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fake surrender

A ‘Prop’ to Kill

in Countercurrent
by Pinky Ang and Priscilla Guzman

Because it does not, cannot, and may never speak the truth, the Duterte regime is engaged in a losing “propaganda war” against the revolutionary forces, the progressives, and other government critics. It cannot win against the revolutionaries because revolutionaries speak of a shared belief and common aspirations with the masses—the twin source of every revolutionary’s truth.

The NTF-ELCAC (National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines don’t mind that their “propagandists” wrote 52TH instead of 52nd on anti-CPP tarpaulins posted in strategic locations all over Metro Manila; or “babe” instead of  babae (women) in a hastily produced supposed poster of Gabriela Women’s Party they planted among the things they allegedly found in the possession of arrested “members of the New People’s Army;” or, if those photos of NPA “surrenderers” float like ghosts as these were transported from place to place through Photoshop.

That’s the least of their concern. All they want is to prepare the ground—through lies, disinformation, and red-tagging—for the “final kill” of their targeted victims.

This despicable act is a futile attempt to hit two birds with one stone: demonize the revolutionaries and progressives and get away with their crimes, topped by murder.

Neither the people’s concerns over its bungled pandemic response, nor the ballooning debt it has incurred in their name disturb the regime. It doesn’t care about China or the US trampling on our sovereignty; or the peasants’ continuing landlessness; or the workers losing their jobs or earning a non-living daily wage. The regime will never take serious attention to the people’s basic interests and rights. Its prime concern is how to prop up the crumbling semicolonial and semifeudal system and safeguard the lot and loot of the ruling elite.   

Much has been said about the NTF-ELCAC and the AFP—the Duterte regime’s vaunted “prop war” instruments. About how vainly they have tried to discredit and demonize the revolutionaries and other concerned Filipinos who perseveringly have served the people and amplified their voices of protest and life-struggle. To the NTF-ELCAC top echelon and its cabal of “spokespersons” anyone who serves the people and questions those who do the people harm is deemed an “enemy of the state”—and worse, a “terrorist”.   

And they call this practice as “propaganda” to justify their multi-billion peso budget for fabricating and spreading lies in an “all-out war” against the revolutionary movement and the Filipino people.

“Ignorant twaddle,” that’s how Mao Tse Tung would have dismissed such practice.

“No social investigation, no right to speak”—Mao Tse Tung

To the revolutionaries, a basic tenet of propaganda is that it should be based on facts, or what objectively exists. But it doesn’t stop there. One seeks truth from facts—where the interrelation of events is established by a thorough investigation of the actual conditions and movements in society, within the country and elsewhere.   

“We should find the internal relations of the events occurring around us,” Mao Tse Tung advised. “And in order to do that we must rely not on subjective imagination, not on momentary enthusiasm, not on lifeless books, but on facts that exist objectively; we must appropriate the material in detail and, guided by the general principles of Marxism-Leninism, draw correct conclusions from it.”

For Mao, anything not based on thorough investigation is nothing but ignorant twaddle.

Admittedly, this is an extremely difficult task for the lazybones in Duterte’s NTF-ELCAC. After all, their only concern is to red-tag those whom they consider as “enemies of the state,” oftentimes using twisted logic and visualized through crass and sloppy memes and posters. It’s an easy way out of the crimes they committed; no need to study to substantiate their arguments.

Unlike the reactionary government, the revolutionaries have no huge budget for intelligence work, for personnel and production, and a rare space in the corporate mass media. But it is in every revolutionary and activist’s heart to propagate the people’s struggle and their dreams to have food on their tables, to send their children to school, to be treated by a doctor when ill, a house to live in, a farm to till, a job with a decent wage, and a government that would ensure that these interests are fostered and protected.

