That we may not forget:

The Escalante Massacre of Sept. 20, 1985


Posted: September 20, 2010


■   Juvelyn Jarabelo: Portrait of an Escalante Martyr


■   Reenactment of the Escalante Massacre, Sept. 20, 2010


■   Tula ni Nonilon Queano: Tatlong Yugto ng Pagibg




Quick Facts on the Escalante Massacre (“Bloody Thursday”)

Dead:            20
Wounded:     30

Military: 50 combat-ready Regional Special Action Forces (RSAF), plus local policemen, members of the Civilian Home Defense Force (CHDF), and unidentified armed civilians



Three low-rank policemen who were put behind bars later for their role in the massacre were released on parole last year. A ranking police officer in command of the RSAF unit was reportedly redeployed in other provinces and was recently promoted to the rank of senior superintendent. No local officials and other dignitaries present in the Bloody Thursday of September 1985 were ever summoned for investigation or trial.

In 1987: the Mendiola massacre with 17 people dead, scores wounded


In 2006: the Hacineda Luisita masssacre, with 7 d ead, scores woundec


Not a single victim or relative has been given justice or indemnified in thse massacres.


And the extrajudicial killings continue.



Stills from the video by MALEQC



19 Years After ‘Bloody Thursday,’ Terror Still Stalks Escalante

1985 was the year before strongman Ferdinand Marcos, who had ruled the country for 19 years, was toppled in February 1986. Nineteen years later, not a single victim - or their relatives – of the Escalante Massacre, also known as “Bloody Thursday,” has been given justice or indemnified.

By Karl G. Ombion 

On the mid-afternoon of Sept. 20, 1985, tensions were high at the Escalante public plaza just 50 meters across the town hall as thousands of sugar workers, farmers, fisherfolk, students, urban poor, professionals and church people, carrying placards, some bamboo sticks, and chanting anti-government slogans were staging a protest in commemoration of the 13th anniversary of martial law. The protesters were tightly encircled by some 50 combat-ready Regional Special Action Forces (RSAF), plus local policemen, members of the Civilian Home Defense Force (CHDF), and unidentified armed civilians.

Minutes after the town mayor Braulio Lumayno, with former congressman Armando Gustilo and their armed bodyguards left the town hall, a volley of gunfire from automatic rifles and a caliber .60 machinegun suddenly burst. A few minutes after, the streets were littered with blood and scores of terrified protesters were moaning as they lay on the ground.

The shooting claimed 20 lives – their bodies found sprawled at the rally site and in nearby sugarcane fields. Thirty others lay wounded. A bank, concrete walls, and some houses in front of the town hall had bullet holes.

1985 was the year before strongman Ferdinand Marcos, who had ruled the country for 19 years, was toppled in February 1986. Nineteen years later, not a single victim or the surviving kin of “Escam” (short for Escalante Massacre, also known as “Bloody Thursday”) has been indemnified.

Three low-rank policemen who were put behind bars later for their role in the massacre were released on parole last year. A ranking police officer in command of the RSAF unit was reportedly redeployed in other provinces and was recently promoted to the rank of senior superintendent. No local officials and other dignitaries present in the Bloody Thursday of September 1985 were ever summoned for investigation or trial.

Scenic and stagnant

Escalante is a small city in the northern tip of Negros, or 95 kms from Bacolod City. The town is popularly divided into the “old poblacion,” the coastal side of the city, where it used to host the seat of power. Local legend goes that the old poblacion was originally known as "Manlambus," a Visayan word meaning "to strike with a club" because its coastal waters were then teeming with fishes that catching them could be done simply by clubbing. The new poblacion, known as “Balintawak,” is the mainland side, made up mainly of sugar haciendas, and some small coconut and corn farms on the hilly portion.

Escalante became a city in February 2001, after 143 years as a town. Hosting some 80,000 Cebuano- and Ilonggo-speaking people, it faces the island province of Cebu and most parts of the Cebuano-speaking Negros Oriental.

Apart from its scenery, the other side of Escalante is a portrait of poverty and stagnant economy. Huge mansions of hacienda landowners are ringed by workers barracks and shanties. Small and decrepit makeshift huts appear like small canopies on hill farms and coastal villages.

Sugar is still the No. 1 contributor to the city’s treasury.  Sixty percent of the city’s population relies on sugar farms as their source of income while the rest especially those in the old poblacion depend on fishing. A small section of the population depends on “remedyo heneral” – doing odd jobs for daily survival - and small merchant trading.

Social injustice

Only a few families control most of the sugar farms, other rich agricultural lands and the scenic beaches of the city. Leading them are the Barcelonas, one of whose members – Santiago Barcelona - is now the city’s mayor; the Ballesteros, Javelosa, Yanson, Flores, Ponsica, Yap, Tolentino, Osmeńa, Lizares, Montalvo, Alimani, Consing, Carol, Zamora, Lumayno, Benignos and Tan. These names have also dominated the city’s politics for decades.

In the 1960s-1970s, widespread labor problems, landgrabbings and killings forced sugar workers to organize. Backed by progressive diocesan clerics and a group of foreign missionaries assigned in Escalante inspired then by the opening of the church after Vatican II, organizations of sugar workers emerged rapidly, networks and groups from other sectors sprouted and lent support to the poor. The social protest movement – a by-product of the First Quarter Storm – took shape to challenge the landlords’ rule.

