What fascist attacks? CNL recovers, consolidates, continues to serve the masses

in Mainstream

He looked differently two years ago at the 9th Congress of the Christians for National Liberation (CNL). Then, he and his comrades from the same region looked like they were weighed down by the challenges they face—fascist attacks against peasants and workers whom they vowed to serve. The church people in this region were not spared from these attacks either. They too, were harassed and even killed.

Two years ago, he punctuated his story with a smile but it was exasperated and compliant. That time, successive military tactical Oplan (Operational Plan) meant to decapitate the revolutionary forces in the region were conducted, targeting both the red fighters of the New People’s Army (NPA) and the unarmed civilians and activists both in the villages and in the urban centers.

“We were under attack but at the same time the situation required us to respond to the people’s needs which is greater than ours,” Ka Nestor said. “But we cannot shun away from the Church’s prophetic ministry,” he added. The Church’s prophetic ministry calls on the faithful to translate prayers into direct actions that serve the people in their struggle for economic and social justice.

Not that the brutal attacks have ceased now. In fact, massacre and bombing of villages have become a regular occurrence in the villages at present. State forces combed houses in the communities in search of “NPA supporters,” threatening the people against supporting the red fighters.

Meeting Ka Nestor again this 2024 was a joy. He seemed lighter and sported a duchenne smile, the one that reached his eyes. What has changed?

“After the 9th Congress, we managed to gather a number of our forces we’d lost contact. From there, we were able to reach out to some more, even among those unorganized despite, or most likely because, of the worsening situation. It may be slow but we are steadily gaining ground,” explained Ka Nestor.

Temporarily cut off from the region’s leadership and guidance because of the successive fascist attacks, Ka Nestor and his collective—like the seasoned comrades who spread the revolutionary fire in the 60’s—had to rely on their own initiative, armed with revolutionary theory and the desire to push forward the revolution. “Kahit walang ugnay gumagalaw kami based on our capacity, (Despite the situation, we continued with our work, doing what we can based on our capacity,)” he said.

With the assistance of the CNL national leadership, Ka Nestor and comrades made some headway in their organizing work and in directly acting on the people’s needs through relief, medical, and fact-finding missions. They went to the villages where their churches are planted.

CNL spokesperson Renmin Malaya, in another interview, mentioned how the national leadership integrated among their members in the regions to help rebuild or establish CNL chapters or hold provincial and even regional Congresses in what he called as “clear-cut and timely intervention.”

It may not yet be on the same level as the previous organized members of CNL and in the number of people mobilized in various activities, specifically in urban centers but “definitely, we had a breakthrough in our work in the region and in provinces after a series of localized Oplan were launched and followed by several lockdowns at the height of the Covid pandemic,” said Ka Nestor.

Ready to Harvest

“The breakthroughs animate our work, especially now that congregations and denominations previously inactive are slowly picking up,” related Ka Nestor. Malaya was a witness to this. Comrades who distanced themselves from the movement for various reasons, most of them when fascist attacks intensified, have reconnected,” Malaya elaborated.

The more Ka Nestor’s group organizes, the more they are able to serve the poor in the communities. Consequently, those opted to stay on the sidelines are now mobilized. The results of their efforts, he said, has inspired others to, at least, cooperate or get back to the movement. “Hindi na namin na-feel ang attacks, kasi ganyan naman talaga ang response nila pag nag-oorganisa tayo. Di na hadlang. Wala na sa amin ang red-tagging, hindi na iniinda, mas iniisip namin paano ma-organisa ang taong-simbahan at paano makatulong sa sitwasyon ng masa. (Attacks and red-tagging no longer deter our organizing work. We take these as the usual response of the reactionary state to our organizing work. We now focus on how to organize the church people and serve the masses,)” Ka Nestor continued.

Ka Nestor’s region was among those declared by the military recently as “insurgency free” regions but the church people and the masses do not buy this. It is impossible for the revolution to end, they say, without resolving the roots of the armed conflict. He also cited the severity of the economic crisis and the in-fighting within the ruling class as factors in the success of their organizing work. “Ang sitwasyon mismo, ang krisis ang nagiging inspirasyon ng lahat para kumilos. (The situation moves us to act.) The condition is ripe and we are ready to harvest,” he said.

With the guidance of the CNL and the Communist Party of the Philippines, Ka Nestor said, “we will grow, we will continue to grow.”

Ka Nestor and the rest of the CNL members throughout the country and abroad are called on to go beyond recovery of their forces and to reach out to more church people as they pursue a revolutionary solution to the problems of the Filipino people. (Priscilla Guzman) ###

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