By JORGE MADLOS (Ka Oris)
Spokesperson, NDFP Mindanao Chapter
On behalf of all revolutionary forces in Mindanao, the NDFP-Mindanao joins the Filipino people in welcoming Pope Francis to the Philippines, especially to areas heavily affected by super typhoon Yolanda.
In deference to the Papal visit, the NDFP-Mindanao has reiterated to the New People’s Army (NPA) in the island to strictly comply with the 10-day ceasefire declared by the NDFP at the national level, which includes in its coverage the four-day stay of the Pope in the country.
During such time, the NPA, while in defensive mode, shall cease all its tactical offensive military operations.
As a world leader whose office holds considerable influence over the Filipino populace, we in the Revolutionary movement stand in fervent hope that Pope Francis’s visit will inspire the people to unite and be more resolute in their struggle for social justice, particularly for genuine land reform, which is the aspiration of millions of peasants who have been for so long exploited and deprived of land to own, and, for national industrialization, which is the hope of exploited workers, particularly factory, mine and plantation workers who struggle to free themselves from below subsistence wages and inhuman working condition.
We yearn for the Pope to listen to the cry of millions of victims of typhoon Yolanda who continue to wait for the immediate delivery of social services and rehabilitation; the victims continue to suffer because of government neglect and corruption.
Gleaning from the Pope’s views against pervasive abuses against human life and dignity, the Filipino people should be inspired by the visit to take the fight against human rights violations further, especially in the context of millions who have fallen victim to Benigno Aquino III’s brutal military campaign Oplan Bayanihan. This bloody campaign has, since the first quarter of 2014, razed the countryside in the island of Mindanao with incessant combat operations, terrorizing populated villages with cannon fire and aerial bombardment, and compelling whole communities of peasants, Lumad and Moro to abandon their farms and flee their villages. The escalating violence inflicted by local warlords and their paramilitary horde has also caused massive displacement among indigenous peoples’ communities, particularly in the Northern and Southern Mindanao areas.
Moreover, the Pope’s Filipino flock should also take this rare opportunity of his visit to bring to his attention the AFP’s terror campaign of extra-judicial killings, which, in the last decade, has unspeakably murdered hundreds of activists, lawyers, media persons and, most appallingly, even members of the religious and inflamed the condemnation of the whole nation and the world.
As a leading figure in the quest for peace worldwide, we wish that the Pope’s presence could imbibe among Filipinos renewed interest in pursuing a peaceful resolution to the current armed conflict, particularly in pushing for the resumption of the peace talks between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP). Directly relevant to which, the release of detained NDF consultants, whose participation is of crucial importance to said talks, should be undertaken. On the part of the NDF and the NPA, it has been releasing prisoners of war since the second half of last year as a confidence-building measure for the resumption of the talks.
It is recognized worldwide that the concern of the youth is at the core of Pope Francis’s ministry, thus, through his visit, we also hope that the struggle for a free, scientific and mass-oriented education gain greater support and advance. And, at the same time, for the clamor for the defense of the genuine right to self-determination of the Lumad and Moro peoples to find greater voice and reverberate throughout the archipelago against national oppression and social chauvinism.
The people must bring before the Pope’s attention the sorry state of the environment in the country, particularly in Mindanao, which is currently ravaged by the wanton and unhampered plunder of natural resources by large-scale mining, rapidly depleting non-renewable resources and aggravating global warming, which contributes to climate change. In recent years, the Philippines has been annually devastated by super typhoons such as Ondoy, Sendong, Pablo and recently Yolanda.
The NDFP in Mindanao enjoins the Filipino masses to unite and stand before Pope Francis to affirm his pro-people and pro-poor stance to further the cause of the people’s democratic revolution against the fetters of feudalism, bureaucrat-capitalism and imperialism.