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CNL

CNL chapters in regions and provinces launched, revitalized

in Mainstream

Amid the worsening economic crisis and political repression pushing more and more Filipino masses into greater poverty and misery, members of the Christians for National Liberation (CNL) exercise their prophetic stance by journeying with them and at the same time strengthening and organizing their ranks to better wage the national democratic revolution with a socialist perspective.

The church’s prophetic stance goes beyond work within the church as the body of Christ. It is also work within society in which the church lives. It is being with the people in their struggles.

In line with CNL’s four-year plan laid out in its 9th Congress in 2022, particularly on expansion and consolidation, it launched chapters and held regional, provincial congresses; and trainings were also conducted across the country in the entire year of 2023.

After the conduct of several trainings on Padepa intructors (Pambansang Demokratikong Paaralan or ND School), organizing, multi-media, and cultural work, coordination bodies (CBs) were formed in several regions in Visayas and Mindanao. Provincial and regional chapters in Mindanao plan to echo the trainings in their respective areas in the first quarter of 2024.

Renmin Malaya, CNL spokesperson proudly shared that since the 9th Congress, significant steps were already taken, “marami na rin ang nagawa.” For one, the CNL leadership was able to see the situation on the ground, “nakababa ang leadership, malinaw at timely ang intervention (clear-cut and timely intervention). We see the whole picture and the challenge,” Malaya said.

Mechanisms such as the CBs were instrumental for the expansion and consolidation of CNL. They paved the way for the eventual formation of the provincial and regional congresses.

Congresses were successfully held in Western Visayas, some regions in Mindanao and Eastern Visayas despite brutal state fascism under the US-led counterinsurgency program of the US-Marcos II regime. CNL Negros, in particular, held its second regional congress and elected its regional council and officers. A regional tactical plan, based on CNL’s Four-Year Plan approved during last year’s 9th National Congress, was also adopted.

Next step to be taken by these CNL formations is the setting-up of mechanisms to facilitate support to the basic sectors in their respective areas, battered by vicious state attacks.

During the 9th Congress, the problems were pronounced—red tagging, direct attacks against the Church people which made organizing difficult,” recalled Malaya. But at present, developments in organizing, consolidation and expansion are evident. “Although mabagal ang sikad, litaw na litaw ang development. Walang umaayaw sa commitment sa kabila ng hinaharap na challenges.Tuluy-tuloy na nag-oorganisa, (It has been a slow process but the developments are visible. Everyone stood by their commitment despite the challenges. Organizing is making progress,) Malaya gladly shared.

More chapter formations are expected next year, including those overseas. Inspired by the long list of heroes and martyrs who transformed their faith into action and served the people to their last breath, CNL members raise high the banner of revolution. “Maganda ang pakiramdam na bahagi tayo sa paglalatag ng mga requirements sa mga sonang gerilya, (It inspires us to be part of the efforts to strengthen the guerrilla zones,) ended Malaya. (Aya Servando, CNL) ###

The CNL 8th National Congress: Faith and Struggle

in Mainstream
by Pat Gambao and Markus del Pilar

After 14 years, church people assembled for the most awaited occasion—the 8th Congress of the Christians for National Liberation (CNL), an allied organization of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).  Everyone was excited to share experiences and lessons from more than a decade of revolutionary work since the 7th Congress in 2003. Although the members occasionally bumped into each other during church activities in the urban areas or in the countryside, nothing much transpired beyond exchanges of warm smiles, handshakes and embraces and some brief pleasantries.

Site of the CNL 8th Congress was a guerrilla zone in the Southern Philippines. A company of red fighters ushered the more than 50 official delegates, together with some visitors and CNL staff into the bastion of the guerrilla front. The regional delegates came from Ilocos and Cordillera, Central Luzon, Southern Tagalog, Bicol,  Panay, Negros, Central Visayas and the five regions of Mindanao.  Full of excitement and with high morale, unmindful of the backpack-full of personal belongings and documents, the bishops, priests, pastors, nuns, deacons and laity, untiringly trekked the long path to the venue.  

