Message on the Occasion of the 27th Cordillera Day*
Ka Diego Wadagan
Agustin Begnalen Command,
April 26, 2011
DEFEND THE PEOPLE'S PATRIMONY AND THE ANCESTRAL LAND!
FIGHT LARGE-SCALE MINING OPERATIONS AND MILITARIZATION!
BUILD THE WIDEST UNITY, UPHOLD MILITANT MASS STRUGGLES, AND ADVANCE THE REVOLUTIONARY ARMED STRUGGLE!
Message on the Occasion of the 27th Cordillera Day in Buneg, Lacub, Abra
Warmest revolutionary greetings to all the participants and/or delegates of the 27th Cordillera Day Commemoration! In behalf of the entire revolutionary movement in the province of Abra, the NPA's Agustin Begnalen Command congratulates the CPA, KASTAN, TULBEK, and the people of Buneg for organizing this historic event. We likewise welcome to the province delegates from all over the Philippines and abroad, members of progressive mass organizations, alliances and institutions, and friends and supporters of the legal and democratic mass movement. We acknowledge the presence of members of Peace Panels of the NDFP and the GPH.
April 24 is indeed a historic day. It marks the 38th Founding Anniversary of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), the largest alliance of revolutionary mass organizations of the democratic classes and sectors in Philippine society, led by the CPP. It is also the occasion of the 27th Cordillera Day, the commemoration of the martyrdom of Cordillera leaders who led the fight to defend land, life and dignity of the people and the struggle for self-determination, national freedom and genuine democracy. On this occasion, we give the highest red salute to the NDFP allied organizations, and to the martyrs of the national democratic revolution. We renew our commitment and raise to a higher level our perseverance to form the broadest unity of the Filipino people and pursue armed struggle to fulfill the requisites and advance the national democratic revolution to strategic stalemate and final victory. We derive inspiration and draw strength and lessons from the shining example of our martyrs.
One of the best ways to commemorate these historical events is to gather thousands in Buneg, Lacub, Abra, the venue for this year's Cordillera Day. Collective renewal of commitment and raising our level of perseverance should be undertaken with the people engaged in actual militant struggle to defend their ancestral land, life, and their dignity. Learning from history, understanding the need to change society, and deriving inspiration from our martyrs should be translated into actual and direct involvement in militant and armed struggle.
REVOLUTIONARY HISTORY AND TRADITION
The people of Abra are proud of their rich revolutionary history and tradition. Like the rest of the peoples of the Cordilleras and the Philippines, the Abrenians valiantly fought against colonialism and imperialist aggression. We can speak of Gabriela Silang, the Tinio Brigade and other Katipuneros, the HukBaLaHap and the Bolomen.
In 1973, the first NPA squad was sent to Abra to start armed revolutionary work. It was in the municipalities of Lacub, Malibcong, Tineg and Baay-Licuan that the revolutionary movement started to take deep roots through the efforts of the pioneering NPA unit, and spread like wild fire throughout the entire province. By building a solid mass base, the broadest unity of the people for revolution and for specific issues, by advancing agrarian revolution and extending socio-economic services, and waging legal and armed struggle, the people of Abra, along with the rest of the peoples of the Cordilleras and the Filipino people, were triumphant in the struggle to defend their ancestral and agricultural lands, their livelihood, and against the exploitation and expropriation of their rich natural resources. Such was the struggle against the Cellophil Resources Corporation (CRC), the Binongan River Dam Project (that would have inundated Lacub villages including Buneg), and the various mining projects like those of Abra Mining and Industrial Corporation and Marcopper.
Militarization is a nightmare to the people. The elders and middle-aged parents can attest to the fact that along with incursions on the peoples patrimony and ancestral lands by transnational corporations and their local business partners, came fascist terror variously carried out by the defunct PC and CHDF (Philippine Constabulary and Civilian Home Defense Forces); later by the PC-INP (Philippine Constabulary-Integrated National Police); and then the PNP (Philippine National Police) and various infantry battalions and special forces of the Philippine Army and the Philippine Marines. In the 70's, the military campaign was the "nip-in-the-bud" against the still developing armed revolutionary movement. And during the late 80's and 90's there was the Oplan Lambat Bitag 1 ïƒ 4. Different names, uniforms, plans and packaging; but the people will always remember deception, treachery and fascist terror perpetrated by state machineries and their local running dogs.
