Revolution in South Asia

An Internationalist Info Project

Ka Oris on the US-Arroyo Regime’s Ploy to Dismantle Private Armies

Posted by Ka Frank on January 8, 2010

Ka Oris, somewhere in Mindanao

This article was posted on Philippine Revolution on January 5, 2010.

Arroyo’s so-called plan to dismantle “private armies” is nothing but a ploy to consolidate its hold on power and gain leverage in the coming elections

Jorge “Ka Oris” Madlos

Spokesperson, National Democratic Front of the Philippines-Mindanao

We condemn the US-Arroyo regime’s devious declaration to dismantle “private armies” in the country when in truth this only aims to strengthen loyal private armies which it can benefit from and to dismantle those of the opposition’s, thus consolidating its hold on power and giving itself greater leverage in the coming national elections.

The most notorious of private armies in Mindanao are those which delivered, through terrorism, the much needed votes in the last two national elections, which won Arroyo a six-year term. The biggest of which is that of the Ampatuan warlord.

Aside from the Ampatuans, most pro-administration politicians in Mindanao maintain their own private armies under the blessing of the military and the Arroyo government. To name a few, we have the Dimaporo warlord of Lanao; Jalosjos of Zamboanga del Norte; the Parojinog druglord and Yap of Misamis Occidental; Mayor Luna of Lingig, Surigao del Sur; Brillantes of Compostela Valley; Bautista of Davao del Sur; the Piñol brothers of North Cotabato; Ecleo’s PBMA in Dinagat, druglord Congressman Romarate, Mayor Boy Ruaya of Dapa, Mayor Cezar Diaz of Taganaan, all of Surigao del Norte; Mayor Rodriguez of Rosario and Mayor Manpatilan of Esperanza, all of Agusan del Sur, and other such groups throughout the 24 provinces of Mindanao.

These private armies are given legal cover operating as CAFGUs, CAAs, armed CVOs, security guards, and LGU task forces or action teams, bankrolled and maintained through the funds of the local government and unauditable intelligence funds. Their firearms and military logistics come from the arsenal of the military and the police, either sold to them discreetly or on loan basis.

Other private armies are those of the illegal loggers, illegal miners, illegal drug syndicates, illegal gambling rings, kidnap-for-ransom groups and guns-for-hire. These groups have direct or indirect connection with the military, police and even politicians. They are being mobilized for election fraud, terrorism, political assassination and for counter-insurgency operations of the military.

There are also private armies among the lumad indigeneous people organized and armed by the AFP and supported by politicians and businessmen where the Datu and other pseudo-lumad leaders act as local warlords. These private armies serve as mainstay for the continued operations of illegal logging, illegal mining, drug syndicate, kidnap-for-ransom, including guns for hire. Aside from illegal economic interests, they serve directly in the military’s counter-insurgency campaign under Oplan Bantay Laya. These groups are organized under the umbrella organization of Task Force Gantangan whose armed component is called the Bagani Force.

To name some, we have the group of Datu Paquito, Datu Kalpet, Datu Napungahan, Datu Behing, and Wild Dog of Mayor Manpatilan all of Agusan del Sur; BULIF of Agusan del Norte and Misamis Oriental; Dela Mance bandits and Pangayaw Force in Bukidnon; and Alamara in Davao del Norte and Bukidnon, and in other lumad areas in Mindanao.

The pro-administration private armies are much bigger, more powerful and possess the offensive capacity, compared with the few and smaller private armies of the opposition, which are used mainly to defend themselves against the terrorism of the dominant private armies.

For the past almost 9 years, the US-Arroyo regime cannot claim to have dismantled even a single private army in the country. GMA’s rhetoric cannot hide the fact that five months are hardly enough for her “Anti-Private Army Commission” to define what really constitutes a private army and to identify all private armies in the country, much less dismantle it.

Granting that due to public pressure here and abroad, the Ampatuan private army is dismantled for the world to see, other still loyal warlords in Maguindanao will just take its place and deliver the much needed votes for the unpopular administration’s presidential candidate, surely still, through fraud and terrorism.

The US-Arroyo regime will also target the private armies of the opposition group to give credence to her anti-private army campaign and to diminish the fighting chance of any of the opposition parties to win seats in the coming electoral contest.

In a feudal society, the feudal lord is the warlord imposing its economic and political monopoly upon its peasant subjects. In a semi-feudal and semi-colonial society such as the Philippines, the big landlords, big comprador bourgeois and the bureaucrat capitalist are the new warlords using the AFP, PNP, CAFGU and other paramilitary groups as its private army to impose their economic and political monopoly. These state apparatus being the private army of the ruling clique are armed and logistically supplied by their imperialist masters to ensure the economic and political interests of US imperialism in the country. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, being the commander-in-chief of the AFP therefore, is the biggest warlord in the country today, whose terror machines summarily killed more than a thousand critics and opposition, dwarfing the record of the dreaded Ampatuan terror machine.

Being the number one beneficiary of the existence of these private armies, the Arroyo regime, its minions, and its armed forces cannot be expected to sincerely dismantle these private armies. Given this condition, dismantling private armies in our country, therefore, has to mean dismantling the US-Arroyo regime, the biggest warlord of them all.

Down with warlordism! Down with the US-Arroyo regime!

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