Fr. Santiago "Sanny" Salas
Spokesperson, NDFP in Eastern Visayas
The National Democratic Front-Eastern Visayas today expressed sympathy with victims of massive flooding in Northern and Eastern Samar, and said that the Arroyo government should end militarization and environmental destruction in the affected areas. Recent torrential rains have brought on the floods, leading to thousands evacuating from affected areas in the towns of Las Navas in Northern Samar and Jipapad and Oras in Eastern Samar. "The revolutionary movement is already helping the people wherever units of the New People's Army are on hand for disaster relief," said Fr. Santiago Salas, NDF-EV spokesperson. "But the people's plight could have been avoided in the first place. The region is vulnerable to calamities because many typhoons pass here every year, and this is aggravated by the widespread destruction of the environment. And yet the reactionary government is always caught unprepared, and moreover persists in militarization and opening the region to plunderous activities by foreign and local exploiters such as large-scale logging and mining."
Fr. Salas furthermore said that the cause of massive floods and landslides every year throughout the region is the plunder of the natural resources that has ruined the environment. "Widespread commercial logging until the 1990s destroyed much of the forests in Samar and Leyte. The region has thus been struck by several disasters over the years, not only in Samar but even more so in Leyte, where in previous years thousands were killed by floods and landslides in Ormoc City, St. Bernard and Panaon Island. Rather than rehabilitating areas where the environment has been destroyed, the Arroyo government has instead pushed for large-scale logging and mining. Moreover, the regime hopes to legitimize local and imperialist plunder of the national patrimony through changing the reactionary constitution into becoming more pro-imperialist, anti-people and favorable to extending its stay in power."
The NDF-EV spokesperson also said that the Arroyo regime should end militarization in the affected areas to help the affected people get back on their feet. "The flooded towns are also currently heavily militarized because Las Navas and adjacent towns in Northern and Eastern Samar are priority targets of the military's Oplan Bantay Laya 2. The recent calamity only adds to the people's suffering from so many human rights violations due to militarization. Such an offensive by the government not only seeks to destroy the revolutionary movement but to quell all resistance to plans for large-scale logging and mining. This militarization should end, and the pro-imperialist and anti-people plunder of natural resources should not be allowed. What the people really need now in the flooded areas is disaster relief, as well as rehabilitation and genuine development in the long term."