Militarization was not only aimed against the NPA. The fascist armed forces and para-military units of the reactionary government did not distinguish armed from un-armed, legal and illegal groups and individuals. Human rights violations were prevalent. Entire army brigades were poured into North and South Abra. But the people, along with their true army, the NPA, valiantly fought back and victoriously drove away the destructive, exploitative and oppressive projects of the transnational corporations, and the fascist troops of the reactionary government.
INCURSIONS INTO ANCESTRAL LANDS AND PEOPLES PATRIMONY, "DEVELOPMENT" AGGRESSION, AND MILITARIZATION
There was a brief respite in the aggressive incursions of transnational corporations (or "development" aggression) in the province of Abra, and the accompanying militarization of the province. Learning from their defeat against a united people, the reactionary government temporarily retracted projects of transnational corporations and their local counterparts. Fascist troops were also temporarily redeployed outside the province from 1998 -- 2003, with only 1-2 companies of the 17th IB serving as maintenance units.
But not for longâ€¦. The mining industry became one of the pillars of the economic programs of various regimes, from Fidel Ramos, Erap Estrada, Gloria Arroyo, and now the Noynoy Aquino Government. Setting its eyes on the mineral-rich Ilocos and Cordillera region, these regimes desperately maneuvered to implement mining projects. Deception though reformism was the initial dominant component of the ploy, through the enactment of laws, setting-up of deceptive government agencies and pseudo-NGOs. But always, state fascist terrorism combined with reformism and deception.
The US-GMA Regime started to implement Oplan Bantay Laya in 2003, just as mining applications were secretly revived and processed anew. Back then, the priority of the OBL in Abra were Central Abra (BuDaBoSa -- Bucloc, Daguioman, Boliney, Sallapadan) and Northwest Abra (Tineg and LaDaLaga -- La Paz, Danglas, Lagayan). This slicing technique is an old tactic with the strategic purpose of isolating the guerilla fronts in North Abra, South Abra, and the Northern Ilocos areas. But every strategic military plan is always hinged on political and economic programs of a government. The ultimate goal is to prevent and subdue opposition of the people to "development" aggression, and clear the area from complimentary armed support of the NPA to the people's opposition.
To date, there are 3 approved Mineral Production and Sharing Agreements (MPSA) 1 approved Exploration Permit (EP), all in Baay-Licuan, and 30 pending applications for EP, MPSA, and Financial and Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA) in the province. Here are some interesting facts:
1.In 2008, then Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro declared Abra as a priority in the Government's OBL2, because of mining projects in the province. Of the 30 pending mining permit applications, 14 applications were filed before 2008, and 16 of these were filed post Sec. Teodoro's declaration.
2.Clearly, the 503rd Brigade should appropriately be renamed Mining Security Brigade. Consider the following:
a.In 2008, after the DND declaration prioritizing Abra in OBL2, the 503rd Brigade HQ was moved from Sulvec, Narvacan, Ilocos Sur to Barbarit, Lagangilang, Abra.
b.Also in 2008, the 41st IB HQ was moved from Barbarit, Lagangilang to Bakiro, Baay-Licuan. Now, the entire 41st IB is deployed in the municipalities of Tineg, Lacub, Baay-Licuan, and Malibcong. It is no coincidence that there are 3 approved MPSA, 1 approved EP, and 8 pending mining applications in Baay-Licuan; there are also 8 mining permit applications in Tineg, 5 in Lacub, and 4 in Malibcong.
c.To date, the entire 50th IB is now deployed in Central and South Abra, from its original deployment in the boundary areas of Ilocos Sur, Benguet, Abra and Mt. Province. Again, it is no coincidence that there are numerous mining permit applications in these areas: 7 in Boliney, 6 in Tubo, 5 each in Daguioman and Bucloc, 1-3 applications each for Sallapadan, Manabo, Luba, Bangued, Pidigan, San Quintin, San Isidro, Bucay, Lagayan, Villavisiosa and Penaruba.
d.The 52nd and 53rd Division Recon Coys (DRC) are regularly under operational control (OpCon) of the 503rd Brigade during combat operations in the province. There is unconfirmed information that part of the 51st DRC is now in Sallapadan.
e.The Charlie Coy of the 77th IB is in Talogtog, Lagangilang, and serves as the cadre company of some 400 CAFGUs (the 503rd Brigade reports 800, meaning 400 "ghosts" are receiving salaries and other benefits, another version of AFP corruption)
3.In the entire Ilocos and Cordillera region, it is only in Abra where the PNP Regional Mobile Group (RMG) and the Special Action Force (SAF) is actually engaged in direct counter-insurgency operations, sometimes disguised as anti-private armed group (PAG) operations.
