Greedy multinational corporations, local ruling classes accountable for Mindanao calamity

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Spokesperson, NDFP-Mindanao

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines – Mindanao is one with the people in grieving for the tragic demise of hundreds in the wake of tropical storm Sendong, and sympathizes with all the bereaved who now suffer this great loss.

Even as multitudes face a bleak Yuletide season, we also stand side by side with the people in raising the strongest condemnation against the “man-made causes” – decades of unrestrained mining, logging, multinational agribusiness plantations and otherenvironmentally–destructive big business operations.

We have again witnessed another horrific calamity that killed close to a thousand people and still counting, while hundreds more are missing and billions–worth of properties devastated in the cities of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan, in several municipalities of Misamis Oriental and Bukidnon in North Central Mindanao, and in certain parts of the Caraga region.

The accumulated denudation of forests in past decades by the large-scale operations of imperialist and big bourgeois comprador-owned logging companies as well as continuing illegal logging activities caused this devastation. These callous big logging concessions have risked the lives of thousands of people because superprofit is paramount to the appeal to reason and concern for humanity.

The continuing expansion of multinational agri-businesses Dolefil, Del Monte-Agrinanas, and Sumifru, colluding with local big landlords, have grabbed vast tracts of arable lands that resulted in the displacement of peasants and were driven to join the horde of odd-jobbers in the slums of overcrowded cities such as Cagayan de Oro and Iligan where they are forced to settle in disaster-prone locations.

Apart from the environmental destruction resulting from forest denudation, indiscriminate and destructive mining and quarrying in the vicnity of the hardest hit cities aggravated rapid soil degradation and erosion, making the area defenseless against flashfloods and landslides in the event of heavy downpour as in the case of the recent typhoon Sendong.

As can be gleaned from this cataclysm, a far worse scenario is expected in areas where extraction and exportation of raw mineral resources of mining giants such as Sumitumo-Taganito, San Roque Mining Inc., Xstrata-SMI, and Toronto Ventures Inc. operate.

These companies are further expanding at a more aggressive pace using AFP-Cafgu-SCAA forces to eliminate with impunity all impediments to their capitalist interests. Resistance from peasants and Lumads are dealt with naked force and worse, with brutal military operations.

Moreover, these destructive business entities, which are currently enjoying unhampered access to plunder our national patrimony and tax holidays under the Aquino regime, degrade the ecological balance, compromise food security and threaten the general welfare of Filipinos permanently.

What must be done?

The Aquino government must immediately redirect its resources to effectively launch relief and rehabilitation operations to all those who have lost lives and livelihood in the aftermath of storm Sendong, and decisively address the root causes of such disaster. All AFP-Cafgu-SCAA forces who are currently involved in COPD, RSOT and CMO operations in various areas in Mindanao must stop and be redirected for mobilization in relief and rehab operations.

Multinational corporations such as Dole, Del Monte-Agrinanas, Sumifru, Sumitumo-Taganito and other environmentally-destructive businesses responsible for causing this latest disastrous blow against the Filipino people must take the lead in the relief and rehab operations, in the relocation of all disaster victims to safer places and in extending assistance to the families of flood victims.

More serious and effective steps must be taken to prevent illegal logging. Emphasis must be given to reforestation.

Put a stop to the expansion of agri-business in the whole island; in line with our genuine land reform program, initiate measures of reverting to basic food crop production from the existing mono-crop plantations and step by step implement the distribution of land to the tillers for free.

All current plantations must stop their pollutant and highly environmentally-destructive practices, such as treating the soil with toxic chemicals, aerial chemical spraying, etc.;

Punish all large-scale companies that plunder the country’s natural resources, destroy the environment, displace peasants and Lumads, and exploit workers.

As an indispensable component in the launching of effective relief and rehab operations, the people must actively guard against graft and corruption by unscrupulous elements in government, especially those in high office, of the funds and resources used for such operations.

For people from the urban poor populace who are interested to return to farming, the revolutionary movement is open to have their families settled in guerilla zones in Mindanao for their livelihood.

Business entities that abide by our revolutionary policies on environmental protection, the preservation of national patrimony, the defense and promotion of the rights and welfare of the workers and affected communities shall be allowed to operate on a certain extent for as long as their operations serve the attainment of the aspirations of the Filipino people for genuine land reform and national industrialization.

We therefore call on the people and well-meaning indviduals to unite in these bleak times to hold the real culprits – the ruling class and its imperialist master – accountable and are justly punished for inducing such terrible disasters that kill thousands.

It has been proven time and again that the reactionary government is inutile in genuinely addressing this man-made calamity because of its anti-people, pro-foreign capitalist character. Thus, only the revolutionary movement can provide for a long term solution to the root causes of such disasters as articulated in the concrete program of the National Democratic Revolution on genuine agrarian reform and nationalist industrialization.

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