Ka EFREN AKSASATO
Spokesperson, NDFP Far South Mindanao Chapter
Gov. Daisy Avance-Fuentes is obviously trying to regain herself from embarrassment in announcing a fabrication that the New People’s Army guerillas operating in South Cotabato do not hail from the province. She reiterated this over a radio interview, adding a whopper that the guerillas come from impoverished areas in Compostela Valley devastated by the typhoon Pablo, and that the NPA rebels settle into her “economically flourishing” province in order to survive.
Upholding her diehard counterrevolutionary policy is the governor’s utmost assurance of her protection and subservience for the reactionary interests of the ruling power of the imperialists, comprador bourgeoisie and big landlords she is serving. She was co-architect of the local anti-insurgency program Oplan Purple Heart in 2004, thus it is would be a disgrace for her current administration to witness the transpiring upsurge of the revolutionary armed struggle after she had dismissed that it has become ineffective in her province.
Gov. Avance-Fuentes has a misunderstanding of the fact that South Cotabato is not alienated from the semi-colonial and semi-feudal Philippine society. As a result of the prevailing rule of imperialism, feudalism and bureaucrat capitalism, a vast majority of the people is persistently suffering from poverty and abject living conditions. The intensifying oppression and repression under the rule of the despotic classes of the society begets social unrest, pushing forward for the people’s revolution. The governor must learn from the lessons of the history of the Filipino people, as well as the lessons of the struggles of the people of South Cotabato so as to realize this.
The boundless grounds for the people’s war disagree with the governor’s illusive proclamation that the revolutionary armed movement is off-limits within her province’s territory. The Red cadres and fighters of the NPA adhere to the principle of unbounded service towards the people and the revolution in responding to their deployment wherever their revolutionary tasks would take them. The existence and apparent progress of the revolutionary movement in a particular area basically rests on the decisive role and participation of the local masses.
Her allegation that the comrades abandon the disaster areas to look for greener pastures in her province is a boo-boo and makes no sense, but in a way it expresses the escapist attitude and callousness of self-centered officials on issues that confront their government. Such selfish thinking belongs to the looting AFP mercenaries who carry out military operations that hamper relief and reconstruction efforts of the masses, as well as the opportunist government officials who make use of the relief operations for their political propaganda while taking advantage of the people’s depressing situation to buff up their political ambitions.
The typhoon Pablo and other disasters that occurred had by no means caused setbacks in the advancement of the revolutionary movement and armed struggle in Compostela Valley and the revolutionary bases devastated by calamities. While the masses continue to suffer from the reactionary government’s neglect and indecisiveness, the NPA comrades are working with the people’s organs of political power in taking initial steps for the socio-economic reconstruction of their localities.
Wherever a calamity occurs, mass organizations undertake the relief and rescue operations and works on the rehabilitation and reconstruction while the Red fighters of the NPA organize themselves into rescue and relief brigades to assist the masses. Ensuring the welfare of the masses is the NPA’s priority. That is the real essence of serving the people, a stark contrast of the pretentious service vaunted by the reactionary bureaucrats such as Gov. Avance-Fuentes.
The “economic development” and bright economic data Gov. Avance-Fuentes vaunted in her recent SOPA was not to favor the vast majority of the people in South Cotabato. The coherent raising of poverty and hunger incidence is a contrariety to the province’s reputation as the food basket of the south being one of the largest producers of rice and corn in the country. Small rice farmers are heavily indebted to big rice traders-usurers who systematically monopolize their produce. Despite the province’s high yield of the staple product, consumers bear high prices of rice that costs up to PhP50.00 a kilo due to the monopoly in trading and distribution.
The settler and Lumad peasants continue to flounder in poverty as more and more are losing their land to large-scale mining operations, multinational agribusinesses, big landlord-usurers and plantation-owning big bourgeois compradors and bureaucrats. There is also a threatening reduction of food production in the province as a result of widespread crop conversion that caters to export crops. Within the last five years, thousands of hectares of irrigated rice fields have been converted to banana and pineapple plantations. In addition to this, large areas have become unproductive due to the bursting of rivers caused by mining operations, and the land destruction caused by quarrying.
South Cotabato workers employed in the industry and service sectors are among the lowest wage earners in the country. Their abject condition is aggravated by the highly exploitative and repressive labor conditions and the smashing of their labor unions become legitimate. Even the members of the middle class are affected by the rising prices of basic commodities and social services that include water, energy, health and education. The jobless work force is increasing in number as opposed to the vaunted numerous investments and job opportunities coming in.
The Avance-Fuentes administration’s so-called “development and economic growth” refers to the rapid expansion of imperialist agribusinesses, such as Itucho-Dole and Sumifru, and the exploitation of the mineral resources by the destructive mining companies, such as Sagittarius Mines Incorporated (SMI) and San Miguel Energy Corporation (SMEC). These companies reap super profits to the detriment of the fundamental rights and welfare of the Lumads, peasants, workers and the environment.
These are the concrete and factual conditions that burden the people in South Cotabato and hinder their realization of a genuine development that is nationalist, pro-people and pro-environment. These conditions create a healthy ground for the people’s revolutionary aspirations to thrive.