It would have been good if Bello were telling the truth that Duterte’s Mindanao Martial Law is only aimed against terrorists and not against the NPA or the people in general. The facts on the ground, however, belie Bello’s statements. The burden of proving such claims are heavy on the shoulders of Bello, as well as of key security and military officials of the Duterte government.
Prior to the declaration of Martial Law in Mindanao, the AFP has been carrying out intense armed offensives against the people and their revolutionary forces following the Duterte-Lorenzana declaration of “all-out war” against the NPA last February. Duterte has not rescinded this order .
Just this morning, we have received partial information from NPA operations commands in South, Far South and parts of North Central Mindanao that search and destroy operations, strike operations, shelling and occupation of peasant communities are being carried out intensively by the AFP against the NPA and the peasant masses in the following provinces:
1) Compostela Valley
2) Davao City
3) Davao del Sur
4) South Cotabato
6) Sultan Kudarat
7) North Cotabato
These offensive operations have been heightened since the declaration of Martial Law. On May 24, AFP units carried out shelling and indiscriminate firing against peasant communities in Barangay Colon Sabak, Matanao, Davao del Sur. These areas are at least 180 kilometers from Marawi.
On May 25, on the second day of Duterte’s Mindanao martial law, hundreds of elements of the 39th IBPA dropped bombs, shelled and indiscriminately fired 50 caliber machine guns at dominantly Moro civilian communities in barangays Salat and Tuael in President Roxas, North Cotabato and barangays Tangkulan and Anggaan in Damulog, Bukidnon. These areas are at least 100 kilometers away from Marawi City.
Abdullah Pamansag, a resident of Barangay Salat, was killed as a result of the aerial bombardments. Several other residents, Norhamin Dataya, Cocoy Dataya, Alex Dataya, Nasordin Maman and Nor Taligapin have suffered severe injuries. At least 1,600 residents of the affected barangays were forced to evacuate their communities. Human rights organizations and relief workers are being prevented by the military forces from extending assistance to the residents.
The civil and political rights of the people in Mindanao are gravely being curtailed and trampled on by the all-out attacks against the people. Hundreds of people are being rounded up. People are being detained or stopped from travelling for having no identification cards. The military are threatening people against issuing statements or posting information on social media that may be deemed anti-government. Military and bureaucrats have issued guidelines restricting people’s rights to assemble and prohibiting them from staging protest actions. A martial law crackdown hangs over the heads of social activists.
The state of human rights is set to go from dismal to worse as Duterte himself has assured soldier that he has their backs as he urged them to rape and carry out abuses all they want against the people.
In light of these out and out attacks against the people and their revolutionary forces, NPA units are being left with little option but to undertake more and more tactical offensives in order to defend the masses and the people’s army by stopping the reactionary state armed forces from carrying out their onslaught.
It is in this spirit of defending the people’s rights against the AFP’s unmitigated fascist attacks that the CPP issued its May 24 declaration calling on the NPA to carry out more tactical offensives and urging the people to heighten their resistance against the imposition of martial law in Mindanao and demand its immediate lifting.
The Party has long declared its policy of fighting terrorism. The Party has consistently condemned groups that attack civilians. The revolutionary forces have long been against the Abu Sayyaf (and by implication, its supposed breakaway ISIS-linked or -inspired Maute Group) whose leaders collaborate with military officers in criminal activities. These groups use religious symbols to foment bigotry and violence against civilians in order to divide the Moro people and weaken their struggle for self-determination.
We must consider, however, the thick fog of disinformation which blankets the imposition of martial law in Mindanao. The AFP, andeven Duterte himself, has been spreading a lot of false information and fake news. Claims made by the AFP that the Amai Pakpak Hospital and the LaSureco (Lanao del Sur Electric Cooperative) were “taken over” by the “Maute Group” were exposed to be false. Even Duterte’s claim that a police officer was decapitated was also exposed as fake news. Information about the so-called Maute Group is largely based on the public speculations by the police, the military and Malacañang.
Beyond the information supplied by the AFP fake news mill, people no longer know who the real terrorists in Marawi City are. At this point, it would seem that it is the AFP and its intense aerial bombings and martial law policies are the bigger terrorists in the city, causing the people of Marawi grave sufferings and hardships.
Photo by: Romeo Ranoc