By JORGE “Ka Oris” MADLOS
The National Democratic Front of the Philippines-Mindanao extends its sympathies to all victims and survivors of typhoon Pablo, especially the people hardest hit by flash floods and landslides in Davao Oriental, Compostela Valley, Surigao del Sur, Davao del Norte and most parts of Mindanao, including Palawan and certain areas in the Visayas. We would also like to sympathize with the bereaved families of AFP soldiers whose lives were taken by raging mudflow in New Bataan, Compostela Valley.
In typhoon Pablo’s wake, the death toll in Mindanao has already reached 400 as of latest estimate, and rapidly reaching the 500 mark, thousands are injured and hundreds more are missing. Damage to crops and property is estimated at Php 1.8 billion in Davao del Norte alone and over Php 4 billion for the rest of the affected areas, leaving thousands of farmers distraught. Cities were also heavily inundated, killing several and forced to flee their homes.
In response to this catastrophe, and on behalf of all revolutionary forces, the NDFP-Mindanao has declared a unilateral ceasefire on the part of the New People’s Army (NPA) in areas affected by the calamity to allow the safe, unhampered and speedy rescue and retrieval of all the victims, and to facilitate the fast and unimpeded delivery of relief services to affected communities. This ceasefire shall immediately take effect on 12:00 PM of December 5, 2012 to 12:00 PM of January 3, 2013, and may be extended when deemed necessary after duly assessing the conduct of the ceasefire.
In consultation with the Mindanao Commission of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the concerned commands of the NPA in the areas affected, all NPA units covered by this ceasefire declaration are hereby ordered to desist from launching tactical offensives within the aforementioned inclusive date. However, we demand that the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine National Police, and Citizens Armed Forces Geogrphical Unit (AFP-PNP-CAFGU) desist from using rescue, retrieval, relief and rehabilitation operations and the “Community Organizaiton for Peace & Development (COPD)” as cover for launching military operations against the NPA and the masses in the area. Should this happen, all NPA units have the right to defend themselves and the people who are already battered by calamities.
We also call on all NPA units in the affected areas to help, if resources and the security situation permit, in the rescue, retrieval, relief and rehabilitation efforts. In the same manner, we call on all the revolutionary forces and masses in Mindanao who are less affected, or not at all, by typhoon Pablo to pool together their resources and show, once again, our concern for all the victims. We demand that all big mining, logging and agri-business plantations must shoulder substantial amount for relief and rehabilitation efforts.
The greater damage with far-reaching effect, which may not be immediately perceived, is typhoon Pablo’s destruction of hundreds of thousands of remaining forests in the Southern and Northern Mindanao. This destruction results from radical climate change which is caused, on one hand, by the irreversible damage inflicted onto the earth’s natural environ by imperialist mining, logging and agri-business plantations. While, on the other, the overheating of the earth’s atmosphere is due to the excessive emission of carbon into the atmosphere from imperialist overconsumption of fossil fuel in the name of super-profit. With the remaining rain forests gone, we can expect compounded negative effects on our environment which may cause more frequent and more damaging typhoons to come, including the possibility of longer La Niña and El Niño phenomena.
The Aquino government has never learned from the dire and painful lessons of typhoon Sendong, the Ormoc flashflood, and all similar man-made and natural disasters. It has only bragged that it is “prepared” for any disaster, but, in reality, it has miserably failed the people in terms of preparedness and defense against natural calamities.
Hardest hit were the towns of Bagangga, Cateel and Boston in Davao Oriental; New Bataan and Monkayo in Compostela Valley; and Lingig and Hinatuan in Surigao del Sur. These towns are overspread with vast banana plantations owned by Dole and Sumifru, as well as despoiled by large-scale mining operations such as Indo-phil. The Diwata mountain range, which connects these municipalities, have been ravaged in the last 50 years by large-scale logging put up by imperialist US and Japan, conniving locally with the likes of Valderama, Alcantara, Sarmiento and PICOP’s Andres Soriano.
Days before Pablo struck, Noynoy Aquino was irked by people who did not respond immediately to the call for evacuation, and scoffed at them saying, “This is not a joke!” May we point out that instead of blaming the people, he should rather act to reverse the liberal policy on mining, logging and agri-business plantations. With the passage of EO 79, the lopsided provisions of the Mining Act of 1995 are only reinforced, exposing the Aquino government’s collusion with foreign monopoly capitalist companies, made at the expense of the lives of people and the habitat of mankind it claims to serve.
Decades ago, Davao and Bukidnon were the least prone to devastating calamities. But, motivated by the greed for super-profit, imperialists and the local ruling classes together helped create and unleash climate change. Thus, we call on the Filipino people to strengthen the movement to stop imperialist, mining, logging and agri-business now. It is imperative for the people of the world to unite and stop the imperialists from heating our planet. We must fortify our act now before it is too late, before storms far stronger than Pablo and hurricane Sandy that struck New York City, USA will literally efface all of us to oblivion!
Unite and save the environment! Unite and fight against imperialists’ and local ruling class’ plunder!