Prints and Traces

On March 28, 2015, Frenie Landasan, the chairperson of the Higaonon Tribal Association of Dalacutan, Cabanglasan, Bukidnon was mercilessly fired upon by members of the armed group led by the Dela Mance brothers of Cabanglasan.

Jomorito Goaynon, the chairperson of the Kalumbay Regional Lumad Organization and the first nominee of Sulong Katribu, is among their targets. “They had been bandits before, stealing and killing our neighbors,” Jomorito said of his murderous blood relations. “But now they have been adopted by the military as a part of the Alamara, a lumad paramilitary group trained and supported by state forces. Here we see what kind of individuals the government coddles.”

Not only that the monicker  Alamara rhymes with Alsa Masa of Cory Aquino’s time,  the elements that constitute the Alamara likewise come from the anti-social rascals in the communities.  The Alsa Masa was a paramilitary unit  organized and armed by the AFP  during the administration of the late President Cory Aquino,  purportedly to  neutralize the NPA .  They sowed terror in the communities through acts of harassment,  intimidation and murders. Their mere presence caused a chilling effect among  the residents.   They have no qualms shooting and killing whomsoever they found suitable to their whim.  But most particularly those whom they suspect as political activists or allies of the NPA.

In the same despicable fashion, the  military lure the known rascals  among  the Lumad residents in the countryside.  They are readily drawn into the paramilitary groupings being accustomed to the habitual practice of undesirable anti-social activities.  The inducements of money and firearms are an attractive come-ons because these give them a semblance of power and above all impunity.

Their anti-social activities are just what the military seek in their agenda of sowing terror in the countryside.  Aside from gaining headway in the tactic of divide-and-rule the AFP gloats in the idea that they now have ready pawns for their military engagements against the rebel forces.  This fits very well into the low-intensity conflict (LIC) strategy which has been peddled by the military strategists of US Imperialism in its hegemonic agenda around the globe.

With guns tucked on their hips or with high-powered firearms slung on shoulders, these rascals of the paramilitary brainchild of the AFP soon swagger around in the village neighborhood like veritable western cowboys.  Yes, like real cowboys in Hollywood western movies.  Their badge of impunity and arrogance is of course provided by the AFP who serve as warranty in all their  beastly acts and deeds.  And they grow in monstrosity to the satisfaction of their Military creators.

And the killing holiday is always observed according to the rhythm or non-rhythm of their whims.   The itch to pull the trigger is ever in the bloodstream that carries the ethos of impunity, waiting always for the signal from their military directors.  No, the question of mercy or compassion is nary a term in their vocabulary.  The loned power seems to them a rare privilege that has to be exercised to its fullest rewards.  Yesiree, what better blessing from native diwatas  can surpass what the military has bestowed as a vicious right over the life and death of people!

At a distance the AFP lieutenants and sergeants preen, the trace of malicious grimace on their faces faintly visible but glistened in their their eyes with the  thought that promotion would soon be forthcoming.  Because just as the paramilitary is motivated by money and unbridled right to kill so is the military establishment sustained by the mercenary ideology of more power and wealth via the path of promotions.

Such is the logic of martial rule.  The late Senator Jose W. Diokno in a terse critique of the martial law regime of Marcos forewarned, “The greatest mistake of Marcos is he allowed the military to taste power.”

And so after the fall of the dictator, the military senior and junior officers  could not reconcile with the idea that the extraordinary power and privileges they enjoyed slipped away from their hands as quickly as that!   In their heart of  hearts they would exclaim, “That couldn’t be! “

It’s not just a matter of nostalgia It’s more  akin to a bitter sense of loss!   What would happen to the night clubs and ‘nude show bars’ and drinking joints that not a few colonels and majors and captains and even the less ranking but very aggressive officers  had illegally acquired and maintained during those propitious years of the Marcos Dictatorship?

