Unite to Fight for Press Freedom and Oppose Memorandum Number 32!
Artista at Manunulat ng Sambayanan-Bikol (ARMAS-Bikol)
Maria Roja Banua
November 25, 2018
The Artista at Manunulat ng Sambayanan-Bikol (ARMAS-Bikol) is one with workers from the press and media in expressing its highest condemnation over the US-Duterte regime’s issuance of Memorandum No. 32, which aims to expand the state’s military and police powers against the civilian population in preparation for Duterte’s all-out imposition of a nationwide Martial Law and establishment of a fascist and terrorist dictatorship. MO 32 serves as an implementing instrument and an integral part of Duterte’s National Task Force against the CPP-NPA-NDFP. This task force executes the whole-of-nation approach prescribed under Oplan Kapayapaan, which aims to coerce all government agencies and civilian institutions such as media to be under military rule in a concerted effort to defeat the ever rising struggle of the Filipino people against Duterte’s neoliberal and fascist policies. MO 32 enforces the military and police to go frenzy in attacking all civilian, progressive and legal-democratic agencies critical to the administration’s policies, including in particular, emboldening AFP and PNP to heighten the regime’s policy of censorship and crackdown against media and press personnel—in sheer violation of press freedom.
Just like what the regime did when it imposed Martial Law in Mindanao when the Armed Forces of the Philippines suppressed and controlled the flow of news and information to cover up the atrocities and killings committed by the mercenary troops when it destroyed the city of Marawi, the same is bound to happen under the National Task Force and MO 32. With Bicol being primarily targeted in said memorandum through the additional deployment of military forces and the return of the notorious 49th and 42nd Infantry Battallions, this entails an intensified attack and graver abuse against media and press from the region, adding to the long list of fascist crimes committed by the 9th Infantry Division against press people. This includes information-twisting, installation of assets in media stations, and worse, actual threat, harassment and direct assault against media and press workers.
Bicolanos have yet to exact justice over the many fascist crimes committed by the 49th Infantry Battallion of the Philippine Army. In an act of sheer contemptuousness, they have even used media as an institution to further their abhorrent acts. On August 2010, a fifteen-year old girl was raped seven times by PFC Hamandre Flores, a military from 49th IB and an anchorman of Radio PADABA. According to the victim’s mother, they have come to seek help from Flores, an Isabela native, in order to find the victim’s uncle, who also molested the victim and was then hiding somewhere in Isabela. As a result of a fact-finding mission initiated and joined by people from the media and press, charges were filed against PFC Flores and six other troops from the 49th IB.
Amidst all of these, media and press were not silenced. With the recent arm-twisting of the state’s reactionary forces, journalist and broadcasters alike are joining the massive surge of protests, campaign and demonstrations aimed at condemning the US-Duterte for its anti-people policies. Recently, the National Union of Journalists in the Philippines initiated a campaign to deter PNP’s attempt to force media to be part of the police’s desperate effort to repair its already disparaged reputation amidst the growing anger of the people against the regime’s war on drugs.
With the looming intensification of military operations and the dawning of a fascist dictatorship under the US-Duterte regime, ARMAS-Bikol calls all media and press people, cultural workers, writers and the intelligentsia, to oppose MO32 and other militarist and fascist measures by the regime aimed at totally suppressing the very democratic rights we have long upheld and fought for. Now more than ever is the time to solidify our ranks and stand with the people in its continuing and determined fight for social and economic justice.
Ka Ma Roja Banua