Oplan Bayanihan takes the guise of “peace and development” as the hypocritical mantra that provides sustenance to its counter-insurgency operations in the countryside. But just by the sound of its monicker, it cannot deny its pedigree as a monstrous military creature. Its genealogical lineage proceeds all the way from its ‘Oplan’ predecessors — Oplan Makabayan, Oplan Bitag, Oplan Bantay Laya.
President Noynoy Aquino has been profuse in criticizing and blaming his immediate predecessor Gloria Arroyo for all the present ills of Filipino society under his watch. But across the five-year span of his rule, the very same crimes committed by Arroyo present themselves in no less graphic incidents of brutalities and scenes of carnage. The dark mantle of impunity as in the previous regime is the same “writ of endorsement” of all the inhumanities committed by his military minions..
Whereas a summary description of Arroyo’s Bantay Laya brand of impunity is captioned in the following bold letters: Victims and their families continue to be denied justice, thus making activists and people opposed to the government fair game for murder, abduction, and illegal arrest without anyone being held accountable. The same, if not much worse horrific picture, characterizes the prevailing system of impunity pursued by Aquino’s Oplan Bayanihan.
Retracing our bloody history farther back, the colonial rule of the Americans served as the harbinger of the culture of impunity infused into the ideological mantra of the Philippine military establishment. The following excerpts from Heather Gray’s “Resistance to US Military Occupation: A Case of the Philippines” is a clear proof of how the culture of impunity had been “breastfed” by American colonial authorities – –
The American policy was so brutal that even American personnel were skeptical. Francisco quotes a US civil servant in the Philippines at the time who said that because of the “burning, torture and other harsh treatments” the Americans were “sowing the seeds for a perpetual revolution. If these things need to be done, they had best be done by native troops so that the people of the U.S. will not be credited therewith.” Obviously this warning was heeded, as in 1901 the Americans created the Philippine Constabulary, comprised of Filipinos, who would work at the behest of and ruthlessly serve US interests during the U.S. colonization of the Philippines.
With its creation of the Philippine Constabulary (PC), the United States launched its “low intensity conflict” (LIC) strategy in the Philippines – in other words “don’t get the US hands dirty, let someone else do the brutal work.” So while it might be “low” intensity for the United States, it is exceptionally “high” intensity for its victims. The PC is still in existence today, and its reactionary and mercenary origins have remained in tact. Throughout the 20th century it has played a key role in suppressing peasant revolts and anti-US intervention movements.
Thus was the classic strategy of “Low Intensity Conflict” adopted by the Filipino Military establishment to perpetuate the culture of impunity in its counter-insurgency operations. This was true from the very beginning. All the administrations of our government from the time of Manuel A. Roxas down to the present Aquino regime adopt the wickedness of this modus operandi whereby local populations are pitted against each in a systematic “divide and kill” strategy.
The Oplan Bayanihan of Noynoy Aquino is just a continuation, if not an escalation of the Arroyo program of using paramilitary forces to do the dirty job of killings otherwise charged to the AFP. These paramilitary units are recruited from the ranks of the anti-social thugs in the communities or are private armies of local warlords . They are trained, managed and supervised by the military in all their anti-people crimes. Of course they are paid which basically make them ‘hired butchers’, and the money are usually provided by the large mining companies operating in the area.
But wait. Why the need to hire these butchers? Well, the trick is to give a semblance of “inter-tribal conflict” scenario. The AFP who were trained by the Americans are now applying their learnings in the counter-insurgency task they are mandated to perform. In effect, we have a contingent of Filipino soldiers, fast learners in the military trainings conducted by the Americans in the Balikatan Exercises and the like, who are relieved of their killing obligations, by letting local thugs do the dirty crimes for them. Masaya sila!
This is happening on practically daily basis now in the Lumadlandia. And why in the lands of the Lumads? Because it is in the ancestral lands of the Lumads where the big mining corporations are doing their plundering acts. And it is the Lumad peoples who are opposing and resisting these plunders which will destroy their tribal lifeworlds even as they are also causing grave damage to the environment.
President Noynoy is directly responsible for all these inhumanities- being the Commander-in-Chief of the State Security Forces. And look, does he mumble a syllable to order a halt to these satanic acts of the AFP and the paramilitary? Never! He delights in all these, just as his predecessor Gloria Arroyo was in glorifying delight by the performance of the same AFP in her Bantay Laya counter-insugency program.
Certainly, US President Barack Obama was likewise blissfully delighted seeing the bloody fruits of his American trainors’ successes in making “clones” out of Filipino military generals. The American imperialist doctrine of “divide and conquer” was smoothly handed over to President Noynoy to be applied as “divide and rule” and to be implemented by the AFP as “Divide and Kill” strategy.
One of the latest casualties among Lumad civilians murdered was a young boy of 15 . But he is just one in a series of killings in Lumadlandia, there were others before him. Yes, there has not been any let-up in this senseless curtailment of human lives in the countryside.
A neighbor when informed of the deplorable situation in the country declaimed, “Siyaro na pud nang way-ulawng pagka bantigi oy! Gihimo gihapon na nila bisag nabaniog na nga dakong yawan-ong isyu sa katilingban? Unya wa gyuy mokihol si Noynoy?” [What an unbelievable callous shamelessness! They are continuing to do that in spite of its great evil notoriety? And Noynoy does not so much as lift a finger?”]
The governing logic here is IMPUNITY. Impunity from moment to moment. . . from day to day…to endless time. Unless real Change—real radical change—reign supreme on these lands. And real radical change can only come about by a historic action of the great masses of the Filipino people who must take their destiny in their own hands.