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Noynoy Aquino

Marcoses’ political rehabilitation bodes more tragedy for the nation

in Editorial

Three decades have gone by since February 1986, when the Filipino people’s unified will and action ousted the Marcos dictatorship. Ignominously, the US imperialists plucked the tyrant and his family—along with their loot—out of Malacañang by helicopters, subsequently flying them to safe exile in Hawaii.

Yet today the Marcos heirs are back in the high circles of power. And the dictator’s embalmed remains—publicly displayed in Batac, Ilocos Norte for over two decades—was deceitfully ensconced in the Libingan ng mga Bayani in November 2016, courtesy of President Rodrigo R. Duterte.

Yet they haven’t returned much of the estimated $10-billion they had stolen during their corrupt, abusive and repressive reign. With such a huge war chest that can only grow bigger over time (even at conservative interest rates in what Imelda Marcos flaunts as over 100 secret bank accounts), they are being served/protected by a platoon of lawyers. They have allies and toadies at various levels of the reactionary government, besides a fleet of PR people, false historians, and keyboard warriors.

They thus feel secure moving freely within the same bureaucrat capitalist system that nurtured them in power.

The rotten system enabled them to amass wealth at the cost of thousands of Filipino lives and the stunting of Philippines’ agricultural and industrial development. It allowed them to spend five years of lavish and vulgar exile in Hawaii. Upon their return, towing the embalmed body of their dictator patriarch, this system welcomed them back into the fold as they gradually carved anew their fiefdom.

Twice did Imelda Marcos attempt to run for President: in 1992 when she lost and in 1998, when she withdrew her candidacy. In between her two presidential bids, Imelda won a seat in Congress where she served as Leyte representative for three years (1995-1998). In 2010, she again won a seat in Congress, this time representing Ilocos Norte, the late dictator’s home province and political base.

Starting from their Ilocos Norte base, the two elder Marcos siblings took turns being the province’s governor and congressional representative from 1992 to 1998. It was 24 years since dictator Marcos was ousted when Bongbong Marcos entered the Senate in 2010. Imee Marcos took longer entering the national scene. She came into the Senate in 2019.

It was in Bongbong Marcos’s first stab at the vice-presidency in 2016 that the family tasted their first defeat in what some accounts call their “spectacular comeback.” Unaccustomed to setback, Bongbong lodged an electoral protest he wouldn’t let go even after three years.

The family has now repositioned itself back as close as possible to Malacañang. But for Bongbong’s defeat at the 2016 national polls, he would have been just a heartbeat away from the presidency, a very real threat to the Filipino people considering Duterte’s multiple acknowledged illnesses. Had Marcos Jr “won” the vice-presidency, Duterte would have—as he has publicly expressed a number of times—opted to yield the presidency and thus pave the way to the Marcoses’ total political rehabilitation.

Undoubtedly, the Marcoses are a veritable example of bureaucrat capitalism. To this day articles are being written about how the dictator Marcos and his wife “smartly” looted the national coffers, put up opaque companies and seized stakes in strategic businesses, and how he “transformed” the military and the police into a unified armed forces to back up his fascist rule, rendering the armed services deeply partisan (for him) and more corruptible than ever.

Throughout that process, the US imperialists propped up his dictatorship. They armed, trained and guided the establishment of the armed forces for their own imperialist ends and those of their puppet tyrant. Marcos, “our ‘son-of-a-bitch’” (as then President George Bush referred to him) only became a “problem” to them when the people began protesting against the dictatorship in evergrowing number and frequency. The armed communist-led revolution was growing by leaps and bounds and had led the fight against the dictatorship and its imperialist master.

Marcos’ ouster will always be a historical triumph of the Filipino people’s collective power— both armed and unarmed, in the underground and in the open democratic arena of struggles. The ongoing turbo-charged rehabilitation of the Marcoses under Duterte, however, is as loud a reminder as we all can get that, no, the people cannot stop at merely ousting the current, abusive tyrant. The system that breeds such ilk needs also to be smashed. This system has proven to have merely continued the puppet presidency and imperialist domination of the country.

A corrupt system is bound to rehabilitate the Marcoses

The Communist Party of the Philippines, in a 2018 statement, sharply pointed out that the “successive reactionary regimes failed miserably to address the clamor of the Filipino people for swift justice.” “Every ruling regime allowed the Marcoses to return stage by stage,” it said. “None carried out a decisive act of justice, fearing this will rouse demands for the same measures to be meted against them over the same crimes they themselves commit while in power.”

At the outset, Cory Aquino, responding to insistent public demand, established the PCGG (Presidential Commission on Good Government) to go after the Marcoses’ ill-gotten wealth. But her administration emasculated the PCGG by ordering it to seize nothing directly and work instead through the courts. What the agency recovered, of course, was peanuts for the dirty-moneyed Marcoses.

The US imperialist’s rescue of their once serviceable puppet continued even after the Marcoses returned to the Philippines. The US government redacted transactions involving US organizations in their records. The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) refused to disclose what they knew, reportedly prompting a veteran of PCGG to call the US and Marcoses “partners in theft.”

Most probably, the US possesses loads of damning information on the kleptocracy and rights abuses of the Marcoses. Not only does it exercise control of the Philippine state forces, it’s also been known to keep tabs on even its “allies,” according to a declassified report on the CIA’s eavesdropping on conversations of government leaders such as those of the Philippines.

