By JORGE "Ka Oris" MADLOS
Spokesperson, National Democratic Front of the Philippines-Mindanao
The NDFP-Mindanao is one with all peace advocates and peace-loving Filipino people in the pursuit of a just and lasting peace. We are aware of the call for peace of advocates through the Mindanao Week of Peace. It is, however, imperative to thoroughly understand the nature and context of the social conflict that breed un-peace.
Almost four centuries of Spanish rule and six decades of US tutelage fettered the Philippines to feudal and semi-feudal exploitation. Filipino peasants have been deprived of land; workers, reduced to cheap labour force; and our natural resources and environment, plundered and ravaged. The country became a dumping market for overpriced goods, and a forward base for imperialist hegemony in the Asia-Pacific.
Since the bogus independence of 1946, puppet governments were beholden to US imperialist economic and political interests. Particularly in Mindanao, the Moro warlord ruling elite connived with US imperialists to grab and turn their ancestral lands into export crop production at the expense of both the Moro and non-Moro peasants.
This paved the way for US Firestone rubber plantations in the Cotabato and Zamboanga provinces, and for vast Dole Phils. pineapple plantations in plains of Cotabato and part of Bukidnon. This insured imperialist interest in oil, geothermal energy and minerals in the Liguasan marsh, Cotabato, Sulu and Palawan.
Moro warlords were heavily armed to protect foreign monopoly businesses and the ruling class as well as suppress people's opposition. They were pampered to such an extent that they killed with impunity, as did the Ampatuan warlords in the brutal massacre of 58 civilians, including lawyers and journalists, on 23 Nov. 2009.
In non-Moro areas, US imperialism, in collusion with the big bourgeois comprador and local big landlords, grabbed forests and land for large scale plantations, logging and mining. Xstrata, Inc., a large foreign mining firm, laid claim to the mineral rich quadri-boundary of SOCSKSARGEN, to the detriment of the masses there. The mineral-rich provinces of Surigao and Davao were ravaged by big multinational mining firms. Mindanao valleys and plains fast became imperialist plantations, displacing countless peasants and turning food production into export crop plantations.
To secure its geo-political interest in the Asia-Pacific region, the US deployed its troops to Mindanao and other parts of the country, which directly participate in military operations in clear violation of our sovereignty. The Michael Meiring bomb accident of 2002 in Davao exposed US's hand in Mindanao terrorist bombings to justify its military intervention here. US imperialist discretely worked to impel the reactionary government to tamper with the GRP constitution to allow US military basing and full property rights.
The AFP, together with the PNP, CAFGU, CAA and private armies, served as mainstay to impose and to secure the interests both of the local ruling class and US imperialist, which often end in rampant human rights violations such as massive dislocation, abduction, torture, rape and murder.
This vicious systemic exploitation and oppression, which has compelled the Filipino people to rise in revolution, is the root of un-peace. Therefore, true sovereignty from imperialist domination and the attainment of social justice are pre-requisites for a just and lasting peace for the whole country.
Particularly in Mindanao, the recognition and granting of the Moro and the Lumad peoples' right to self-determination is a must and, as such, majority and Christian chauvinism should be eradicated. In concrete, their ancestral domain must be protected from imperialist, big comprador bourgeois and big landlord incursion and land grabbing. Genuine land reform must be instituted to emancipate the Lumad and Moro peasants from warlords who perpetuate feudal and semi-feudal exploitation.
On the other hand, the majority population in Mindanao are one with their Lumad and Moro counterparts in their struggle against US imperialist domination in the island, and against the exploitation of the comprador bourgeoisie and big landlord classes.
Genuine land reform and national industrialization are indispensable together with the institutionalization of a real democracy to give the workers and peasants the political power to determine their future.
The MILF and the NDFP, the major revolutionary forces in Mindanao, are both committed to attain just and lasting peace that may result from a political settlement with the GRP thru peace negotiations, so long as peace talks genuinely address the root causes of the armed conflict and the people's discontent. However, the two revolutionary forces share the same predicament in facing the GRP which appears disinterested in pursuing the peace process because it has been dilly-dallying, has not been serious in implementing all signed agreements, and, worse, has continuously launched military offensives against both revolutionary movements.
In this context therefore, peace advocates have a crucial role to help urge the GRP under Benigno Aquino III to be serious in undertaking talks with both the MILF and the NDFP. All advocates for peace at the same time need to be aware of the historical and current circumstances that have spawned un-peace in Mindanao.
Conversely, while we work in earnest to achieve peace that is based on social justice at the negotiating table, other forms of struggles will go on until all the root causes of social injustice are genuinely addressed. More so that the Aquino III government, unlike its predecessors which have shown initial positive gestures such as releasing political prisoners and declaring the suspension of offensive military operations, has so far paid only lip service to the peace process while extending the military campaigns of OBL 2.
In view of the foregoing, the NDFP –Mindanao calls on all Filipinos to unite resolutely in the pursuit to shatter the chains of social injustice to attain just and lasting peace!