Militants set January 2011 offensive vs. Oplan Bayanihan

THE activist peasant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) and the left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) said the newly launched counter-insurgency plan Oplan Bayanihan will be greeted with a earth shaking offensive through a series of protests beginning January next year.

In a joint statement, KMP secretary general Danilo Ramos and Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said the new counter-insurgency measure which will be implemented by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) starting January 1, 2011 will face an across-the-nation opposition from rural based groups.

“This feel-good disguising political monster known as Oplan Bayanihan which is extremely cruel, graphically violent and more terrorizing than Oplan Bantay Laya will be challenged in the parliament of the streets and in the courts of public opinion by farmers, fisherfolk and the entire rural people. Let our statement be considered a declaration of war against this US authored counter-insurgency plan,” the two militant leaders said.

In the recent meeting of the National Council meeting of KMP held in Manila last Monday, farmer leaders from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao approved a resolution calling on all 57 chapters of KMP in 17 regions and sub-regions all over the country to conduct a campaign against Oplan Bayanihan beginning January 2011.

According to KMP’s Ramos, rallies will be staged at the Department of National Defense (DND) office in Quezon City to denounce Oplan Bayanihan beginning January next year. The peasant leader also said his group and its allies would also lobby Congress to scrutinize and stop providing funding for Oplan Bayanihan which he described as a rehashed counter-insurgency program that uses extreme psywar and violent suppression of people’s basic human rights and civil liberties.

For its part, Pamalakaya said it will help in exposing the extreme brutality and cruel intention of Oplan Bayanihan before the international community. The group said a signature drive against the new counter-insurgency will be launched during the third international assembly of the World Forum of Fisher People (WFFP) to be held in Karachi, Pakistan next year.

Hicap of Pamalakaya said it expects to generate massive support from international fisherfolk groups during the assembly which his group will attend as a permanent member. He said peers from Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, India, Spain, France, Guadalupe, Ghana, South Africa, Mauritania, Chile and other Latin American nations are expected to sign a resolution calling on President Benigno Simeon Aquino III to stop the implementation of Oplan Bayanihan.

“Like Oplan Bantay Laya, Oplan Bayanihan will suffer the same political humiliation before the international community. This US and puppet state driven counter-insurgency program must be stopped from further creating havoc on the lives of the rural people and must be stopped from further violating the basic rights of the farming and fishing communities,” said Pamalakaya.

KMP and Pamalakaya, together with staunch allies like Amihan national peasant women federation and the Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultural are now preparing for a nationally coordinated protest against Oplan Bayanihan on January 22, coinciding with the 23rd year anniversary of Mendiola Massacre, where 13 farmers who where peppered with bullets died during a violent dispersal staged by state security forces in 1987.

Armed Forces spokesman, Brig. Gen. Jose Mabanta Jr., said Oplan Bayanihan will employ two-pronged approach to solve the 40-year-old armed conflict, replacing Oplan Bantay Laya which was launched in 2002.

The AFP spokesperson said just like in the past, its mission statement is winning the peace, which hinges on two very important approaches—the ‘whole of nation’ approach in contrast to the former ‘whole of government approach.

Under the whole of nation’ approach, the AFP will involve the common people or the ordinary citizens in the people-centered’ approach which gives primordial consideration to human security. As such, advocacy to human rights, international humanitarian law becomes paramount.

Mabanta said that the new anti-insurgency strategy is far different from the previous campaign strategy. He noted, however, that the overall goal of “winning the peace” remains the same.  The new approach, he stressed, would deviate from the traditional search and destroy operations and focus instead on civil-military campaign.

The AFP leadership said it is convinced that the new strategy is the answer to the persistence of the communist armed struggle, considering that the forces of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) have reportedly dwindled to less than 5,000.

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