In a media forum, the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) said profiling activities indeed happens in villages nationwide as part of the forced surrender campaign of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).
The online fact-finding mission led by KMP and Tanggol Magsasa or Defend Farmers, conducted via a series of Zoom meetings from July to August, is the first of its kind. The OFFM interviewed and gathered information from farmers, peasant leaders, and community residents from 5 regions (Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, Southern Luzon, Bicol, and Panay), 11 provinces (Isabela, Cagayan, Bulacan, Cavite, Quezon, Albay, Camarines Sur, Masbate, Sorsogon, Capiz, and Iloilo). More than 70 victims gave their testimonies and affidavits on over a hundred cases of human rights abuses perpetrated by state forces.
The Online Fact-Finding Mission conducted by the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) and Tanggol Magsasaka aimed to further expose the Duterte regime’s dirty and brutal war targeting farmers, to silence their collective struggle for land, economic reforms, and social justice.
According to KMP, among the first casualties of the government’s Executive Order No. 70 and the Whole-of-Nation Approach against counterinsurgency implemented in 2018 were the peasant masses — farmers, farmworkers, peasant leaders, rural women and youth, fisherfolk, and millions of Filipinos living in the countryside and hinterland communities.
“Day and night, the peasant masses are being terrorized by state forces — Duterte’s paid mercenaries — the reactionary Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), the Philippine National Police (PNP), their force multipliers from the National Task Force to End Local Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), and intelligence network,” says KMP chairperson Danilo Ramos.
Among the main components of this state-sponsored war include the large-scale AFP deployment, joint AFP and PNP operations, and the relentless and sustained Retooled Community Support Program (RCSP) operations in peasant, coastal, and indigenous peoples communities.
“This well-oiled, trigger-happy war machinery of the Duterte regime is being complemented by civilian-led machinations and psywar ops conducted under the NTF-ELCAC’s flagship programs — the Enhanced Community Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) and Barangay Development Program (BDP). Local government units from the regional level down to barangays or villages are playing major roles in the implementation of these programs,” Ramos said
In his last State of the Nation Address (SONA) speech, Duterte boasted that more than 17,000 former members of the New People’s Army (NPA). However, the majority of these so-called surrenderees are civilians — ordinary farmers who were either coerced, forced, or duped into ‘surrendering’ to the government.
“Military and police implementing restrictive measures and conducting Retooled Community Support Program (RCSP) operations in rural barrios cause great worries and induce anxieties in farmers. The way of life of farmers is severely affected — they are experiencing severe trauma and fear. Even their farming activities are affected,” according to Ramos.
KMP said the Martial Law situation is prevailing in peasant communities and they demand a stop to the forced surrender campaign and militarization of peasant communities.
Based on the initial findings of the Online FFM, among the most common patterns and forms of abuse experienced by farmers, victims include red-tagging, threat, harassment, and intimidation. Among the highlight abuses include, but are not limited to the following instances:
Bisita, patawag, pulong-pulong, and papirma schemes of forced surrender
> Police, military, and intelligence agents often conduct ‘visits’ to homes and farms of farmers and peasant leaders.
> Local peasant leaders, farmers, and community residents are often called to report to the barangay or village hall or to Philippine Army battalion detachment/camps to have their name cleared.
> LGUs, and or soldiers would call for and facilitate ‘village meetings’ or ‘pulong-pulong sa barangay’ to entice village leaders, farmers, and community residents to cooperate with the government in the counterinsurgency campaign.
> Individuals targeted for forced surrender will be made to sign a form/document denouncing a local organization/association and denouncing the CPP-NPA-NDFP which state forces regard as ‘Communist Terrorist Groups.’
> Local peasant organizations and associations — essentially organized farmers — are always automatically red-tagged by state forces as supporters of the NPA or have links and relations to the CPP-NPA-NDFP.
> Farmers and rural populations in localities are often red-tagged as members of the so-called Milisyang Bayan and Sangay ng Partido sa Lokalidad.
> Legitimate peasant organizations engaged in farm campaigns, campaigns for land reform, against land-grabbing, against high land rent, and other forms of feudal exploitation are always and automatically red-tagged and vilified by state forces.
> Local affiliates of KMP, Amihan, UMA, and Anakpawis in the regions experience red-tagging. Among them include Danggayan, Dagami, Kaguimungan, UMA-Isabela, AMIHAN-Ambi, PIGLAS and CLAIM in Quezon, AMB in Bulacan, KMB, BCPAI, and LAMBAT in Bicol, and local organizations of farmers in Cavite, Camarines Sur, Albay, Iloilo, and Capiz.
State forces as perpetrators
> Incidents of red-tagging, threat, harassment, and intimidation against farmers became the norm in 2017 with the formation of the NTF-ELCAC and subsequent formations of local ELCACs and Joint Task Forces in regions and provinces.
> Comprehensive and sustained forced surrender campaigns in peasant communities are led by the NTF-ELCAC, various AFP-Philippine Army units, local police, local intelligence, LGUs and officials, and village officials.
Range and forms of forced surrender schemes
> In the course of the comprehensive and sustained forced surrender campaigns, state forces, and authorities use varied forms ranging from persuasion, deception, fraud, subterfuge, suppression, coercion, and outright use of force and violence.
> Weaponization of the law is used in reckless abandon in forced surrender campaigns — farmers are being threatened with fabricated criminal cases, and even more brazen, state forces even threaten to plant firearms and explosives onto farmers.
> The pandemic/COVID-19 situation is being used to full advantage by authorities and state forces to further enforce restrictions in peasant communities, making peasant communities and villages virtual military garrisons.
> Forced surrender campaigns in peasant communities complement ongoing intense and focused military operations.
> The P20-million budget per barangay under the Barangay Development Program of the NTF-ELCAC becomes a motivation for other LGUs to
> Profiling and census activities happen in local villages or barangays as part of the counterinsurgency activities by the police, military, NTF-ELCAC, and local intelligence
> Among the most common forms of profiling and surrender campaigns is the clearing of names.
> LGUs down to the village level maintains a list of individuals
The fact-finding mission will continue in the coming weeks to further probe the situation in other regions and provinces. The mission was joined by KMP, Tanggol Magsasaka, Karapatan, Amihan, Pamalakaya, NNARA-Youth, Rural Women Advocates, Sinagbayan, and local farmers organizations. ###