With clues from the US and their latest puppet on how the Marcoses were to be cossetted since the late 1980s, Marcos died in Hawaii without being punished by the Filipino people, through their supposed government’s justice system. His widow, Imelda, returned to the Philippines with her three adult children in 1992. She was greeted by an avalanche of graft cases. But with their political allies regaining government posts, she never had to worry about jail time or threats of warrants of arrest.

Imelda was convicted at least twice for graft, once in 1993 for a fraudulent land deal and in 2018 for illicit financial dealings with Switzerland-based NGOs. But she remains free to this day. In her 2018 conviction, under Duterte’s watch, she was asked to put up bail of only P300,000, despite the gravity of the case and the amount of what’s been stolen. The conviction is turning out into a ploy to fast track the movement of the case.

After more than five administrations (including two Aquinos), more than 90 lawyers and personnel of PCGG placed at the increasingly frustrating trail of seeing signs of billions of hidden wealth — only for these to be whisked away before their eyes — and the precious length of time that’s gone by, the Marcoses still harbor much of the ill-gotten wealth. Some of it was divulged in the upheaval of disclosures regarding what are called the Panama papers, where the ultra-rich keep their money away from taxes and prying eyes.

By now it’s clear the graft cases against the Marcoses have been filed only to placate the angry masses.

Dictator’s final rehab under a Marcos clone

The impact of the people’s victory in ousting Marcos and the underlying desire for genuine democracy was such that it took the Marcoses more than three decades before bureaucrat capitalism could ease them back into Malacañang as “honored” guests. The Marcoses managed to do it under another imperialist puppet president they financially supported as candidate, who publicly claims he idolizes Marcos and looks back at his father’s political career as one that had benefited from the Marcoses.

And, yes, before we forget, a president who evidently wants to be another dictator and tyrant. He himself has already reprised many Marcosian tactics.

Despite his anti-corruption posturing, Duterte early into his term stunned the nation by allowing Marcos’ embalmed remains to be buried, after at least two postponements due to public protests, at the Libingan ng mga Bayani in November 2016. The most brazen of post-Edsa puppet presidents at helping the Marcoses, he nevertheless balked at personally witnessing the undeserved public pomp reserved only for a hero’s and former president’s burial. It took him a year before he set out again to glorify Marcos: commemorated him in postage stamps. The Duterte regime has timed its actions idolizing Marcos on the last quarter of the year.

Under Duterte the corruption cases against the Marcoses that dragged on for more than three decades are being thrown out one by one.

In August and October 2019 several ill-gotten wealth cases against the Marcoses, 27 to 31 years in court, were dismissed allegedly for lack of probative evidence (government lawyers only submitted photocopies of documents, whose originals are supposedly kept in the Bangko Sentral vaults), or for the lawyers’ failure to attend court hearings.

The bulk of their massive loot remains beyond reach of the government and the people from whom they stole it. Estimates of what the PCGG managed to recover ran from just one to two billion dollars. The precious works of arts bought with stolen money inadvertently would show in Imeldific photographs in her posh digs, but they always disappear whenever the investigators come knocking.

The billions they extorted from coconut farmers were partially recovered but each succeeding administration has made it difficult for the coconut farmers and real owners of the fund to fully recover it.

People must clip the Marcoses’ greed

Thus, looking at the Marcoses’ rehabilitation into power, it is not true that horror repeats itself. It gets more horrendous in Part 2.

Unapologetic, flushed with their success, the Marcoses are greedy for more. They’re spoiled believing they can get away with it, again and again. They’re coming back to do more of the same on a vehicle much bigger and ratcheted up by their original loot; oiled by the blood, sweat and tears of injustices of those they had oppressed; and covered by the same imperialist power that continues to lord over the country as long as their puppets dutifully run it to the ground for the benefit of their businesses and military interests.

More than three decades since the world applauded the Filipino people’s uprising that booted them out, the Marcoses have not been made to account for the thousands of human rights violations and humanitarian crimes they committed to maintain the dictatorship.

Now the maturing children, beneficiaries of the Marcos loot and their network of allies and cronies, are hovering about for another chance to take over Malacañang. They are intent as well in whitewashing their family’s crimes; Imee Marcos chose to head the Senate committee on culture. Like father like daughter, as he had faked his wartime medals, she faked her academic achievements (so did Bongbong, too). Whenever confronted about their family’s crimes, Imee perfunctority tells the Filipinos: “Move on.”

Against the Marcoses’ rehabilitation and whitewashing, against the current president’s desiring to be another Marcos, the CPP 2018 statement declares that theFilipino people “have no other recourse but to take revolutionary action and overthrow the ruling system and class rule of big bourgeois compradors, big landlords and bureaucrat capitalists.”

“Only by wielding revolutionary power—democratic people’s power—can they subject the biggest criminal and fascist oppressors to just punishment with full decisiveness and dispatch,” the CPP statement concludes. ###

#NeverAgain
#NeverForget

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Why the Marcoses’ comeback is more tragic than ‘Shame on you’

in Editorial

Forgive and forget. Move on. Really?

As years go by—after the Filipino people finally ousted the Marcos dictatorship in 1986—it gets better and better for the Marcoses. They haven’t returned the estimated $10-billion they stole while Ferdinand Marcos was dictator and tyrant, and Imelda Marcos and two of eldest children, Imee and Bongbong, have occupied various government posts.

With a huge war chest that can only grow bigger with time, they are being served by a platoon of lawyers, allies at various levels of reactionary government, PR people, false historians, and keyboard warriors, and most of all, by the same bureaucrat capitalist system that nurtured them in power.