Inevitably in the late 1970s – or the early part of martial rule - until “Escam,” Escalante was one of the heavily-militarized towns in the Negros region, with a regular army battalion and company-size RSAF based around the city, and reinforced by the several hundreds CHDFs (now known as the Citizens Armed Force Geographical Unit or Cafgu) and private armed goons.

“Virtually, every barangay (village) had a detachment,” said a farmer in the old poblacion.

Sugar workers and church activists narrated to Bulatlat that in countless occasions prior to and after the “Escam,” private armed goons, accompanied by regular army and CHDFs, “roamed the haciendas and barangays in full battle gear in broad day light.” It was like “wild, wild west,” said one.  

Escalante then was always on the news headline - of children dying of acute malnutrition, cases of rampant landgrabbing, landlords’ armed goons killing farmers, burning of villages, summary executions, rapes, and many other cases of serious human rights violations. 

Still in a climate of terror

One of the massacre survivors, Toto Patuigas, now 57, who is also currently secretary general of the Northern Negros Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (NNAHRA), an affiliate of Karapatan, told Bulatlat that Escalante is the same Escalante he saw 19 years ago. The vast tracts of lands, beaches and sugar farms, he said, are still in the hands of the same old families. The same people enjoy the spoils of patronage political governance.

Although roads are better now, more beaches have mushroomed, new ports are being built, new businesses have opened, these have benefited only the landed elite and a few segments of the middle class, Patuigas said. In fact, most of these projects that the government of Mayor Santiago Barcelona touts, have been built at the expense of the poor people.

Patuigas mentioned how the Yansons, transportation giant owners of the Vallacar bus transit – which plies Visayas and Mindanao - opened a 14-hectare port in Barangay Washington, Old Poblacion, The port now threatens to dislocate more than 2,000 fishing and farming households.

He also slammed the Habitat housing projects in several barangays in the city, because “they result in land use conversion, and raises the price of lands.” “Worse, those who cannot afford its higher costs, are ultimately dislocated,” he added.

Pablito Plaza, a Pamalakaya leader-organizer in northern Negros, also hit the “destructive development programs” of the city, because, so he said, they both terrorize and dislocate the poor fisherfolk and peasants.

He cited the case of Jomabo island beach resort, some 10 kms off old poblacion, owned by a certain Jose Montalvo from Bacolod. He said, the city mayor granted Montalvo a permit to operate without any environmental clearance from the DENR and public hearings. Now, he added, the resort is practically privatized, and the fishing families can no longer fish around the island resort, or could seek refuge whenever they are caught by bad weather at sea.

Paramilitary groups

Patuigas said that there are less army and RMG detachments in the city, but this did not diminish the climate of terror. More visible today, he said, are members of the paramilitary Revolutionary Proletarian Army-Alex Boncayao Brigade (RPA-ABB), CAFGUs, and several armed citizens groups like the Guardians, GUTS and the Bantay Escalante Movement for Peace and Development.

The groups, he said, operate with orders from the city mayor to conduct surveillance and peace keeping operations in the barangays.

In 2000, Tay Pedro Trabajador, a local NFSW leader was shot allegedly by members of the RPA-ABB. Patuigas and Pablito themselves together with several other members and organizers of NFSW, Pamalakaya, and even local church workers, have experienced cases of harassment and intimidation from these groups.

Will another “Escam” happen in Negros? Patuigas said that the “Escam” - whether big or small - is bound to occur in Escalante because “the socio-economic conditions and the political structures remain the same.”

What the massacre survivors want, he said, is not only indemnification, but genuine social justice, lands, jobs, wages, housing, services, not only for the victims of the massacre but all those who have been victimized by state policies and programs.

On Sept. 20, NNAHRA, Karapatan and their allied organizations will commemorate the 19th “Escam” and martial law declaration by staging a cultural reenactment of the massacre in Escalante. Coordinated protest actions will be held on Sept. 21 in Escalante, Bacolod City, Guihulngan and Dumaguete City in Negros Oriental. Bulatlat





▲ The dead ▼

Negros Daily Bulletin


Negros Daily Bulletin


Negros Daily Bulletin



2 suspects in Escalante massacre nabbed -, Philippine ...

2 suspects in Escalante massacre nabbed. By Nancy C. Carvajal Philippine Daily Inquirer First Posted 09:30:00 11/08/2008 ...




Escalante Massacre Remembered,

Militants Say ‘De Facto Martial Rule’ Exists

Published on April 13, 2010


Protesters commemorated the massacre of 20 activists and wounding of tens of others in Escalate town during Martial Law. Twenty-one years after the massacre, the military perpetrators in the killing remain unpunished, while the massacre survivors and the families of those killed are yet to be indemnified.



BACOLOD City – While Sept. 21 was marked by protests in different parts of the country and of the world to commemorate the declaration of Martial Law, in Escalante City, the protest was particularly significant as it also commemorated the killing of 20 activists in what was called “Escalante massacre” 21 years ago.


