CPDF’S Naogsan takes on Fr. Castaneda

>> Sunday, June 24, 2018

Alfred P. Dizon

Hereunder is a statement of Simon “Ka Filiw” Naogsan Sr. dated June 12 as rejoinder to a column of Fr. Castaneda published on Mountain  Province Exponent entitled “What are we fighting for?”:
 In the name of your “brethren in the mountains”, we are obliged to make a rejoinder on your column (Mt. Province Exponent, 6/10/18),”What are we fighting for?” While you acknowledged that we have “so many social issues in the communities that need to be solved . . .” yet your proposition for solution is characteristically simplistic, that is, for us to “get down and accept what the government will offer us”.
In other words, we surrender. Because if we surrender, there will be peace and development? And if we don’t surrender, it is a “grave sin to justice, peace and charity”! No, Reverend, surrender is not the answer to our social ills. The urgent call of the time, is our persistence to struggle and advance the revolution to higher stage until final victory.
The revolutionary cause have survived and surpassed the most brutal regimes starting from the Marcos dictatorship up to the present Duterte regime even with sustained logistical, material and personnel support from its foreign imperialist U.S. masters. The Philippine society remains qualitatively unchanged from a backward agricultural and further pushed aside as the sickman of Asia!
Its neoliberal economic policy have rendered poor Filipinos poorer and the few rich , richer. Large tracts of lands remains in the hands of a few big landlords and the masses of peasants remain landless.
In the Cordillera, the government itself remains the biggest landlord by making us Igorots squatters in our own ancestral lands by virtue of anti-people land laws, policies and destructive and extractive projects that deny us our right to our ancestral lands and resources.
The puppet government upon the dictates of its imperialist masters adamantly refuses to adopt a comprehensive socio-economic program of agrarian reform and rural development, national industrialization and urban development plan to create jobs that would absorb the swelling army of unemployed and under-employed. Instead it pursued a policy of labor contractualization and export to first world countries.
The unprecedented world financial and economic crisis due to imperialist overproduction and over concentration of capital that have wracked the first world countries and much more so with the third world semi -colonies have exposed the folly and precariousness of the labor export policy of the government.
The neoliberal economic policies of which the past and present reactionary regimes have piously subscribed to have more than ever plunged our economy from bad to worst. The present US-Duterte regime have gone berserk, obsessed more than ever arrogating executive powers and imposing his tyranical rule over the Filipino people. He imposed martial law in the whole of Mindanao under the pretext of the Marawi excessive bombings that pulverized the city and displaced about h
Incidentally, Reverend, last June 10 Father Richmond Nilo, a catholic priest like yourself, was murdered while about to say mass in his parish in Zaragoza, Nueva Ecija. Before his cold blooded murder, it was reported that he was instrumental in the release of a farmer mass leader illegally arrested and detained by the security forces of the Duterte regime on trumped up charges.
It is said that he was a respected priest and made known his bias to side with the landless farmers against the abuses of big landlords.
Moreover, sometime last May 23, Father Mark Ventura, another catholic priest was brutally murdered in Cagayan Province by the proverbial riding-in-tandem assailants. It is common knowledge to all and sundry that he is known for his strong advocacy against environmental degradation, plunder of ancestral lands and resources by big mining companies and hydropower projects and render preferential treatment for the indigenous people affected by corporate aggrandizement and greed.
He finds common cause among the aggrieved communities displaced by large-scale mining like Oceana Gold in Didipio, Nueva Vizcaya, large scale landgrabbing cases and militarization against the Aggays in the hinterlands of Zinundongan Valley of West Cagayan and Apayao Province. KARAPATAN, a nationwide human rights organization have reported that there is a marked and systematic spate of killings and victims of human rights violations involving church people throughout the country.
One thing is common about them – that they were in the midst of the struggling oppressed people and not just confined themselves in the comfort of their cozy convents or parishes. I could not help but mention the fate of these priests because it answers partly your posited query – “What are we fighting for?”
The impunity to violate human rights by state security forces is being emboldened by the open verbal attacks of Duterte against his perceived enemy cum enemy of the state. I find it relevant to share a light moment with Father Mark Ventura in a rare occasion we had during an earlier peace forum interaction in the interregnum of the peace negotiation between the GRP and the NDFP.
The same query was asked of him, “Why are you here and what are you fighting for?” His classic answer was, “You know, as a priest, I commit myself to be with the oppressed and downtrodden people. I go where the people are. I am wherever they are. It is absurd to say peace where there is unpeace. The best practice of charity is to be with them at their moment of need and struggles. The ordinary peoples’ struggles to defend their land against the plunder of corporate greed is the fair reason why I have to fight with them”.