The 8th  Congress was significant as it ended the 14-year gap in assembling its members. It was doubly significant because it was held months after the historic Second Congress of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).

 “Persevere in attaining greater heights of the national democratic revolution with a socialist perspective.  Intensify the participation of the sector in the people’s armed revolutionary struggle.” Thus, declared the 8th Congress theme. It was a response to the call to attain the advance substage of the strategic defensive laid down during the Second Congress of the CPP.  It also paid homage to the 44th anniversary of the NDFP.

The Congress aimed to unite the delegates in the understanding and analysis of the current situation in relation to the strategy and policy of the united front, as well as to reap lessons from the revolutionary practice of the organization in the past 14 years. Its particular objectives were: (1) to review the documents that guided its work, such as its orientation, program, tasks, and Constitution and to come up with proposals, resolutions and amendments to refine and affirm these documents; (2) to elect its new set of officers; and, (3) to celebrate its 45th founding anniversary and pay tribute to the martyrs who offered their lives to the people’s democratic revolution.

CNL was one of the pillars of the NDFP which was formally organized on April 24, 1973 as the revolutionary united front organization that gathers together all progressive classes, sectors and forces struggling to attain national and social liberation of the Filipino people.  The CNL’s orientation and program was patterned after the initial 10-point program of the NDFP.

The assembly reflected on the 14 years of experiences and achievements of the organization.  These included the involvement in major mass campaigns against corruption, human rights violations, large-scale mining, public services privatization and for the resumption of peace negotiations between the NDFP and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP). The CNL also supports the struggles of the peasantry, workers, urban poor, migrants, and the national minorities. These efforts have resulted in the expansion of the organization’s reach to middle forces and allies and strengthened the support to the revolutionary fronts.  The CNL also took up the Cherish the Army campaign and encouraged the integration of its members in the guerrilla zones.

The participants also delved into the weaknesses of the organization in carrying out its tasks.  Among those noted were conservatism, bureaucratism, liberalism, individualism,  sectarianism and sluggishness in their method of revolutionary work.  Like true Marxists, they graciously accepted their shortcomings after profound discussions and resolved to rectify and overcome these weaknesses.

 

Moro and christians

It’s significant to point out that the CNL 8th Congress was held in a guerrilla front where the residents are predominantly Moro. They enthusiastically welcomed the CNL delegates.  The delegates’ integration with the Moro masses has given them a clear insight on the Moro situation and struggle for self-determination and against national oppression. Meanwhile, the Moro masses were delighted with their interaction with the delegates.  They arrived at a common understanding that the problem in Mindanao is not about religion, but about the worsening exploitation and poverty, both of the Moro and Christians.  They also shared the common experience that despite the peace talks and agreements between the GRP and the MILF, and between the GRP and NDFP, attacks by government forces on the communities continue and that grave abuses, harassments and destruction of the environment by big foreign corporations and mining companies have adversely affected their livelihood.

One Congress participant noted: “Our brother Moro were grateful that the Congress was held in their place.  They were greatly honored that this historic chapter in the revolutionary movement happened here and that they appreciated being given a glimpse of the expanse—from Luzon and VIsayas to Mindanao—of the revolutionary forces who like them are waging a revolution to attain real freedom and just peace.”

For the preparations, the red army of the two guerrilla fronts that hosted the event acknowledged the big help by the masses of their areas and some from the city.  They took care of the transportation needs, ensured the security of the participants, as well as the venue and its surroundings. They prepared the meals and even set up cultural productions.

 

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The new CNL leadership

Just as historic was the election for the first time of a nun to chair the CNL. In her acceptance speech, Sister Puah said,” I know the tasks entrusted to us are not easy.  But I am confident that with our collective efforts, we will better enhance our work to meaningfully contribute to the people’s democratic revolution.”