Escalante City, some 96 kms. north of this city, was where around 1,000 massacre survivors, victims’ families, friends and activists gathered to remember those who fell in the carnage, also called “Bloody Thursday.”


In mid-afternoon on Sept. 20, 1985, tensions were high at the Escalante public plaza just 50 meters across the town hall as thousands of sugar workers, farmers, fisherfolk, students, urban poor, professionals and church people, carrying placards, some bamboo sticks, and chanting anti-government slogans were staging a protest in commemoration of the 13th anniversary of martial law.


The protesters were tightly encircled by some 50 combat-ready Regional Special Action Forces (RSAF), plus local policemen, members of the Civilian Home Defense Force (CHDF), and unidentified armed civilians.


Minutes after town mayor Braulio Lumayno, with former congressman Armando Gustilo and their armed bodyguards left the town hall, a volley of gunfire from automatic rifles and a caliber .60 machine gun suddenly burst. A few minutes after, the streets were littered with blood and scores of terrified protesters were moaning as they lay on the ground.


The shooting claimed 20 lives – their bodies found sprawled at the rally site and in nearby sugarcane fields. Thirty others lay wounded. A bank, concrete walls, and some houses in front of the town hall were peppered with bullet holes.


Three low-ranking policemen were later jailed for their role in the massacre, but were released on parole in 2002. A ranking police officer in command of the RSAF unit was reportedly redeployed in other provinces and was recently promoted to the rank of senior superintendent.

No local officials and other dignitaries present in the “Bloody Thursday” of September 1985 were ever summoned for investigation or trial.


Fred Cana, National Council member of Karapatan (Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights), said that 21 years after, not a single victim – nor any of their relatives – of the Escalante Massacre, also known as “Bloody Thursday,” has been given justice or indemnified.



Cana said that their commemorative protest action aimed not only to draw the public attention to the continuing cry for justice of the victims’ families, but above all, to warn them that the conditions that led to the tragedy remain basically unchanged, if not worse.


Twenty one years after, there have been more political killings, massacres, salvaging, mass dislocations caused by the state’s oppressive and repressive policies and programs, said Cana.

He added that the worse turn came from the time Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was catapulted by people power to the presidential post, to the present. “She is not only an embodiment of Marcosism without Marcos, but a worst reincarnation of Marcos open fascist rule,” he added.

Worse than Marcos


At the Sept. 21 protest rally at the Bacolod public plaza, Felipe Gelle, secretary general of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan or New Patriotic Alliance)-Negros said, “We are under a de facto martial rule even if government insists that democracy reigns in this country.”


Gelle told Bulatlat that this is shown by the widespread extra-judicial killings of left activists, the stifling of the voice of dissent of the critics of administration, the accommodation of retired generals in key civilian posts, the strengthening of GMA’s cronies and their control of economies, the stepped up militarization in the rural areas, the intensification of assaults on the economic rights of workers and farmers.


In many ways, Gelle said, GMA is worse than Marcos. “What Marcos did in terms of political killings and dictatorial rule in more than 20 years, GMA achieved only in four to five years, and her crimes against the Filipino people continue,” he said.


Gelle said that the democracy that government claims is nominal and bogus; it is “a mere cover up for its puppetry, dictatorship and fascism.”


“This government has not only failed in heeding the lessons of the past, but trampled the rights of the people, and bungled most opportunities along the way for our people and nation to grow and develop,” he added.


Gelle however stressed that the people are not cowed, and instead will continue to muster the necessary strength despite all the hardships and repression, to put an end to this hated regime ruling by the sword of terror.


“Certainly, GMA and her fascist clique will suffer the same fate that befell Marcos,” he concluded. (



▼ Injured and wounded ▼




Message of Solidarity to the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas on the occasion of its 25thfounding anniversary
(English Translation of Pilipino Original)

By Prof. Jose Maria Sison
Chief Political Consultant
NDFP Panel Negotiating with the GRP
24 July 2010


Wholeheartedly I am in solidarity with the leadership, membership and the supporters of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (Peasant Movement of the Philippines-KMP) in celebrating its 25th founding anniversary. It is important for the entire nation that we celebrate the continuous struggle of the peasant movement for genuine land reform, to honor the peasant martyrs who have sacrificed their lives and to strengthen the spirit and movement of the leaders and members for justice and freedom through land reform against the semicolonial and semifeudal ruling system.I consider as a great honor that in July 1985 I was able to give a message of solidarity to the first national congress of the KMP despite the fact that I was still detained in Fort Bonifacio. I am even more greatly honored by giving again a message of solidarity now because of the many victories that you have harvested in the last 25 years of struggle and sacrifices for advancing the peasant movement and land reform and the general struggle of the people for national liberation and democracy against imperialism, feudalism and bureaucrat capitalism.


It is commendable that KMP has a high level of political consciousness and has won significant victories, mainly in asserting the rights of the peasants over the land that they till. I salute you for the continuous expansion and consolidation of your organization at various levels. I admire the KMP for having 65 provincial chapters and 15 regional chapters in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.