We salute and give praise to the Christians for National Liberation (CNL), the revolutionary mass organizations of church people who was one of the pioneer revolutionary organization that formed the National Democratic Front of the Philippines in 1973 that has consistently advance the national democratic cause. The CNL is one of the 16 allied revolutionary mass organizations that composed the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).
Until today, it has contributed in the advancement of the united front work among the middle forces in uniting the Filipino people and drum up support for the national democratic revolution. Least you might say that we are obsessed with just bloody war without seriously exploring some respite from the loss of lives and properties that the armed revolution entails.
The revolutionary movement has always considered the option for a political settlement to attain national liberation, democracy and enduring peace with whoever Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) regime that is open and sincere to sit down in a peace negotiation and end the armed conflict. At the outset, and even while fighting, the NDFP has been designated by the revolutionary movement to represent the revolutionary forces in the peace talks between the GRP and the NDFP.
In fact, the NDFP engaged with the US-Cory regime on peace talks that was sabotaged by the so called Lupao massacre. Protesting Lupao farmers were brutally dispersed by state security forces that left several protesters lay dead and wounded. Then the GRP peace panel announced that they cannot guarantee the safety of even the NDFP negotiating panel.
It again engaged in peace negotiation with the GRP during the US-Ramos regime and even in the absence of a ceasefire have advanced the peace talks and achieved several significant binding agreements including the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) and Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL), the first of the four substantive agenda mutually agreed upon by the two negotiating panels, then followed the short lived peace talks during the US-Estrada regime before he was ousted from Malacanang.
The subsequent regimes of Arroyo and Pinoy, the peace talks did not prosper and nothing was achieved because of their intractable stand not to sit down for peace negotiation. Guarded hopes marked our enthusiasm to sit in the peace negotiating table with the new government of Duterte.
The NDFP and GRP have committed themselves to address the root causes of the civil war by drafting a comprehensive package of reforms on Agrarian Reforms and Rural Development, National Industrialization, Recognition of the Right to Self-Determination of National Minorities, . . . they have mutually hammered out particular items that take consideration of the concerns of national minority peoples and the Moro people to recognize the right on ancestral land, etc.
Had not Duterte arbitrarily stopped the peace talks last November 2018, it is hoped that the Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-economic Reforms (CASER) have been signed by now. And that would have facilitated the acceleration of the third substantive agenda on Political and Constitutional Reforms, good enough as basis to tackle the last agenda on Cessation of Hostilities and Disposition of the Armed Forces. With the announced reopenning of the peace negotiation this month, it is hopeful that the signing of the CASER would pushed through.
While these draft provisions outline in broad stroke the comprehensive socio-economic political reforms, it can not just be dropped like manna from heaven but can only be fully realized with the active, sustained, militant and armed participation of the masses of peasants, workers and other democratic sectors nationwide including the national minority people of the Cordillera and elsewhere.
The Cordillera people, tempered with historical experiences in struggling to assert its right over its ancestral land and resources, areas ever ready to carry forward the necessary collective political actions to make fruition of the CASER if approved by the principals of both parties. But if the Duterte regime employs other machinations that would eventually sabotage the final signing and instead hellbent on pursuing its ulterior motive of just enticing the revolutionary movement to capitulate, the CPDF together with the national minority people of the Cordillera will no doubt sharpen more its age-old spears and shields in combination with modern weapons to carry on the armed revolution till final victory.
What are we fighting for? We know you are one with us in fighting for land, self-determination, social justice, democracy for the majority, equality, prosperity and peace. What are we fighting against? Maybe you can join us in fighting against tyranny, exploitation, oppression, discrimination, militarization, poverty and injustices.
You pontificate of the need of brave people to transform this decadent society to become a better world for our children and the coming generation, yet you advocate surrender to a tyrant rule and kowtow to its misrule. That is not the collective wish of the oppressed and exploited masses of the Filipino people who longed for national liberation, democracy and enduring peace even the present “digital generation”.
The protracted people’s war we are waging maybe long and winding but because we persevere and persist, we shall overcome. We shall win final victory!


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