Reject the AFP’s “vaccine for surrender” hypocritical offer

The commander of the 4th Infantry Division, Gen. Romeo Brawner, Jr., in a public relations spiel to make himself look good, made the devious and grossly hypocritical “vaccines for surrender” offer yesterday supposedly to have fighters of the New People’s Army (NPA) receive Covid-19 vaccines in exchange for surrendering their revolutionary cause.

1. By dangling the “vaccine for surrender” offer, Gen. Brawner actually reveals the overriding militarist mindset of the Duterte regime in using the Covid-19 pandemic and the vaccine drive in its continuing suppression campaign and counterinsurgency. The pandemic response in the country, led by military generals, have focused on lockdowns and other repressive measures instead of improving the health system.

2. Gen. Brawner’s offer is all empty publicity hype. He makes this offer to the NPA amid the acute lack of vaccines in the Philippines. Majority of the people, both in the cities and countryside, have yet to be vaccinated. Most of the rural villages, in fact, have yet to receive any jabs, while in some, the vaccination drive has only started to trickle. Desperate to project themselves as winning the war, we anticipate that the AFP will soon be using the offer of vaccination to force thousands of people to line up and be paraded as “NPA surrenderees.”

3. We are still looking into the veracity of the military’s reports that purported NPA fighters captured were infected with Covid-19. We have reason to believe that the seven people arrested by the military in San Fernando, Bukidnon, including three children, are actually civilians living in the area in the vicinity of a firefight last September 8.

4. The AFP’s relentless counterinsurgency campaign, especially the hamletting of rural villages and compelling people to join their assemblies, has served as one of the biggest vector for the spread of Covid-19 infection in the rural areas. Since last year, we have exposed and denounced AFP soldiers and personnel of the Philippine National Police (PNP) across the country who do not wear facemasks or other protective equipment in wanton violation of health protocols when they go around communities, interrogate people in their homes, mount cockfights and organize “youth summits” where people are forced to congregate. (see Rural village residents have been complaining of soldiers repeatedly requiring them to attend meetings and seminars.

5. We have anticipated that Covid-19 infections will ultimately reach the rural farming and mountain communities where emergency medical facilities are scarce. It is natural that Covid-19 infections would eventually reach units of the NPA who organize and conduct economic, medical, education, cultural and literacy work among the masses. This is why since the start of the pandemic, NPA units have been advising and helping village people’s organizations and health workers on measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19 in their villages.

Until vaccines are more widely available, units of the NPA have been advised of the use of herbal medication, including the use of lagundi, lemon grass (tanglad), oregano, sambong to manage bronchial symptoms, acupuncture protocols and regular physical exercise to promote good health and fight Covid-19 infections.

Reject the AFP’s “vaccine for surrender” hypocritical offer