Your struggle against the policies dictated by US imperialism and carried out by the Arroyo puppet regime is astounding. You have opposed the policy of neoliberal globalization, especially its laying aside of land reform, destruction of food production for the people and the bargaining away of land and natural resources to foreign corporations. You condemned the policy of imperialist aggression and state terrorism masquerading as war against terrorism. And you have vigorously opposed the real terrorism of Oplan Bantay Laya and the intervention of US military forces under the Visiting Forces Agreement.


KMP has courageously fought the laws, policies and programs that aggravate the exploitation and oppression perpetrated by the by the landlord class and foreign corporations. You have intensified your resistance in response to the assassinations, massacres, torture, unwarranted arrests and detention and the displacement of the peasants from their homes and land. You have effectively fought not only the barefaced enemy but also the special agents who sneaked into the KMP and whipped up factionalism.


It is gratifying that the Alyansa ng Magbubukid ng Gitnang Luson (AGML) and the Asembliya ng mga Manggagawang Bukid have prepared your gathering inside Hacienda Luisita. Several times I stayed in some barrios there in the years of 1968 to 1972. This was the period of building the new Communist Part of the Philippines and the New People’s Army in the province of Tarlac. This was also the period of organizing the Pagkakaisa ng mga Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (PMP).

It is meaningful that a thousand representatives of the regional and provincial chapters of KMP are now gathered inside Hacienda Luisita in order to hold a celebration with the theme: Twenty Five Years of Persevering Struggle for Land, Justice and Freedom. You are proving that the peasant movement is firm and militant and is advancing despite cruel acts of suppression by the landlords.


In this hacienda, in 2004 and 2005 events burst out to call the attention of the people in our country and in the whole world about the exploitation and swindling of the peasants by the landlord class, the just and courageous struggle of the peasants and the massacre and subsequent killings that were the collaborative work of the Cojuangco-Aquino family and the Arroyo regime.

Now that Noynoy Cojuangco-Aquino is the president of the reactionary government, the power of the state and the instruments of violence and deception are now directly in his hands. During the electoral campaign, Aquino said that he would continue the stock distribution option swindle under the CARPer. His family continues to frustrate land reform through corporate tricks and other cruel and deceptive tactics.


At any rate, you are prepared to fight for land reform, justice and freedom. In the face of so great a challenge, it is necessary for you to raise the level of your political consciousness, accelerate the strengthening of your organisation and engage in mobilization to advance the cause for land reform and use the campaigns to raise fighting consciousness and organizational capability.

Like the Arroyo regime, the Aquino regime is a running dog of US imperialism. Aquino is now the chief representative of the pro-imperialist classes of big compradors and landlords. He is continuing the evil policies dictated by the US and carried out by Arroyo. Rabid implementers of the policies of neoliberalism and terrorism who were previous adjutants of Arroyo are now the adjutants of Aquino in betraying the Filipino people and violating national and democratic rights and interests.


During the Aquino regime, the problems of landlessness, poverty and hunger will become graver. Aquino has no interest in land reform and national industrialization. The bloody suppression of the people will escalate. Even as the economic crisis is grave, the reactionary government bankrupt and resources for social services scarce, Aquino stated in his inaugural address that he would give the military and police what they ask for. He indicated that he would double the strength of the military and police because the population had doubled since the time of Marcos.


In his first military command conference, he ordered the military to give priority to so-called counterinsurgency or in fact state terrorism. Thus, the criminal officers and armed personnel of the state continue to engage in gross and systematic human rights violations with impunity. The Aquino regime is subservient to the US-dictated policy of counter-insurgency or terrorism. Most important in this policy is the strengthening of the reactionary military and the pretenses of the reactionary government at clean and efficient governance, delivery of social services, wishes for economic development and other types and methods of deception.


The pretended wish of the counterrevolutionary state for peace negotiations is supposed to be a mere minor thing. Aquino has already declared that the priority of the military is counterinsurgency so-called. Defense secretary Gazmin has said that the revolutionary forces must surrender and thus peace negotiations are not needed. Chief of staff General David has also said without qualifications that the plan of the military and government is to decimate the revolutionary forces in three years’ time. The warning and challenge to the Filipino people and revolutionary forces are extremely emphatic.


It is clear that like the Arroyo regime the Aquino regime wants to destroy the revolutionary movement of the Filipino people and perpetuate the rotten ruling system of the big compradors and landlords under US imperialism. On the other hand, we see that the people and the revolutionary forces are well-prepared to fight the escalation of exploitation and oppression as a result of the worsening of the crisis of the domestic ruling system and the world capitalist system. The revolutionary forces have declared their resolve to raise the people’s war along the line of new democratic revolution from the strategic defensive to the strategic stalemate in the next five years.


As a legal mass organization with its integrity, the KMP must raise the national and democratic consciousness of the peasant masses and must promptly and earnestly face up to the many issues churned out by the crisis at the global, national and local levels. The recruitment of members must be accelerated and brought to the level of millions. The members must be recruited and local chapters must be formed (where there are yet none) through meetings to explain the constitution and program of KMP. The campaigns should be availed of by the organized masses to persuade the unorganized masses to become members of the KMP and become a firm part of the peasant movement.