What comes out from the mouth of every revolutionary reflects the poor people’s actual situation—their struggles and triumphs and their aspirations for a better life. Propaganda comes from a never-ending study of the Marxist-Leninist-Maoist theories applied in the realities of the country and through integration with, and learning from, the masses. From this, the revolutionary movement continues to study Philippine society—the classes and their interests—and advance the theory and practice of the national democratic revolution towards its socialist future.

Every revolutionary speaks of the people’s interests and aspirations, their struggles and their triumphs and how they are empowered and charting their own course through their collectives, their revolutionary mass organizations, and through the organs of political power established in the villages.

However, every reactionary regime and its “propagandists” hate to admit there exist two governments in the country today—the rotten reactionary government which they try to deodorize, on the one hand, and the revolutionary government that steadily spreads in most parts of the country, on the other.  

Ignorant twaddle

The ruling class(es)’[big landlords, big comprador bourgeoisie] “propaganda war” is based on lies hatched and propagated mostly by a billion-peso funded task force, namely the NTF-ELCAC, (including the PCOO and the troll farms). It scanned the revolutionary propaganda materials but, after it declared a “propaganda” war, instead of directly countering the truths of the revolutionary messaging—as one would reasonably expect—its “strategic communication thrust” has prioritized attacking the messengers of the revolutionary and progressive propaganda.

Lorraine Badoy
Spokesperson NTF-ELCAC

Yes, the “prop” war launched by the reactionaries lacks courage to face head-on the meatiest issues of the new national democratic revolution. For example, it has not responded to the revolutionary or even to the legal, unarmed progressive movement’s calls for land reform.

As everyone knows, the agricultural Philippines’ most pressing problem that’s also at the root of restiveness remains the extreme deprivation of its hardworking yet landless farmers. Most agree there must be a genuine land reform program. The New People’s Army has been gaining fighters and mass support because of its land reform program, among others.

In contrast, the AFP—in the service of the big landlords and bourgeois compradors expanding mining concessions, plantations, and land-use conversion projects—has been bombing and strafing the farming communities demanding land reform or defending their ancestral lands. Meanwhile, the NTF-ELCAC has been fart-bombing the same farming communities with red-tagging and brutal censorship. It has resorted to threats and intimidation and its money-making venture of staging fake surrenders of supposed revolutionaries and supporters.

The AFP and the NTF-ELCAC have plagued even unarmed community members and supporters resisting semifeudal exploitation with all sort of baseless accusations to justify its attacks against said communities.

Note that all reactionary stock “propaganda” spiels revolve around attacking the messengers (the revolutionaries and their unarmed activists and supporters) rather than the revolutionary or progressive analyses and demands they articulate. Hence, it appears the reactionary “prop” centerpiece is its noisy red-tagging and baseless “terrorist”-labeling.

However, the AFP and the NTF-ELCAC’s joint efforts to mislabel and demonize the revolutionaries, the open progressive mass movement, and critical members of society, have no factual grounding. No new offering or promised illusion of development or peace; and on top of that, it’s even costing the public a lot of money. This “propaganda” war runs counter to the Filipino people’s demand for genuine solutions to their unending crises.

The role of US imperialism  

Demonizing groups without factual basis, and worse, proceeding with it even when the manufactured “bases” have repeatedly been proven and exposed as false, are the hallmarks of the US-led borderless “war on terror.” It demonizes as “rouge states” and enemies those who would resist the US global hegemony. 

It is no surprise that the AFP, which was organized, ideologically trained, armed, and even funded to this day by the US, kills and maims our people in line with the US global “war on terror.” Since 1946, the US has maintained the Philippines as its neocolony, with the Philippine government functioning as the imperialist’s puppet and agent. The more the local puppet government adheres to US imperialist dictates to advance the latter’s interests here and in the region, the more it enriched its dynasty and cliques, and the more it holds on to power.

