Oplan Bayanihan tagged as ‘urban militarization’-A A +A
Wednesday, October 9, 2013
BAYAN Muna party-list Representative Carlos Zarate accused President Benigno Aquino III of using the counter-insurgency program Oplan Bayanihan to quell the growing mass movement against injustices and any form of graft and corruption in the government.
“The Oplan Bayanihan is used to quench the people’s turmoil brought about by discontentment and corruption inside the government,” Zarate said.
As people experience the result of injustices, corruption, and the dire economic crisis, he said it is normal for them to organize and clamor for change to alleviate their situation.
“When the government cannot control the dissent of the poor, it will employ fascism as a whip to make the Filipinos follow its whims and swallow its impositions,” he added.
Hidelgrade Yagao, the wife of human rights defender Joel Yagao who was arrested based on trumped-up charges, tried to hold off tears as she elaborated the present situation of their family after the arrest.
Yagao is one of the victims of the military’s red-baiting.
“Sure ko nga dili guilty akong bana sa mga kaso pero hangtod pila pa ka-tuig siya sa prisohan (I’m sure that my husband is not guilty but he will stay in prison for a few years),” she said, pointing out to the damage the arrest of her husband has brought to her family.
Hidelgrade said her daughter once asked her if it is bad to help the farmers because it has been the reason why her father was arrested.
“Ang akong anak luoy kaayo kay nigawas ilang papa sa TV as nag-attack kang Guingona (I pity my children since they saw their father on TV accused of attacking Guingona),” said Hidelgrade, explaining the possible psychological effects of the incident to her sons and daughters.
Administrative officer of Rural Missionaries of the Philippines–Northern Mindanao Region (RMP-NMR) Sugar Siano said last September 20, a suspected intelligence officer named “Francis” came to their office identifying himself as a worker from Australian Aid (AusAID).
Siano added: “But when we verified the identity of the person through an e-mail to AusAID, they denied having any member named Francis.”
Siano said RMP-NMR is under surveillance of the military.
“Our organization is in the countryside helping the rural poor, and they are doing this to us so we cannot report the human rights violations of the Philippine Army in hinterland communities,” she said.
Rhodora Bulosan, chairman of Gabriela–Nothern Mindanao, said since Barangay Alert for Peace and Development (BAPD) started, tailings and harassment on her also started.
“For more than 10 years as a community organizer for women’s organization, this is the first time I have experienced harassment,” said Bulosan.
She said members of the 403 Brigade of the Philippine Army have asked her neighbors about her personal information.
“They asked my neighbors of anything about me and the time do I usually leave home,” she said, adding that it happened three times from September 5 to 29 this year.
Peasant organization leader Richard Colao said his neighbors in Balingasag were asked on his whereabouts.
Colao said urban militarization in city communities is a response of the government to repress the legitimate dissent of the people.
“Coincidentally, the alarming escalation of institutionalized violence in the first three quarter of the year started when Palparan protégé Brig. Gen. Ricardo Visaya was installed as commander of the 4th Infantry Division,” Colao said.
Colao and Bulosan are members of progressive organizations who have experienced similar forms of harassment.
Oppose Oplan Bayanihan
Zarate said that during budget deliberations, they are constantly exposing the evils of Oplan Bayanihan in the congress.
“Dili nani pasagdan, dapat mag launch na og offensive and katawhan against ani (It should not be disregarded, the people will launch an offensive against Oplan Bayanihan),” he added.
He said they would file charges against the perpetrators of harassment and tailing of progressive organization leaders all over the country especially the Northern Mindanao where the cases have escalated.
“In the national level, Leila de Lima who is the chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights is planning on releasing a new circular order against trumped-up charges on human rights defenders,” he said.
Apart from that, Zarate is planning to file a house resolution to investigate the harassment and tailing perpetrated by the military all over the country.
Zarate said in his message that Oplan Bayanihan came from the “Pamana fund” of the “presidential pork” that funds surveillance and tailing operations of leaders of progressive organizations.
Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on October 09, 2013.