Defend Bai Bibyaon and all Lumad leaders! Frustrate the US-Duterte’s campaign of genocide of the Lumad!

The National Democratic Front in Southern Mindanao vehemently condemns the vile attempt of the fascist US-Duterte regime to blackmail the lone female Manobo chieftain Bai Bibyaon Ligkayan Bigkay to force her out of her sanctuary and surrender like a criminal.

Orchestrated by the AFP’s Eastern Mindanao Command, the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) and the local and provincial government units of Davao del Norte, the relatives of Bai Bibyaon in Talaingod are being coerced to sign dubious documents to be used as warrant to enforce the regime’s treacherous scheme.

Bai Bibyaon, already sickly and elderly, is known here and abroad as a staunch leader of the Lumad struggle for land and their rights. She headed her tribe’s valiant armed defense of Pantaron mountain range in the mid-90’s against the large-scale logging operations of Alcantara and Sons (Alsons) and continues to champion indigenous people’s interests to this day.

This recent incident is by no means new as under Duterte, the systematic campaign of vilification and persecution of Lumad leaders, revolutionaries or activists alike, has become a dirty tactic of the regime’s IP-centric counter-insurgency program. The Lumad, most especially the Talaingod Manobo tribe and their leaders, continue to suffer under the US-Duterte regime’s genocidal campaign that includes relentless militarization of their communities, bombings, harassment and killings in order to pave the way for the unbridled entry of foreign large-scale mining and monocrop plantations and logging projects. Under the NTF-ELCAC, however, the fascist meter has skyrocketed, thoroughly co-opting and weaponizing civilian agencies such as LGUs to bludgeon unarmed civilians, even the elderly, into submission.

Clearly, this is one of the priority modus operandi of the criminally cash-rich NTF-ELCAC. The junta-like monstrosity is, yet again, set to enjoy an even bigger portion of the Filipino taxpayers’ money with its budget slated to be increased by 75%, from P19B to 28.1B, even amidst controversies of corruption and mismanagement of funds.

For the Duterte regime, successfully browbeating into acquiescence an elderly unarmed leader activist like Bai Bibyaon serves as a crown jewel for its counter-insurgency campaign, much in the way the AFP coerced sickly and elderly Datu Guibang Apoga in 2018 by placing his communities under intense military siege, manipulating his family to force him to “surrender” and continues to put him under house arrest up to the present. Datu Guibang is the renowned chieftain of the Talaingod Manobo who, alongside Bai Bibyaon, rallied all Monobo tribes of Talaingod and nearby areas to resist Alsons by waging the pangayaw, the traditional Manobo armed warfare.

These incidents are yet another proof that the fascist regime’s counter-insurgency campaign indiscriminately lumps together armed revolutionaries and unarmed civilians. Arresting, coercing the families, misrepresenting the “surrender” of, and parading activists, mass leaders, Red fighters or revolutionaries have invariably become the one-size-fits-all approach to effect a veneer of “achievement” in its bloody campaign. Under duress, they are being coerced to make statements against their people and comrades, undermining their just struggle for self-determination, socio-economic rights or national democracy.

In the case of the Lumad, wiping them out as a people is the endgame. By displacing the Lumad from their ancestral homes in the interest of capitalist exploitation, the Duterte regime robs them of their identity—because for the Lumad, without the land, they are nothing.

We call on all revolutionary forces and allies to help defend Bai Bibyaon and her relatives to ensure their safety and well-being, and frustrate this regime’s effort to subdue her and her continuing struggle. We especially urge all women and elderly rights advocates to add their condemnation of the Duterte regime’s remorseless misogyny that continues to victimize women, sickly and elderly people. We reiterate our call to fortify our united front to fight and frustrate the US-Duterte regime’s campaign of genocide against the Lumad.

We must continue to wage the national democratic revolution in its many forms as a means to disabuse Duterte and the AFP’s blood-stained notion that resistance, armed or otherwise, can be silenced or quelled by co-opting or killing its leaders.

Defend Bai Bibyaon and all Lumad leaders! Frustrate the US-Duterte’s campaign of genocide of the Lumad!