In the end

Although the reactionary “propaganda” war led by militarist clowns or spokespersons may seem loud and all over the place, ultimately it can’t help but turn off the masses rather than win their hearts and minds. Cowardly evading the issues propelling protests and civil war is one glaring weakness of the reactionary “propaganda” war.  Thus, Filipinos would typically dismiss it as “puro kwento, walang kwenta, (all talk no substance),” or judge it as “malayo ang tapal sa sugat” (the solution is way off the problem).

Another characteristic of the reactionary “propaganda” war is traitorous deceit. It aggrandizes its terror-tagging drive as “propaganda;” covers up its hawkish stance with affectation for seeking peaceful means. Yet, it’s nothing but provocation and justification for armed brutality against the Left.

Every baseless terror-tagging and provocation sets up the targets for censorship, killing, illegal arrest, arbitrary freezing of bank accounts, and other state bullying and acts of violence.

This “propaganda” war directed by NTF-ELCAC and its “whole-of-nation approach” against the revolutionaries is cruder and more bankrupt than their “propaganda” in the past. Back then, they cobbled some pseudo-theories for change or development myths in a vain attempt to counter the revolutionary calls for social, political and economic changes. This time there is neither new land reform program nor push for industrialization that the ruling classes could use to counter the popular programs for social and economic reforms that the national democratic revolutionaries are implementing in the guerrilla zones.

Even so, Antonio Parlade Jr, Lorraine Badoy and their ilk of “spokespersons” and their “propaganda” war of “terrorist” mislabeling must be exposed—and frustrated—for its utter lies and dogged pursuit of a dirty war against the broad masses of the people.

After all, the reactionary “propaganda” is nothing but the ruling class(es) flinching over being described (with tons of evidences) as butchers, landgrabbers, exploiters, oppressors, puppets of foreign imperialists, corrupt, inutile (in the face of disasters, epidemics, people’s needs), human rights violators, among other heinous crimes. All these accurately describe what the ruling class(es) actually do. Not only the revolutionaries and supporters in urban areas and countryside say so, the criticisms reverberate even in other countries and international agencies. ###

Duterte’s “surrender” program is a scam

in Countercurrent
by Iliya Makalipay

Alde “Butsoy” Salusad is a leader of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP)-backed paramilitary group New Indigenous People’s Army for Reform (NIPAR). He is a murderer—the killer of anti-mining activist Datu Jimmy Liguyon—with two warrants of arrests on him that remain unserved by the Bukidnon Philippine National Police because he has been coddled by the AFP since 2012.

In August 11, 2017, five years after he killed Liguyon, Salusad was presented by the AFP as “NPA surrenderee” and was awarded Php100,000 in cash. Then in March 2018, the military included Salusad in the list of more than 600 names and aliases of alleged members of the CPP and the NPA in a petition for proscription filed at a Manila regional trial court.

Filed by the Department of Justice (DoJ) in compliance with the Human Security Act of 2007 (the Philippine anti-terrorism law), the petition seeks to declare the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New People’s Army (NPA) as terrorist organizations. The court initially ordered the names of four individuals, who had challenged their inclusion in the petition, excluded for lack of evidence that they were officers or members of the CPP and the NPA. After others similarly questioned their inclusion, the DoJ revised the petition by dropping the long list.

The charade about Alde Salusad is among the many ways the Duterte regime tries to cover up its failure to defeat the revolutionary movement led by the CPP-NPA and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), through vicious military operations launched in areas they consider as NPA guerrilla fronts.

Elsewhere in Mindanao, where martial law has been imposed for two years now, farmers and indigenous people—individually or collectively—have become targets of the fake/forced surrender campaign of the AFP. The trend is also noticeable in other parts of the country as the AFP keeps resetting its target date for “neutralizing” the armed revolutionary forces.

Will the real NPA surrenderees stand up?

Interviewed by Liberation, Julieta, a woman community leader from Bukidnon, revealed that one AFP battalion commander had summoned community leaders listed as “NPA terrorist supporters” from 31 barangays for a three-day “peace building seminar”. Each barangay had 10 names on the list. Julieta and her husband were among those listed from their village.

