What did Samarnons gain from RCSP?

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In Samar province, at least 11 barrios in the town of Calbiga, five in Pinabacdao, and five in Hinabangan have been under relentless Retooled Community Support Program (RCSP) operations of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) since 2019. During this period, the Duterte regime poured millions of funds into these barrios for various projects which remain incomplete.

To create an illusion that counterinsurgency bring development, the government and military launched various road and bridge construction projects, as well as projects by national and local government agencies, the National Greening Program, livelihood programs by the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), surrender programs and many others.

After two years, however, not a single infrastructure was completed. Construction projects progress very slowly. In fact, the government has just started bulldozing to pave the way for these road projects. Its plan to cement the road in Barangay Guinbanga, Calbiga remain unaccomplished. Because of this, residents by themselves had to construct a temporary bridge using logs. “I think that these projects will not be completed,” commented one resident. “Funds for these could have already been pocketed,” he added.

The military is currently using the billions of pesos allocated for the Barangay Development Program (BDP) of NTF-ELCAC to further put barrios under their control. The implementation of the BDP is linked to repression and abuses perpetrated by soldiers. For instance, the AFP promised all barangays ₱20 million each if they will allow soldiers to encamp inside villages or if residents will “clear their names” or “surrender.” In other barrios where no one voluntarily surrendered, the soldiers list down the names of individuals who they target to coerce into surrendering.

“Blood, lives, and disruption to our livelihood.” These are what residents got from RCSP operations, said farmer Ka Ruben.

Peasant communities under RSCP operations will never forget the killing of the barangay captains of Daligan and Beri in Calbiga, the wife of the captain of Sinalangtan, a farmer in Buluan, and a youngster in Minata. All of the victims were killed by soldiers. Meanwhile in Pinabacdao, two farmers were killed in Canlubo and another in Magdawat. Scores of farmers have also been mauled and tortured.

RCSP operating troops also promote gambling in communities such as illegal cockfighting and card games, illegal fishing in rivers using toxic chemicals and electrocution, illegal logging, abuse of women and rape of minors.

Even farmers recruited into the CAFGU have quit after suffering abuses by soldiers. Of the promised ₱35,000 monthly salary, they receive only around ₱6,000, paid to them every two to three months. They also suffered beatings, verbal abuse and discrimination.

“Every time I pass by these roads and bridges which are being constructed, I couldn’t help but remember the fate suffered by my fellow farmers who were killed in the name of these projects. No amount of money or project can compensate for their lives.”

The regime’s promise that these road projects will improve farmgate prices is a lie. “Farmgate prices have actually even become lower and the cost of transportation has even increased.”

“I am convinced that the only way for the poor to achieve development and peace is through struggle,” concluded Ka Ruben.” (Correspondence from Larab)

What did Samarnons gain from RCSP?