Sunday, June 5, 2011

AFP Targeted Killings and Assassinations,First Quarter of 2011:Datu Rody Dejos and Rick Dejos

Unfortunately both the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the NPA both have a long and tangled history of targeted political killings.Unfortunately for the Government it will always end up looking much worse on this issue than the NPA ever will because of its onus as a sovereign power. Though the NPA does run a parallel government in its area of operation,it has never implemented a real justice system.Whenever the NPA assassinates someone it issues grandiose statements to the media about how the victim had been"tried"by a "People's Court"and found guilty,you can guess the rest I'm sure.In reality a member of the NPA,or less often CPP (Communist Party of the Philippines,the political echelon of the organisation) simply hands down an order and says,"Get it done."

On the other hand the Government of course DOES have an actual justice system replete with a court of appeal and even a 3rd echelon,the Supreme Court.Justice then should always be served except that it doesn't work that way.On one hand you have warlords like Vice Mayor Rodrigo"Roddy"Duterte of Davao City who has become iconic to many Mindanowan mayors for his extra-liberal application of extra-judicial execution in his own extremely narrow pursuit of"justice."Employing motorcycle riding assassins who invariably employ 45 caliber pistols,the standard AFP/PNP (Armed Forces of the Philippines/Philippine National Police) issued sidearm (ergo letting us know-wink wink-that the killing was done by the powers that be).Who is killed?Usually very low level drug dealers or street children who have segued into petty theft like pick pocketing or snatching cell phones.

Granted that such people are truly a menace but then that is why prisons were created.Why aren't our benevolent dictators gunning down the people manufacturing 500 kilogram runs of"shabu" (methamphetamine in smokable form)?Why aren't our Big Brothers protecting us from men smuggling 20 tonnes of untaxed sugar?Autos stolen from Manila?Better yet...why not go after illegal loggers?Surely their depredations cause much more misery than some 12 year old homeless boy who steals to eat.

On the other hand there are the killings linked to the AFP...killings of activists,journalists and even clergymen and women who cross the line from taking money out of parishoner's tattered pockets and instead actually begin caring for their fellow men and women.Inevitably those killed are Leftists,members of Sectoral Front Organisations who end up listed on an AFP Order of Battle."Orders of Battle"are lists composed at the brigade level and distriuted to battalion commanders,or COs (Commanding Officers).In well managed militaries these documents aren't"hit lists."They are used to aid rank and file personnel in intelligence gathering and in interrogations and apprehensions.If you are an NCO (Non-commisioned Officer,a corporal or sergeant) commanding a checkpoint and you find a suspicious individual you can rely on the Order of Battle in deciding whether or not that person is a worthwhile apprehension either by the listing of that individual's name or else by judging Sectoral Front membership either by admission or documentary evidence such as a pamphlet in a rucksack.

The Left likes to exaggerate and describe the Order of Battle as a hitlist.The idea is ridiculous and yet there ARE AFP personnel who use those documents for nefarious purposes.A case in point:

The Sectoral Front Organisation KMP,or Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (),is listed on every Order of Battle in the nation.A so called"peasant organisation"it seeks to unite rural small scale farmers in the struggle to achieve better lives for themselves and their families.Yet,there is no denying that the group is a shill for the NPA.Often times KMP leaders provide logistical and even materiel support to local NPA leaders and so in doing so become a very real participant in the life and death struggle taking place on a day to day basis between the AFP and the NPA.This naturally doesn't sit well with local AFP COs who have a difficult time as it is in dealing with an insurgency that holds the advantages tactically,strategically and environmentally.Therefore local KMP leaders end up bearing the brunt of these AFP CO's anger.

