By Fr. SANTIAGO SALAS (Ka Sanny)
Spokesperson, NDFP-Eastern Visayas
The National Democratic Front of the Philippines – Eastern Visayas today warned that the recent visit of new Philippine Army chief Gen. Emmanuel Bautista to the 8th Infantry Division is in preparation for the escalation of war. “The Aquino government appears hell-bent on pursuing all-out war in light of its refusal to resume peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines,” said Fr. Santiago Salas, NDFP-EV spokesperson.
“Thus, the new Army chief’s inspection of the 8th ID emphasizes that Eastern Visayas is one of the priority regions targeted by the (counter-insurgency program) Oplan Bayanihan of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. Moreover, in lieu of peace talks, the Benigno Aquino regime is amassing weapons to unleash total war on the people. In the midst of economic crisis, it will be spending P10 billion to upgrade the AFP, aside from continuing to receive US military aid and its announced intentions to acquire weapons from South Korea.
“It smacks of hypocrisy for Gen. Bautista to call on the 8th ID to respect human rights while the AFP is saber-rattling at the same time. The 8th ID continues to enjoy impunity in carrying out Oplan Bayanihan, by occupying civilian communities and violating the rights of civilians. A glaring example is that one year later, justice remains denied to noted scientist Leonardo Co and his assistants who were massacred by the 19th Infantry Battalion (Philippine Army) in Kananga, Leyte.”
Fr. Salas also said that the 8th ID’s drive to declare Samar and Leyte as “insurgency-free” is a euphemism for brutally attacking and suppressing the people who are demanding fundamental changes.
“The 8th ID viciously puts down those who demand basic socio-economic reforms from the Aquino government. Gen. Mario Chan, 8th ID chief, claims the glittering generalization that road projects worth billions of pesos will bring prosperity to the region. But these will in fact further hasten social injustice, poverty and misery by facilitating the Aquino government’s plans to open the region to large-scale mining and logging.
“The people will remain in rags as long as they are not uplifted by genuine land reform, national industrialization, the end of imperialist control of the economy and other basic changes.”
The NDFP-EV spokesperson urged the people to oppose Oplan Bayanihan and fight for a just and lasting peace. “The people must continue to expose and oppose the continuing climate of impunity for human rights violations under Oplan Bayanihan. They must continue to unite and challenge the Aquino government to stop all-out war and instead spend the military budget on social services.
“They must call on the Aquino government to resume the peace talks with the NDFP and resolve the root causes of the civil war. The people must persevere in their militant and revolutionary struggles to attain national liberation and democracy.”