By Fr. SANTIAGO SALAS (Ka Sanny)
Spokesperson, NDFP Eastern Visayas Chapter
The people of Eastern Visayas have one answer to the puppet president Aquino who delivers his fifth state of the nation address this 28 July 2014: You should leave your office or we will make you leave.
They are fed up with the loud and putrid talk of Aquino in glorifying the yellow stains of his corruption, treachery, puppetry, injustice and fascism on the national fabric. In the past year alone, Aquino’s calamitous presidency bore down on the people to unprecedented suffering in the region.
Remember the criminal negligence of the Aquino regime in the more than 8,000 people who died during Supertyphoon Yolanda last 8 November 2013, most of them in Tacloban City, because the reactionary government remained sorely unprepared before and after the storm. Remember Maria Elisa Ocenar and her six children, who were all burned to death last 28 May 2014 in a tent city of Yolanda survivors in Tacloban.
To date, almost one million families remain without decent housing, with thousands living in inhuman conditions in tent cities and the corruption-ridden bunkhouses constructed by the Aquino regime.
Remember the fascist mercilessness of the Aquino regime to the people in inflicting Oplan Bayanihan on them even while they recover from the supertyphoon’s aftermath and the extensive economic damage it caused. The Armed Forces of the Philippines commits rising human rights violations in carrying out “peace and development operations” in Eastern Visayas, especially in Northern Samar and Western Samar.
In Northern Samar this year, troops of the 8th Infantry Division intimidate civilians and occupy civilian communities and structures in violation of international humanitarian law, such as in the barrios (villages) of Bangon, Calingnan, G.M. Osias, Lonoy, Luneta, Malidong, and Rizal in Gamay town, as well as in the barrios of San Jose, Quezon, and Siljagon in Mapanas town. Meanwhile, in Calbiga and Pinabacdao in Western Samar, the fascist soldiers harass the Yolanda survivors who are demanding relief and rehabilitation in the face of the Aquino regime’s criminal abandonment.
The violence of Supertyphoon Yolanda causing mass suffering in Eastern Visayas was made possible because the people were already living in intolerable conditions beforehand under the Aquino regime. Aquino’s worsening of the semifeudal and semicolonial crisis made the people vulnerable. Since 2006, the region’s economic status steadily declined from being the seventh poorest to becoming the second poorest in 2012 under the Aquino regime. The poverty rate is at 60% with the average family earning ₱49 per day and thus unable to meet the minimum basic needs. About 55% are unemployed or underemployed. The people’s conditions are worse today because Supertyphoon Yolanda caused ₱64.5 billion damage to agriculture, the region’s economic backbone, with ₱41.96 billion to coconut alone, the major cash crop that will take seven to ten years to fully restore. In Leyte, Biliran and Eastern Samar, there was also 100% damage to abaca, banana and root crops and other alternative food.
The Aquino regime’s so-called rehabilitation program is meant to intensify the exploitation and oppression of the comprador-landlord ruling classes and US imperialism. Its Reconstruction Assistance on Yolanda with a budget of ₱360.89 billion mainly meant for infrastructure is pro-imperialist and open to corruption, a bonanza for the regime’s comprador cronies and bureaucrat capitalists. The regime has also nothing new to offer but the same old reactionary programs such as conditional cash transfer and the privatization of state institutions and services. There is no significant assistance to the peasantry and the urban poor who suffered the most from the storm damage to agriculture and coastal communities. The urban and rural poor are being driven out of Tacloban and other areas on the pretext of their safety, but to pave the way in reality for big businesses.
Taking advantage also of the people’s suffering, US imperialism is using the signboard of humanitarian aid and disaster response on its Trojan horse of military intervention in Eastern Visayas, such as the Pacific Partnership 2014 naval exercises that began in June. US imperialism has already been given license by the Aquino regime to reoccupy the Philippines through the permanent presence of US troops granted by the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement.
Thus the current burning issue of corruption under the Aquino regime makes emphatic that while the people have nothing, the Aquino regime is wallowing in the ill-gotten fruits of its exploitation and oppression under the ruling system. By whatever name, the trillion-peso corruption scandals involving the Priority Development Assistance Fund, the Disbursement Acceleration Program or the “bottom-up budgeting” of the Aquino regime are all essentially pork barrel – the anomalous use of massive public funds by the ruling Aquino clique to give favors to its political allies and ensure their loyalty.
The Yolanda survivors, the people of Eastern Visayas, are all enraged at the Aquino regime’s corruption, in the face of the landless and jobless, the low income of the masses despite the rising prices of basic commodities, the desperate situation of the afflicted by calamity, and the brutal human rights violations under Oplan Bayanihan.
It is a matter of justice for the Yolanda survivors and the people to fight for the ouster of the Aquino regime. Only by doing so can they be assured of bringing the regime to account for its anti-people and anti-national crimes and pave the way for the discussion of fundamental changes. The people are only further inflamed by the Aquino regime’s brazen defense of its corruption, puppetry, injustice, treachery and fascism.
The National Democratic Front of the Philippines-Eastern Visayas is in solidarity with the anti-Aquino broad democratic forces. The prospect of regime change will strengthen the movement for genuine revolutionary change. The people must strive to agitate, organize and mobilize for the ouster of the Aquino regime. Meanwhile, the New People’s Army will intensify its tactical offensives in support of the people and to raise the level of warfare to the strategic stalemate from the strategic defensive. In time, the people will accumulate the necessary strength to overthrow the Aquino regime and its replacement with a transition council to discuss necessary reforms. The revolutionary armed struggle will continue until the reactionary ruling system is overthrown and the people’s democratic government can attain power.