I am certain that through the simultaneous celebrations of the 25th founding anniversary of the KMP at the national, regional, provincial and barangay levels you will be able to raise further the fighting consciousness for the rights and interests of the peasants, you will be able to put forward proposals and plans regarding education, organization and mobilization and you will be able to expand support from various sectors in the countryside, in the entire country and the world.#



According to Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, the venue for the gathering of 1000 representatives of its regional and provincial chapters on July 24 has been transfered from Barangay Balite of Hacienda Luisita to another venue because of the objection of the barrio captain and the threatening presence of the military. Indeed, Noynoy Aquino looks after the self-interest of his family in Hacienda Luisita.


The readers of Arkibong Bayan are invited to click:  This is the authorized website of Prof. Jose Maria Sison.  It has been recently restructured and improved by its editors.  Thank you for your attention.


Rally before the shooting



By Prof. Jose Maria Sison
International League of Peoples’ Struggle
31 October 2009

I thank the International Committee Against Disappearances, IBON Europe and the Filipino Refugees in the Netherlands for inviting me to give a brief background on the politics of repression in the Philippines.

It is an honor and privilege for me to speak on the same occasion with Edith Burgos and Jayel Burgos, whose beloved Jonas Burgos has been a victim of forced disappearance by the military forces of the Arroyo regime.

I have always admired the late Jose Burgos and his entire family for their high sense of patriotism and devotion to democracy. I am happy to provide the general historical, socio-economic and political background to Edith’s presentation of the current human rights situation in the Philippines and Jayel’s of the Free Jonas Movement.

History of Repression and Exploitation in the Philippines

The Filipino people have long suffered a history of repression and exploitation. They went through more than three centuries of colonial rule by Spain, from the 16th to the 19th century. After they won national independence in 1898, the US unleashed an imperialist war of aggression to conquer the Philippines. It imposed a new colonial rule and laid out a semifeudal economy. In 1946 it established a puppet state to rule the current semicolonial and semifeudal ruling system.

Those who have wielded political power in several stages of Philippines history have repressed the Filipino people not merely for the pleasure of intimidating, imprisoning, torturing and killing people but for such coldblooded reasons as the accumulation of private wealth through exploitation and all the social and cultural gratifications that wealth brings.

Spanish colonialism reached the Philippines initially in search of gold and spices. It was on a long term pursuit of sheer plunder upon the impulse of European mercantile capitalism. In addition to the dispossession and proletarianization of the peasants of Europe, colonialism was a major method of the primitive accumulation of capital. The Spanish colonizers employed divide and rule tactics and repressed the Filipino people in order to maintain a colonial and feudal system.

The most brutal forms of suppression were applied on the people who opposed the system or any its aspects. Even when blood was not being shed, exploitation was a daily and more widespread form of violence to people who were required to render forced labor, pay feudal rent and give religious tribute. Ultimately, the Filipino people developed a national consciousness and a revolutionary unity of purpose, fought for national independence and won the first bourgeois democratic revolution of the old type in the whole of Asia.

Unfortunately, the US intervened and launched a war of aggression against the Filipino people. It killed 1.5 million Filipinos from 1899 to 1913 in order to impose a colonial and semifeudal system on the Philippines. The new colonial system of US monopoly capitalism involved a method of exploitation in which direct and indirect investments were made by US banks and corporations on a limited number of modern enterprises in order to facilitate the export of raw materials and the extraction of superprofits.

In the entire period of direct colonial rule, the US adopted and implemented repressive policies against the growing working class, against the peasant masses who demanded land reform and against the entire Filipino people who clamored for genuine, immediate and full independence. The US imperialists and their local reactionary allies became more repressive as the Communist Party, the revolutionary party of the working classes, emerged in 1930 and challenged the ruling system.

Another imperialist power, that of Japan, took over the Philippines from 1942 to 1945 and exacted a toll of one million deaths on the Filipinos in barbarous acts of repression. At the same time, the conditions of World War II and the Japanese occupation gave rise to the armed revolutionary movement of the people led by the merger party of the Communist and Socialist parties in certain regions.

In reconquering the Philippines from Japan, the US wrought heavy destruction on Filipino lives and property. Soon after landing troops on Philippine soil in late 1944, it sought to destroy the revolutionary forces of the people that had run ahead in liberating Central Luzon. At any rate, the revolutionary forces and people held on to their arms and demanded national liberation and democracy for the Philippines.

Repression Under the Semicolonial and Semifeudal System

The US granted a bogus kind of independence to the Philippines and established a puppet state in 1946. Since then, the Philippines has been a semicolonial and semifeudal country. The US conceded to the politicians and bureaucrats of the big compradors and landlords the responsibility for national administration. But it retained its dominant economic and military power as well as political and cultural sway through unequal treaties, agreements and arrangements.

The US has continued to rule the Philippines but this time indirectly through the local reactionary classes. Factions of the political representatives of these classes have taken turns in administering the puppet republic at first through the duopoly of the Liberal and Nacionalista parties from 1945 to 1972, then through the monopoly of political power by the fascist party, Kilusang Bagong Lipunan, from 1972 to 1986 and currently through the multiplicity of reactionary parties and coalitions.

Whichever of these parties has taken the reins of national administration, it has been subservient to the interests of US monopoly capitalism and the local exploiting classes. It goes to any length to repress the patriotic and progressive forces and mass movement of the people for national liberation and democracy. It collaborates closely with the US in undertaking repression.