While her husband attended the event, she refused to go, declaring: “I am not a terrorist. I am a leader who defends our ancestral territory. We organize to protect our lands, we attend rallies so our voice could be heard, and to seek justice for those who were killed by the military and paramilitary groups.”

She quoted those who attended the seminar as complaining that “the military refused to answer our questions on how to protect our ancestral lands from the land grabbers.” Instead, they said, the military offered the more than 1,000 suspected “NPA terrorist sypathizers” seed money to grow mushrooms, ginger, coconut, and coffee trees. The seminar was in May 2018. As of October, not one of those who attended was given any seed money.

What alarmed the participants during those three days were the individual “interviews” conducted among them, which largely dealt with why they supported the NPA. At the end of the seminar, the participants were made to sign a document stating they would no longer participate in rallies. Ironically, they were herded to a rally immediately after the signing, and ordered to carry anti-NPA placards.

In the community, the soldiers have continued to convince the youth to join the military service, “so you will earn money.” They also egged on the community members, especially the youth, to search for firearms and turn them over to the military in exchange for money. Julieta said pictures of guns were distributed among them with corresponding price tags: AK-47 for Php 75,000 and handguns, Php 35,000. There were other guns priced at Php 65,000 and Php 45,000, but Julieta could not remember what sort of firearms they were. “They are teaching us to lie,” said Julieta, obviously irked by the military’s modus operandi.

There was a time when goons of the plantation owner who occupy their ancestral lands harassed them. Julieta said these belonged to the group of goons that killed a tribe member. The community reported the incident to the soldiers deployed in the area. Six goons were “arrested” but were brought to the military headquarters instead of the police station. Later, the six men were presented as “NPA surrenderees”.

For a few months after the “seminar”, fear and apprehension reigned among the community members. The specter of the Lianga massacre, where two indigenous leaders and one school executive were killed, always came back into their minds. After four months, however, they were again joining rallies.

“We are insulted by how the military treats us,” declared Julieta. “The military arbitrarily stops children to ask them if there are armed men in the community. When children pointed to the goons and security guards of the plantation, the soldiers would tell them ‘gahi na kaayo ka’ (you have been toughened).”

Similar stories have been recorded and made public by an international fact-finding mission held in Mindanao early last year. Likewise, the human rights alliance Karapatan reported more than 600 cases of forced/fake surrender since the start of the Duterte administration in July 2016 to March 2018.

A victim of forced surrender in Northern Mindanao recounted, “From morning, noon, until night, the 29th Infantry Division [went] around the community forcing us to surrender. I did not go with them because I am not an NPA. That night they strafed our house.” Other communities were threatened with bombing or were actually bombed.

Worn-out tactics of deception and coercion

In early 2018, the AFP claimed about 4,000 people to be “NPA surrenderees.” By the end of the year, the number “surrenderees” varied, from a total of almost 8,000 to 11,000. The AFP cited those numbers, whereas it had previously claimed that the NPA had already been reduced to 3,000. Embarassed, the AFP has interchangeably called the “surrenderees” as NPA members, sympathizers, mass base or militia members.

It matters not for the military whether the line between unarmed civilians and NPA red fighters is blurred. In fact, they have arbitrarily removed the distinction. The point, for them, is to picture to the public a weakening revolutionary movement. But, one thing is certain—almost all of the so-called surrenderees who were herded in public venues and presented to the media were victims of threat, coercion, and deception. Most often, the “surrenderees” are later forced into joining paramilitary groups such as the Civilian Armed Force Geographical Unit (CAFGU) and other similar armed auxiliary groups.

As practiced in the past regimes, the military conduct “house-to-house visits” and “surveys”. They circulate a “wanted list” of people in the community and summon them to military headquarters to “clear their names”. During interrogation, the military try to sow disunity among the community members by telling the “accused” person that his neighbor had ratted on him. But many times, people were simply rounded-up and forced to attend “surrender ceremonies”. At the end of each ceremony or event, all those who attended were tricked to sign blank documents that would later be presented as “proofs of surrender”.

