By RUBI DEL MUNDO
Spokesperson, NDFP Southern Mindanao Chapter
Today’s first year anniversary of the tragic Typhoon Pablo (international name: Bopha) marks a whole year of utter negligence, corruption, and exploitation committed by the US-Aquino regime. The survivors of the 4 December 2012 catastrophe in the provinces of Compostela Valley, Davao Oriental, Agusan del Sur and Davao del Norte have endured a year of grief over the loss of their loved ones, lost lands and extreme deprivation. The situation of affected peasants, workers, and Lumads (indigenous peoples) in these areas had deteriorated, their lives a mere shadow of their former lot.
A survey of Typhoon Pablo affected areas show abandoned farms, destroyed forests, unrepaired roads and ruined houses.
Today marks a complete failure of the administration of GPH president Benigno Aquino III to systematically address the needs of Typhoon Pablo victims. There is no recovery to speak of, despite billions of funds disposed from GPH coffers, international donor agencies, nongovernment organizations and private donors.
The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) have siphoned the billions of pesos which found their way to the pockets of reactionary bureaucrats and generals. They are shameless in boasting about overpriced and substandard relief and rehabilitation projects, while other GPH agencies aggressively pursue policies and programs geared towards logging, mining, and capitalist expansion in Pablo-affected areas.
Despite the utter destruction in the countryside, the 1001st, 701st and 1003rd Brigades of the 10th Infantry Division of the AFP have intensified its “Peace and Development Team” (PDT) operations in Typhoon Pablo areas, deployed death squads to execute leaders, and “neutralized” people’s organizations.
Cloaked as disaster assistance, the US-Aquino regime also imposed cash-for-work schemes for displaced peasants and workers using grossly low wages and sorry working conditions. The masses are no better off from ordinary laborers and wage-earners who are doing menial work and paid with starvation salaries. Workers of corporate banana plantations who are under contract growership were forced to give up their overdue salaries and benefits in the name of “plantation rehabilitation”, so that big corporations can minimize cost and maximize profits.
Worse, the US-Aquino regime marshaled and concentrated its limited resources in the province, town and selected village centers, as they abandoned far-flung farms, communities, and forests — areas that they declared as geo-hazardous for habitation. It was a strategy meant to dislocate peasants and Lumads from their lands, and concentrate them to areas where the military and GPH can easily control them. The hamletting served the dual purpose of controlling the movement of villagers while leaving forests and farms easily accessible for large-scale mining and capitalist incursion.
In the midst of the US-Aquino regime’s sheer inadequacy and oppression, the people have valiantly struggled against the corruption, negligence, large-scale mining and militarization. Well-meaning individuals, private organizations, including schools and churches, have responded to the call of peasants, Lumads, and workers for farm tools, seedlings, water systems, repair of destroyed schools, and other infrastructure.
The revolutionary forces and the New People’s Army under the Communist Party of the Philippines have persevered in seeing to the full recovery of affected base areas and guerilla zones. Hundreds of thousands of revolutionary forces and their families have survived the impact of Typhoon Pablo not because of the reactionary state’s intervention, but because they militantly struggled and rebuilt their communities, farms and forests. Revolutionary forces and Party members, with the deployed NPA units, have built more organs of political power in a frequency and intensity meant to effectively address the debilitating effects of Typhoon Pablo.
Now, in the 1st year anniversary of Typhoon Pablo, the people’s new democratic revolution remains the only viable option in the full recovery of disaster areas and the livelihood of communities and its people. Armed struggle against a fascist regime, the implementation of agrarian revolution and the development of mass base — these must intensify to advance the people’s war against the US-Aquino regime and prepare for future calamites.
As we commiserate with the victims and survivors of Typhoon Yolanda in the Visayas region, the NDFP Southern Mindanao reiterates the necessity of consolidating a united front of all revolutionary and progressive forces to inspire the disaster-ravaged region in addressing the challenges of relief and rehabilitation. The militant victims of Typhoon Pablo are a beacon of hope for Yolanda victims that through people’s warfare, we shall overcome.