Military in Bicol uses the crisis caused by COVID-19 as an alibi for intensified operations — NDF-Bicol

Translation/s: Pilipino

Contrary to the unilateral ceasefire declared by Duterte, military operations have been successively taking place in different parts of the region. Of prominence is the aggression of the 2nd IB at 9th ID in farmers’ communities in Masbate. In accordance with the militarized plan of the Inter-Agency Task Force in delivering social services, platoons of the AFP have been deployed to some communities in order to get lists of residents qualified to receive assistance under the Social Amelioration Program (SAP) from barangays.

On April 10, the 2nd IB attacked a unit of Red fighters conducting an information drive about Covid-19 in Brgy. Cabas-an and Brgy. Macabug in Aroroy, Masbate. Discontented, the military also abducted two farmers. The following day, the military also abducted Jennylyn Santiago and planted evidence to implicate her as a ‘rebel’.

The militarized approach in dealing with crisis caused by Covid-19 does not resolve the immediate needs of the masses. The national martial law-like Enhanced Community Quarantine limits the life and livelihood of the people. It effectively cut the connection between the countryside and the cities. Agricultural products, the primary source of income of most of the masses who rely on food-to-mouth existence, could not be delivered to the markets. The purchase of basic needs is also being controlled. Access of people in the countryside to basic social services such as medical services for the pregnant, sick and gravely ill and many others, which have already been lacking before, are also cut off.

At present, the military are going to communities in the countryside allegedly to distribute aid under SAP. Instead of protecting communities from the virus, the only protective gear they wear are combat boots and long firearms. Their real objective is not to distribute aid under SAP or social services, but to conduct surveillance and to wield fascism in order to break the people’s unity and dampen their revolutionary spirit.

In order to face the intensifying economic and political crises caused by the regime’s military solution to a pandemic, the masses are putting all efforts into making their cooperation and native system of helping each other work in their communities. In response to the national call of unity in facing the spreading pandemic, revolutionary committees in the countryside, alongside the NPA, continue to implement their programs in increasing their level of production, sanitation in the community and ensuring the health and welfare of their neighbors. Revolutionary mass organizations in the cities continue to organize projects such as bringing food to frontliners and communities in the outskirts and gathering donations. This is the true spirit of bayanihan that the Filipinos should live by.

NDF-Bicol calls on all the Bicolano masses to expose the military’s violations of human rights. Report it to the media, human rights defenders and officials of the barangay. NDF-Bicol also remains open to receive such reports. It is a challenge for people’s lawyers, media practitioners and other middle forces to stand against fascism and to unite with the oppressed and exploited masses. Communities should also assert their right to protect themselves from military aggression in their communities. Incompetence and savagery will further push the surge of the mass movement determined to eradicate the deadly virus that is the US-Duterte regime.

Military in Bicol uses the crisis caused by COVID-19 as an alibi for intensified operations -- NDF-Bicol