No, sir, the peasantry refuses to be mere bells and whistles or milking cows in your counterinsurgency war
The much-ballyhooed formation and federation of “people’s organizations” or POs by the 10th Infantry Division are mere bells and whistles at best and milking cows at worst for us peasants, peasant workers and Lumad in Southern Mindanao. These POs simply do not solve our perennial problem of landlessness and semifeudal exploitation, made worse by Duterte’s land use conversion for monocrop plantations, large mining tenements and agro-tourism and infrastructure projects.
We see through the lip service of the 10th ID and the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), and reject their senseless eureka proclamations that they have unearthed the key to defeating the armed revolutionary movement in the region.
In Southern Mindanao, especially in Paquibato, Calinan and Toril in Davao City; in Sta. Cruz and Bansalan in Davao del Sur; in Tagum City, Panabo City, Talaingod, Kapalong and Asuncion in Davao del Norte; in Maragusan, Compostela, Monkayo, Montevista and Mawab in Davao de Oro; in Mati City, San Isidro, Banay-banay, Tarragona, and Manay in Davao Oriental, thousands of peasant families continue to be displaced to make way for the expansion of banana, oil palm and other plantations. In many instances, these “people’s organizations” have made it easy for greedy companies to encroach on lands once cultivated with rice, corn, vegetables and other food crops.
In particular, the erstwhile farmer associations and worker unions of Maragusan town, whose civilian farmers, farm workers and plantation workers were forced by the AFP’s retooled community support program (RCSP) to surrender as either NPA fighters or sympathizers, have now been rendered powerless to stop the expansion of banana expansions under more and more oppressive agri-ventures agreements. Companies find it much more financially-viable to encroach on other areas rather than rehabilitate the land already ravaged by decades of monocrop plantations. As a result, poor farmers are forcibly pushed further into hinterland areas in order to farm and make a living.
The Duterte regime is likewise aggressive in its bid to displace us from our land to make way for large scale mining, with over 37,000 hectares already tied to mineral production sharing agreements (MPSA) and one million hectares more queued for application since 2017. Talaingod and Pantaron mountain range have been pledged to mining and agro-tourism investments, hence the relentless all-out war campaign of the AFP against the Lumad in the area. POs such as those initiated by the AFP have become stamping pads for the incursion of these destructive projects.
Moreover, officials in several villages marked to receive the P20-million barangay development program (BDP) bounty in North Cotabato, Bukidnon and Davao del Norte disclosed that AFP officers have been blackmailing them to withhold the fund unless they agree to issue persona non grata declarations, have their residents or PO members report regularly or host RCSP troops within their communities. Some have also noted that projects in line with the BDP, which were supposedly requested by POs, were in fact redundancies of existing or earmarked projects by their local or provincial government. Investigation into these profiteering schemes of the AFP must be exposed and investigated.
While revolutionary mass organizations are established to empower peasants and the Lumad to assert their socio-economic and political rights, the AFP, by its own admission, establishes so-called people’s organizations in order to defeat the revolutionary movement. Genuine agrarian reform and self-determination are of no importance to the enemy.
These POs have no program whatsoever to dismantle the big landlord’s stranglehold in our economic lives, freely distribute land to those of us who have no land to till or provide comprehensive financial and material assistance to raise production. They have no campaign to increase the farmgate prices of our produce, lower post-harvest costs of services such as drying, milling, and the like or outlaw exploitative usury. In short, these AFP-established POs are as useful to peasants as a sprinkle of water is to a parched piece of land.
It is becoming more and more obvious to us peasants that the infrastructure and livelihood projects and “capacity-building and peace-building seminars” being shoved into our throats are being used solely to affect the semblance of success in the AFP’s counterinsurgency drive or else as a blatant money-making scheme to line the pockets of their officials.
To the AFP spin doctors who keep claiming they can defeat the revolutionary armed movement in the region by yearend because of their spurious people’s organizations, we say: No sir, not in our name.