Sister Puah’s involvement in ecclesiastical work has been long and vibrant.  “Pope Francis is my idol.  He said ‘Get out.  Get messy in the mud.’  Literally, my back got muddy on my way here” she jested, adding proudly:

“I felt I was restricted in the passion for justice, peace, gospel imperative and church teachings that was why I didn’t just stay in the confines of the convent.  I defied my superiors.  As a religious, I knew that the CNL was the right place for me to be able to truly serve God and the people.”

“I have been listening to various sectors of Philippine society,” she disclosed.  After several years as a religious, I do not believe anymore in the institutional church, but, rather, the church as a people of God.  The voice of the people is the voice of God.”

 

Congress resolutions

To help in the recruitment, expansion and alliance work of its leadership bodies, the Congress resolved to conduct a deeper study of the system of other church institutions.  It also resolved to develop a curriculum for CNL activists and conduct continued trainings and mass work to equip the members in organizing work; and also to develop a staunch solidarity with the basic sectors and to deploy members to basic sector organizations both in the urban areas and in the countryside.

Other resolutions adopted called for the continuation of the GRP-NDFP peace talks and a principled engagement with the Duterte administration regarding the issues of extrajudicial killing and human rights violations due to the anti-drug campaign and the military counterinsurgency operations.

 

Birth and burgeoning of CNL

The Christians for National Liberation (CNL) was organized on February 17, 1972 before Ferdinand Marcos declared Martial Law. The date was chosen to coincide with the centennial of the martyrdom of the three Filipino priests—Fathers Gomez, Burgos and Zamora—who fought for secularization and Filipinization of the Church during the Spanish colonial rule. Progressive and nationalist clergies and laity came out of the confines of their churches into the world of their parishioners, who were burdened with nagging societal problems, to organize the CNL.

In August 1972, the CNL held its founding assembly in Manila.  But just a month after, on September 21, Marcos declared martial law—stripped the citizenry of their rights and held them captive to the grim control of the military implementers. CNL was declared illegal and most of its members went underground.  However, CNL has left a revolutionary legacy among the religious and they continued to serve the people, not only through the customary prayers but through palpable deeds. The church institutions served as sanctuary for victims of oppression. The CNL members offered their lives in the service of the poor, the oppressed, the disadvantaged and the marginalized. Some even left their convents, parishes, and their congregations to join the revolutionary armed struggle.

The CNL played a significant role in the historic La Tondeña workers strike for wage increase and better working conditions in 1975.  Although church people had been initiated into the mass actions of workers at the picket lines long before the declaration of Martial Law, this time it was different—the fangs of state fascism were most lethal.  Yet they bravely faced the police and military who attempted to break the picket line.  To stand up for justice was paramount to them that no form of harassment or assault could cow them.  That successful La Tondena strike broke the silence of the labor movement. From that time on, workers’ strikes in factories and establishments mushroomed, rendering the law banning strikes useless.

The same unwavering courage was shown by the religious sector during the people power uprising in 1986 that led to the fall of Marcos and the end of the dictatorial rule. The CNL’s most significant contribution to the revolution is a reservoir of cadres and red fighters.

 

Tribute to Heroes and Martyrs

Whatever the CNL attained in the past 45 years of revolutionary work is attributed to the unabridged commitment of its members of their strength, energy, wisdom and lives to both the legal and armed struggles.  They did not hesitate to confront all odds and difficulties, even if it cost them their lives, to bring about a just society, enjoying freedom and democracy.

The Congress paid its highest tribute to the martyrs and heroes of the church whose selfless commitment to serve the masses and the revolution left an inspiring legacy to the religious sector.

A video presentation was shown of the heroes’ and martyrs’ lives and work.  It mentioned that a martyred CNL member had been a political commissar of the red army battalion of the very region that hosted the Congress.  He was honored, together with a church leader who just died while the delegation was on its way to the Congress.

The Bible abounds with hope. It bespeaks of rights, of justice. It attests to Christ’s advocacy for the oppressed, his standing up to them against the Empire. It affirms the morality of waging armed struggle.  It showed how Gideon, the best commander in the Old Testament, led the Israelites to fight the oppressors.  It also bared the many prophets who took up the cause of the exploited basic sectors of society and spread the Good News about people’s liberation.