One such KMP leader was 50 year old Datu Rudy Yalon Dejos,a B'laan Tribesman from Santa Cruz in Davao del Sur Province,just outside Davao City.Rudy and his 26 year old son Rody Rick Dejos were very well known to LTC (Lieutenant Colonel) Oliver"Bong"R.Artuz of the 39IB (Infantry Battalion),headquartered in that very same town,as well as Artuz's predecessor LTC.Lyndon Paniza (currently Spokesperson for 10ID,the Infantry Division to which the 39IB is sublimated).As far back as 2009 LTC.Paniza had directly warned the elder Dejos to withdraw all involvement with KMP.As the force behind a local chapter of the provincial KMP affiliate,NANADDS,as well as being instrumental in KMP barangay affiliate for Barangay Patulangon,PATUFA (Patulangon Farmers Association) Dejos was then working on the formation of a subsidiary organisation,"ZOFA,"or the Zone-1 Farmer's Association,Rudy Dejos was extremely vocal about his opposition to the landed gentry pulling the strings in his outlying barangay,Zone #1.

As is always the case local landowners form the elite of local society and therefore are propping up the local government or are themselves the government per se.People like Rudy Dejos chafe at the inequities propagated by such people but unfortunately for Mr.Dejos these same well to do few also indirectly control local PNP and AFP deployments.For example,the LGU (Local Government Unit,municipality or province) has the ability to reject a deployment of a CO in their AOR (Area of Responsibility).Ergo AFP and PNP COs do not want to ever get on the wrong side of local powerbrokers.If such a powerful individual finds Mr.Dejos a threat,or even a nuisance,the AFP and PNP will move against Dejos.

When Rudy Dejos refused to stop involving himself with KMP the Dejos Family's problems began multiplying.In late 2009 LTC.Paniza forced Dejos to shut down PATUFA,which immediately led the determined farmer to begin forming a similar group in his own barangay,Zone #1.In June of 2010 the 39IB biouvaced a platoon in the barangay hall and began holding bi-weekly pulong-pulong (propaganda exercises where residents of a given area are forced to attend hours long meetings after long days in the fields.There they are harrangued for allowing NPA infiltration of their community and are bribed,threatened and/or cajoled into giving up names and/or other intelligence).Rudy Dejos refused to attend these long meetings and continued working to form a new organisation.Then,on June 6th,2010 Rody Rick was taken in for interrogation over a close relative whose name had been submitted by a harried villager.Either refusing to co-operate or else simply not knowing anything of value Rody Rick was not much help to the 39IB and so father and son were added to the 39IB Order of Battle.At this juncture most people would pull back and stop their activities,at least until the soldiers pulled out of the area.

As one might expect Dejos did no such thing and even ratcheted up the group's activities.The farmer cum activists chose to do so at a critical juncture.Santa Cruz has an extremely ambitious template for development.Along with an adjacent barangay belonging to Davao City the municipality will soon become home to a huge coal fed electric plant to be built by Aboitiz Power Corporation.The investment for the plant alone tops P25B,as in BILLION.That will be in addition to 2 smaller Aboitiz plants already sitting in Santa Cruz.Likewise the town just gained a huge Korean/Japanese joint venture that manufactures a sweetner manufactured out of coco coir (coconut husk) and lastly is aiming itself to progress from a Class I municipality to Chartered Cityhood.In the Philippine scheme of things this requires another 70,000 residents and a huge increase in revenue.In other words,full speed ahead towards growth and investment.

By October of 2010 the 39IB had formed a BDS in Zone #1 with 22 local men.The BDS,or Barangay Defense System,is a component in the AFP Force Multiplication component."Force Multiplication,"in this sense refers to any innpvation that increase the counterinsurgency capabilities of the AFP.Though there is sometimes a very poorly armed component to a BDS element the bulk of the protocol revolves around an"Eyes and Ears"programme.Denoted individuals are tasked with carefully svrutinising members of their communities and of course any unfamiliar faces as well.Naturally the Dejos Family ranked very high on thr list of people to watch.As Rudy Dejos moved to form a barangay chapter of the aforementioned NAMADD the BDS began focusing on him more and more.

By December the local point man for Barangay Zone #1's BDS,or BDS-1,was a man surnamed Arman.Arman had never liked Rudy Dejos and certainly liked him a lot less as Dejos stepped up recruitment for his new organisation,tenatively called"ZOFA."ZOFA,or Zone One Farmers Association,struch a popular chord in the community despite the best effort of the 39IB,by now commanded by LTC.Artuz.That same month saw a sniper take potshots at the elder Dejos.Though Dejos accused the 39IB and not BDS-1 it led to even more friction between him and Arman.Then,on January 19th,2011 Rudy Dejos took the plunge and formally founded ZOFA,the barangay's KMP affiliate.

