“The deployment of more military troops in Eastern Visayas will not address the people’s woes.”
This was the firm statement of People Surge Chairperson Dr. Efleda Bautista in a press conference held yesterday, December 5, at the House of Representatives, Batasan Hills, Quezon City. Makabayan solons Ariel Casilao of Anakpawis Party-list, Francr Castro and Antonio Tinio of ACT Teachers Party-list, Arlene Brosas of Gabriela Women’s Party and Carlos Zarate of Bayan Muna Party-list also expressed their support on the Eastern Visayas people’s demand to withdraw the Memorandum Order No. 32 which they plead to be dubious.
Under Memorandum Order No. 32, four more battalions will be deployed to the regions of Eastern Visayas, Negros and Bicol. Three of which – the 19th, 63rd and 46th Infantry Battalions of the Philippine Army – will be deployed in region 8.
Other progressive groups in Eastern Visayas such as Bayan Sinirangan Bisayas and Katungod Sinirangan Bisayas early expressed dismay on what they deemed as “Duterte’s desperate move to control the result of the 2019 elections and the first hearing of the Arroyo-drafted Charter Change.” The MO 32 is, according to them, Duterte’s way of suppressing the rising people.
People Surge further recalled that the 19th IBPA is responsible for the death of 27 civilians in the region from the Estrada to Aquino administration. This includes the murder case of the botanist Dr. Leonard Co. The 63rd IBPA, on the other hand, is known for its rights abuses in Northern and Eastern Samar.
“As proven, it is the military men themselves who are behind the state of lawlessness in the region,” Bautista pressed.
There have already been 58 recorded cases of extra-judicial killings in the region under the Duterte administration according to People Surge. Fifty-one of which are due to the anti-drug campaign Oplan Tokhang and 7 were killed under the ‘counter-insurgency’ campaign Oplan Kapayapaan.
Bautista also ingeminated that social services and immediate assistance are what the Yolanda and other storm and man-made calamity victims in Eastern Visayas need. The group noted that there has been a 5.8% inflation rate in the region this year as reported by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), twice as high as last year.
“We firmly believe that the military troops should pull out from our communities. They are only contributing to our poverty situation. We further call on the withdrawal of Memorandum Order No. 32,” Bautista concluded.