Pananampalataya at/sa Pakikibaka

in Mainstream
ni Markus del Pilar

2 Timothy 3:16

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction and for training in righteousness.

Matapos ang 14 na taon, muling nagkita-kita at nagtipon-tipon ang mga taong simbahan para sa isang pambihirang pagkakataon: ang Ika-8 Pambansang Kongreso ng Christians for National Liberation (CNL), alyadong organisasyon ng National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP). Madalas mang magkita sa ilang mga pagkakataon sa urban at nagkakasama sa ilang aktibidad ng simbahan, masayang ngiti at mahigpit na pakikipagkamay ang isinasalubong ng bawat isa sa mga kapwa taong simbahan, sa mga masa, at mga mandirigma ng New People’s Army (NPA). Nananabik ang lahat na makipagtalakayan at magbahaginan ng karanasan at aral sa higit isang dekadang paggampan ng rebolusyonaryong gawain buhat nang idaos ang huling Kongreso noong 2003.

Kinanlong ng isang larangang gerilya sa Southern Mindanao Region ang mahigit sa 50 delegado at ilang bisita para sa nakatakdang okasyon. Sukbit ang mga bakpak na naglalaman ng mga personal na gamit at dokumento, walang kapagurang sinuong ng mga pari, obispo, madre, lay, mga dyakonesa ang mahabang byahe papasok sa eryang nasasakupan ng Pulang Bagani Battalion (PBB).

Magkaagapay sa preparasyon ang mga pulang mandirigma at mga masa sa urban at larangan sa paghahanda ng pagkain para sa tatlong araw na pulong, pag-aayos ng transportasyon, pagtitiyak ng seguridad ng mga delegado at lugar na pagdadausan, maging sa paghahanda ng mga pangkulturang pagtatanghal.

Pinayungan ng temang “Magpunyagi sa Pagkamit ng Higit pang Pagsulong sa Pambansa Demokratikong Rebolusyon na may Sosyalistang Perspektiba. Paigtingin ang Pakikilahok sa Rebolusyonaryong Armadong Pakikibaka ng Mamamayan” ang Ika-8 Pambansang Kongreso ng CNL. Pagtugon ito sa programa para kamtin ang estratehikong pagkapatas na inilatag ng Ikalawang Kongreso ng Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas noong 2016. Gayundin, pagpupugay ito ng CNL sa pagdiriwang ng ika-44 na anibersaryo ng NDFP.

Layunin ng Kongreso ang magkaisa sa pag-unawa at analysis sa kalagayan ng kasalukuyang estratehiya at polisiya ng nagkakaisang prente, at humugot ng mga aral sa nakaraang 14 na taon mula nang maidaos ang Ika-7 Kongreso.

Partikular na obhektibo rin nito ang pagbabalik-aral sa mga dokumentong gumagabay sa gawain ng CNL; maghalal ng panibagong pamunuan; at, ipagdiwang ang ika-45 anibersaryo ng CNL.

Binaybay ng kapulungan ang nagdaang 14 na taon mula noong Ika-7 Kongreso. Kinatampukan ito ng malalaki at mayor na kampanyang masa para sa karapatang tao, serbisyong panlipunan, laban sa korupsyon, at mapangwasak na mina. Nagtuloy-tuloy rin ang pag-agapay at pagsuporta sa laban ng mga magsasaka, manggagawa, katutubo at lumad, maralitang lungsod, at iba pang aping sektor ng lipunan. Nagresulta ito ng mas malapad pang pag-abot sa panggitnang uri at mapagkaibigang pwersa at tulong sa pagpapalakas sa mga larangang gerilya ng hukbo.

Dikta ng batas ng diyalektika, may mga kahinaan ding kinaharap ang mga kasapi ng CNL sa paggampan ng mga rebolusyonaryong tungkulin sa nakalipas na taon. Ilan dito ay ang konserbatismo, burukratismo, liberalismo, indibidwalismo, at sektaryanismo.