As one might reckon,NPA activity,even NPA-associated activity is anathema to a powerbase seeking rapid,deep investment and new residents.Noone wants to live in a warzone and even less people want to sink their cherished money into one.Obviously the AFP has had precious little in the way of tangible success in the way of victories vis a vis the AFP-NPA dog and pony show.Guerillas launch murderous ambushes and mely back into the jungle,usually indistinguisable from civilians.When one is assured that members of Sectoral Front organisations are cogs in the NPA struggle it is oh so simple to cross what should be a very resolute line and take aim at Sectoral membership.After all,these organisations are the effective bridge between the NPA and its valued Mass Base of Support (civilian support network).

On February 26th,2011 the 39IB operated in Barangay Zone #1.The next morning,February 27th,Mrs.Dejos,Mercy,took their meager harvest to the barangay market in Sitio Central.Father and son spent the morning labouring in their field.By lunch they were at home where Rody busied himself preparing both their lunches.Indeed,when Mercy Dejos returned at 4PM that evening she found the table set and the food ready for serving.It had not been served because both Rudy and Rody Rick Dejos were savagely assaulted and killed.With clear signs of torture,with all finger tips having been crushed to the degree that ever single finger nail had shattered,both had been repeatedly stabbed and beaten before finally succumbing to gunshots.The bodies were found when upon entering her home,Mrs.Dejos eyes imediately spotted a trail of blood on the floor.Hurrying outside she saw both bodies crumpled underneath their stilt home.

Adding insult to injury LTC.Artuz then had a huge funeral boquet sent to the home.The Dejos' daughter Marilyn promptly burned it.Then,following tribal custom the widow had both bodies brought back to the house for a 3 day long vigil.Again LTC.Artuz couldn't leave well enough alone and deployed several soldiers in full combat gear to the home.Questioned about this Artuz offered that his men were"sad"and wished to"pay their respects."On March 9th more than 500 people turned out for a boisterous rally to condemn the brutal murders.rudy's daughter Marilyn,the woman who burned Artuz's boquet deplored the gall of the AFP and men like Artuz who felt so little shame and absolutely no compunction about showing their faces even as their victims laid in state.Egged on by another Sectoral Front organisation,Karapatan,Mercy Dejos then filed a formal complaint with the Davao City branch of the CHR (Commission on Human Rights,a governmental agency).In her complaint Mercy explained how she personally told AFP representatives that they weren't welcomed at her husband's vigil and subsequent funeral.

LTC.Artuz however says that Eudy Dejos' mother and brother personally allowed the 39IB to pay its respects.Interestingly Artuz didn't apologise for upsetting a bereaving widow.Nor did he acknowledge that maybe,just maybe that Dejos' mother and brother might have been just a tad bit intimidated at the sight of men in full combat gear,carrying M16s and"asking" to attend.In fairness to the 39IB and the AFP in general,noone has been charged in the deaths,least of all anyone in uniform.Of course this is the PhiliPpines and men in uniform are rarely charged for anything,if ever.

It isn't often that a Mindanowan peasant's death raises concern in Manila but the death of the 2 Mr.Dejos led to congressman Rafael V.Mariano (ANAKPAWIS-Party List) and Congresswoman Luzviminda Calolot Ilagan (Gabriela-Party List) penning House Resolution #1046 which asks Congress to have the House Committe on Human Rights investigate the whole sordid affair.Of course the sad truth is that both these Representatives are themselves members of Sectoral Front organisations so that anything they touch is immediately deemed worthless by the Philippine mainstream.At least the Dejos had their names mentioned and so perhaps someday,when the Philippines finally manages to form a society which respects the value of all its citizens-a society in which the NPA is an uncomfortable memory and the AFP actually acts like a real army-these sad events will finally seem like pulp fiction than the daily goings on of a nation in the 21st Century.

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