It lets them amass wealth at the cost of thousands of lives and the Philippines’ genuine agricultural and industrial development. It helped to pluck them out of reach of People Power and allowed them to spend five years of lavish and loud exile in Hawaii. Upon their return, towing the embalmed body of their dictator patriarch, this system welcomed them back into the fold as they slowly carved back their fiefdom.

INCHING THEIR WAY BACK TO POWER

Imelda Marcos twice attempted to run for President—in 1992 when she lost and in 1998, when she withdrew from candidacy in the middle of the campaign. In between her two presidential bids, Imelda won a seat in Congress where she served as Leyte representative for three years from 1995 to 1998. In 2010, Imelda again won a seat in Congress, this time representing the province of Ilocos Norte.

Starting from their base at Ilocos Norte, the two elder Marcos siblings took turns being governor or Ilocos Norte Representative from 1992 to 1998. It was 24 years since dictator Marcos was ousted when Bongbong Marcos entered the Senate in 2010. It took longer for Imee Marcos to enter the national scene via a Senate seat in 2019.

It was only in Bongbong Marcos’s first stab at vice-presidency in 2016 that they tasted their first defeat in what some reports call their ‘spectacular comeback.’ Unaccustomed to setback, Bongbong lodged an electoral protest he can’t let go of even after three years.

Since their inglorious, forced exit in 1986, the family of deposed dictator Ferdinand Marcos has now positioned itself back as close as possible to Malacañang.

But for Bongbong Marcos’s defeat at the 2016 national polls, he would have been just a heartbeat away from the presidency, a very real threat to the Filipino people considering Duterte’s illness. If Marcos Jr had “won” the vice-presidency, Duterte would have had added to his legacy the Marcoses’ total rehabilitation. As things stand now, two of the Marcos siblings are running among the pack that’s circling Malacañang.

The Marcoses is one big example of bureaucrat capitalism.

To this day articles are being written about how the dictator Marcos ‘smartly’ looted the national coffers, put up companies and seized stakes in strategic businesses, and how he ‘transformed’ the armed forces and the police to make it partisan and more corruptible than usual. US propped him up and let him use the state forces it had established, trained and armed for their own imperialist ends, facilitated by its favored local puppet. Marcos, their ‘son-of-a-bitch’ as then President Ronald Reagan said, only became a ‘problem’ to imperialist US when the people were protesting in millions. The local armed communist revolution was growing by leaps and bounds and had led the fight against the dictatorship and its imperialist master.

IT TAKES A CORRUPT SYSTEM TO REINSTATE THE MARCOSES

Marcos’ ouster will always be a historical triumph of the Filipino people’s collective power— both the armed and unarmed, those in the open and underground struggles. The ongoing turbo-charged rehabilitation of the Marcoses under Duterte, however, is as loud a reminder as we all can get that, no, the people cannot stop at just ousting the current, most abusive tyrant.

The system that breeds such ilk needs also to be smashed.

This system has proven to have merely continued the puppet presidency and imperialist domination of the country.

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), in a statement issued in 2018 pinpointed that the “successive reactionary regimes failed miserably to address the clamor of the Filipino people for swift justice. Every ruling regime allowed the Marcoses to return stage by stage. None carried out a decisive act of justice fearing this will rouse demands for the same measures to be meted against them over the same crimes they themselves commit while in power.”

At the outset, Cory Aquino, responding to insistent public demand, established the PCGG (Phil. Commission on Good Governance) to go after the Marcoses’ ill-gotten wealth. But, her administration emasculated it by ordering it to seize nothing and work instead through the courts. This was of course peanuts for the dirty-moneyed Marcoses.

The US imperialist’s rescue of their once serviceable puppet continued even after the Marcoses returned to the Philippines. The US redacted transactions involving US organizations in their records. The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) refused to disclose what they knew, reportedly prompting a veteran of PCGG to call the US and Marcoses “partners in theft.” The US likely has loads of damning information on the kleptocracy and rights abuses of the Marcoses. Not only does it enjoy control of the local state forces, it’s also been known to keep tabs on even its “allies,” according to a declassified report on the CIA’s eavesdropping on conversations of government leaders such as that of the Philippines.

With clues from the US and their latest puppet on how the Marcoses were to be cossetted since the late 80s, Marcos died in Hawaii without being punished by the Filipino people. His widow, Imelda, returned to the Philippines with her three adult children in 1992. She was greeted by an avalanche of graft cases. But with their political allies regaining government posts, she never had to worry about jail time or threats of warrants of arrest.

Imelda was convicted at least twice for graft, once in 1993 for a fraudulent land deal and in 2018 for illicit financial dealings with Switzerland-based NGO’s.

But she remains free to this day. In the 2018 conviction, under Duterte, she was asked to pay bail of only P300,000, despite the gravity of the case and the amount of what’s stolen. The conviction is turning out into a ploy to fasttrack the movement in the case.

After more than five administrations (including two Aquinos), more than 90 lawyers and personnel of PCGG at the increasingly frustrating trail of seeing signs of billions of hidden wealth, only to be whisked away before their eyes, and the precious precious length of time that’s gone by, the Marcoses still have much of the ill-gotten wealth. Some of it were divulged in the upheaval of disclosures regarding Panama papers, where the ultra rich keep their money away from taxes and prying eyes. By now it’s clear the graft cases against the Marcoses were only to placate the angry masses.

MARCOSES’ FINAL REHABILITATION UNDER A MARCOS CLONE

The might of people’s victory in the ouster of Marcos and the underlying desire for genuine democracy is such that it took the Marcoses more than three decades before bureaucrat capitalism can ease them into Malacañang as ‘honored’ guests.

