The 61st IB is haunted by ghosts of its own crimes against the people!*
Jose Percival Estocada, Jr. Command,
June 16, 2011
Around 9 o’clock in the evening of June 12, 2011, angry civilians fired at the 61st IB troops staying at the covered gym of Barangay Roosevelt, Tapaz, Capiz. Cpl. Pagurayan was hit in the thigh with shotgun pellets. The terrified reactionary troops fired armalites and machine guns into the direction of houses in the barangay for almost 20 minutes.
Residents in several intermediate and upland barangays in Tapaz have long been complaining of the military’s occupation of their gyms or multipurpose halls in the center of the barangay and making use of civilians as human shields against the military’s enemies. But the 61st IB has turned a deaf ear to these complaints and insists on staying in the barangay centers as part of their program to control the
population under the US-Aquino regime’s Oplan Bayanihan.
The 61st IB keeps trying to deceive the people that they have changed for the better and are now different from the hated 47th IB. Under Oplan Bayanihan, they are purportedly focusing now on improving the people’s socio-economic situation against poverty. But what has Oplan Bayanihan, and the 61st IB that is carrying this out, actually done to alleviate the hardships the people are undergoing now?
1. Continued landgrabbing. Instead of returning the ancestral lands to the indigenous people of Capiz; the 3rd Infantry Division, Philippine Army, which commands both the 47th IB and the 61st IB, continues to arrogate the tumanduk’s ancestral lands for its army reservation. Already reeling from poverty because of their poor harvests and the skyrocketing prices of basic commodities, the people face the added burden of losing their farmlands to the landgrabbing 3ID and government-endorsed projects like the Jalaur dam and Teresa Marble mines that bring
disaster, not development, to the lives and livelihood of the indigenous people in the mountains of Tapaz and Calinog.
2. Sowing terror, anxiety, and distrust among the people to destroy their peace of mind and unity. The presence of armed troops in the center of the village breeds anxiety among the people especially the women and children who fear they will be hit by bullets. Last month, drunken troops of the 61st IB fired shots indiscriminately in Brgy Roosevelt. Troops that stay in the villages continue their deception and psywar to make the people distrust each other and destroy their unity, thereby weakening their capacity to struggle for their rights.
3. Encouraging immorality. In Brgy Roosevelt this May 2011, the 61IB brought in prostitutes and pimped them to some men who incurred diseases afterwards. This is not far removed from Aglinab last year where the 47IB constantly showed pornographic movies to children even if the parents have told them not to.
4. Increasing crime. When the 47IB stayed in Brgy Aglinab last 2010, and the 61IB in Brgy. Roosevelt this May 2011, carabaos were stolen. These crimes do not happen during the times that the military troops are not in the barangay.
Anyhow, the people know that the butcher 61st IB is no different from the previous brutal 47IB. And this is why their patience is growing thin and though they have inferior firearms, they try to fight.
The 61st IB also knows that despite all their deception and pretense at being new, they are still the old, butcher 61st IB who executed Benjie Bayles, tortured to death Moreto Arcademia, and oppressed hundreds of people in Negros. The 61st IB knows that the people’s justice will follow them wherever they go. And so they are afraid of the people around them, and just the shot of a village resident makes them think they are being harassed by the NPA.
With their incessant deception, disruption of the peace, and threats to the people, it won’t be long till they come across real harassment from the NPA. If they continue to turn a deaf ear on the people’s legitimate demands, the NPA is there to uphold the people’s interests and drive them away by a real tactical offensive.