Pasabilis! October 2021 | Davao City’s Peace 911: A ‘madmavulot woy ovubaton’ circus
PAQUIBATO, DAVAO CITY—On the second week of October, the local reactionary government of Davao relaunched its counter-insurgency program called Peace 911, following a two-month hiatus in its operations.
In the more than three years of its implementation, Peace 911 was heaped with praise by AFP and local reactionary officials in the regions as a model program to rid the country of insurgency.
Last May 2018, Task Force Peace 911 was launched, as the city’s local implementation of Executive Order No. 70 that GRP Pres. Rodrigo Duterte issued the year before. It is in line with the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict’s (NTF-ELCAC) “whole of nation” approach of the fascist AFP’s extensive mobilization and control of all reactionary government agencies for its anti-people war against the revolutionary movement.
TF Peace 911 supposedly operates under a framework of eight principles to achieve peace, such as “low levels of corruption,” “acceptance of the rights of others,” “equitable distribution of resources,” and “sound business environment” to name a few. Absent in its program is addressing the basic demands of the masses such as land to till and living wages in order to attain just peace.
But for one Lumad peasant in Paquibato, Peace 911 is nothing but a “madmavulot woy ovubaton,” a fascist and bogus, circus. Why does the program fall short in addressing the roots of the revolutionary armed struggle?
Peace 911: Militarization in Paquibato
In order to attain peace, Peace 911 needed to deploy three AFP battalions in 13 barangays of Paquibato and other adjacent barangays of Calinan District. The 27th IB, 89th IB and 3rd IB are carrying out relentless combat and civic-military operations such as “pulong-pulong” (mass meetings) to subject the masses to psywar tactics and force them to “surrender.”
A glaring instance is the case of 10 civilians who were charged with a trumped-up case of attempted murder by the AFP and PNP in January. After coercing them to “surrender” as supporters of the NPA in Brgy. Malabog, the local court dismissed the blackmail of a case for lack of evidence a few weeks later.
The enemy likewise mobilizes its black ops group called “Dos-dos,” or gun-for-hire assets, in order to surveil, harass and intimidate residents.
In addition, according to a few barangay officials in Paquibato, several barangay councils in the area were forced to sign persona non grata declarations against the CPP-NPA-NDFP. These are documents which claim that “residents no longer welcome terrorist organizations” in their barrios. “They just made us read the document and told us to sign. They didn’t even give us a copy,” one barangay official said.
In order to control and monitor the movement of those they declared “surrenderees,” the AFP constructed “Kalinaw Village” in Mahayag, Brgy. Bunawan, just a few hundred meters away from the 1003rd Brigade headquarters. The project purportedly cost ₱2.53 million, aside from the ₱2.6 million that was supposed to be given to 40 “surrenderees” and the ₱724,000 other expenses. Mayor Duterte-Carpio claimed she gave the AFP sole discretion and control over the project’s budget.
The AFP has likewise been aggressive in its recruitment of CAFGU and paramilitaries Bagani and Alamara to augment its forces.
The bogus Peace Economy
In November 2019, Peace 911 formally launched Peace Economy, a program that Mayor Duterte-Carpio deemed a “model of development that aims to get all sectors involved in “wealth sharing” alongside the improved delivery of government services.”
But with even a cursory inspection of its program, anyone can surmise that Peace Economy is essentially a duplicate of the old projects of tree-planting and production of raw agricultural materials for export such as falcata, rubber, cacao, gemilina, coffee, mahogany and narra under the National Greening Program. It also encourages the entry of plantations for oil palm in Brgy. Colasas.
There is no comprehensive program for food production for as rice and corn or support for production services such as irrigation, sustainable agriculture or outlawing onerous usury. The much-ballyhooed progress is sorely limited to a perfunctory and arbitrary raising of the farmgate price of tomatoes in Brgy. Malabog, where the victory was spoon-fed, without mobilizing the masses in order to make them understand why the prices of their produce were perennially pegged to such low levels to begin with.
At present, the so-called Peace Economy is desperately trying to conceal, using flashy road and cellphone towers projects and other lip service development programs, the root causes of the abject conditions of peasants and Lumad in Paquibato. “Wealth sharing” rings hollow in the face of the objective fact that the land and economic lives of the people are still in the complete control of landlords and corporate interests.
The problem of landlessness has in fact worsened when in June 2020, barely a year after Peace 911’s implementation, the AFP’s Eastern Mindanao Command “legally” appropriated 41.71 hectares of the Lumad’s ancestral land in Brgy. Malabog, with plans of turning it into a military reservation area.
Weighed but found wanting
In the final analysis, Peace 911’s overhyped foundation for peace is teetering precariously on relentless fascism and heedlessly spurious projects that are woefully ill-equipped to resolve Paquibato’s deeply-rooted basic problems.
In fact, this very fragile foundation was rocked by a series of military actions carried out by NPA units against AFP forces in Brgy. Colosas during the last part of 2019, where the enemy suffered more than 15 casualties, including one of their commanding officers 1Lt. Charlie Ramandaban.
This and the unmasking of Peace 911 as a downright fascist and bogus circus remain to be the undeniable proof that the peasant and Lumad masses of Paquibato continue to embrace the people’s war as the only potent solution to their primary plight.