By MAGNO UDYAW
Spokesperson, Leonardo Pacsi Command
NPA Mountain Province Provincial Operations Command
To the challenge issued by Armed Forces of the Philippines Northern Luzon Command chief Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang, Jr. to the New People’s Army, in connection with climate change, we say “Yes, we accept the challenge!” In fact we issue forth the same challenge to the general to be true to his words.
The revolutionary movement has always had a consistent policy and record in protecting the environment, even before climate change became a pressing issue. History has witnessed how the Communist Party of the Philippines, New People’s Army, and its revolutionary mass base fought against the large-scale land grabbing and devastation of the environment, perpetrated by big foreign and local capitalists, through destructive and greed-driven economic activities such as logging and mining. Furthermore, the NPA respects and promotes the positive practices and traditions that national minorities follow in their proper use and conservation of forests, rivers and other natural resources.
In the Cordilleras, the revolutionary movement of the national minorities thwarted the operation of Cellophil Resources Corporation (CRC) in the provinces of Abra and Kalinga, and the Chico river dam projects in Mountain Province and Kalinga during the Marcos era. The massive logging project of CRC was geared to ravage a wide range of the Central Cordillera Forest Reserve while the Chico dam projects were to alter the natural flow of the Chico river and submerge entire communities of thousands of national minorities.
Through the years, numerous large scale mining and dam projects in the Cordilleras and other regions of the country have also been fought by the people and punished by the NPA. Only recently, a drilling machine of Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company was burned by the NPA as part of the campaign to end the operation of the said corporation. Had it not been for the armed revolution and the militant struggle of the national minorities to defend their ancestral lands against development aggression, Central Cordillera would now be a howling wasteland.
No one can also deny the significant role played by the revolutionary movement in the protection of the forests of Sierra Madre. Thus, the New People’s Army was dubbed as “green guerillas”. After the onslaught of typhoon Pablo, the revolutionary movement in Mindanao compelled mining and logging companies to pay for damages incurred by the masses. Even in communities devastated by Typhoon Yolanda, the revolutionary movement is doing what it can under the circumstances for the relief and rehabilitation of the area.
These mining and logging companies, together with other development aggression projects, especially in mineral-rich mountainous areas such as the Cordillera, are the culprits in the vast and serious devastation of the environment and livelihood of the masses, contributing to the ill-effects of global climate change.
Gen. Catapang is desperately trying to don the mask of an environment advocate, while the AFP has long been proven to be the protectors of such environmentally destructive companies and projects. There is no area where large-scale mining or logging companies are operating, or in the process of securing permits to operate, that is not militarized or does not have a military detachment within the vicinity. The AFP serves as security forces to protect the interests of these environmentally destructive projects.
Catapang is also being hypocritical for criticizing the ambuscade launched by the NPA. The recent ambuscades launched in Mountain Province and Isabela last November were directed against troops of the 5th Infantry Division, together with units of the Philippine National Police, currently launching a very expensive massive military operation that encompasses almost the whole of Northern Luzon while relief operations in the Visayas regions are going on a snail-pace due to bureaucratic red tape and corruption.
Meanwhile, while trying to deceive the masses by pretending to be pro-environment, Gen. Catapang, in an earlier speech, unwittingly reared his ugly head by defending the “priority development assistance fund” or pork barrel of Congress, saying that it shouldn’t be scrapped. Catapang has the temerity to say this while the whole nation has expressed its outrage over the Napoles Scam. Even the Supreme Court has already ruled the PDAF as unconstitutional.
It is not hard to imagine that the AFP, which is one of the most corrupt departments of the government, has benefited in such anomalous transactions involving the PDAF, thus explaining the vain attempt of Gen. Catapang to resuscitate the pork barrel.
We all know that the pork barrel system is one of the easier means of the president for control over congress. This is so because of the corrupt nature of most lawmakers, who are always preoccupied in devising ways on how to have a bigger piece of the pie.
Clearly, Catapang’s thinking epitomizes the real nature of the AFP, the protectors of a dying corrupt system ruled by a greedy few and their US imperialist master. Any pretensions to be pro-environment or pro-poor will not conceal this.