities and People! Support the People’s Resistance to Militarization and Plunder in MindaNOW!‖ The call is deceptive because the majority of the people of Mindanao do not share their portrayal of the situation of the lumad and of the origins of the political and armed involving them and the direction that the conflict has taken.

Actually the MANILKABAYAN was a well-packaged major component in the CPP- NPA-NDF effort to nationally project their tendentious version of the situation and problems of the lumad in Mindanao, so that the public who do not know the real situation and problem would end up supporting the two objectives of the CPP-NPA-NDF in the pseudo-evacuation that is really a political mobilization of their lumad organized base and the other groups that they influence.

Again these objectives are:

First, to stave off AFP effort to wrest control of Andap Valley of Surigao del Sur and other areas in Eastern Mindanao from the CPP-NPA-NDF.

Second, to increase the NDF representation in the House of Representatives by KATRIBU party-list, ostensibly representing the indigenous peoples, obtaining seats in the House of Representatives in the 2016 elections.

All citizens who love truth, freedom, justice and peace should share the above information with others, to help the citizenry gain an accurate understanding of the situation and problem of the lumad especially in Eastern Mindanao, and on the basis of this accurate understanding, act accordingly to defend our human security from the political and armed assaults of totalitarian forces.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015