In the middle of a pandemic and nationwide crisis, the US-Duterte regime is desperately focused in crushing the revolutionary movement being led by the CPP-NPA-NDFP in order to strengthen its tyrannical rule. For the past months, troops of the 54th IB have occupied several barangays of Mt. Province in the guise of retooled community service program operations of the AFP. They have occupied the barangays of Aguid, Bangaan, Fidelisan, Pide, and Madungo in Sagada since October 2019, and the barangays of Bagnen Proper and Bagnen Oriente in Bauko since January 2020. Most recently they have also occupied the barangay halls of Mainit, Guinaang and Dallic in Bontoc, and have built a military detachment in Sagada-Besao boundary. These are clear violations of the Comprehensive Agreement for the Respect of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) between the GRP and the NDFP, wherein armed troops are not allowed to build camps less than 500 meters from the villages to protect the lives of non-combatant civilians. Government troops have always made barrio people as their human shields, forcing civilians to be their intelligence network and forest-mountain guides. They have also forced civilians to pose as CPP-NPA “surrenderees” and recycled past surrenderees so that they can receive their reward money.
Aside from barrio militarization, non-stop combat military operations are being conducted in Bauko, Besao, Bontoc, Sagada, and Tadian since the start of the year. Millions of pesos from the people’s taxes are being spent on a daily basis per combat operation. Moreover, these operations have disturbed the daily lives of the umili. The people have already incurred loses in their livelihoods due to the lockdowns, they are prevented from going to the forests to hunt and gather food nor to their very own production areas due to fear of these military operations. And now, the residents of the province did not even receive the second installment of the government’s social amelioration program which will supposedly give aid to the people during quarantine periods. It is also questionable why government troops are free to move as if they are exempted from the government’s health protocols when they can be one of the most possible sources of Covid local transmission in the province. On the other hand, the mobility and gathering of the people have been curtailed forcibly preventing from attending to their normal political and social affairs.
It is clear that the priority of the fascist Duterte regime is not to fast track the fight against the Covid epidemic, but to liquidate all opposition so that Duterte can freely implement his pro-imperialist, pro-oligarch, and anti-people policies. He is using the epidemic as façade to concentrate all political powers into his hands. Instead of allotting sufficient funds and employing adequate human resources to improve the health system and facilities for massive testing and treatment of Covid patients, develop sustainable food production to strengthen the people’s resistance against illnesses, and support the people’s livelihood, the regime’s answer to the nation’s health crisis is militarization, fear-mongering, and repression of the people’s democratic rights.
We call on all i-Montanyosa to oppose the ongoing militarization in our beloved province, and demand for the pullout of government troops in our communities. We should assert that the government should prioritize funding health, food production, education, and other basic social services, not military modernization and operations. We also call on all peace-loving citizens to call for the government to cease all its combat and civil-military operations. As this regime had shown no genuine care for our people, we are left with no choice but to heighten our resistance.