81st IBPA launches opening salvo of 2020’s HRVs but people’s orgs resolute in further weakening the isolated Duterte regime

The 81st Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army (IBPA), together with La Union’s police force, started the year with something they do best: violating human rights. Borne out of constant practice, their opening salvo for this year’s wave of Red-tagging, harassment and intimidation is as good as perfected, especially against the unarmed populace.

Intensified human rights violations

The National Democratic Front – Ilocos Region decries the Philippine Army’s most recent spate of disregard for the basic rights of the people, more particularly to belong to an organization and to assemble peacefully. On January 23, in the municipality of Agoo, members of the 81st IBPA tagged TIMEK (or Tignayan ken Namnama dagiti Babassit a Mangngalap ti La Union) as having links with the Communist Party of the Philippines and thus an ‘enemy’ of the government. The group, which includes Civil Military Operations Head Capt. Rogelio Dumbrique, then asked for a list of members. They also told TIMEK leaders to alert them if there is anyone organizing a meeting.

Prior to this, on January 21, Sgt. Benito Queñano Imus Jr. and PFC Ken Cabutaje Raposas already visited the residence of a TIMEK leader. When asked what their business was, they intimidated that they were calling on him because they consider the organization as ‘hot.’ They refused to elaborate on what that meant.

On January 28, Sgt. Imus and a certain Cpl. Garcia arrived uninvited to the house of another TIMEK leader. Once again, they badgered the mass leader for a list of members but the latter also bravely and rightly refused to provide them with one.

As early as mid-November, the same elements have harassed leaders and members of TIMEK. The military checked their associations by showing them pictures of other Red-tagged individuals, illegally monitored their movements and took their pictures.

Similar incidents have and are also taking place in Ilocos Norte and Sur. Red-tagging and the assignation as ‘enemy’ of a fascist government such as Rodrigo Duterte’s is a prerequisite to intensified violations of human rights. It is the military’s twisted method of justification before resorting to extrajudicial steps where a dissenting individual could be silenced similar to the killing of Randy Malayao a year ago. Also, such summary executions cause terror that could spread among other revolutionary and progressive forces. Most recent example of this is Ilocos Sur Judge Mario Anacleto Bañez, the people’s judge who acquitted Rachel Mariano from false charges of being a member of the New People’s Army, after a year of unfair incarceration.

Duterte’s funeral

Herein lies the irony. Regardless of how intensely the military harasses the revolutionary and progressive forces of the region, the US-Duterte regime is already severely isolated from the masses and its downfall is likely, if not imminent. More importantly, it has no one to blame but itself for such outcome.

Beginning his presidential term as a novelty, he is now exposed as the most trapo of all trapos in the bureaucracy. Decomposing trash will always stink no matter how one tries to hide the rot. He worsened poverty in the country through neoliberal policies like the Rice Tariffication, TRAIN (Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion) and onerous debt to China. He claimed the lives, livelihood and peace of millions of Filipinos through the Oplan Tokhang, Oplan Kapanatagan and Martial Law in Mindanao. He is currently under fire for his belated actions regarding the new strain of corona virus that could cause widespread illness and death amongst Filipinos.

Red-tagging, harassment and intimidation of mass leaders and organizers thus only serve to fan the flames of resistance. One or two voices might be silenced through state terrorism but revolutionary ideals persist in crowds of the oppressed, exploited and neglected. The spirit of struggle will never waver in the countryside where armed revolutionaries establish organs of democratic political power through agrarian reform and well-planned and well-executed military offensives. The US-Duterte regime, with the help of the military force supposed to protect it, is merely arranging its own funeral. Meanwhile, millions and millions of Filipinos in the countryside and in the cities continue to resolutely march towards a socialist victory. ###

81st IBPA launches opening salvo of 2020’s HRVs but people’s orgs resolute in further weakening the isolated Duterte regime