By declaring all-out war, Duterte owns accountability for AFP, PNP abuses

President Rodrigo Duterte minced no words when he recently declared all-out war against the people. Worse, through his declaration, Duterte has owned and virtually guaranteed the AFP and PNP immunity from accountability for all abuses and crimes against the people as fascist implementors of his all-out war.  Thus, the Duterte government’s claim that its so-called “whole-of-nation approach” and the creation of the NTF (National Task Force To End Local Communist Armed Conflict) are “humanitarian” is a huge lie.

The all-out war declaration means a more brutal, more fascist, more bloody and militaristic control by Duterte and the AFP of the whole government machinery under the banner of “counter-insurgency”. They attempt to deceive the people by claiming that the so-called “whole-of-nation approach” and the establishment of the National Task Force (NTF) to End Local Communist Armed Conflict are “not militarist” and enjoy the support of civilian agencies, various sectors and broad masses of the people, from the national to the barrio levels.

In truth, the “whole-of-nation approach” is merely a smokescreen for the US-Duterte regime’s main objective against the people. It continues to rely mainly on focused and sustained operations by the AFP and PNP, through simultaneous actual combat and Community Service Program or CSP operations, that aim to annihilate the New People’s Army (NPA) and the revolutionary movement.  At the center and focus of the all-out war are brutal and huge military campaigns and operations and widespread fascist suppression by the butcher US-Duterte regime.

 It will further intensify militarization in the countrysides and fascist military attacks on barrios and communities. Since the establishment of the NTF on December 2018, ceaseless huge military operations have been launched here in the region, with the deployment of more than a thousand troops for batch upon batch of combat operations. Along with these are numerous CSP operations in hundreds of barrios and the establishment of additional detachments. These operations always bring in their wake murders, fake and forced surrenders, illegal arrests and the filing of trumped-up charges against ordinary civilians. 

Through the all-out war, more human rights violations are to be expected, the AFP and PNP are given more license to sow more abuses and atrocities, thus laying the basis for Duterte’s dream of establishing a fascist dictatorship. Heightened suppression of the democratic and patriotic movement of the people is ascertained.

To put in place its implementation, the NTF was established effective Duterte’s Executive Order No. 70. Last August 6 and 27, 2019, the first and second meetings of the Caraga RTF-ELCAC ((Regional Task Force in Ending Local Communist Armed Conflict) was held here in the region. The RTF-ELCAC is the regional arm of the NTF. It is directly headed by Duterte through his appointment of representatives from his civil-military cabinet, composed mainly of retired officials of the AFP and PNP, as RTF chiefs. 

Last September 12, the NTF launched the first ever RTF-ELCAC Barangay Summit in the country in Agusan del Norte, Butuan City. Out of 1,311 barangays in the Caraga region, only 80 or 6% of the total number of barangays participated in the event. This number is not even half of the 252 barangays in Butuan City and Agusan del Norte alone. Where then are the barangays that declared the NPA “persona non grata” that the AFP has bragged on and on about? 

Through the RTF-ELCAC, the military will be given more power over the LGUs in the region. The Peace and Order Councils will be used as main instruments for Duterte’s all-out war against the people, under which local representatives of the DILG, OPPAP, NCIP, DSWD, DepEd, DPWH and other government agencies will be utilized for repressive and deceptive schemes such as fake and forced surrenders, ECLIP, intervention in and forcible closure of schools, “persona non grata”, among others. When, actually, old programs and projects of these agencies are now merely being rehashed to make it appear that the NTF/RTF-ELCAC is addressing the problems of the people.

Meanwhile, majority of so-called socio-civic programs and the building of “farm-to-market roads” are mere token projects and more often than not left unfinished.  Or if completed, do not directly serve the interests of the people. Through these projects, the government earns profits from corruption and foreign loans, while providing a semblance of “economic progress” by way of showcasing infrastracture-building for “rural development”.

The building of OPAPP-PAMANA “farm-to-market roads” is an age-old scheme of the government and the AFP to enable entry in target areas for their military operations and new detachments. The “farm-to-market roads”, for instance, from Brgy. Puting Bato, Cabadbaran City and Brgy. Bangayan, Kitcharao in Agusan del Norte were built at the same time as AFP combat operations against the NPA. It had long been exposed that these projects are mere tactics by the military to pave the way for sustained psywar, intel and combat operations, attacks on mass organizations and other fascist suppression and abuses in the barrios.

Instead of wasting billions of government funds on its all-out war campaign, the US-Duterte regime should instead re-channel these funds to address urgent problems of the people, such as the record-low plunge of farmgate prices of palay and coconut and the ever-increasing prices of basic products, especially the unabated rice price hikes.

The sole aim of Duterte’s all-out-war, “whole-of-nation approach” and NTF/RTF-ELCAC is to gloss over societal realities of continuing feudalism and backward agriculture, lack of basic national industries and the government’s subservience to foreign interests and investments, the basic causes of the country’s chronic economic crisis. Their claim that the armed revolution is the reason why the country remains under-developed is one big lie.

The US-Duterte regime is delusional in boasting that it can annihilate the NPA and the revolutionary movement in Caraga and the whole country. Duterte is no different from past presidents. He continues to deny how deeply-rooted the revolutionary movement is to the masses in the region and the country, as well as the ever-worsening crisis of Philippine society as the root cause of the armed conflict.

Amidst an aggravated economic crisis, worsening poverty and fascist repression of the US-Duterte regime, conditions are more ripe than ever to broaden and strengthen the people’s revolutionary struggle. ###


By declaring all-out war, Duterte owns accountability for AFP, PNP abuses