Bilang mga Marxistang mananampalataya, matapos “mangumpisal” ng mga naging kahinaan, sa halip na dasal ay mga kongkretong hakbang at resolusyon ang naging tugon ng bawat kasapi. Pinagkasunduan ang pagsasagawa ng mas malalim pang pag-aaral sa sistema ng mga reaksyunaryong institusyon ng simbahan para mamaksimisa ang mga ito. Tuloy-tuloy na pag-aaral para maarmasan ang bawat kasapi sa pag-oorganisa. Mahigpit na pakikipagkaisa at paglubog sa mga batayang sektor. At, patatalaga o pag-deploy sa mga kasapi sa iba’t ibang larangan ng gawain sa kalunsuran at kanayunan.

Mapagkumbabang tinanggap ang mga puna; taas-noong hinarap ang panibagong hamon.

 

Ang CNL

Itinulak ng tumitinding pasismo ng diktadurang Marcos ang pagtatatag ng CNL noong Pebrero 17, 1972 sa hanay ng mga progresibo at makabayang pari, obispo, madre, at iba pang taong simbahan. Ilang buwan matapos nito, ipinataw sa buong bansa ang Batas Militar at itinuring na iligal ang CNL, at iba pang organisasyong masa, dahilan para mag-underground ang kalakhan sa kasapian nito.

Mula noon, lalong naging aktibo ang CNL sa pagsisilbi sa rebolusyon. Sa pagsisikap ng mga kasapi nito na kumikilos sa loob ng institusyon ng simbahan, naging tanggulan at santuaryo ito sa maraming mamamayang inaapi.

Bautismong maituturing ang malaking bahaging ginampanan nito sa pagtatagumpay ng inilunsad na unang strike ng mga manggagawa ng La Tondeña noong 1975. Ipinutok ng mga manggagawa ang strike sa panahong lukob ng pasismo ang bansa sa ilalim ng batas militar. Kinasuhan at tinugis ng pulis at militar ang mga organisador maging ang mga sumusuporta sa welga. Subalit hindi ito naging dahilan para manahimik ang mga taong simbahang nakalubog sa piket layn. Mas malakas ang panawagan ng pagpanig sa katarungan kumpara sa kahit anong porma ng pagpapatahimik at pandarahas.

Nagsilbing isa sa muhon ang CNL sa pagtatatag ng NDFP noong Abril 24, 1973. Ang NDFP ang nagbigkis sa mga progresibo at makabayang sektor, pwersa, at uri ng lipunan sa paglulunsad ng pambansa demokratikong rebolusyon. Alinsunod sa noo’y 10 Puntong Programang inilatag ng NDFP, ipinailalim ng CNL ang kanyang oryentasyon at programa batay rito. Malaking ambag din ang ibinahagi ng CNL bilang balon ng mga kadre at pulang mandirigma.

Hindi lamang mga kabataang nakapaloob sa simbahan ang nagtungo sa kanayunan at sumapi sa NPA. Maraming pari, madre ang lumabas ng kanilang kongregasyon, kumbento, parokya para humawak ng armas at maglingkod sa kanayunan.

Ang simbahang dati ay “tagakalembang lang ng kampana” sa mga ritwal at pista ay naging tunay na kapanalig ng mamamayang nakikibaka.

 

Moro at Kristiyano

Kapwa nagsilbing inspirasyon sa mga Moro at mga delegado ng CNL ang naganap na Kongreso. Para sa mga delegado, nakapagbigay ng malinaw na imahen ang pakikipamuhay sa mga kapatid na Moro para makita ang kanilang kalagayang kinakaharap at pakikibaka para sa sariling pagpapasya at kung ano ang kanilang maaaring maiambag para higit pa itong mapalakas at mapaunlad.