The Marcoses managed to do it under another puppet president they supported as candidate, who publicly claims he idolizes Marcos, and who looks back at his father’s political career as one that had benefited from the Marcoses.

And, before we forget, a president who evidently wants to be another dictator and tyrant. He himself has reprised many Marcosian tactics.

Despite his anti-corruption posturing, Duterte early into his term stunned the nation in allowing Marcos’ frozen remains to be buried, after at least two postponements due to protests, at the Libingan ng mga Bayani in November 2016. The most brazen of post-Edsa puppet presidents at helping the Marcoses, he nevertheless balked at having the requisite public pomp expected for a true heroes’ and former president’s burial. It took him a year before he set out again to glorify the Marcoses. The Philippine government commemorated Marcos in postage stamps.

Under Duterte the corruption cases against the Marcoses that dragged on for more than three decades are being thrown out one by one.

In August and October 2019 several ill-gotten wealth cases against the Marcoses, 27 to 31 years in court, were dismissed for lack of evidence from government lawyers, or for their failure to attend court hearings.

The bulk of their massive loot remain undisclosed to the people they stole it from. Estimates of what the PCGG managed to recover ran from just one to two billion dollars. The precious works of arts bought with stolen money inadvertently would show in Imeldific shots in her posh digs, but they always disappear when investigators come knocking. The money they extorted from coconut farmers were partially recovered but each succeeding administrations made it difficult for the coconut farmers and real owners of the fund to fully recover it.

PEOPLE MUST CLIP THE MARCOSES’ GREED: FROM ILOCOS NORTE TO MALACAÑANG

Looking thus at the Marcoses’ rehabilitation in power, it is not true that horrors repeat itself. It gets more horrendous in Part 2.

Unapologetic, flushed with their success, they are greedy for more.

They’re spoiled believing they can get away with it, again and again. They’re coming back to do more of the same on a vehicle much bigger and ratcheted up by their original loot, oiled by blood, sweat and tears of injustices to those they had oppressed, and covered by the same imperialist power that continues to lord over the country as long as their puppets dutifully run it to the ground for their businesses and military interests.

More than three decades since the world applauded the Filipino people’s uprising that booted out the Marcoses, these Marcoses have not been taken to account for the thousands of human rights violations and humanitarian crimes committed to maintain the dictatorship.

Now the maturing children, beneficiaries of dictator Marcos’ loot and network of allies and cronies, are out and about for another chance in Malacañang. They are intent as well in whitewashing their family’s crime, Imee Marcos chose the committee on culture in the Senate. Like father like daughter, she faked her academic achievement and when confronted about their family’s crimes, she tells the Filipinos to ‘Move on.”

Against the Marcoses’ rehabilitation and whitewashing, against presidents desiring to be another Marcos, the Filipino people “have no other recourse but to take revolutionary action and overthrow the ruling system and class rule of big bourgeois compradors, big landlords and bureaucrat capitalists. Only be wielding revolutionary power—democratic people’s power—can they subject the biggest criminal and fascist oppressors to just punishment with full decisiveness and dispatch,” the CPP said.###

#NeverAgain
#NeverForget

—–
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FAILING OPLANS: from Marcos to Duterte

