NTF-ELCAC’s surrender campaign is a shameless sham: Various government offices colluding to violate people’s rights

PTV-Ilocos, being a state-owned and controlled mass media, obviously cares not for the truth but for its role of deceptively propagating the government’s anti-people programs and deodorizing the latter’s crimes against the masses. A recent press release reported that 69 members of an underground mass organization in Sta. Lucia, Ilocos Sur ‘surrendered’ and took an ‘Oath of Allegiance.’

Inaccurate Reporting, Indifferent Officials

PTV’s claim that these individuals caused violence (kinadamsak) to themselves and their community is but a reimagination of the violence that the Philippine Army (PA) unleashes on them through the extended occupation of civilian areas, intimidation, surveillance and outright vilification. In all realities, the demonization of people’ organizations is not simply an insult added to the injury but often a culmination of all the acts of harassment leading towards summary execution. The 702nd Infantry Brigade, through the said government mouthpiece, claims that the individuals used to support a Communist Terrorist Group, a concept that has suffered tiresome repetition due to the government’s desperate insistence to make it sound legitimate. But had they bothered to inquire among the impoverished peasants of the region, the people will tell them that it isn’t Communists or its revolutionary army that they fear. Rather, they are wary of the mercenary troops that persecute them for asserting their rights through organized action.

To call it ‘surrender’ is inaccurate and irresponsible journalism, if not a blatant lie. The Anti-Subversion Act that used to criminalize the Communist Party of the Philippines has been repealed since 1992. Being a Communist, therefore, cannot be a crime so there isn’t any basis to surrender. There is even less need to take an oath of allegiance to a government that ironically cannot boast of neither loyalty nor concern whatsoever for the oppressed and exploited classes. Despite the nullification of the said law, the national democratic organizations have to conduct partly underground operations to preserve itself against fascism and state terrorism. And yet, in the separate arena of parliamentary struggle, the validity of legal democratic organizations and progressive party lists is still a thousand-fold more legitimate than the ruling class’ black propaganda that Communism is tantamount to terrorism.

Spineless local government officials allowed human rights violations to happen in Sta. Lucia. Barangay-level officials, and even Mayor Joseph Simon Valdez, must have some kind of awareness of the community standing of these individuals. In case of any compelling accusation, Valdez and others could have employed legal proceedings to establish guilt according to merit. Instead, they helped coerce the group to participate in an oath-taking that conjured the appearance of admission of wrongdoing. That, even if this moro-moro put the victims’ and their families’ safety and lives at risk of further violations by the mercenary troops of the PA.

The Money Trail

Aside from sheer lack of concern, Valdez and his subordinates’ only motivation could be a possible cut from the Php16.44 billion of the so-called Barangay Development Program. It is a huge chunk coming from the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) which once again won the lottery this year with a total budget of Php19.13 billion. In the face of a pandemic ravaging the country, it is an indecent sum that was recently questioned even by members of the national bureaucracy.

This budget is coursed through member-agencies such as Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine National Police, Department of National Defense and Department of Justice. Interestingly, 2018 and 2019 audit reports from these agencies do not indicate specifics of NTF-ELCAC or anti-insurgent programs where their share was supposedly spent. A key implementor of the task force’s barangay-level projects, DILG, still has Php8 million unaudited funds from NTF-ELCAC. The Commission on Audit is yet to release the 2020 reports from these particular agencies.

Herein lies the irony. The Duterte regime refuses to lift a finger to address the immediate problems of hunger and poverty but will channel billions of pesos for anti-insurgency funds only to be grafted towards individual pockets. To cite, the current price of corn is at Php13.70/kilogram while the vegetable patola (pointed gourd) is at Php7. Irrigation is inadequate resulting in low yield while the price of harvest is at its lowest. Rodrigo Duterte and his ilk cannot be blind to the fact that these people’s issues foment an armed revolution. Fascism and state terrorism validates the need for it.

The ruling class, with bureaucrat capitalists at the helm, is uninterested in breaking this cycle for they profit significantly from it at the expense of the people’s human and civil rights. But the Filipino people is prepared, active and resolute in breaking the chain through a democratic revolution and legal democratic movements. The unity of basic, progressive and positive forces, both in legal and armed struggle, grow stronger as they focus on one weakening target which is the regime of the despotic Duterte. His focus on the parliamentary arena only betrays his failure to make good on an oft-repeated pledge to decisively defeat the New People’s Army. The people’s democratic revolution, despite the state’s malicious lies and bottomless funds against it, continues its march towards inevitable victory.

Expose the lies against the national democratic movement!

Hold local officials equally accountable for human rights violations!

Build and strengthen unities against the Duterte regime!

NTF-ELCAC’s surrender campaign is a shameless sham: Various government offices colluding to violate people’s rights