Prints and Traces

[Prints & Traces] Dalliance with Martial Rule

Aug. 09, 2013

by Don Pagusara
Davao Today

My neighbors ask:  Sir, unsana man ningmgapanghitabokaronsaatongkatilingban?

Nagkagrabena man ang paggamit og armas pagsulbad og mga panagbingkil? Ang pulis grabe makagamit og puwersa para pademolis sa mga puluy-anan sa mga kabus ug pagbungkag sa mga rali nga nag-awhag og kausaban?  Ang mga sundalo nanghasi ug nagpanakit sa mga Lumad ug mga lumulupyo sakabukiran?  Busa namakwet nalang tawon ang gatusan nganhi sa Davao?

[Sir, what’s happening to our society?  There seems to be a growing reliance on the use of guns in resolving disputes?  The police is increasingly using force to demolish urban poor houses and to brutalize rallyists who are only asking for change?  The soldiers are harassing, torturing and killing indigenous peoples and settlers in the countryside?  And so, hundreds are forced to seek refuge here in Davao City?]

Indeed, there is a manifest tendency to resolve conflicts with the use of armed force.  In any form of dispute — even in interpersonal quarrels–  we witness how individuals are butchered like chickens or hogs.  We are appalled, but we are always enjoined to just stay calm.  The authorities would always say “There’s no reason to fear and panic, we’re on top of the situation.”

But in the privacy of one’s heart, there is a growing fear and doubt about one’s safety and security in the streets as much as in the home.  The “culture of violence” is very much with us.  The incidence of left and right killings seems to be a daily fare.  So commonplace is it that it surprises us if it is absent in the breakfast news on media.

But we are prompted to ask: Where does this culture of violence spring from?  What nurtures its prevalence in our society?  What is its driving force? 

Its wellspring is the mentality that upholds the age-old dictum “Might is right.”  Albeit modern society has since scorned this world outlook that gives high premium to the supremacy of brute force over reason, it remains to be the reliable philosophical props of the state to maintain the status quo.  It is the State’s reason for being, providing the military with the premise as an apparatus of state power. It is the weapon of the ruling class in maintaining itself.  It is the ruler’s defender in his greed for power.

In a microcosm, an individual uses his superior force in order to exercise power over someone or others.  This is especially true among the so-called male chauvinists.

The might of state power is manifestly awesome in the aberrant condition called Martial Law.  This was what happened during the Marcos dictatorial regime. As an aberration, the military apparatus assumes an extraordinary role in martial rule, taking over the political processes of government function under the direction of the dictator.  As such, it was a masked admission of the State’s inability to rule in the normal way.

In our current situation, a visible dalliance by the Aquino administration with martial rule is evident.  If we look at what happened in the intensified militarization of the countryside, we are reminded of the Marcos military in his dictatorial regime. Undoubtedly, the purpose and methodology between the militarization during Marcos’ rule and the militarization during the present Aquino administration are identical.  But under President Aquino, it is more deceptive because he disguises it with avowals of peace and development.

The escalation of military operations with the ubiquitous violation of the peoples’ human rights is a telltale sign of increased of reliance on military might.  On the surface, the deceptive Oplan Bayanihan seems to be the very raison d’etre of its peace and development program.  But behind its seemingly benevolent façade is a counter-insurgency formula that fails to hide the ultimate ends of protecting and advancing the economic  interests of foreign nationals and corporations.

It’s the same old story — the story of privileged catering to the vast economic interests of foreign monopoly capitalists who have been in this country since the birth of the Philippine Republic. As a matter of fact, the impending move for Charter change spearheaded by Aquino’s allies in Congress is a big sell-out of the country’s resources to foreigners.   What concessions the late President Manuel A. Roxas granted the Americans at the beginning of his term are bound to be additionally buttressed and guaranteed in the Philippine Constitution under President Noynoy Aquino.

The fundamental question has always been “For whom is this peace and development program of the Aquino government?” 

But the countryside populace — nay, our Lumad tribal and settler communities — have become aware and have determinedly resisted these so-called economic development aggressions in their areas.  And because of this, the reflex action of the Aquino government has been to unleash his military running dogs and terrorize the rural people with intensifying militarization.

President Noynoy is playing dangerous flirtations with martial rule.  He must soon realize the military is not as easy to handle as the guns he is romancing with in his target shooting hobby.  These are real flesh-and-blood people whom his military has been subjecting to terrifying military abuses.

Now, thousands of our tribal indigenous peoples from the Agusan region are enduring utmost hardships and brutalities.  They have sought refuge at the provincial capitol of Agusan.  But the Governor could not even be rhythmic with the accommodating space of his name [Plaza].  And one can just imagine the pain and bitterness of having to travel in circuitous ways from the mountains to that Agusan Capitol “Plaza” and  then down to Davao City where they are now.

And so, Mr. President, your hands are now smeared with the blood of our Lumads!  These are the descendants of the original inhabitants of this island.  You at the helm of government are scions of Chinese or Castilian migrants who have amassed wealth  through  cunning and manipulative ways.  But these Lumads of Agusan are our bloodlinks to our pre-conquest forebears!  They have prior birthrights to these islands, much much deeper than any other political family who had landgrabbed  this country and is now arrogating unto itself the power and wealth of the Philippine state.

Shame on you!

Don J. Pagusara is a ative of Mindanao, a multi-awarded author and a Palanca-awardee.

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