Photo: Activists hold demonstration outside Philippine National Police headquarters in response to mass arrests
By Felipe Vera
Progressives who were targeted as alleged Communist supporters and arrested in successive raids in Bacolod City late last month and earlier this month in Manila joined with allied House of Representatives to denounce Duterte’s crackdown on progressive groups on Thursday.
The reactionary old Philippine state carried out the first mass raid on October 31 and arrested over 57 activists on Negros Island.
The raid took place during the evening in Bacolod City, and was conducted by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), an army which has inflicted indiscriminate terror and violence against the masses on many occasions.
The AFP targeted the offices of Bayan Muna, an electoral party, and Gabriela, a women’s organization, as well as the National Federation of Sugar Workers and the home of Bayan-Muna activists Romulo and Mermalyn Bito-on.
The raids were carried out under the pretext of these organizations being Communist fronts. Firearms and explosives were allegedly seized during the raids, although activists deny these accusations and claim the weapons were planted.
In the early hours of November 5, the Philippine National Police carried out the second raid in Manila, arresting three activists at an office of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan), an alliance of popular organizations. The search warrant claimed that there was probable cause for firearms and explosives to be on the premises. In Manila, anyone found guilty of supporting “terrorism” can face up to 40 years in prison and a fine of 1 million pesos (nearly $20,000 US).
Thirty-two of those arrested have since been released, which includes a number of minors who had been rehearsing with Teatro Obrero (Workers Theatre). Eleven activists currently face criminal charges, ranging from possession of illegal firearms and explosives to human trafficking. Most notable from the arrestees is community journalist Mary-Anne Krueger, one of the founders of Paghimutad, a media outlet which covers the popular struggles on Negros Island.
The People’s War led by the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and carried out by the New People’s Army (NPA) has been ongoing for decades and continues to threaten the reactionary Duterte regime, which desperately tries to revive the old dying semifeudal and semicolonial state. Recently, the NPA carried out a bombing in Manila, killing 6 soldiers and injuring 20.
In response, the state has utilized repressive violent measures against the people as well as low-intensity counterinsurgency efforts like Executive Order No. 70, which seeks to put an end to the People’s War by delivering “basic services and social development packages in conflict-affected areas.”
The state attacks and represses anyone who they suspect to be Communists or sympathizers of Communism, even if they participate in open legal work. No amount of “basic services” or “social development” provided by the old state can end the exploitation of the Philippine peasantry and proletariat, only through the People’s War and New Democratic Revolution can they truly free themselves.