Aquino’s Oplan Bayanihan is a rehash of old counter-insurgency programs that seek to deodorize the brutality of the “fascist government” with human-rights rhetoric, psy-war lies, dole-out campaigns, so-called community organizing for peace and development, and other political gimmickry, Ka Oris added.
The NDFP-Mindanao spokesman urged the CPP to “boldly expand and strengthen” itself and the NPA “to annihilate its enemies and seize more weapons.” He also called on the CPP to fulfill the requirements for completing the strategic defensive stage of its Maoist revolution in the next five years to achieve the stage of “strategic stalemate” against the government of the Philippines.
The celebrations included a “peace forum” where Ka Oris explained the NDFP’s “peace Agenda” as he reiterated that the impending formal peace talks between the NDFP and the Philippines in Oslo, Norway, in February follow the Joint Hague Declaration of 1992. Representatives from the religious, peasant, workers, legal, and youth sectors, indigenous peoples, and local government units took turns in expressing support to the formal peace talks. He also answered questions about local peasant struggles against foreign-owned plantations and environment issues.
A pass-in-review by an NPA company -– three platoons of 25 fighters each — at the beginning of the program marking the 42nd anniversary of the Communist Party of the Philippines. (Photo by Raymund B. Villanueva / Kodao Productions / bulatlat.com / bulatlat.com)
He also drew enthusiastic applause when he said that the NPA was the first to recognize gay rights as human rights, in response to a question posed by a group of gays in the audience.
In the succeeding press conference, he refused to be baited into badmouthing President Aquino, saying “it is bad form to do so when we are about to talk to his government across the negotiating table.”
Ka Oris instead praised the appointment of lawyers Alex Padilla and Pablo Sanidad to the negotiating panel of the GRP in its talks with the NDFP.
The rebel leader also tried to be diplomatic against the Philippine Army’s 401st Infantry Brigade, describing its harassments on civilian participants and the media as “unfriendly,” even as journalists were incensed at being interrogated at checkpoints and military camps causing some of them to miss the start of the celebrations.
“We thank the media on its steadfast defense of the people’s right to be informed to important political events such as these unprecedented celebrations of the CPP’s anniversary in terms of attendance,” he said.
He denied that they invited the media to act as human shield against possible attacks by government troops to disrupt the celebrations.
“Apart from the harassments, we think that it would be bad for the reactionary army to attack this large mass gathering. But should they indeed attack the NPA in this area has decided earlier to just withdraw rather than engage the enemy. This is to spare the civilians from possible harm,” he explained.
“In all my 30 years as a revolutionary guerilla I have never seen an (CPP) anniversary celebration as huge as this. It is 3:30 in the afternoon and, as you can see, the people are still here having a good time,” Ka Oris said.
He said the CPP invites civilians and supporters to guerilla zones during anniversary celebrations not for its sole benefit. “We are doing this because the masses want to celebrate the anniversary of the party and its army that genuinely serve them. They want these celebrations as much as we do, as you can see for yourselves,” he told the members of the media.
After most of the local and national media as well as church and local government representatives have left delegations from five neighboring provinces in Eastern Mindanao tried to outdo each other with their own “cultural performances.” Revolutionary songs performed by children drew the loudest roars of approval from the crowd and the rebels. The humid air was constantly punctured with shouts of “Long live the Communist Party!” during and after each performance.
The celebration was reluctantly ended at about four in the afternoon, after the emcees explained that the 50-square meter stage had to be dismantled and the venue cleaned by the rebels before it got dark.
As a steady stream of trucks, buses and jeepneys turned from the village road to the provincial highway Philippine Army and Philippine National Police personnel tried to take videos of plate numbers and people’s faces. More checkpoints and road blocks were set up on roads leading from one of the biggest gatherings inside a guerilla zone in history.