By Fr. SANTIAGO SALAS
Spokesperson, NDFP Eastern Visayas
Even while Eastern Visayas struggles to recover from typhoon Yolanda’s devastation, the Aquino government persists in escalating the civil war without any concern for the people’s welfare. According to the National Democratic Front of the Philippines in Eastern Visayas, the Aquino regime pursued, and is set to intensify, its Oplan Bayanihan despite the unilateral ceasefire declaration of the revolutionary movement in the region up to mid-January this year for the avowed purpose of aiding the typhoon victims.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines also grudgingly declared its own unilateral ceasefire in December 2013, which was soon belied by their continuing military operations all over the country.
NDFP-EV spokesperson Fr. Santiago “Ka Sanny” Salas said, “The 8th Infantry Division of the AFP in the region continued military operations even while the New People’s Army was on ceasefire and focused on aiding the typhoon victims. The NDFP-EV condemns the 25 November 2013 attack by 87th Infantry Battalion troops on an NPA unit in Barangay (village) Calundan, San Jorge, Western Samar, and the subsequent arrest of Renato Baleros and his wife Vangie Colinayo. The couple were heading the NPA’s relief operations in Western Samar when they were arrested.
They were charged with trumped-up criminal cases: Baleros in Eastern Samar and Colinayo in Northern Samar, where they are detained respectively — even though they have never been involved in revolutionary activities in the said provinces and have always performed their duties in Western Samar. Thus, the baseless criminal charges and arbitrary detention are violations of due process and their basic civil-political rights, running afoul of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law, and meant as well to make their legal and family support difficult.
“Earlier, military agents also arrested Romulo Grabillo, 40, a Red fighter, on 21 November 2013 in Barangay Tag-alag, Marabut, Western Samar. Grabillo was on leave from the NPA to aid his family which had suffered from the typhoon.”
Fr. Salas likewise condemned the sentencing to life imprisonment last 11 Dec. 2013 of Eduardo Sarmiento, NDFP Peace Consultant for Eastern Visayas. Sarmiento had been arrested on 24 February 2009 in Alabang, Muntinlupa City, in violation of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) between the NDFP and the government of the Republic of the Philippines.
“With Eastern Visayas and other parts of the country devastated by typhoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan), the Aquino government should have made efforts to resume peace talks with the NDFP and discuss the Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms. But with Sarmiento’s sentencing, the Aquino government has added another nail into the coffin. There is no way the NDFP can agree to talk with the Aquino government after its dastardly treatment of Sarmiento and other NDFP consultants who remain detained.”
The NDFP-EV spokesperson furthermore said the Aquino regime is stepping up its attacks on the revolutionary movement, which it dreads will rally the people to demand accountability over the fiasco of the government’s response to typhoon Yolanda as well as other issues.
“The Aquino regime is sorely mistaken in thinking it can cow the people. The people are angry, they demand answers to their miseries after Yolanda, on top of other issues. They can surely surge and sweep the Aquino government from power. The revolutionary armed struggle of the people will also surely go stronger once the people realize if they can remove a government from power as they have done twice already, they can certainly overthrow the reactionary ruling system in the long run.”