in Editorial

Since 1981, when the Marcos dictatorship initiated Operational Plan (Oplan) Katatagan purportedly “to defend the state” (the besieged fascist regime) from the fast-growing New People’s Army (NPA), each succeeding administration has followed suit. This is understandable, since the planner-implementor of every Oplan has been the same military establishment habituated to martial-rule repressive action.The Oplans have had varying names. Yet all have been aimed at deterring the growth of or strategically defeating the NPA, to preserve the existing rotten ruling system.These were: Corazon C. Aquino’s Oplan Mamamayan and Oplan Lambat-Bitag I and II; Fidel Ramos’ Lambat-Bitag III and IV, and Oplans Makabayan and Balangay (which transitted into Joseph Estrada’s truncated presidency); Gloria Arroyo’s Oplan Bantay Laya I and II; Benigno Aquino III’s Oplan Bayanihan; and Rodrigo Duterte’s Oplan Kapayapaan and Oplan Kapanatagan.While each succeeding administration adopted its predecessor’s operational concepts, it added new ones. But all such operational concepts were, invariably, copied from the counterinsurgency guide of the US Army. Although these may have worked for some time in America’s wars of aggression and intervention in different parts of the world, over the long run they have failed to achieve their prime objective: decisive military victory.Instead, these American wars—practically wars against the peoples of the countries they invaded, starting with the Philippines at the turn of the 20th century—have left behind countless deaths mostly of civilians, including children; pervasive human rights violations; displacements en masse of the population; and massive destruction of socio-economic resources requiring decades to recover.Similarly, albeit in smaller scale, these have been the dire impacts of the successive counterinsurgency Oplans on our people—since Marcos’ time to the present—in the undefined arenas of war across the archipelago, mostly in the countrysides and hinterlands.The current Oplan Kapanatagan started as Oplan Kapayapaan in January 2017. The latter was also dubbed as the AFP Development Support and Security Plan 2017-2022, which the Armed Forces off the Philippines (AFP) described as an advance from Aquino III’s Oplan Bayanihan. It adopted the latter’s “whole-of-nation” or “people-centered” approach. Oplan Bayanihan, the AFP bragged, resulted in getting 71 of the 76 (out of 86) provinces deemed to be “insurgency affected” declared as “insurgency free” and “peaceful and ready for further development.”The change to Kapanatagan stemmed from the AFP’s assessment that Oplan Kapayapaan was failing to achieve its targeted goal to defeat the NPA midway of Duterte’s six-year term of office.When first announced by AFP chief Gen. Benjamin Madrigal before the May 2019 midterm elections, it was billed as the AFP-PNP Joint Campaign Plan “Kapanatagan” 2018-2022. Madrigal described it as a “medium-term broad plan that shall guide the AFP and Philippine National Police (PNP) in providing guidelines and delineation of authority while performing their mandated tasks to promote peace, ensure security, and support the overall development initiatives of the government towards inclusive growth.” It is anchored, he added, on the national strategic guidance defined in the National Vision, National Security Policy, Philippine Development Plan, National Peace and Development Agenda, and the 2018 Department of National Defence (DND) Guidance and Policy Thrusts.“The respective strategic thrusts of the AFP and PNP were thus harmonized in this Joint Campaign Plan “Kapanatagan” 2018-2022,” Madrigal said. He called it “a dynamic process to establish greater inter-operability in our continuing operations to address security concerns within our respective areas of concern, including all other productive endeavors wherein we join hands in support of national government initiatives as envisioned by President Rodrigo R. Duterte.”Specifically, Madrigal cited two “salient features” of Campaign Plan Kapanatagan: 1) The PNP shall support the AFP in combat operations involving the suppression of insurgency and other serious threats to national security; and 2) The PNP shall take the lead role in law-enforcement operations against criminal syndicates and private armed groups, with the active support of the AFP.”It was in the Cordillera region where the AFP and PNP first “rolled out” Oplan Kapanatagan, after the May midterm elections. Northern Luzon Command (Nolcom) chief Lt. Gen. Emmanuel Salamat then said: “Because of the effort of the AFP and PNP in preventing violence and any actions of the local terrorist groups in the Cordillera region, we assure that the AFP and PNP will continue to work together through Joint Kapanatagan Cordillera.”He emphasized that the AFP-PNP would carry out “joint actions and plans to ensure a more collaborative effort to address the peace and security concerns, especially in those geographic isolated areas” (the guerrilla zones) in Cordillera. He expressed hope that the local government units and other “partner agencies” would collaborate to ensure implementation of Executive Order 70 and the National Task Force to End the Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) it created, headed by Duterte.Gen. Salamat disclosed that at a “national convergence” meeting in Malacañang, all those working under NTF-ELCAC had put all efforts “to come up with a cluster of responses” on the different issues, including “issues that have been exploited by the local terrorist groups” so that the government can respond to them.And how has the government responded through NTF-ELCAC and Oplan Kapanatagan?Recently, the Cordillera People’s Democratic Front (CPDF-National Democratic Front of the Philippines) issued a primer on this two-in-one counterinsurgency plan, titled “Disturbance and Plunder by the State Against the People.” Among others, it points out the following:R(egional)TF-ELCAC Cordillera was formed in July 2019, followed by P(rovincial)TF-ELCAC Mt. Province in September. In the last three months of the year municipal-and barangay-level TFs are targeted to be formed.In September, Nolcom launched military operations in various parts of the Cordillera and Ilocos regions, side-by-side with these joint campaigns by the AFP and PNP: disinfomation, surveillance, psychological war (disseminating false information that the NPA had planted land mines in the mountain areas of Bauko, Tadian, and Sagada towns in Mt. Province); forcible entry into civilian homes purportedly to “collect” firearms kept for the NPA in the communities of Besao town; threat and pressure used on residents summoned to pulong masa to sign up on a memorandum of agreement with the AFP-PNP and a declaration of the CPP-NPA as “persona non grata”; holding seminars and symposia on Duterte’s “war on drugs”; and delivery of “services”, “relief and rehabilitation”, among others.The AFP-PNP also set up detachments within three communities of Besao and one in Sagada, in violation of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL). (In the National Capital Region, through Implan/Oplan Kalasag, the NCR version of Oplan Katatagan, the AFP-PNP tandem has also set up detachments in some communities in Caloocan City. Uniformed armed teams engage in red-tagging, harassment, intimidation, while others offer “livelihood programs” to identified leaders and members of progressive organizations).CPDF also says the implementation of Oplan Katatagan and NTF-ELCAC in the region aims to facilitate the entry of energy and mining projects by foreign-local joint ventures that threaten the ecology, and violate the Cordillera people’s right to their ancestral lands. It named the following: Bimaka Renewable Energy Devt. Corp., Hydroelectric Dev’t Corp., Chico River Pump Irrigation Project by China’s CAMC Engineering, Aragorn Power Energy Corp., and Cordillera Exploration Co. Inc.-Nickel Asia of Japan.In sum, CPDF denounces the two-in-one campaign as designed to “pacify and press the people to obey the dictates of the reactionary state.” It calls on the Cordillera people to assert their rights, oppose the campaign through various means, and expose the true intent of the campaign: to crush the just struggle of the oppressed masses.It’s useful to note that, in 1981 the Marcos dictatorship already employed thru Oplan Katatagan the full force of the AFP, the police and paramilitary forces, its “development agencies”, and some civilian organizations. Duterte’s Oplan Kapanatagan and NTF-ELCAC—backed up by extended martial law in Mindanao and state of national emergency in other areas of the country—can be correctly described as an “Enhanced Oplan Katatagan.” Note further: the Oplan failed—in 1986 the people ousted Marcos.#FightTyranny
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Duterte Wants to Grab Land Reform from the NPA

in Countercurrent

by PINKY ANG

On the 31st anniversary of the failed Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) last August, President Rodrigo Duterte spewed lies against the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New Peoples’ Army (NPA). Preening before the media while giving out Certificates of Land Ownership Award (CLOA), he boasted he would finish the CPP-NPA-led revolution.

