Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Letter to LSDE in response to editorial on the question of peace-NDF

Letter to LSDE in response to editorial on the question of peace

Fr. Santiago Salas
NDF - Eastern Visayas
Sept. 15, 2010

Ven Labro
Leyte Samar Daily Express

Dear Editor:

The NDF-Eastern Visayas welcomes your editorial on the question of peace posted last Sept. 13 on the internet.

We understand those who disagree with the violence of the Catarman ambush by the New People's Army. There are differing political views, not everyone espouses revolutionary violence to change the system. Nor can everyone be convinced the NPA's recent offensive was a legitimate act of war.

We disagree, however, when the revolutionary violence of the NPA is taken to task, but the reactionary violence of the government's Oplan Bantay Laya is not. If violence per se should be criticized, the NPA is not even the one committing the greatest violence; it is the armed services of the state that do. With over 1,200 political killings and over 200 enforced disappearances since 2001, Oplan Bantay Laya is still claiming victims while nearing its end in January 2011. Of the political killings, 121 are in Eastern Visayas, the latest to die only this Aug. 25: Casiano Abing, Bayan Muna activist and court sheriff in Balangiga, Eastern Samar. There are also the aerial and artillery bombardments of civilian communities, mass evacuations, economic disruptions, and other atrocities suffered by civilians under Oplan Bantay Laya.

If there be wringing of hands over those who fall to violence, then all the more so for those who are civilians persecuted by Oplan Bantay Laya: an armed campaign against the unarmed. Otherwise, what is even the point of condemning a part of the violence and missing the big picture? Does not silence on that point only help the armed services of the state in their impunity in attacking civilians who are not involved in the armed conflict?

Yet despite the bloody decade of Oplan Bantay Laya, the NDFP has remained open to peace negotiations, even as political killings raged and the revolutionary forces also suffered casualties. The NDFP rose above the fighting in desiring the discussion and achievement of a just and lasting peace. Sadly, the Philippine government never reciprocated, but has tried time and again to impose ceasefire and surrender terms on the revolutionary movement before any peace negotiations. Such would have made the peace talks no better than a "counterinsurgency" tool complementary to the Oplan Bantay Laya campaign.

Even today, the new Aquino government still has to come up with a peace panel to face the NDFP. Meanwhile, we assume LSDE is aware that upon Oplan Bantay Laya's end in January 2011, the Armed Forces of the Philippines will be implementing yet another "counterinsurgency" campaign. This will aim to crush the revolutionary movement in three to five years. Who is now advocating only violence and avoiding the discussion of a just and lasting peace? Ultimately, the people must struggle for peace and prevent the fascists and militarists in the Aquino regime from wreaking greater state violence.

Fr. Santiago Salas
National Democratic Front of the Philippines
Eastern Visayas

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