The US-Aquino regime, its anointed successor and allies have tried to build Panay as a solid bailiwick of the Liberal Party in the last six years. Aquino has put his henchmen in most of the local positions and other Panayanon in national posts. He took as allies most of the local opposition figures by bribing them with hundreds of millions of pork barrel.
To boost its economic and political stock, the ruling reactionary regime pushed through its tourism, BPO, privatization and labor export programs in the island for the profit of big foreign and domestic bureaucrat comprador-landlord investors. Billions of pork-barrel funds were channeled to build superhighways and the overpriced Iloilo Convention Center. It allotted billions of pesos more to start the prolandlord Jalaur Dam but inutile (or useless) due to inadequate water-source and to be erected near an earthquake fault. This dam project will submerge and dispossess a huge part of the ancestral land of the Tumandok (tribe or minority people).
The Aquino regime encourages the importation of rice, and other agricultural products, even condoning the smuggling of these products. Admitting to the failure of its food sufficiency program since 2014, it has caused the stagnant and even decrease in the production of rice, fish, sugar, coconut and others in an erstwhile food-exporting Panay and in the whole country due to its espousal of the imperialist trade liberalization policy.
OFWs especially in the oil producing countries are now returning home due to lack of jobs or nonpayment of wages, and their remittance earnings have gone down as oil revenues decline. On top of this, Panay has not yet recovered from the devastation wrought by Super typhoon Yolanda that affected half of Panay’s more than 5 million population including the destruction of 500,000 houses and 2/3 of its farmlands. The livelihood and income of most survivors have yet to fully recover, as these are weighed down by heavy loans incurred in rebuilding their lives and for their daily cost of living. The Aquino regime’s criminal neglect was again demonstrated by its delayed distribution of the measly Emergency Shelter Assistance (ESA) .- This could not even cover the indebtedness incurred by these families for the past two years just to have a decent roof above their heads; many other survivors are not assisted at all.
The destruction of crops, fisheries and even water supply to bring about by the current El Nino is bound to worsen in the months to come. But many local government candidates are already diverting their calamity funds for electioneering. For its part, all that the regime could dish out is the monthly/quarterly Pantawid Pamilya Program to poor families for counter-insurgency deception. While it has doubled this dole out in Panay, it has imposed so many requirements including the undeclared prohibition on joining anti-government protest actions.
Such an abominable situation coupled with the regime’s blatant criminal neglect would generate an explosive social unrest that could only be contained by the reactionary state through outright fascist repression. In the past six years, the Aquino regime has more than doubled the state’s armed force deployed in the region. From three battalions of infantry mobile forces, the regime has added two Philippine National Police (PNP) mobile battalions and several other detached companies of soldiers. During the half-year series of ministerial conferences of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), holding of a component of US BALIKATAN and two presidential visits in Panay, several thousands of PNP officers from other regions were deployed here fully militarizing Metro-Iloilo, Boracay and airports, ports and highways leading to these places.
Panay has become the priority region for the counterinsurgency operations of the 3rd Infantry Division (3rd ID) of the reactionary Philippine Army. Since the start of the US Aquino regime and its Oplan Bayanihan, the mobile forces of the 301st Brigade (Bde) and its PNP reinforcements launched a sustained campaign, with 2 battalion- and a brigade-led operations every month against the NPA and its mass base in the guerilla fronts. “Keyhole” military operations were carried out that involved two company sized units broken down into sections/platoons of soldiers in every barangay, in the suspected long-time consolidated areas of the NPA.
The enemy forces intensified their triad operations (combat, intelligence and civil-military) to engage the NPA, dismantle its mass base and suppress its mass movement, and drive the guerilla forces to passivity. They instilled white terror by actual killings and torture, indiscriminate strafing of people’s homes, sowing bloody intrigue and harassment, arrests and filing of trumped-up cases against suspected rebels and civilians. All the while, the regime would flaunt its ‘human rights’ banner soaked in its victims’ blood. As early as the end of 2014, Panay was declared by the 3rd ID as a “conflict-manageable area” ready for investment and development.
The US-Aquino regime committed its first extrajudicial killing on the very first week of its term in office by assassinating Lezo, Aklan Municipal Councilor Fernando Baldomero, who is also Bayan Muna Provincial Chairman. In March 2014, it assassinated Romeo Capalla, the manager of a people’s moscovado-sugar export enterprise, the Panay Fair Trade Center. A national Intelligence Security Group (ISG) team directly utilized elements of its paramilitary group, the RPA-ABB (Nilo DelaCruz wing), to commit these crimes to ensure deniability and cover up for the “Daang Matuwid” regime.
