Makabayan bloc to China: Back out

THE Makabayan bloc called on the Chinese government, aside from US and Russia, to back off and respect the Philippines' sovereignty, as the progressive group campaigned in Cagayan de Oro City Tuesday, April 9.

The group kicked off its campaign with a caravan. It urged the public to choose leaders who will assert the country's independence from intrusive foreign policies.

Bayan Muna party-list Representative Carlos Isagani Zarate expressed concern over the country's loan agreements with China, which he described as a debt trap.

He said the government agreed, without question, all provisions to loan $62 billion from China to fund its infrastructure projects with a two-percent per annum interest.

The projects include the Chico River Irrigation Project, New Centennial Water Source-Kaliwa Dam Project, and the Philippine National Railway South Commuter Line.

"Despite protests, the government has favored Chinese loans, while turning deaf ears on the indigenous peoples whose lands will be encroached, the residents that will be greatly affected by the negative environmental impact of the large-scale construction, and the Filipino people who will be enslaved into paying these loans," Zarate said.

He likened these loans to the loans made by the late dictator President Ferdinand Marcos, which, decades after, the country is still paying.

Red-tagging, 'persona non grata'

Zarate said the group is not bothered with some communities in Mindanao and other parts of the country declaring them as "persona non grata" along with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and New People's Army (NPA).

He said that until now, the military could not draw the lines in identifying who are the rebels carrying arms, and those like them who used the democratic process of free expression.

"Even in these areas that they say we are 'persona non grata,' we were still able to visit these communities because the people believed in our advocacy and what we fought for," he said, although he admitted that not all people are in favor of their work because they were already "brainwashed."

In a statement on Monday, the 4th Infantry Division (4ID) reported that "front organizations," referring to the party-lists under Makabayan bloc, were also included in the declaration of the municipalities of San Francisco in Agusan del Sur and Tagbina in Surigao del Sur, along with Barangay Ilang-Ilang of Loreto, Agusan del Sur.

Through the resolutions passed by their respective peace and order councils, these communities followed other areas in declaring the CPP-NPA and front organizations as persona non-grata and committing their communities to become conflict-resilient.

The intensified “whole-of-nation” approach and “peaceful war” efforts of the local government units, together with the 4th Infantry “Diamond” Division and other stakeholders, are causing the CPP-NPA to lose grounds and hold of their mass supporters, resulting in their continuing disintegration, the 4ID said.

At present, one province, three municipalities and 18 barangays in Northern Mindanao and Caraga regions have already declared the CPP-NPA and its front organizations as persona non grata, said the 4ID.


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