PNP’s tokhang plan in Cordillera, a deadly warning to activists and the Cordillera people

Read in: Iloco

The recent announcement of the PNP Regional Office – Cordillera (PRO-COR) of its plan to launch a Cordillera wide “Oplan Tokhang” against activists and suspected “supporters of terrorists” sends quivers to the Cordillera people. Horribly ominous, an impending crackdown against the legal progressive movement and ordinary citizens in the region is in the offing. PRO-COR Regional Director General Pagkalinawan’s brazen declaration was certainly boosted by Duterte’s subsequent order to the AFP-PNP to finish off every suspected NPA they could chance upon, in a manner not bounded by upholding human rights and international humanitarian conventions on the conduct of war. The fascist demagogue Duterte, in his usual saber-rattling stance against the people’s progressive movement and his critiques, unabashedly issued the instruction after finally and grudgingly admitting in public that his regime could not put an end to the CPP-NPA. Duterte’s despicable reference to the “NPA”, not only pertains to the people’s armed revolutionary organization but also ridiculously includes the unarmed legal progressive movement. Indeed, a die-hard tyrant to the core, Duterte never did care about human rights. He deliberately violates his own republic’s constitution. He disregards international humanitarian law altogether to suit his fascist whim. He turns a deaf ear to international public opinion criticizing his gross misdemeanor as well as the several cases filed against him in various international bodies ranging from gross human rights violations to crimes against humanity. Posturing as an invincible dictator, even at the onset of his despotic regime, Duterte labeled ordinary civilians as “terrorists” and poor drug victims as enemies of the state and literally targeted them for physical elimination from the face of the earth. This brutal predisposition has been further abetted by the Anti-Terror Law that is now rapidly baring its deadly fangs.

Only a few days after Duterte’s terrifying command, his blood-thirsty fascist troops immediately carried out a frenzied killing spree targeting militants in the provinces of Cavite, Batangas, Rizal and Laguna in the Southern Tagalog region, murdering nine activists and arresting six others in a single day! This is an exact repeat performance of the widely condemned SEMPO (Syncrhonized Enhanced Military Police Operation) that simultaneously massacred 14 peasants and arrested 12 others in three municipalities of Negros on March 30, 2019. Similar type operations the following year also massacred five peasants in Dolos, Bulan, Sorsogon on May 8, 2020 while on December 30, 2020, nine Tumandok leaders in six barangays of Tapaz, Capiz were mercilessly butchered and 17 others arrested. Numerous other cold-blooded assassinations in all corners of the country, emblematic of the terrorist martial rule of the Duterte regime, continue to fill up the rising statistics of death counts, attempted murders and illegal arrests. And all were executed in the heinously orchestrated modus operandi of “serving a warrant of arrest but targets resisted and fought back, thus obligating arresting officers to defend themselves”. And all victims were planted with “evidence” and viciously branded as “suspected NPA’s” or “suspected NPA supporters”.

In the Cordillera, the “Tokhang 300” target of the PRO-COR is a portent of more ferocious attacks by the AFP-PNP against the progressive legal organizations and their leaders and ordinary civilians. The aggressive bootlicker Pagkalinawan, whose craving for promotion is all too obvious to ignore, picked out the loathed “Oplan Tokhang” as his brand of fascist crackdown in the region. More brazen than the persistent red-tagging of the legal democratic movement, this criminal blueprint foreshadows bloodier suppression of the people’s legitimate struggles. The PRO-CAR’s pronouncement that this campaign will “not be bloody” is sheer duplicity. They simplistically described that their method will be “to knock on the doors of residences and offices of suspected NPA supporters” to seek an audience with such “supporters” to convince them to discontinue their “terrorist supporting activities”. But surely, this will be no different from the SEMPO-type and other bloody operations carried out by the AFP-PNP, as it comes at the heels of Duterte’s marching order to “eliminate the NPAs”.

The downright manslaughter of innocent civilians in the past five years of Duterte’s tyrranical regime has already cost tens of thousands of lives. On August 4, 2019, Brandon Lee, a human rights volunteer worker in Ifugao, survived a failed murder attempt in the hands of military intelligence personnel, forcing his family to bring him back to the US for his safe medication and recovery. In Kalinga, on the dawn of October 25, 2020, a composite team from the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), Kalinga PNP and Philippine Army swooped down on the communities of the Uma tribe in Lubuagan purportedly to serve search and arrest warrants. Betty Belen, an unsuspecting local women’s movement leader was charged with illegal possession of explosives, illegally arrested and put behind bars. The “evidence” was planted by the troops who forcibly entered her house. Twelve other residents of Uma were named in the warrant of arrest issued to Betty but were able to evade arrest because they were out of their homes during the raid. If not for their preemptive measures, they might have ended up in a manner similar to the Negros SEMPO attack – murdered in cold-blood.

In Baguio City, a few months before Pagkalinawan went public with his criminal plan, the PNP Cordillera already launched a manhunt with a shoot to kill order against Cordillera People’s Alliance (CPA) Chairman Windel Bolinget based on a trumped up murder case in Davao. Tarpaulins proclaiming Windel as a fugitive murderer were hanged all over Bolinget’s neighborhood and around the city offering a hefty bounty for his capture dead or alive. This prompted the Igorot leader to consult with his lawyer and submit himself to the regional office of NBI to face the case in court.

The Duterte regime’s murderous rampage against the people has no other objective but to put an end to their legitimate struggles and to silence all critiques of his tyrannical and corruption riddled regime and pro-imperialist programs and policies. The climate of fear that Duterte and his minions want to institute aims to pressure activists to turn their backs against the people’s interest and to force the people to accept their oppressed and exploited conditions without resistance. But history has proven that amidst intensified violent attacks by a tyrannical regime against the people, the more they are driven to fight back. And the more murderous these attacks turn out, the more the people are driven to take up arms to defend themselves and resist all forms of barbaric suppression. The prevailing dire conditions in the country continue to serve as impetus for the continuing advancement of the people’s armed revolution. The Chadli Molintas Command (CMC) of the NPA-Ilocos-Cordillera Region urges the people in the region to stand their ground, forge broader unities, boldly persist in their legitimate struggles and resist the intensified fascist attacks. Furthermore, the CMC calls on the people to take up arms, defend their communities and join hands with the revolutionary forces of the national democratic revolution that aims to topple the existing semi-feudal and semi-colonial system to finally put an end to their exploitation and oppression. More than ever, the NPA is always ready to accept physically and mentally-able activists and all other freedom-loving individuals who shall decide to tread the path of revolutionary armed struggle in the countryside. ###

PNP's tokhang plan in Cordillera, a deadly warning to activists and the Cordillera people