The US has the biggest interest and the most decisive say in the policy-making and planning of repression in the Philippines. It provides indoctrination, strategic direction, officer training and military equipment to the apparatuses of repression. The military and police forces are beholden to the US. Up to 1992, they were controlled by the US military forces in huge US military bases that existed in the Philippines.

Even after their military bases were dismantled in 1992, the US military forces have continued to control the forces of repression in the Philippines. They have done so from their military bases in Japan, South Korea, Guam and Australia. They cover the Philippines with satellites, air patrols and naval patrols. They control the Philippine radar and sonar system. They have military stations in Philippine military camps as well as advisors, trainors, assets and units embedded in Philippine military and police offices and units.

The US used the regimes of Roxas, Quirino and Magsaysay to attack and destroy the revolutionary forces of the Filipino people within the period of 1946 to 1957. The backbone of the armed revolutionary movement was strategically broken in the years of 1950 to 1952, with more than 10,000 mass activists and cadres tortured and murdered by the military. As this movement subsided, the US and the local reactionaries became even more repressive and enacted the Anti-Subversion Law in 1957 in order to destroy any remnant, extension or successor of the old merger party of the Communist and Socialist parties.

However, the chronic crisis of the Philippine ruling system continued to worsen during the regimes of Garcia, Macapagal and Marcos within the period of 1957 to the end of the 1960s. The proletarian revolutionaries revived the anti-imperialist and anti-feudal mass movement among the workers, peasants and the youth. The puppet regimes tried to suppress the mass movement. Instead, this grew in strength and led to the founding of the new Communist Party of the Philippines in 1968 and the New People’s Army in 1969.

Under the instigation of the US, the Marcos regime decided to declare martial law and impose a fascist dictatorship on the Philippines in 1972 in the vain hope of destroying the CPP and NPA. In fourteen years from 1972 to 1986, the military and police arbitrarily arrested and detained hundreds of thousands of people, tortured more than a hundred thousand, murdered tens of thousands of people and displaced more than 5 million people.

In the human rights case against Marcos in the US court system, nearly 10,000 cases of disappearances, torture and extrajudicial killings were documented and proven. But justice and indemnification for the victims of human rights violations have been elusive in the Philippines. Not a single military or police officer has been punished for any of the human rights violations.

The US and the local reactionaries have maintained the system of impunity for the perpetrators of repression, from the level of Marcos to the master sergeant in the army. They decided in 1986 to drop Marcos and stop the blatant autocracy only because he had failed to suppress the revolutionary movement and also because he put the entire system at risk by having his political rival Aquino assassinated in 1983.

Further, they made sure that the post-Marcos regimes would continue the repression of the Filipino people even without martial law in order to maintain the system of exploitation by the multinational banks and firms and the local big compradors and landlords. The apparatuses of repression and their officers remained intact and continued to engage in human rights violations against the people, the legal democratic forces and the revolutionary forces.

The widow of Aquino became the president and put up a liberal democratic facade to her reactionary regime. After consolidating her ruling position and pretending to seek a peace agreement with the revolutionary movement, she unsheathed the sword of war and repression under Oplan Lambat Bitag and under the US-dictated doctrine of low intensity conflict against the revolutionary forces and the people. The subsequent regimes of Ramos, Estrada and Arroyo would have their respective national operational plans and also seek to suppress the revolutionary movement despite short periods of lip service to the need for peace negotiations.

What we are confronted with today in the Philippines under the Arroyo regime is state terrorism under Oplan Bantay Laya inspired by the US global war of terror and backed up by increased US military supplies and by the permanent deployment of US interventionist troops under the Visiting Forces Agreement. The US and the local reactionaries in the Philippines make the pretense of combating terrorism but they are in fact the ones perpetrating terrorism through the gross and systematic violation of human rights.

Oplan Bantay Laya has involved 1,093 documented cases of extrajudicial killings, 209 of forced disappearances, hundreds of those detained on trumped up charges, more than a thousand victims of torture, and hundreds of thousands of victims of forced evacuation. The reactionary military forces are escalating their gross and systematic violation of human rights as they follow the impossible order of the Arroyo regime to destroy or reduce the armed revolutionary movement to inconsequentiality before June 2010.

The Arroyo regime has become notorious throughout the world for the abduction, torture and extrajudicial killing of unarmed social activists, including workers, peasants, women, youth, priests and pastors, human rights advocates and journalists. The violators of human rights set up their victims by making false charges of terrorism, rebellion and murder and putting them on the list of the enemies of the state or the order of battle. Then the abductions, torture and extrajudicial killings follow.

Still further the psywar machinery of the reactionary armed forces spreads lies that the victims have committed offenses against the revolutionary movement and have therefore been victimized by their own comrades. The level of criminal cunning and malice of the perpetrators of human rights violations under the Arroyo regime surpasses that under the Marcos fascist dictatorship.

Further Repression in Prospect and Need for International Solidarity

The current crisis of the world capitalist system is the worst since the Great Depression, It will continue to worsen in the years to come because the imperialist powers are not solving it but are aggravating it by using public money to bail out the big banks and corporations and raise profits on their balance sheets and not to revive the economy and increase employment. The imperialist powers and their puppets are promoting chauvinism, racism and fascism and are increasingly using state repression and unleashing wars of aggression in order to overcome the resistance of peoples and national liberation movements.