But this put-on picture—Duterte distributing CLOA < click >, Duterte tough-talking on Hacienda Luisita < click >, Duterte feigning concern for the future generation caught in the armed conflict < click >, Duterte promising land reform alongside crushing the 50-year people’s war < click, click >—is phony and old (he isn’t the first president to pose for it). It also defies logic and history.

Save for a fleeting period when he was talking peace with the communists, Duterte has done nothing but the opposite of land reform and national industrialization.

On the verge of signing with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) what would have been a landmark agreement to redistribute land for free all over the country, he scuttled the talks in 2017. Since then, he has made no bones in taking the well-worn path of his most despotic predecessors in Malacañang.

No Philippine president in history has truly implemented land reform nor attempted to jumpstart national industrialization spurred by a genuine land reform program. On the contrary, their so-called land reform programs sought only to placate the masses even as land remained in the hands of a few. From the bitter experiences of peasants, every land reform program by the Government of the Philippines had more loopholes than grounds to actually distribute land. And even when some eventually got distributed, it somehow got back soon enough to landlords.

Duterte merely continued the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program begun under former Corazon Aquino. Despite decades and a succession of presidents and CARP extensions, it is still far from attaining 100-percent distribution of its already narrowed target. Under Duterte, distribution is at the slowest, poorest pace.

DAR records show that the Duterte administration, in its first three years in office, was able to distribute to farmer-beneficiaries only 91,776 hectares of agricultural landholdings. That’s an average of 30,592 hectares a year. His land acquisition and distribution (LAD) pace was only 8% of that of the Fidel Ramos administration in its first three years. Ramos was top performer among the previous presidents.

Here are the comparative LAD accomplishments of Duterte’s predecessors in the first half of their terms:

  • Corazon Cojuangco Aquino: distributed 452,074 hectares from 1988 to 1990, or 150,691 hectares a year;
  • Ramos: distributed 1,113,019 hectares from 1992 t0 1994, an average of 371,006 hectares annually;
  • Joseph Estrada: distributed 379,905 from 1998 to 2000, or 126,635 yearly;
  • Gloria Arroyo: distributed 313,778 hectares from 2001 to 2003, averaging 104,593 hectares per year;
  • B.S. Aquino III: distributed 320,916 hectares from 2010 to 2012, or 106,972 hectares each year.

Data: Dept. of Agrarian Reform land distribution accomplishment in 2016 to June 2019 is 2,920 hectares on average per month under Duterte,

less than the July 2010 to 2015 monthly average of 8,254 has. reported by DAR under Noynoy Aquino;
9,407 has. under Arroyo in January 2001 to June 2010,
and 11,113 has. monthly average under Estrada.

There is a raging armed revolution in the Philippines because peasants and the basic masses, including sections of the middle class and local small capitalists, thirst for land reform. They yearn for the greater prosperity of industrialization that genuine land reform will naturally stimulate, and for the assured just distribution and sustainability of this prosperity because of the socialist perspective of the national democratic revolution being waged by the CPP-NPA-NDFP.

Over the years, the masses especially the poor peasants have been supporting and joining the NPA because they have seen in its programs and its achievements the solutions to feudal and imperialist oppression. This is the movement that truly promises and will deliver thoroughgoing change for the better.

Duterte is striking a very wrong stance with his CLOA distribution and counterrevolutionary war cries. His threat to crush the people’s democratic revolution is a threat to derail developments in actual land reform being implemented by the peasant-based NPA. It’s a threat as well to delay the country’s national industrialization. This is not acceptable to the Filipino masses who continue to suffer a life of misery under the landlord-comprador and imperialist puppet presidents including Duterte.

Another president who posed with CLOAs amid counterrevolutionary war cries was Joseph Estrada. In Bondoc Peninsula, after a series of successful NPA tactical offensives there 20 years ago, he vowed to crush the revolution movement. He became the second president to be ousted through the people’s peaceful direct action.

“WHOLE OF NATION” AS MARTIAL LAW UNDERCOVER?

By this time, as commander-in-chief, Duterte has already issued one too many orders— declaring and thrice extending martial law in the whole of Mindanao; declaring a state of emergency to quell “lawless violence” and issuing Memo 32 to deploy more troops in Samar, Negros island and Bicol; utilizing the so-called “whole-of-nation” approach that harnesses the entire government (national and local) plus civil society organizations in a bid to end the 50-year armed conflict. Clearly though, his actions contradict his boasts against the CPP, which his government shrilly tries to demonize and misrepresent as a puny force being deserted by droves of supposed surrenderers.

But, like the failed land reform program, Duterte’s “whole-of-nation” approach is just another war plan his predecessors have long applied and failed on. It is like the wolf appropriating the voice of the innocent so it can freely enter homes to devour and kill.

Duterte is turning the entire government bureaucracy including civilian sectors into a counter-revolutionary surveillance and black propaganda factory. Its services are being deployed to feed into the coercive military and police troops cracking down on legal democratic mass organizations, and their allies here and abroad. While this government is raining bombs and lies, it is restraining flow of information about the revolutionary movement. It is banning media interviews and coverage of revolutionary groups.