Hundreds of mass leaders and members of people’s organizations were harassed or killed to sow White terror and break the people’s resistance to an exploitative and oppressive regime. This terror tactic grew more brutal as the people’s resistance and protest increased especially after the outrage on the regime’s utter neglect in the Yolanda calamity and up to today.
The coordinated tactical offensives (TOs) by the New People’s Army (NPA) initially broke the White terror instilled by the state security forces and inspired the people to fight back. Thus the US-Aquino regime reaped the wrath of the massive popular rising and protest actions that have drawn the broadest sympathy from the people and their allies both local and worldwide.
The NPA and the revolutionary forces countered the regime’s unrelenting attacks with a sustained coordinated tactical offensive campaign. The NPA launched tactical offensives more than twice its previous rate seizing (several) high powered firearms and incurring casualties to the enemy.] From the previous tactic of mainly luring the enemy to an ambush, the New People’s Army now also reemploys the tactic of tracking and wiping out a portion of the weakest enemy column of highly alerted and Ranger trained in a multi-column enemy operation for days before reinforcements could come to their rescue. This is how it happened in Barangay San Antonio, Cuartero town, Capiz in July 2015 wherein five enemy soldiers were killed and several others wounded, as well as in upper Miag-ao town in Iloilo in October 2013 with nine casualties from an oversize enemy platoon.
During the previous year, enemy operations were countered with multiple harassment and actual ambush as a counter offensive tactic or a defensive maneuver. The enemy now expects multiple attacks anytime from our guerilla units. In a twelve hour tactical offensive in early December 2015, the NPA launched three military actions – an ambush against a PNP mobile company team in Tuburan, Maayon town in Capiz from the Northeast to the Southwest foothills of Madiaas Mountains in Tiolas, San Joaquin Town in Iloilo wherein six were killed and six others wounded in the enemy side. Simultaneously, punitive action was carried out by the NPA against the Century Peak Company in Igbaras Town Iloilo, a Chinese-owned mining firm known to be financing the military. The NPA’s widespread employment of explosives anywhere in Panay made the enemy’s forces thinly spread out. Again on December 23, 2015, an RPA-ABB chief operative, Jessie Capilastique, was punished right inside their armed enclave in Lanag, Leon town, similar to the punishment meted out to RPA-ABB National vice Commander Hugo right at his heavily-guarded hideout in Badiangan Town, Iloilo last December 2013. They were punished for being the executioners in the ISG-led abduction and killing of mass leaders Romeo Capalla, Luisa Posa and Nilo Arado among other crimes.
All these military operations by the NPA inflicted some 46 casualties (including 20 KIA) in 30 tactical offensives in the year 2015. The level of intensity in the guerilla warfare was dictated by the need to frustrate the redoubled strength and intensity of the enemy attacks in the NPA’s fighting fronts and the urban areas. This was necessary to combat the enemy and defend the revolutionary mass base. It is also aimed particularly to strengthen the struggle of the peasants and Tumandok minority to defend their land. These land are being seized by the reactionary government and military to carry out such onerous projects as the Jalaur Dam, 3rd ID and PNP training camps, US Balikatan military exercises and various other exploitative and oppressive impositions by the reactionary ruling classes.
Not only have these tactical offensives by the NPA maintained the consolidated areas occupied by the keyhole tactic of the 301st Bde, but new and wider areas have been added for wider maneuver and basing of the NPA. Guerilla fronts are being developed in a comprehensive and contiguous manner while the enemy forces are tied down and overstretched to their keyhole tactic of concentration, prolonged and exhausting operations and to the defense of their major projects, centers of power and lines of communications.
Alongside the armed struggle, sustained and vigorous open mass struggles all over the island frustrated the regime’s all-out attempt to snuff out the revolutionary movement in Panay. Instead, the increased resistance and mass actions by Panayanons reaching up to 10s of thousands in the major cities and capitol towns contributed to the nationwide movement for the ouster of the Aquino regime. Hundreds of thousands have mobilized for the relief and rehabilitation of typhoon survivors and the electoral campaigns. Starting with the anti-pork barrel campaign, the mass movement attained its massive island wide character in protest to the regime’s criminal neglect of the immense calamity brought about by Super typhoon Yolanda. This combined with the anti-fascist mass movement as the regime resorted to harassment of the mass rallies and other protest activities, as well as actual killings. The mass movement grew in strength to include protests against the Asia-Pacific Economic Conference (APEC) ministerial meetings, US-RP Balikatan exercises, privatization of public markets, and low state budget for education that intensified in almost weekly mass actions and conjoined in several coordinated island wide mass campaigns.
