Stop the killings, let good gov­er­nance flour­ish

Sun Star Bacolod - - Opinion -

CLI­MATE of ter­ror and fear is now grip­ping not only in Ne­gros Ori­en­tal, but the en­tire is­land. And the sce­nario seems to point to more killings, ar­rests in the days ahead es­pe­cially with the threat of Pres­i­dent Duterte to im­pose martial law in the is­land. Based on straight news ac­count, a to­tal of 81, mostly farm­ers and lead­ers of pro­gres­sive or­ga­ni­za­tions, have been killed in Ne­gros since Pres­i­dent Duterte as­sumed pres­i­dency. The break­down is 20 were killed in 2016-2017, 29 in 2018 and 32 from Jan­uary till july31, 2019. In the last two years most ex­tra ju­di­cial killings were in Ne­gros Oc­ci­den­tal. Re­cently, Ne­gros Ori­en­tal took most of the beat­ing, with only ex­clude four re­ported or six in mur­der south at­tempts. Ne­gros Oc­ci­den­tal. This Of those killed, 3 were lawyers, in­clud­ing Atty Trinidad in Gui­hul­ngan town; all iden­ti­fied as lawyers of vic­tims of land con­flict and ex­ploita­tion. Why has there been no let up in ex­tra ju­di­cial killings in Ne­gros? Why the vic­tims were mostly iden­ti­fied with the pro­gres­sive or­ga­ni­za­tions and com­mu­ni­ties ear­lier tagged as fronts

and sup­port­ers of the armed in­sur­gents? Who are the brains and cul­prits? Who ben­e­fits from these on­slaughts on hu­man lives?

Most killings were linked with land strug­gles, la­bor dis­putes and those crit­i­cal of the ad­min­is­tra­tion, lo­cal politi­cians, mil­i­tary and the po­lice. If so, this could all be about si­lenc­ing dis­sent, and the mass mur­der of iden­ti­fied lead­ers of the armed in­sur­gents and pro­gres­sive groups, and the per­pet­u­a­tion of the lo­cal sta­tus quo.

If most vic­tims were iden­ti­fied with the pro­gres­sive or­ga­ni­za­tions crit­i­cal of the rul­ing ad­min­is­tra­tion, the log­i­cal cul­prits could only be those in power, pri­vate goons of the landed elites, death squads of the mil­i­tary and po­lice, and anti-com­mu­nist groups. It is in­con­gru­ous to put the blame on the armed in­sur­gents who have been work­ing hard to get mass sup­port for their cause.

I agree with some views that the mass killings would not have gone this far and wide had there been no of­fi­cial bless­ing from the top of­fi­cials of Mala­canang. What could be more in­struc­tive than the Mem­o­ran­dum Cir­cu­lar 32 signed by the Pres­i­dent in 2018 call­ing for the im­ple­men­ta­tion of mea­sures to sup­press and pre­vent lawless vi­o­lence, and the Ex­ec­u­tive Or­der 70 s. 2018 call­ing for the cre­ation of na­tional task force to end lo­cal com­mu­nist armed con­flict? Some­body must have been in­spired by some­body, whether good or bad.

State se­cu­rity forces who be­lieve in Pres­i­dent Duterte’s strong man rule, are cer­tainly em­bold­ened by the Pres­i­dent’s or­ders and raw ex­hor­ta­tions to kill those who stand against his

deadly cam­paigns. And Duterte’s as­sur­ance of pres­i­den­tial pro­tec­tion when they kill on duty is like a bul­let-proof vest given them to go on ram­page.

What I worry more are the ra­bid an­ti­com­mu­nist groups and the fa­nat­i­cal sup­port­ers of Pres­i­dent Duterte who by the same ex­hor­ta­tion may have or­ga­nized them­selves into death squads, get arms from the landown­ers, and train­ings from the mil­i­tary and po­lice, and carry out mass killings of their own.

Ne­gros was no­to­ri­ous for this in the late 70s and 80s, and what we are see­ing now, could be part of the big­ger and re­hashed sce­nario de­vel­oped and mas­tered by the psy­war and com­bat spe­cial­ists of the mil­i­tary and po­lice.

Who ben­e­fit from these killings? Cer­tainly not the or­di­nary folk, but those who want to main­tain and per­pet­u­ate the old feu­dal or­der, that still largely char­ac­ter­ized the

Ne­gros so­ci­ety.

I feel so sad and an­gry that the solutions of the govern­ment is still the failed strate­gies em­ployed by the Mar­cos fas­cist regime and the post Mar­cos ad­min­is­tra­tions, e.g. bru­tal anti-in­sur­gency cam­paigns, mas­sive troops build up, bor­der con­trol, food block­ades, ham­let­ting, mo­bi­liza­tion of armed fa­nat­i­cal groups in the moun­tains, con­trol of cit­i­zens move­ment, mas­sive re­cruit­ment to anti-com­mu­nist or­ga­ni­za­tions, and now, lo­cal­ized martial law, or martial law in re­gions and prov­inces where armed in­sur­gents are big­ger and stronger.

Where is the lo­cal govern­ment in this?

I keep on re­peat­ing in my past write ups, lec­tures and sem­i­nars, that good gov­er­nance is one of the keys to de­feat­ing armed in­sur­gency, not mil­i­tary ac­tions, not psy­war oper­a­tions, not trans­form­ing ev­ery­one to be­come sup­port units of the mil­i­tary and po­lice.

Bad gov­er­nance al­ways breed poverty, com­mu­nity ne­glect, cor­rup­tion of ser­vices, dis­con­tent­ment, spo­radic dis­sent, and fi­nally en­roll­ment to the armed in­sur­gency.

The com­mu­nist in­sur­gency thrives not only by the strength of its own ide­ol­ogy, but also by those con­di­tions fu­eled by bad gov­er­nance, e.g. cor­rupt politi­cians, govern­ment act­ing as ex­ten­sion of pri­vate prop­erty of the landed class or a po­lit­i­cal dy­nasty, non-func­tion­ing mech­a­nisms of par­tic­i­pa­tory gov­er­nance, in­ad­e­quate or ab­sence of so­cial ser­vices, bi­ased against the poor, pa­tron­age pol­i­tics, among oth­ers.

Martial law is not the an­swer, nor mil­i­ta­riza­tion. Both will only dis­rupt and de­stroy econ­omy, fuel dis­sent and armed in­sur­gency, bring more wid­ows, crip­pled chil­dren, par­ent-less fam­i­lies.

But when good gov­er­nance flour­ishes, po­lit­i­cal dis­sent and armed in­sur­gency di­min­ishes.

Hope some­body up there and down here should lis­ten, be sober, and see the big­ger pic­ture and im­pact more than their pock­ets.*

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