Duterte is trying to revive the monsters of Marcos’s martial law, but not quite succeeding at muzzling the freedom of association and freedom of the press. He goes all-out with K-12 miseducation that’s washing off traces of patriotism and prompts for critical thinking among the youth. All the while he is pushing for military partnership with schools to abet surveillance and intimidation of critical students and teachers.

PR-labeling all these as “whole-of-nation approach,” Duterte dreams about finishing off the CPP-led revolution but only through a one-sided, reality-defying, blood-drenched misrepresentation of life on the ground.

For this brutal fantasy, his office wants to double its intelligence budget to P4.5 billion in 2020, or bloat it to half as big as the total budget of the Office of the President. His minions in Congress seek to add more teeth to the anti-terror law they euphemistically call as Human Security Act. His regime and the US government have agreed to locate a regional training center for combating insurgency and “terrorism” in Cavite. The military consistently receives from the US technical and intelligence support, training and equipment for countering the revolutionary groups.

Yet, amid the Duterte regime’s one-sided diatribes against the CPP-NPA, some truths still inadvertently emerge. Some from his own big mouth. Duterte himself can’t deny the public support for the communist revolutionaries.

After all, he wooed the Filipino voters into electing him president by cultivating appearances of being friendly to the CPP- NPA. His campaign ploy has confirmed that candidates gain popularity by calling themselves “leftist” or “socialist”; by promising peace talks with the communists; and by taking up issues articulated by or identified with the Left. For example, the call to assert Philippine sovereignty in the West Philippine Sea vis-à-vis China’s aggressive intrusion into and grabbing of maritime areas within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zones.

Past presidents and presidential candidates publicly pretended to ignore the existence of revolutionary mass bases in the countryside, even when they were impelled to engage in peace talks. They fumed whenever “security concerns” delayed their visits to some locales, when candidates can’t simply enter guerrilla zones. They evaded disclosing the fears expressed by multinational corporations over another government operating clandestinely in the Philippines, which, unlike the reactionary government, calls them to task for their plunder and rights violations.

Perhaps Duterte, who claims to know a lot about the revolutionaries, panicked after he realized that the neocolonial institution he leads wouldn’t tolerate his slight deviation from the usual conduct of puppet presidents. Or, perhaps as a true neocolonial leader of landlord and comprador class (albeit with lesser money in his hands?) he panicked at his first-hand confirmation of the depth and breadth of the Left’s mass support.

Whatever, even when he was firmly following the tradition of imperialist puppetry of those who got to become temporary residents of Malacañang, he still inadvertently slips up, revealing in his ramblings the good things the CPP-NPA have been doing. For example, land reform.

But it would be political suicide for Duterte, or for any local government executive and for the AFP, to say outright that he is against land reform. To “win hearts and minds” and bar more people from supporting the revolutionaries, Duterte and his cohorts have to put deceiving masks to their war plans.

NPA: THE TRUE ARMY OF THE PEOPLE PUSHING FOR GENUINE LAND REFORM

The NPA is largely a peasant army. Its support and troops mainly come from the poor peasants who comprise about 70 percent of the Philippine society. As the army of the revolutionary people led by the CPP, the NPA is waging a revolution against the imperialist stranglehold on Philippine society. It aims to end this stranglehold by dismantling the puppet government that orchestrates and secures it to benefit the landlords and compradors. In the process, the NPA, under CPP leadership, is resolving with ever growing number of people the roots of poverty, landlessness, feudal exploitation, agricultural backwardness and the stunting of industrial development.

Ever since the CPP-NPA-NDFP began waging an armed revolutionary war, it has been pushing for genuine land reform. It is deriving greater strength the more it works to organize and help peasant communities undertake land reform.

The NPA is not just a military force. It is arousing, organizing, and mobilizing the masses. It is starting and helping the peasants into organizing and running the Pambansang Katipunan ng mga Magsasaka or PKM (National Peasants Association), and other revolutionary mass organizations based in rural communities.

These organizations conduct campaigns for land reform suited to their capacities. The more masses organized into revolutionary groups the more they could undertake land reform and enjoy its fruits. The more they cherish and bolster the NPA underpinning their successes.

A PKM leader correctly said recently, as the national democratic revolution advances, the PKM shall be able to give more lands to poor peasants. Lands confiscated from landlords and agri-business corporations are given to beneficiaries free of amortization. The CPP-NPA also punishes the most despotic landlords.

Contrast this to the misery of intensifying feudal and semi-feudal exploitation, and one sees the futility of discouraging the masses from supporting the NPA. In time, their level of organization and experience approaches the building of bigger and bolder organs of political power in communities. This may start small with humble benefits, but as a PKM leader said, it is enough for PKM chapters to withstand the hardships and tragedies of counterrevolutionary wars.

In revolution they have hope. And having tasted its benefits even from the early stage of strategic defensive of the protracted people’s war, they would not easily be swayed by phony pictures and declarations.

Thanks to the NPA, the country’s peasants have had a taste of what it’s like to be in a truly democratic government—at least, the local underground government they are building up every day, campaigns after campaigns for land reform. What it’s like to govern themselves, to elect tried-and-tested leaders among themselves, to work the farm sustainably, to share and enjoy its fruits among themselves and not let it become the sole entitlement of landlords, to help plan and execute appropriate farming techniques and technology.

The organized peasants are also doing their share in thwarting the imposition of imperialist-led “reforms” and programs.

The NPA has functioned to truly harness the power of the people in working collectively for each other’s economic and political gains.