The crisis of the Philippine ruling system will continue to worsen due to its internal weaknesses and the global economic crisis. For decades, the US-directed policy of neoliberal globalization has further aggravated and deepened the underdeveloped pre-industrial and agrarian character of the Philippine economy. The demand for Philippine raw-material and semi-manufactured exports has gone down. Debt service is increasing and yet new credit is decreasing.

Social discontent is widespread and intense among the toiling masses of workers and peasants and the middle social stratra due to the rising mass unemployment, the sinking real incomes, the soaring prices of basic commodities and services, the growing tax burden, the lack or inadequacy of social services and other socio-economic problems. The rulers in the Philippines do not solve these problems but increasingly unleash violence to suppress the people’s protests and demands for respect for their rights and improvement of their social conditions.

The US and the local reactionaries are shifting the burden of crisis to the working people. As they exploit the people more, they repress the people more as they seek to preempt or stop resistance. The broad masses of the Filipino people are capable of fighting for their rights and interests. But they also need the solidarity and support of the people of the world to fight the imperialist powers most effectively.###


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by Nonilon Queano

September 28, 2010


(Sa alaala ni Kasamang Aileen)


Una, kailangang ikampay ang isip nating
Nagmahal nang wagas
Sa imperyong kalawakan,
Tulad ng bulalakaw,
Gumuhit ng liwanag sa gaano man kapusikit na dilim,
Upang puso'y bolang apoy na itanim sa gubat,
O kung saan ang sinta'y napapadpad,
Tumutubo lamang ang pag-ibig sa liwanag.

Ikalawa, ang pagkilos na lagi'y buhay sa loob,
Pagmumulat sa masa
Ukol sa imperyalismong sanhi ng hirap at inhustisya
Kahit saang mundo,
Kahit saang kalawakan,
Gaano man katagal,
Pagbuwag sa tinging metapisikal
Na nagsabing lahat ng hirap, dusa't kamangmangan
Ay tadhana ng Diyos sa langit,



Kahit malinaw na ang Diyos ay negosyanteng
Humakot ng yaman sa pangungulimbat
Sa minahan, pananiman, patahian, paminggalan
Nating nagdasal, sumimba, siniphayo, sinalanta
Sa kahangalang ipinakalat nila --
Lulan ng lagim ng giyerang kanilang dala-dala saanman --
Na mapalad ang mahirap at nagugutom
Dahil pagpapalain sa kabilang buhay.
Ang bulalakaw na isip lamang ang nakakagagap nito:
Na lahat ng panlilinlang ay pakana ng imperyalista.

Ikatlo, ang pag-aarmas,
Dahil walang tatapos sa salot ng imperyalismo
Kundi rebolusyon.
Tatawagin natin itong pagmamahal nang wagas,
Mula sa pusong nagliliyab,
Pagkaraang payabungin ang kamalayan ng masa,
Ang pag-aalsa,
Pagkaraang pamukadkarin ang pag-ibig sa laya,
Ang digmang bayan na pinanday tuwina
Ng awit, pananalig, at pangarap
Gaano man kapanganib, kalayo, katagal,
Ganoon magmahal nang wagas,
Guguhit ng apoy at liwanag sa kalawakan at gubat,
Yayabong ang pag-ibig,
Tulad n g pag-aalsa.
Wala namang halaga ang buhay kung hindi magmahal,
At paano ba kaya magmahal kung hindi nga wagas.



Marking the anniversary of the Escalante massacre with candle-lighting and reenactment by NNAHRA and Karapatan

Sept. 20, 2010

Photos courtesy of PCPR/LitoS




By Prof. Jose Maria Sison
International League of Peoples’ Struggle
27 November 2009

The International Coordinating Committee and all member-organizations of the International League of Peoples’ Struggle condemn with all their moral conviction and strength the monstrous massacre of at least 57 people, including many women and children, 29 journalists and two human rights lawyers, in Ampatuan, Maguindanao last 23 November 2009.

The abominable crime against humanity was perpetrated by the private army of the Ampatuan ruling clan in collaboration with units of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Philippine Army (PA). The private army consists of armed units designated as Civilian Armed Force Geographical Units (CAFGU) and Civilian Volunteers Organization (CVO), subsidized by public funds and operating as auxiliary paramilitary units of the PNP and PA.

The Ampatuans are governors of both Maguindanao and the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM and include a cabinet undersecretary, congressmen and several town mayors . They have maintained their dominant warlord status because they are aligned with the Arroyo regime and have delivered to it large numbers of fraudulent votes in the 2004 and 2007 reactionary elections. Thus, they are allowed to oppress and exploit the people and crush with armed force any opposition.

But it is not enough to see only the relationship of the Arroyo ruling clique and the Ampatuan ruling clan in Maguindanao or even the rotten and violent character of the entire oppressive ruling system in the Philippines. The official designation and government financing of the Ampatuan private army as CVO and CAFGU paramilitary auxiliaries of the PNP and PA are in line with the national internal security plan called Oplan Bantay Laya. This has been designed and directed by the US under its global war of terror policy.