Truly, such military and political campaigns invigorated the people’s revolutionary movement, frustrated the enemy attacks, further isolated the Aquino regime in Panay and contributed to the nationwide advancement of the people’s war. It also laid the basis for the following task of the NPA and the revolutionary armed struggle for the next year:
1. Sustain the intensity of the armed struggle in Panay to roundly frustrate the US Aquino regime’s Oplan Bayanihan in its last desperate attacks before its abject failure. Continue to counter with greater resolve and strength the new counterinsurgency campaign plan of the next regime abetted by further US military assistance.
Develop further the capacity of all guerilla forces of the NPA to maintain the level of armed struggle attained in 2015.
Other NPA units which are lagging behind should develop their offensive capacity to the level of the leading ones. All units should develop the capacity not only to annihilate enemy units in combat but also to seize their firearms in increasing number. The regionally coordinated TOs should destroy the enemy focus on their priority areas and missions, tie down the enemy to guarding their centers of power, communication and valued projects, and compel them to spread thinly.
The NPA should expand its full-time ranks and build additional units from the increasing local militias, mass organizations of impoverished peasants and Tumandok people, the angry educated and out of school youth and other democratic sectors seeking national and social emancipation.
2. Effectively exercise the functions of the people’s armed political power in the NPA guerilla fronts, as a way to demonstrate that armed revolution is the only alternative to solve the basic problems afflicting the broad masses of the people.
It is not the farcical reactionary elections to replace one oppressive and exploitative ruling clique with another, but the people’s revolutionary movement that is the only path for fundamental social change to achieve genuine national independence, democracy, economic development, social justice and enduring peace from the chronic and worsening crisis caused by imperialism, feudalism and bureaucrat capitalism.
In Panay and elsewhere in the country, Red political power can be strengthened by expanding and consolidating the people’s mass organizations, carrying out agrarian revolution and other mass campaigns and intensifying the NPA’s tactical offensives at present and in the years to come. By doing so, the people’s revolutionary forces can frustrate the unjust and oppressive policies and impositions of the reactionary ruling regime and continue to gain and enjoy the abundant support of the broad masses of the oppressed and exploited people.
In Panay, perseverance in armed struggle not only encompass the taking up of arms and developing the tactical offensive campaign. It includes consolidating the organized forces of the people in the fighting fronts into higher levels of organization, expanding the organized forces of the peasantry and other sectors, developing the governmental functions at the local level in place of a reactionary government more represented by its anti-people armed forces and anti-people projects imposed. The strengthening of the people’s Red political power should manifest itself in more popular support for the people’s war and rising against the imposition of the old and the new regime. Red political power should develop further the rehabilitation of the fronts from the devastation by calamities and the hunger now stalking the countryside.
3. Continue to take the lead in solving the current problem brought about by the calamities particularly El Nino and the unresolved damage of Typhoon Yolanda especially the scarcity of food and other material needs. Lay the groundwork for the further push for anti-usury, lowering of interest rates and increase in prices for farm products.
Even as widespread hunger and general want stalk the land in food-producer Panay, even more should the revolutionary movement take the lead in organizing the effort towards the production of food and the general rehabilitation of the areas where we have political power and influence. Continue to lead in organizing and assisting the people overcome the disasters brought about by the current El Nino calamity and the remaining damages from super typhoon Yolanda, especially the scarcity of food and other material needs.
Advance the minimum program for revolutionary land reform in reducing and eliminating usury and increasing the farm gate prices of the peasants’ produce, to alleviate the widespread hunger and want in a supposed food-producing island. The armed revolutionary movement should engage in food production and rehabilitation work in the areas where it exercises political power and influence. Mass struggles to demand food subsidies from the reactionary government should be carried out, even as we continue to expose and oppose its criminal neglect and ineptness. The state’s budget priorities for infrastructure, unproductive military spending and debt servicing and wasteful electoral spending should be counter posed against the minimal outlay for much-need calamity alleviation and other social services.
The revolutionary forces must initiate struggles against usury, lowering of interest rates especially in times of calamities, and wage campaigns to increase the prices of farm products.
The US-Aquino regime is about to end as it would manipulate and ensure the election of its chosen successor in the coming fraudulent reactionary election. This would allow the outgoing regime to benefit from its ill-gotten wealth and avoid prosecution of its gross corruption, grave human rights violations and other serious crimes against the Filipino people and nation. Let the further growth and advance of the people’s revolutionary struggles in Panay and throughout the country force out the Aquino regime and confront the succeeding regime with a bigger and formidable revolutionary challenge.
Regional Party Committee
Communist Party of the Philippines
Coronacion ‘Waling-Waling’ Chiva Command
NPA Panay Region