PARAGAS KI TO PAKIGBISOG! Highest Red salute to Ka Rommel and other young heroes of Talaingod!

The Regional Operations Command of the New People’s Army in Southern Mindanao pays its highest revolutionary tribute to Davao-Bukidnon Subregional Command Red commander Potpot “Ka Rommel” Tawsan, 25; and Red fighters Dandi “Ka Dani” Salubiroy, 19, and Divina “Ka Din-Din” Sendon, 24, whose heroism we celebrate and keep as inspiration in the national democratic revolution. All hailing from the Manobo tribe of Mindanao, the three martyrs laid their youthful lives in serving the Filipino people’s war and the indigenous peoples’ continuing struggle for self-determination and defense of their ancestral land.

On the morning of September 9, Ka Rommel and Ka Dani were killed by fascist soldiers of the 27th Infantry Battalion in an encounter in Sitio Canacan, Brgy. Saloy, Calinan District in Davao City. In the aftermath of the clash, two other Red fighters, Sara “Ka Sara” Amit and Toto “Ka Totoy” Sausa were wounded and captured by enemy troops. Before this, Ka Din-Din was martyred on August 26 during a tactical offensive launched by Red fighters against an operating unit of the 27th IB in Sitio Lubas in Brgy. Paquibato where 5 enemy troopers were killed.

Ka Rommel’s life had always been in the revolution. He was born during the time when the Manobo tribe of Talaingod and its surrounding villages embraced the national democratic revolution in order to defend Pantaron range, Mindanao’s last remaining old forest ranges. From a very young age, Ka Rommel had been groomed to be one of Talaingod’s next generation of fiercest warriors who will continue the historic defense of Mindanao’s last frontier. Early on in the Red army, Ka Rommel distinguished himself to be a bold politico-military cadre, becoming a platoon political instructor and later company commander of Davao-Bukidnon Subregional Guerilla Unit. He became endeared to the masses and comrades alike, who looked up to him as a committed Party officer especially during the relentless focused military operation launched by the enemy in Davao City and in Talaingod.

Ka Dani, though very young, proved to be steadfast Red fighter. Even before joining the NPA, he was a youth activist in their community who found bigger purpose in pursuing the armed revolutionary life. Ka Din-Din, meanwhile, was cherished by comrades and masses as a dedicated Red fighter and a proud member of the LGBT community. Leaving her poor peasant origins, she decided to join the people’s army in 2014 and later became a vice platoon leader of an NPA unit.

The 27th IB and their bosses at the Eastern Mindanao Command are certainly celebrating the deaths of our three martyrs, making feigned fuss and fanfare of “bringing the remains of fallen rebels” to their families but all the while vilifying them as “terrorists.” For several months now, NPA units of the Davao-Bukidnon Subregional Command have delivered blows against the 27th IB, whose abusive troops have relentlessly launched combat and community support program operations in Paquibato, Calinan and other areas in Davao City even at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.

This tenacious militarization of IP communities, particularly in Brgy. Malabog in Paquibato district, primarily serves to ensure the unhindered landgrabbing of at least 41 hectares of ancestral domain by the AFP’s Eastern Mindanao Command. By capitalizing on problematic reactionary programs like the Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT) and deputizing corrupt Lumad leaders, AFP officials in early June secured a Deed of Usufruct for the construction of a military reservation in Malabog, a virtual garrison meant to hamlet the local population of peasants and Lumad who continue to resist the regime’s anti-people policies and programs.

To countless Lumad youths like Ka Rommel, Ka Dani and Ka Din-Din, the life of struggle has not only become a necessity but an inevitability—one that has been foisted on them and generations before them by the semi-feudal and semi-colonial state’s historic oppression against indigenous peoples. For the US-Duterte regime’s “IP-centric” counterrevolution, in the grand scheme of things, the deaths of three Lumad youths they have branded as “terrorists” mean no more than propaganda, a mere photo-op for the fascist AFP troops out to deodorize their rotten image. But to the thousands of poor peasants and Lumad in the region, while the grief is thoroughly felt, the loss is but temporary because they know that more and more sons and daughters will stand in the place of their staunch revolutionary defenders.

The deaths of Ka Rommel, Ka Dani and Ka Din-Din and the inhumane detention of two NPA hors de combat are adding fuel to a gathering storm in the region. While the masses, especially the Lumad and peasants in the hinterlands of Southern Mindanao, are suffering from abject poverty made worse by the pandemic and the regime’s ineptitude in the face of it, the fascist war machine of the US-Duterte regime heartlessly continues to launch its anti-people counterrevolution, indifferent to the root causes of the people’s plight and their armed resistance.

Adding insult to injury, Duterte himself and his cabal of fascist thugs in the AFP perpetuate their callous condemnation of the peasants and Lumad’s revolutionary armed resistance. If it were up to them, they would rather the masses passively bow down to being displaced from their lands and livelihood and make way for the economic interests of the ruling class such as destructive mining and corporate plantations. The US-Duterte regime is therefore both abhorred by and cowering in fear of the masses’ rallying cry in the midst of their fallen revolutionary heroes: Paragas ki to pakigbisog! Onward with the struggle!

PARAGAS KI TO PAKIGBISOG! Highest Red salute to Ka Rommel and other young heroes of Talaingod!