The structure of reactionary violence and human rights violations in the Philippines has several levels, including those of the US, the puppet Manila-based government and the local tyrants like the Ampatuans. The US has been the most culpable for whipping up state terrorism and vigilantism by local tyrants and by army and police commanders under the pretext of combating communists and Muslims who are unjustly labeled as terrorists.

The US is the imperialist master that has dictated upon the Arroyo regime to adopt and implement Oplan Bantay Laya and use the regular armed forces, the police and the paramilitary forces of the Ampatuan type to suppress the national and democratic rights of the people. Along the way, the puppets use their armed power to intimidate and kill their intrasystemic political rivals.

The US has provided the doctrine of warfare against the people and supplied the military equipment and training and other wherewithals of the reign of terror. It has embedded advisors, trainors and operatives within the reactionary armed forces and has deployed its own units in Mindanao and elsewhere to ensure puppet obedience to its imperialist dictates.

Together with the Manila-based puppet government, local tyrants like the Ampatuans and all their military, police and paramilitary minions, the US is culpable and condemnable for pushing state terrorism and the gross and systematic human rights violations and emboldening the human rights violators to commit their crimes with impunity under the pretext of combating terrorism. ###


In a land that is familiar to violence by foreign aggressors and local tyrants, the recent massacre of at least 57 people in Ampatuan municipality, Maguindanao Province, Philippines still managed to shock and outrage the Filipino people as well as the rest of the world.

A convoy of journalists, lawyers and women relatives of Esmael Mangudadatu, a local politician contesting the governorship of Maguindanao Province, were en route to file registration papers for the May 2010 elections on the morning of November 23, 2009 when they were abducted and executed by over 100 gunmen. Twenty-four of the victims were women, some of whose bodies were later found mutilated. At least 28 journalists were also killed in the attack which the Reporters without Borders described as the worst loss of life in the history of journalism.

The perpetrators were allegedly led by Andal Ampatuan Jr., the Mayor of a nearby town and son of the incumbent Governor of Maguindanao, who was being groomed to take over his father’s position. He was assisted by senior police officials, local police and paramilitary forces who function as a private army of the Ampatuan clan. A backhoe registered to the provincial government was even on hand to bury the victims in pre-dug common graves.

Clearly the Ampatuans consider themselves untouchable because of their loyal ties to the incumbent President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo who has deliberately created a climate of impunity for human rights violators and mass murderers in the Philippines. Since her ascent to power in 2001, over 800 extra-judicial killings have been committed in the country, including 51 incidents of massacres victimizing a total of 255 persons. Not one has been punished for these vilest of crimes.

In the case of the Ampatuan massacre, it took four days before the principal suspect was taken into custody and only after intense public outcry for justice. The Arroyo government’s initial response was to declare a state of emergency in the province which would be enforced, of course, by the local state apparatus controlled by the Ampatuans.

The Ampatuan clan is a prime example of feudal-fascist warlords who are coddled and nurtured by the national ruling clique in order to secure their hold over local populations and resources. The Ampatuans are among the most loyal vassals of the Arroyo ruling clique and responsible for orchestrating the electoral fraud in the region through which Arroyo has kept herself in power.

It was Arroyo who gave the Ampatuan clan the authority to recruit and arm civilians to assist in fighting “insurgents” in the region. As a result, the Ampatuans now have a 500-strong army, which includes 200 special armed civilian auxiliary forces, as well as entire regular military and police units assigned to ensure the security of the clan members.

These local warlords and their “armies”, particularly in Mindanao, are not only interwoven with the national security apparatus of the ruling classes, they are also backed by the US imperialist state which has a special interest in Mindanao. The US military considers Mindanao strategic for its force projection in this part of the world. It maintains military facilities in the island in direct violation of the Philippine Constitution. It has conducted at least seven military exercises in Mindanao since 2001, poured millions of military aid and has trained local security forces to enhance “inter-operability” with US troops.

The USAID has funded tens of millions of dollars worth of infrastructure projects throughout the region to support US military operations and US investors in the regiTo accomplish their objective of securing strategic resources, facilities and suppressing revolutionary and democratic challenges to US interests in the region, the US necessarily works with the local state apparatus and allies with feudal-fascist rulers such as the Ampatuans.

Given the intimate ties of the Ampatuans and other fascist criminals with the US-Arroyo regime, there is no reason to expect that any fact-finding body or investigation initiated by the corrupt, oppressive and brutal government will be credible or will bring justice to the victims of massacres and other human rights violations in the Philippines.

The ILPS calls on all freedom-loving peoples of the world to denounce the Ampatuan Massacre and all other extra-judicial killings in the Philippines, to demand an independent probe of these killings; and condemn the Arroyo government for coddling mass murderers and human rights violators.

Stop the killings!
End impunity!
Justice now!]


The readers of Arkibong Bayan are invited to click:  This is the authorized website of Prof. Jose Maria Sison.  It has been recently restructured and improved by its editors.  Thank you for your attention.


Candle-lighting at the marker monument

Juvelyn Jarabelo: Portrait of an Escalante Martyr