The National Democratic Front-Eastern Visayas today said the 8th Infantry Division is exploiting the bishops of the Catholic Church in Samar like chess pieces in Oplan Bayanihan’s game of war. “It is reprehensible for 8th ID chief Gen. Mario Chan to exploit the bishops of the Catholic Church, a moral institution, in order to push an immoral, unjust and all-out war through Oplan Bayanihan,” said Fr. Santiago Salas, NDF-EV spokesperson. “The armed forces chief, Gen. Eduardo Oban, in fact recently openly gloated with Gen. Chan at the 8th ID’s manipulation of the Church, local government and other sectors into conjuring the illusion of public support for Oplan Bayanihan. This shows that the Catholic Church and other sectors should be critical and cautious of the military’s lust to launch all-out war and junk along the way the Aquino government’s peace negotiations with the NDFP.”
Fr. Salas noted all the indications show the Aquino government is gearing for all-out war against the people with the support of the US. “Gen. Oban bragged in the region that the military is getting P32 billion pesos for the so-called “modernization” of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. But while the Aquino government is fattening the military, it is starving agrarian reform, education, health, government salaries and other basic social reforms and services. The Aquino government is also putting money in the pockets of the military while turning a blind eye to the unresolved corruption scandals in the institution.
“Gen. Chan is lying when he claims the AFP is not receiving US support. In fact, the AFP rceived $15 million dollars in US military aid last 2010, such as 50,000 Kevlar helmets and 1,355 armor vests. This is apart from the non-military support of $434 million dollars from the US Millenium Challenge Corporation, which is still closely tied to “counterinsurgency” purposes because the military has a major psywar role in the US MCC projects and will benefit from roads for troop maneuvers. The US is now also promising even more military aid and increasing US troop presence in egging on the Aquino government into provocative actions against China, rather than the Philippines pursuing an independent and peaceful foreign policy over the Spratly Islands dispute. All these show the long-running US political, economic and military interests in the Philippines and Southeast Asia.”
The NDF-EV spokesperson urged the Catholic Church and other sectors to support the peace negotiations between the Aquino government and the NDFP, rather than be deceived by the 8th ID’s malicious misrepresentation of Oplan Bayanihan as a “peace and development” program. “The Catholic Church and others should be wary and discerning because the military’s promotion of Oplan Bayanihan is “all talk, no justice.” Nothing but lip service to human rights while violations continue and previous ones remain unresolved. Nothing but lip service to helping the poor, because shiny new roads are not enough to address the social injustices suffered by the landless and jobless.
“The Catholic bishops of Samar should beware of wolves in sheepskin who are herding them into Oplan Bayanihan’s “road to war.” NDF-EV instead urges the Catholic Church and other sectors to support the continuation of the peace talks between the Aquino government and the NDFP. Support the struggle for justice of the victims of human rights violations against the military’s lip service to human rights. Support the discussion of genuine solutions such as socio-economic reforms against the placebos of the military’s showcase road projects and other psywar. Support the struggle for a just and lasting peace, expose and oppose the goal for all-out war of Oplan Bayanihan.”