“The comrades in the NPA are helping us come up with policies and guidelines in the land distribution, especially on who should be prioritized—those landless and those who lack lands to till,” said Ka Iling, a peasant leader who participated in a local agrarian revolution conference in 2017 held at a guerilla front in the north. It was a joint project of local members of the CPP, the NPA, and the various revolutionary mass organizations in the area.

All over the country, PKM and other collectives of revolutionary groups, without fanfare, have tackled problems of landlessness, conducted land occupation, palit-tanim (changing crops) to have something to eat even as they are forced to plant cash crops. They have struggled to reduce land rent and usurious rates. They have formed cooperatives to work the land more efficiently, buy their needs, and sell their produce lessening the dominance of traders-landlords-usurers.

Almost a million PKM members have benefited from the CPP and the NPA’s maximum agrarian reform program: more than 44,000 hectares of land have been confiscated and redistributed all over the country. Millions of others have benefitted from the campaigns for lower land rent, lower borrowing interest rates, just share in proceeds of harvest, increased farm gate prices, and eliminating traders’ trickery when farmers’ produce are weighed and priced.

Their support services include training and workshops on organic farming, construction of mini dams for free irrigation, installation of hydroelectric and solar or wind-powered turbines for post-harvest drying or processing, among others.

All these and its further development are what are at stake in the counter-revolutionary war waged by the Duterte administration.

THE COMMUNIST REVOLUTION ON A WINNING PATH

Farmers call Duterte a hypocrite for pretending to care about the future generation while doing his best to kill their best prospects today.

He was quoted as telling the CPP-NPA, “We cannot go on this way. We have been fighting for 53 years. Maawa kayo sa susunod (Have mercy on the) coming generation.”

If he was indeed a man of mercy, he could have helped signal the end of armed fighting early into his term. When he terminated the peace negotiations in 2017, the two sides were on the cusp of signing an agreement prompting the Philippine government to implement a genuine land reform.

A clearly-defined mutually coordinated ceasefire would have followed.

As such, even before the massacres occurred in the hacienda land of Negros, or before the killings of peasants all over the country have reached a staggering number of victims (more than 200 as of August 2019 since he became president), the Duterte government could have halted the fighting. For the first time in history, it could have led to the neocolonial government helping resolve the peasant demands which are at the root of the prolonged armed conflict.

Instead, Duterte only confirmed the correctness of the people’s war as means to dismantle the neocolonial government by armed force. His regime has acted true to form in deploying more troops against the peasant-based NPA fighters. Duterte himself acted true to form like the other neocolonial leaders before him. He vowed to sell to highest bidders the fertile lands being defended by the peasants with their very lives.

His agricultural secretary accused the farmers doing bungkalan for survival that they have no rights to the land they should have owned already. He has also been approving with alacrity the appeals of landlords to defeat the farmers’ demands for land distribution. This includes the lands in Hacienda Luisita already ordered for distribution by the Supreme Court.

Duterte admits that “it’s not only about gaining a foothold in those areas,” referring to hotbeds of revolution like Negros, for example. In Sagay City where peasants awaiting CLOAs were massacred by paramilitary troops in October 2018, farmers have been forced to leave and go hungry as troops continue arriving to secure the landlords’ “lawful” ownership. How could the Duterte administration think they could win over these farmers?

Duterte himself admits it is not enough to just bring soldiers to guard the land. “Kunin mo na ang initiative sa komunista (Take the initiative from the communists). What they’re parlaying is land. Eh di unahan na natin. Bigay na natin [ang lupa] (Then let’s move ahead of them. Let’s distribute the land already).”

From the puppet leader who has repeatedly uttered lies and shamelessly admitted to uttering lies, the only true thing he revealed here is that the initiative on land reform is with the communists.

Ever since, the puppet government bowing to imperialist masters has only been reacting to the peasants’ demands for land with bogus land reform programs. The imperialists profit so much from dumping their surplus agricultural products here, while pushing their manufactured products, too. As long as the domestic industries are pushed back and stunted, they have a captive market. The landlord and comprador classes, meanwhile, win big in corruption, buy-and-sell profits, fat contracts and commissions. But the masses grow poorer and hungrier by the day.

Four years ago before Duterte, the poorest 50 percent or 11.4 million Filipino families subsisted on just P15,000 or less per month (P500 or less per day for a family of six). After tax and price hikes amid the lowest wage grants and the worst job generation in the post-Marcos period, the people are definitely worse off today under Duterte. Meanwhile, thanks to his economic policies, the net worth of the country’s richest and the profits of the largest corporations have ballooned.

“Crisis generates resistance,” as CPP founding chairman Jose Maria Sison titled one of his recent books. The peasantry had launched uprisings and died in bigger numbers before, without the communists to guide them. Now that they have tasted agrarian victories and glimpsed the best future in advancing the national democratic revolution, with socialist perspective, they have hope and will not likely give up on that.

Duterte’s “whole-of-nation” mantra for what he strains to approximate as martial law stands no chance. His human rights record already stinks with blood and many have recoiled from it, even the ordinary people in other countries.
His publicly paid troops who perform services for the landlords, oppress the peasants and the indigenous peoples, will continue to earn the people’s ire and mistrust. Duterte’s minions can conveniently dismiss their war crimes as “shit happens” and “collateral damage”. Before the media, Duterte can shed tears when his troops suffer defeat in legitimate combats with the New People’s Army.

They will keep on getting what they deserve from the people’s army, if they don’t stop standing in the way of genuine land reform, democracy and real prosperity for the majority of the people. #

#PeasantMonth
#ServeThePeople
#JoinTheNPA

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