Oplan Bantay Laya 1 and 2 were rejected and defeated by the Filipino people, largely because of unprecedented human rights violations such as extra-judicial killings and enforced disappearances. Patterned after the US COIN GUIDE (Counter-insurgency Guide), Oplan Bantay Laya was repackaged by the Noynoy government as Oplan Bayanihan, and counter-insurgency was renamed into "internal peace and development operations" from "internal security operations." Accordingly, Special Operations Teams (SOTs) are now called Peace and Development Teams (PDTs). Still the same dog brandishing a new collar and with a new master. Essentially the same fascist AFP serving the interests of big mining interests, in cahoots with bureaucrats in government, and mouthing seemingly new pro-people objectives.
LEARN FROM HISTORY, LEARN FROM THE LACUB EXPERIENCE
While Filipinos share the same experience of pacification and subjugation, we also share a common history of proud and valiant struggles against colonialists and imperialists, oppressors and exploiters.
Lacub is no different from this. The people of Lacub should be proud of their revolutionary history, sending their best sons and daughters to the revolutionary movement and building organs of political power in the past. But unremolded elements from the CPP-NPA, including some cadres, were not able to withstand counter-revolutionary pressures and bourgeois-reactionary enticements. Eventually, they were weeded out in the revolutionary movement; and some found their way into bourgeois politics and warlordism. The people of Lacub was dragged into confusion and disarray, as warlordism rode roughshod. The people was divided, especially during bourgeois electoral exercises. The people were afraid of standing up against oppression and repression by local warlords, and some blamed the CPP-NPA for deeds undertaken by these former cadres-turned-warlords. The people felt helpless, even as they struggled to rebuild their organizations, strengthen their unity, and implement projects to uplift their socio-economic conditions.
This situation was exploited by the 41st IB, particularly the A Coy, when they conducted SOT operations, especially in Talampac in 2008. Disunited and feeling helpless against warlords, how can they stand up against a bigger and more ferocious fascist group?
Militarization and warlordism cannot forever cow the people into silence and passivity. Patience has its limits, and deep revolutionary consciousness through almost 4 decades of revolution can be likened to a social volcano. The imposition of an exploration project of the Golden Lake Mineral Resources was the cue, and now the people's anger and positive initiatives are exploding and spreading across other municipalities in the entire province. And with the support of the entire Cordillera and the Filipino people, along with support groups abroad, Noynoy Aquino's joint projects with transnational corporations and their local minions that are oppressive, exploitative and destructive will be rejected by the people of Lacub; counter-insurgency campaign disguised as "peace and development missions" will not succeed.
As history have shown and again will prove, a people united, shall never be defeated!
CHALLENGES AND TASKS AHEAD
The Agustin Begnalen Command always have high regard for the masses. We trust that the people can and will formulate plans of actions appropriate for the current situation during workshops to be conducted during the Cordillera Day 2011 Commemoration.
But while we tactically focus on campaigns against large-scale mining incursions, militarization, and human rights violations, we must never forget that thoroughgoing changes can only be achieved after the final victory of the national democratic revolution (NDR). To this end, let us heed the Party's call to fulfill the requisites to achieve the strategic stalemate of the NDR, even as we are open and support the current Peace Talks undertaken by the NDFP and the GPH. It is a good occasion for the Cordillera Day 2011 participants to share their views on the issue of the peace process, with the presence of representatives of both the NDFP and GPH panels.
As to the tactical struggles of the people of Lacub, this is only the beginning. Contradictions will intensify and we must prepare for these. We must further strengthen the unity among the people, and extend these to other sectors of Lacub, other municipalities of Abra, other provinces, and with other groups abroad. We must endeavor to persuade and draw to the side of the people misguided and misinformed officials from the Barangay and the LGU, as well as other individuals. We must carefully decide when an individual can already be categorized as incorrigibly against the people, and when it is already time to isolate the few among them. In this struggle, as has always been in the past, the NPA will provide full support, and will conduct parallel initiatives against the AFP, PNP, para-military forces, and large-scale mining companies. Incorrigible bureaucrats in the municipal and provincial government, especially those who shall commit crimes against the people, shall be punished, after due process by the People's Court.
To better perform its tasks, we must strengthen the revolutionary mass organizations, the local Party branches, and the organs of political power. We must strengthen the NPA and build local militias and self-defense corps. Especially to the youth and students, we ask you to join the true people's army, the New People's Army.
Again, our warmest revolutionary greetings to all the participants of the 27th Cordillera Day.