And so it came to pass that all opportunities have been taken to get back to that glorious status of power and privilege. They must be able to retrieve the lost kingdom!  Some of them did manage to have a taste of power through the electoral process in post-martial law governments.  Yes, one of the more flamboyant generals became a head of State.  Some were able to sneak into the chambers of the State bureaucracy, as cabinet officials,  as senators, as congressmen.

And in more propitious times, during the incumbency of the openly rabid US puppet Presidents, the military has made its dramatic come-back.  Hand-in-hand  with such power-greedy President as Gloria Arroyo, the military establishment has been able to pick up the power and privilege that had slipped from their hands.  The generals have had their marching return with a vengeance.

As a matter of fact,  the Milirary Establishment is a de facto manager of government. Who says civilian authority is supreme and is above  military authority?  That is a hollow principle which is just a mere slogan hung on the office wall as a décor.   By the power of armed might and under the auspices of the US imperialist military,  the civilian managers of the State are being held hostage by the Military Establishment. This was true during Erap’s time with his Oplan Makabayan.  This was true during Gloria’s Oplan Bantay Laya.  This is true NOW during Noynoy’s Oplan Bayanihan.

All these militrarist ‘Oplan’ formulas are cooked up in the laboratory of the Military Establishment and passed to the civilian government as official policies.  The military is only too glad to brandish Oplan Bayanihan, garbed in the guise of being a ‘peace and development program’.   Now, the AFP  enjoys once more its terror rampage in the countryside.  The killing holidays are back. And the civilians—Lumads and peasants— are made the sitting duck targets.

The curious would certainly ask, “what for?”   Indeed, what for?  Does this characterize the AFP as a monstrous creature obsessed with the urge to kill and kill and kill?   Ask the tribal peoples who have traveled from Mindanao to the National Capital Region in their “MANILAKBAYAN” to bring their  protest to the very heart of society.   And  they would identify the very source of their agonies and pains with counter questions:  “Who and what are being protected  by the Military?  Whose interests are safeguarded and pushed to fruition by the security forces of the State? Why the massive militarization in the Lumads’ ancestral domain  which are rich in gold, nickel  and other mineral resources?   Why are the foreign mining companies privileged to plunder the wealth of the Mindanao Lumadlands, and the Lumad peoples deprived, neglected and discriminated?   If these Lumads’ ancestral lands are so rich in resources, why are the Lumads the poorest of  the poor in the country? “

And the most  explosive of questions, “Why are the Lumads being killed. . . massacred with impunity?”  Well, the answer my friend is  not really as vague as the song ‘blowing in the wind’.  The answer is:   “The military, as protector of the foreign mining companies,  must quell the Lumad peoples’ opposition and resistance to the mining operations in heir ancestral lands!” 

This queer  mandate of  the Military vests them with the authority to militarize the Lumad communities in the countryside — encamp in their homes, schools, barangay halls  and other community buildings irrespective of whether these acts are legal or not.  This hair-raising  mandate authorizes the AFP troops to shoot, kill, torture, kidnap, rape and massacre  the Lumads if they continue to resist the mining operations of foreign corporations in their ancestral lands.

But the Military is quick to reason that they are in the Lumadlands to protect the residents from the NPA.  And this is very funny.  Because as a matter of fact, it appears that t he NPA are the ones protecting the Lumad peoples from  the savagery of the military and their creations, the paramilitary groups!   If the Military insists that they are protecting the Lumad residents in their places, why are the people horrified by the Military’s  presence and flee from where the soldiers are?  And if the military officers insist that these Lumad  people are sympathizers and supporters or outright members of the NPA, isn’t that a very clear revelation that the people prefer the NPA than the military?

Common sense and simple logic will teach us that the de facto martial law that now prevails in the countryside is abhorred by the masses of the people.   And no matter how vehemently  the military and Malakanyang bagpipes claim that the NPA is the source of the trouble  in Mindanao Lumadlands, theirs are all “acts of spitting to the sky”.  And no sooner  does their malicious saliva falls back to earth than their faces are splattered with the farcical filth of  their own lies and deceptions!

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