Government agencies are also used to deceive other victims. In Binalbagan, Negros Occidental, some 60 farmers were supposed to attend a gathering called by the Department of Agrarian Reform to discuss land distribution but were later presented as NPA surrenderees. Others were compelled to “cooperate” because of threats of arrests, detention, or cancellation of their benefits from the Pantawid Pamilya Pilipino Program or 4Ps.

Aside from the unarmed civilians, the AFP also hunts down former commanders and members of the NPA who had returned to civilian life. They too were coerced to “surrender”.

And there are the posers. Alde Salusad is a poser. And so were the 16 members of the Magahat-Bagani paramilitary group of Calpit Egua that was responsible for the massacre of school principal Emerito Samarca and Lumad leaders Dionel Campos and Juvello Sinzo in Lianga, Surigao del Sur in 2015. Like Salusad’s NIPAR, the Magahat-Bagani group is backed by the AFP, in this case the 4th Infantry Division.

The AFP used these posers for propaganda against the revolutionary movement and also in the AFP’s psywar cum money-making venture called E-CLIP or the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program.

There’s money in (psy)war

The E-CLIP now embodies the Duterte regime’s campaign to induce the members of the NPA to surrender—and one of the identified core projects in the “12 pillars of the whole-of-nation” approach to end the “communist insurgency”.

See Editorial

Along with the “localized peace talks”, the government pushes E-CLIP as part of the psywar operations to deodorize the government’s bloody “counterinsurgency” program which, since the time of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has been patterned after the 2009 United State’s Counterinsurgency (COIN). The COIN follows the the triad operations combining psywar and intelligence gathering with combat operations.

As the AFP launches sustained brutal military operations, the E-CLIP, supposedly one of the civilian components of the operation, complements the campaign against the NPA. It aims to coopt NPA members into surrender. Thus, the offer of livelihood programs, medical insurance coverage for one year through the PhilHealth, housing, safety and security, and other “amenities”. A portion of the budget is used to give gifts and bribes to the families of NPA members so they may, in turn, convince the NPA member in their family to surrender. Each “NPA surrenderee” supposedly gets Php 65,000 cash for assistance.

See E-CLIP Briefer

Granting there had been 8,000 to 11,000 “surrenderees” by the end of 2018, the government would have spent a total of Php 520 million to Php 715 million. Since there has never been many real surrenderees as the military would want the public to believe, the budget allocation for the program logically ends up in the pockets of military officers and their cohorts.

Getting nowhere

Assuming the E-CLIP and other psywar tactics succeed in attracting members of the revolutionary movement to surrender, this, in all certainty, is but temporary. Why? Because it does not get into the root causes of the armed conflict.

Oppression, exploitation, and social injustices breed revolutionaries who will pursue a free and democratic society. Thus, there will always be one, or two, a hundred, and then thousands and hundreds of thousands who will surely take up arms for their national and democratic interests. Until then, the reactionary government and its killing machine will just have to content themselves with unsustainable cheap gimmicks that are only meant to please their egos—their fascist egos.

On the ground, for every defeat of an AFP unit inflicted by the NPA, the AFP gets back at the civilians. Every time they can’t find the NPA members, they vent their ire on the civilians. An eight-year old Lumad child who was witness to military abuses and atrocities in their community described the soldiers as “pula ang nawong sa kasuko kung mga Lumad ang kaatubang pero luspad na kung makakita na ug NPA (their faces turn red in anger when in front of the Lumad but become ashen pale when they face the NPA).”

The regime continues to be on the losing end as it opts to engage in its useless war against the revolutionary movement and the masses, resorts to dirty tactics, and evades peace negotiations that would tackle the issues of why, in the first place, there is an ongoing war in the Philippines.

 

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