There’s no question that the deployment of AFP troops in Mindanao is an ‘overkill’ substantiation of  President Noynoy’s Oplan Bayanihan anti-insurgency program.  These forces are not in mere platoon or company strengths. They’re in tens of battalions, making Mindanao the most militarized region in the archipelago.

Everyone is aware of the fact that wherever there are soldiers, there are concerns to be protected and or interests to be safeguarded by them.  The propaganda line of the government has always been that the Oplan Bayanihan is a “peace and development” program of the State,  and it is the Military tasked to implement it.  As a peace-development undertaking, what is foremost in the policy orientation of the implementers is “the well-being and security of the people”.

But it so happens that the presence of the military invariably gravitates in areas where big foreign mining corporations are operating or are bound to operate.  And these mountain areas also happen to be the ancestral lands of the indigenous peoples (IPs) or the Lumads.  There’s no exception. Wherever certain giant mining interests are situated, there the AFP troops concentrate their forces.  And because these mining areas happen to be the ancestral domain of the Lumads, the poor Lumads are being displaced— either forcibly or by some deceitful means.  And here the conflicting interests—that between the people (the Lumads and settlers) and  the mining companies— are brought to manifest in the vile actuations of the military.

What are these manifestly vile actuations?  They constitute acts of threats and harassments against the Lumads who are opposing and resisting the mining activities in their ancestral domain.    As a matter of fact, much much more serious crimes are perpetrated with impunity by the soldiers against the known leaders of the Lumads, including kidnappings, tortures, massacres, and other heinous acts of human rights violations.  Most vicious is their organizing and arming of certain Lumad elements into para-military bands to do the dirty criminal acts for them.

Recently, they massacred three civilian leaders and tagged them as members of the New People’s Army (NPA).  Their recruitment style consists of inviting some Lumads to be members of the CAFGU with monetary enticements of course, and the privilege of carrying firearms. If the poor Lumad individual refused, he is accused of being a sympathizer or member of the NPA, and subjected to all forms of threats and intimidations, not excluding death.

Now the question – “Where is the vaunted peace and development agenda?”  But more relevant would be the query:  “Whose peace of mind and heart is guaranteed by the military’s presence in the mountain places?  Is it the people who can hardly move around because their communities are being made military camps or soldiers’ garrisons?  Have they enjoyed peace and development since the military troops invaded their villages and disturbed their normal life and existence?   Oh, they have even fled from their dear dear homes and livelihood and have taken refuge in far away cities as Davao City?  Where is development when their schools were turned into soldiers’ garrisons and they have been deprived of their children’s education? Or prevented them from doing their daily work routines in their farms?

Naturally, it’s the peace of mind and heart and well-being of the owners or management  of the big mining companies!  They—the foreign  mining companies will have the ancestral lands of the Lumads all for themselves and for their rapacious profit-making operations!  The Lumad oppositors and resistors to their environment-destructive activities would have been neutralized (‘killed’ in military parlance), eliminated (desaparecidos), or removed (i.e. dispossessed of or displaced from) their ancestral lands. The perverse mentality of the soldiers must have been satisfied that the “peace” they have been enjoined to establish among the Lumads are literally implemented by sending their leaders to their “final resting places”?  What a disgusting, despicable  devil-driven mentality!

President Noynoy does not seem to be cognizant of all these things happening right before his nose.  He seems deaf and blind to the fact that the military people he hated to the tiniest volutes of his brain and finest fibers of his heart for murdering his father during Marcos‘ dictatorial regime are the same military people now committing the same loathsome acts against the lowly people of this land!    The ideological orientation and culture of the military under Marcos is the very ideological orientation and culture of the military under his regime! Palparan, albeit he is in the comforts of the detention cell of his compadre soldiers, has cloned so many Palparans among the officers and ranks in the Military now roaming in the Mindanao highlands!

The culture of  impunity that  governs the mind, heart and hand of the AFP, mentored as it is by the US Military, does not change with the change of regime in government.  In fact, any Chief of State  installed or who ascends to power in our political organization, has no real control or command of the military establishment.  Any Philippine President can be held hostage to what the Military wants of this country.  It is the Military that safeguards the interests of the US and thus,  it ensures that political puppetry is eternally enshrined in the system of Philippine affairs of State.  There is no such thing as “supremacy of the civilian over the military”.

An aspiring candidate for President and who may be nurturing some kind of egalitarian or pro-people mold of thought cannot implement his honest intentions for the country and people.  He is miserably naive if he thought his political agenda can ever hold sway if it contradicts the interests of the US as safeguarded by the Philippine Military.  The intervention of the military establishment always holds sway.  Whatever the military wants, the military gets.

Of course, it greatly helps the  perpetuation of this malformed military mentality in the Status Quo that we have a general citizenry who are avidly colonial-minded, making it vastly facile for  the Military to rein in the political agenda and direction of any President as it is for any Philippine President to wholeheartedly embrace puppetry to the US interests.  As far as the political experience of our nation is concerned, all hitherto Presidents have been competing who would be the “most admirable puppet” of the US!  Of course, to each his own style!  But in the final analysis, “puppetry is puppetry”, no matter how graciously one may have flavored it with deceitful pro-people’s welfare during his term of office.

In time,  it is only the people,  if and when as a unified collective force, they are amply well-informed of the whys and wherefores of the abnormal Philippine of state of affairs, and decisively take the nation’s destiny in their hands,  that we can begin to transform the current malformed culture of the Military into a truly pro-people one.   This, along with the other aspects of our semi-colonial, semi-feudal Philippine culture.

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