(Third of three parts)
AS expected, mainstream news did continue in the direction of Left-hating and redbaiting, consciously or not. It’s like an award mainstream media is bound to get, consistent as it is in delivering the most biased news, giving anti-Left discourse mileage, providing the government the space it needs to deliver its press releases like it is truth.
Never mind that what is glossed over, what disappears into the unthinking (non-) debates, is the fact of Lumad deaths. Never mind that when we say that this is either the New People’s Army’s doing or the Philippine Army’s doing, we forget about standing for the Lumad.
The Mareng Winnie syndrome
It was a surprise to me that someone like UP Professor Winnie Monsod would be so unthinking about taking a categorical stand for the Philippine army, all because she believes that they are far from being the military of the Martial Law regime, and because she had been consultant for the Army for the past five or six years (as per her final statement on her show Bawal Ang Pasaway, GMA 7, September 21).
In Monsod’s column “Who is exploiting the Lumad?” dated September 19 (Philippine Daily Inquirer), she invokes the military’s Army Transformation Roadmap (ATR), which it “takes very seriously.”
Yet if you look at the ATR (available on the official website of the Philippine military), you will find nothing there about dealing with Lumad and other indigenous peoples’ communities. There is nothing there about insurgency at all either.
The ATR is an 18-year roadmap, which is subtitled “A Journey Towards Good Governance and Performance Excellence.” It is, as expected, a set of motherhood statements about changing people’s perceptions about the military, and finding criteria for judging the military’s effectiveness in doing its job.
It is a surprise that Monsod believes this to be proof of the military’s good heart.
Even a bigger surprise: that she can say that everyone critical of the military is siding with Left-leaning groups, which she says are all sympathetic to the NPA, which in turn stands against the army ((Bawal Ang Pasaway, 21 Sept), and therefore kawawa naman ang army. One wonders what newspapers Monsod has been reading, what newscasts she has been watching. Because nowhere on mainstream media do we get a sense that the military is inaapi. In fact they get the mileage that they need, they get their press releases published, and they have the government’s communications team behind them to boot – not to mention this government’s apologists and allies.
One also wonders how Monsod could be so careless as to insinuate that all those who refuse to let the army off the hook on the Lumad killings are leftists or Left-leaning. Because that’s a dangerous assertion to make at this point, yes? Lest she’s missed that news, militants are still being killed and disappeared under this government and this army she so loves.
Beyond the ATR
It behooves any of us to look at the ATR and consider it in light of government’s other documents on security such as the “Internal Peace and Security Plan: Bayanihan” (OB) and government’s “National Security Plan 2011-2016” (NSP) – both of which are available for download online.
Across these documents, what is clear is that the military should be responsible for the people’s security and protection. The NSP talks about the need to professionalize the military’s ranks, and “develop competencies on human rights, international humanitarian law, ethnic sensitivity and indigenous peoples’ rights, in accordance with the rule of law” – a clear indication that these have yet to be achieved by the institution.
In the OB document, priority is given to “clearing the ranks of the military of corrupt practices and involvement in partisan politics” <…and providing> training programs which give importance to indoctrination on democratic accountability, gender issues, ethnic sensitivity, and indigenous peoples rights shall likewise be imposed.” Again, an indication of what is lacking in our military’s skill set.
Collectively, the ATR, the NSP and OB reveal a military institution that is known to be abusive and unprofessional, negligent and corrupt. And yes, the ATR hopes to change this image of the military, and for sure there are clean and incorruptible men in uniform, but that does not make the institution itself incapable of being complicit in the militarization of whole Lumad communities and schools.
Certainly it does not make it impossible that they have fallen complicit to paramilitary groups’ extrajudicial killings of whomever they please, Lumad leaders included.
Silencing the Lumad, Manobo
In that conversation of Monsod with AFP Chief Gen. Iriberri, Lumads were painted as members of the NPA, where according to the AFP Chief, 3 out of 4 NPA soldiers are Lumads.
Which means what exactly? That the three Lumad leaders and educators killed in Surigao del Sur deserved what they got? That ALCADEV deserved to be militarized? And that the whole Lumad community deserved to be threatened and traumatized by men in uniform – paramilitary or otherwise – going ballistic?
On Sept 25, ACT Teacher Partylist Rep. Tonchi Tinio revealed that, in fact, in the 2016 budget deliberations for the Department of Education, “DepEd Region XI admitted that the plan to close down the schools set up by the Salugpungan Ta Tanu Igkanugon Community Learning Center (STTILC) and replace them with schools run by soldiers was hatched during a meeting called by the Regional Intelligence Committee (RIC) in April 23 2015.”
The STTILC schools are no different from Surigao del Sur’s ALCADEV. These are “community-based schools voluntarily set up and maintained by the Talaingod Manobos with the support of missionary groups in the hinterlands of Davao del Norte.”
The RIC is under the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA), which is government’s lead intelligence agency under the Office of the President.
I’d like to hear what Professor Monsod has to say about that.