Maligaya rin ang mga Moro na makasalamuha ang mga kasapi ng CNL. Nauunawaan nilang hindi ang relihiyon ang dahilan ng kaguluhan sa Mindanao kundi ang tumitinding pananamantala at kahirapang nararanasan ng mamamayan, Moro man o Kristiyano. Ibinahagi rin ng mga Moro na sa kabila ng mga kasunduan at usapang kapayapaan sa pagitan ng Gobyerno ng Pilipinas at ng MILF o NDF, nagpapatuloy pa rin ang pag-atake sa kanilang komunidad: matinding pang-aabuso at operasyong militar, at pagwasak sa kalikasan ng malalaking dayuhang kumpanya ng mina na pumapatay sa kanilang kabuhayan.

Nagpapasalamat sila na sa lugar nila idinaos ang pagtitipon. Malaking karangalan para sa kanila na maganap ang isang makasaysayang yugto ng kilusan at makitang nakalatag sa iba’t ibang rehiyon, mula Luzon hanggang Mindanao, ang rebolusyonaryong pwersa na gaya nila ay nakikibaka para sa tunay na kalayaan at makatarungang kapayapaan.

 

Madre

Maituturing ding makasaysayan ang pagkahalal ng kauna-unahang babaeng Tagapangulo sa Ika-8 Pambansang Kongreso ng CNL. Sa kanyang talumpati sa pagtanggap ng posisyon, ipinahayag niya ang kanyang pasasalamat sa pagtitiwalang iginawad sa kanya ng kapulungan.

Sabi ni Ka Puah, “Alam kong hindi magiging madali ang mga nakaatang sa ating tungkulin. Nananalig ako na sa ating kolektibong pagtutulungan ay mapapaunlad pa natin ang ating gawain para makatulong sa pambansa demokratikong rebolusyon.”

Makulay ang mahabang pagkilos ni Ka Puah sa loob ng simbahan. “Idol ko si Pope Francis. Sabi niya, ‘Get out, get messy in the mud.’ Literal na naputikan ang likod ko pagpunta dito!” pagbibiro niya.

Dagdag pa ni Ka Puah, “I feel I was restricted in the passion for justice, peace, gospel imperative and church teachings kaya hindi ako tumitigil sa loob lang ng kumbento. I defied my superiors. As a religious, alam kong ang CNL ang tamang lugar para magawa ko ang totoong pagsisilbi sa Diyos at sambayanan.”

“I have been listening to various sectors of Philippine society. After several years as a religious, I do not believe any more on the institutional church. But, rather, the church as a people of God. The voice of the people is the voice of God,” pagtatapos ni Ka Puah.

 

Pagpupugay sa mga Martir at Bayani ng CNL

Kung ano man ang inabot ng CNL sa loob ng 45 taong pagsusulong ng rebolusyon, ito ay dahil sa buong-buong paglalaan ng mga kasapi nito ng kanilang lakas, talino, at buhay, sa ligal na pakikibaka man o paglahok sa armadong pakikibaka. Hindi sila nagdalawang isip na suungin ang hirap na kakaharapin sukdulang umabot sa pag-aalay ng sariling buhay upang maipagtanggol ang buhay.

Puno ng pag-asa ang Bibliya. Isinalaysay nito ang buhay na pagtatanggol ni Kristo sa mga inaapi ng emperyo. Inihahayag ng Lumang Tipan ang pamumuno ni Gideon sa mga Israelitas para labanan ang pang-aapi. Ipinakita nito ang pagsanib ng mga propeta sa mga batayang sektor ng lipunan para palaganapin ang Mabuting Balita ng pagpapalaya sa sambayanan.

Pinatunayan ng mga bayani at martir ng CNL at mamamayan ang katumpakan ng paglulunsad ng rebolusyon. Isinabuhay nila ang pinakaubod ng aral ng Bibliya: na ang relihiyon at pananampalataya ay mapagpalaya. Na ang pananampalataya ay inilalapat at inilalapit ang mananampalataya sa kanyang kapwa para sa pag-asam ng buhay na kasiya-siya. Na ang pananampalataya ay hindi hadlang sa pagsanib sa mamamayang nakikibaka para sa isang lipunang may ganap na kalayaan, demokrasya, pagkakapantay-pantay, at makatarungang kapayapaan.###

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