By LUIS G. JALANDONI
Chairperson, NDFP Negotiating Panel
Member, NDFP National Executive Committee
The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) renders highest honors to Bishop Tomas A. Millamena of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI) for his staunch advocacy for a just and lasting peace in the Philippines, and his firm pro-people stand against the anti-people and anti-national policies of the US-Aquino regime and earlier reactionary regimes.
We are deeply saddened by his death due to a lingering illness. We convey our heartfelt condolences to his family, relatives, colleagues in the IFI, and numerous friends in the Philippines and abroad.
Bishop Millamena played a significant role in the NDFP-GRP/GPH peace negotiations. He was the mutually accepted Third Party Depositary for depositing the photos for the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG). He was also an NDFP Nominated Independent Observer in the Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC) under the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL).
He fulfilled his functions with heart and soul to the best of his ability. He was present and active participant in the resumption of formal peace talks in Oslo on 27-30 April 2001. He would attend some other formal talks in Oslo thereafter, unafraid to take a principled stand. One clear example is when the GRP delegation walked out after the punishment of notorious torturer Col. Rodolfo Aguinaldo in June 2001. He firmly took the position which he stated to the Royal Norwegian officials that the GRP should not have walked out; they should have referred the case to the Joint Monitoring Committee under CARHRIHL.
Together with the other NDFP Nominated Independent Observer to the JMC, Marie Hilao Enriquez of KARAPATAN, he steadfastly advocated the independent investigation of the numerous extrajudical killings and enforced disappearances, and other human rights violations under the Gloria Arroyo regime.
Earlier, as Obispo Maximo of the IFI, he helped secure the release of New People’s Army Commander Leoncio Pitao by receiving him in recognizance
We are also grateful to Obispo Maximo Millamena for standing up in support of Prof. Jose Maria Sison in September 2002. He spoke out on Dutch TV and other international media against Prof. Sison’s being placed in the list of terrorists. He was concerned that the slander on Prof. Sison, Chief Political Consultant of the NDFP Negotiating Panel, would jeopardize the peace negotiations with the Manila government.
With his good friend, Archbishop Joris Vercammen of the Old Catholic Church, he organized the successful centenary celebration of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente in 2002. Hundreds of Filipino, Dutch, and other participants attended the centenary held in The Netherlands.
Later, when his health weakened, he could not attend the peace talks abroad. But he would send text messages to the NDFP Negotiating Panel expressing his wish and desire for the advance of the peace talks to achieve a just and lasting peace.
He would participate in mass protest actions, such as the condemnation of the pork barrel scandal, and in support of the victims of the supertyphoon Yolanda. He would send us text messages requesting solidarity for the mass actions. He was clearly happy to be with the struggling people fighting for justice.
In speeches at various national and international forums, he did not hesitate to expose the role of US imperialism in the exploitation and oppression of the Filipino people.
We shall sorely miss Bishop Millamena’s firm solidarity and his friendship. We are certain that his closeness to the struggling Filipino people and his dedication to a just and lasting peace in the Philippines will be a lasting legacy and inspiration to those who continue the struggle for national and social liberation and a just and lasting peace.
LUIS G. JALANDONI
Chairperson, Negotiating Panel
Member, National Executive Committee
National Democratic Front of the Philippines