By CPP Information Bureau
Other versions: Waray
The National Democratic Front of the Philippines – Eastern Visayas today lauded the stand of the six Roman Catholic bishops in the region against mining, and likewise urged them to support the resumption of peace talks with the NDFP.
"It is commendable for the Catholic bishops to appeal to the Aquino government to stop mining in the region," said NDFP-EV spokesperson Fr. Santiago Salas.
"They are reflecting the stand of the majority of the people, who reject the mining projects of foreign and local capitalists as inimical to the national patrimony, the environment and genuine development. But we also urge the Catholic bishops to support the resumption of peace talks with the NDFP because of the slated discussion of socio-economic reforms. In the larger context, the mining issue is a glaring example that socio-economic reforms are necessary to address the problems of poverty, foreign exploitation and environmental destruction."
Fr. Salas slammed the Aquino government for forcing large-scale foreign mining on the region. "Because the Aquino government is committed to US imperialist globalization, national and local officials are moving to let foreign capitalists extract the rich mineral resources of Eastern Visayas. But because also of widespread public anger, the government officials pretend to care for the environment and the people's welfare.
"Even if the Aquino government insists there are "safeguards" and "sustainability", handing over our natural resources to foreign exploiters is essentially an abdication of responsibility over these. On the other hand, the best alternative is including mining in an economic program geared towards national industrialization and land reform for the benefit of the people. They are the best guardians in ensuring the wise and long-term use of our natural resources if they understand it is in their own interests to do so."
The NDFP-EV spokesperson also questioned the Aquino government's sincerity for the peace talks. "The Aquino government appears to be taking its time to discuss socio-economic reforms with the NDFP even as the people's hardships increase. Worse, the government seems to be pursuing anti-people and anti-national policies.
"It is ignoring genuine land reform as well as diminishing agricultural assistance for the peasantry. It is pursuing mining and other pro-imperialist concessions that further open up the country to foreign exploitation. It is pouring billions into conditional cash transfer and emergency employment schemes, which are dole-outs of no lasting benefit to the people and meant to deceive that the government is addressing the people's plight.
"The Aquino government also goes through the motions of talking peace, but at the same time is preparing to intensify its military campaign with US aid and under the influence of the US Counterinsurgency Guide. It is even possible the Aquino government will use the peace talks as a "counterinsurgency" weapon to attack and dictate terms of surrender on the revolutionary movement."
Fr. Salas thus concluded that the people must assert their demands and insist on the peace talks to uphold socio-economic reforms.
"The peace talks should not be allowed to become a tool of the fascists and militarists in the Aquino government. Instead, the people themselves must assert a just and lasting peace that dovetails with the demands for socio-economic reforms the democratic mass movement is fighting for.
"The urgent need for socio-economic reforms will surely be brought to the fore as the peace talks continue to be pursued. The current solidarity of the Church and the people in Eastern Visayas against mining can thus further develop in pressing for socio-economic reforms, and in insisting on the peace talks as one of the essential means to do so."
NDF-EV Media Liaison Officer
Cellphone No. +639196199369
E-mail: [email protected]