NDF-Ilocos: TF-ELCAC continues to attack people’s rights amidst the pandemic

NDF-Ilocos: TF-ELCAC continues to attack people’s rights amidst the pandemic
Duterte rewards fascist troops with bigger budget instead of prioritizing people’s welfare

Despite his own corruption, political dynasty ambitions and cronyism mimicking that of Ferdinand Marcos, Rodrigo Duterte this week had the temerity to once again raise a stink about how he would deal with crooked officials. Yet, he does not seem to take issue with funds for counterinsurgency holding priority over public health and economic assistance, especially with a pandemic in place. Instead, he allows the Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (TF-ELCAC) to use an indecently liberal budget to reign with impunity.

The National Democratic Front – Ilocos holds that unstinting funds for the TF-ELCAC has become a reward system that further motivates police and Army forces to harass, intimidate and attack the people of Ilocandia. Late last year, the local TF-ELCAC in Duterte’s much-touted Davao was already allotted Php1.58 billion for “purging” the region of Communism. With an amount that is almost 10 percent of the total Php16.4 billion Barangay Development Program budget, it is not surprising that other regional units are hell-bent on drawing the same picture by employing every dirty trick in the book.

Thus, everyone, from individual Red fighters and their civilian families, to members of legal democratic organizations, to common peasants and fisher folk, becomes an open target. The Php20 million allotted to the military for every barangay that they have “cleared” is more than enough reason to blindly commit to flagrant large-scale violation of human rights.

In the municipality of Quirino in Ilocos Sur, for instance, the 69th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army (IBPA) twice summoned residents to a livelihood seminar that turned out to be a surrender program. In January this year, 87 individuals were forced to sign a certificate of withdrawal, presumably from the NEW PEOPLE’S ARMY (NPA), and to participate in an oath of allegiance. Even recently arrived overseas Filipino workers were not spared. Also, around October last year, 70 to 80 surrendered “members” went through the same gimmick. This month, in Santa Cruz, the 69th IBPA absurdly “appealed” to members of the NPA or any mass organization to surrender because they have already identified said members.

Perhaps to support the illusion of future batches of Red fighters “surrendering” to the Army, individuals claiming to be members of the NPA have suddenly surfaced. Ironically, these amateurs can be found in areas where units of the Army already abound. Other gimmicks include the establishment of TF-ELCAC within barangay-level and the usual dogged pattern of surveillance and harassment (Red-tagging in social media posts and through tarpaulins/streamers) that intimidates individuals into “clearing” their names.

And in the tradition of graft and corruption, the barangays that the Army reported as “purged” (Baluarte in Salcedo and Nagbettedan in Santo Domingo, Ilocos Sur) cannot even be considered NPA areas at all. Meanwhile in Bagulin in La Union, Barangay Cardiz scored double the allotted TF-ELCAC budget by simply listing itself twice.

The regime is deliberately blind to the fact that there is a fatal fast-spreading virus. Instead, it uses same to further militarize the region and the entire country by establishing checkpoints, limiting mobility and profiling of individuals. But the people of Ilocandia are taking action accordingly. The plummeting of their livelihoods due to the present pandemic, the deaths and sacrifices it cost them and the regime’s own ineptitude are enough to push more progressive individuals and groups in forming a broader unity for Duterte’s conclusive downfall. Political struggle at all fronts is necessary to overthrow the most vicious and most useless of presidents that ever occupied the Malacañang, most important of which is the People’s Democratic Revolution. It can only stand to benefit from this economic indifference and political repression with numerous peasants, fisher folk and workers taking up arms to advance the struggle. Duterte is digging his own grave and the revolutionary Filipinos will only be too glad and willing to push him towards it. ###

Expose TF-ELCAC’s crimes against the people!
Assert for redirection of funds towards people’s welfare!
Expose and oppose the Duterte regime’s corruption!
Support and advance the national democratic revolution!

NDF-Ilocos: TF-ELCAC continues to attack people's rights amidst the pandemic