The National Democratic Front of the Philippines – Eastern Visayas (NDFP-EV) said today that Gov. Jericho Petilla and 8th Infantry Division chief Gen. Mario Chan were engaging in a charade in declaring Leyte as “insurgency-free”, and warned that the province was a social volcano waiting to explode. The NDFP-EV spokesperson, Fr. Santiago Salas, said that, “Gov. Petilla and Gen. Chan do not make fools of anyone but themselves in declaring Leyte as “insurgency-free” – while laughably nixing at the same time the withdrawal of military troops from the province.
“Their real intention is to justify the continuing militarization and the barefaced attacks on civilians and their communities under Oplan Bayanihan. Soldiers continue to violate international humanitarian law with impunity, occupying villages on the psywar of ‘peace and development’, such as in Tacloban City, Carigara, Tunga and other towns. The military also has yet to account for the series of massacres of peasants and other innocent civilians such as the noted scientist Leonard Co and his assistants. If there is any pest the people wish to be free of, it is the military and not the New People’s Army.”
Fr. Salas also pointed out that the Petilla-Chan charade showed that the most reactionary political dynasties in Eastern Visayas are collaborating with the military to keep their monopoly on power.
“It is not only the Petilla dynasty but also the Dazas in Northern Samar and the Tans in Western Samar who are cozy with the military because they wish to preserve their political and economic interests. Moreover, the provinces of these dynasties are being showered with billions of pesos for the road projects funded by the US and the Aquino regime to facilitate Oplan Bayanihan as well as foreign economic plunderers.
“These projects will also benefit those in power in these provinces, including the military, as cash cows of corruption. It is a blatant lie that these road projects are synonymous with economic progress, in the absence of genuine agrarian reform and a national industrialization program.”
Fr. Salas said Petilla and Chan’s pronouncement is also meant to embolden the worst exploiters and oppressors of the people in the province.
“Who are Petilla and Chan really serving in conspiring to continue deploying soldiers against the people? Leyte’s vast agricultural lands continue to be centralized in the hands of the big landlords, making agrarian reform as difficult as in Hacienda Luisita. The tapping of the province’s enormous geothermal energy potential is also monopolized by the Energy Development Corporation of the Lopez family and other enterprises by big business making huge profits from the privatization of electricity. Foreign companies are also advancing large-scale mining despite opposition by many. These are the anti-people interests Petilla and Chan are protecting and encouraging.”
The NDFP-EV spokesperson noted that while Leyte is wealthy in natural resources, the people suffer grinding poverty.
“The biggest land monopolies in Eastern Visayas are Leyte’s haciendas. The hacienda workers are paid P60 (US$ 1.40) or less every week, if at all. They are constantly on the verge of starvation because they are forbidden by the big landlords to plant even an inch of land with rice, vegetables and other basic food crops for consumption.
“Meanwhile, the workers and urban poor live on the subsistence level with depressed wages, unemployment and underemployment, and the rising cost of living. Even those in the middle class do not see any opportunities for a decent living in the province and professionals are forced to migrate to the big urban centers elsewhere as well as go abroad.”
Fr. Salas said Leyte is a social volcano waiting to explode like the rest of the country because the people have no other choice except in fighting for their basic interests through advancing their armed and unarmed struggles.
“The peasants of Leyte must take heart from the struggle in Hacienda Luisita and likewise persevere in their demand to break up Leyte’s haciendas and implement agrarian reform as a matter of social justice. The people of Leyte must resist large-scale mining and profiteering in the electric power industry and advocate national industrialization to put the province’s mineral and energy resources in the service of economic sovereignty and progress. The people must persevere in their struggle for human rights through broad unity and alliance against the most reactionary political dynasties, the military and the US-Aquino regime who are collaborating in Oplan Bayanihan.
“The NPA must defend the people against the impunity of the human rights violators and continue to accumulate strength for the national liberation struggle by intensifying the tactical offensives in Leyte against Oplan Bayanihan. Through widespread and intensive guerrilla warfare based on popular support, the NPA will deliver the response against the anti-people conspiracy of Petilla and Chan: There will be hell to pay.”