“We may be enemies of the state, but we are the friends of the people”
Fr. SANTIAGO SALAS (Ka Sanny)
Spokesperson, NDFP Eastern Visayas Chapter
The National Democratic Front of the Philippines in Eastern Visayas denounces the Aquino government as utterly despicable for refusing to reciprocate the revolutionary movement’s ceasefire in areas affected by Typhoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan). The revolutionary movement in the region has declared a unilateral ceasefire up to mid-January 2014. The Aquino government’s regional military commander, Maj. Gen. Jet Velarmino, is particularly reprehensible for saying, “We did not make a declaration of ceasefire even after the typhoon. They are enemies of the state.”
We may be enemies of the state, but we are the friends of the people, their interests come first. On the other hand, what else can we call the Aquino government and its military, except as enemies of the people for refusing a ceasefire that would facilitate aid to the Typhoon Yolanda victims?
The Aquino government troops showed no compunction in continuing their offensives against the New People’s Army even while the region was still reeling from the typhoon’s aftermath. Gen. Velarmino’s troops from the 8th Infantry Division are still on combat operations under Oplan Bayanihan in the central parts of Samar island. Aside from search and destroy missions, they are also harassing villagers suspected of supporting the NPA. It goes to show the Aquino government and its military have no concern for the plight of the people.
Tacloban City and other calamity areas are virtual garrisons. Right after the typhoon, the Aquino government sent armored cars and armed troops to Tacloban as a “show of force” to the hungry and desperate people, who were not receiving any government aid and commandeering whatever they needed to survive.
Today, there are several military checkpoints at the entrances and exits to the city, and the people are subjected to curfews, and accosted and treated like criminals. Meanwhile, so-called bunkhouses have been hastily constructed where homeless families are to be herded like cattle into cramped confines. This scenario is replicated in other areas that are suffering from the typhoon’s aftermath. All these show that the Aquino government regards the people with contempt, showing little concern over their sufferings, and enforcing their subservience to the armed might of the state.
Is the Aquino government refusing a reciprocal ceasefire because it is not serious about long-term reconstruction in Eastern Visayas? At present, the Aquino government is making a mockery of the relief and rehabilitation in region. The typhoon victims live by the day, hoping they will have something to eat the next day, vulnerable to starvation and disease.
There is also no long-term plan for the urban and rural poor as well as the middle-class who lost their homes and livelihoods, while the vultures of corruption have started circling. Without any socio-economic reforms, without any public consultation and transparent governance, the big bureaucrats and big businesses will surely take advantage of the people’s plight in order to profit from corruption in the massive reconstruction effort needed.
As an added insult to the victims of Typhoon Yolanda, the US and Philippine governments are rushing towards an agreement justifying the basing of US military troops in the country in violation of national sovereignty. It seems the reason why there is no ceasefire for Aquino’s troops is that they are there to ensure that it will be business as usual in keeping the people in their state of exploitation and oppression.
The people will hold the Aquino regime to account for refusing a reciprocal ceasefire in order to facilitate aid to the typhoon victims. The victims of Typhoon Yolanda and the rest of the people will surely rise from their grief to demand for a reconstruction favoring the people, as well as socio-economic reforms for the long term in the region and other calamity areas. If the Aquino government cannot bring itself to call even a limited ceasefire in the name of humanity, how much more a just and lasting peace?