Tribute to Nila “Comrade Edna” Montes

Fr. Santiago Salas
NDFP-Eastern Visayas
Aug. 19, 2014

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines-Eastern Visayas condoles with the family and friends of our dear Nila “Comrade Edna” Montes, who died of illness last August 15, 2014 while under the custody of the Government of the Philippines (GPH).  She served the people for more than 30 years as a proletarian revolutionary cadre of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New People's Army (NPA), and had last served as the deputy secretary for education of the Party' s Southeast Samar Committee. Although she was diagnosed and being treated for a serious illness since 2012, she never wavered in her love for the people and in her determination to carry out her revolutionary tasks.

Comrade Edna was arrested by the military of the GPH on trumped-up charges in Guiuan, Eastern Samar last July 4, 2013. Although she was already very sick and needed hospital confinement, she was denied the humanitarian consideration her legal counsel appealed for. This is also guaranteed by the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law signed by the NDFP and GPH. Instead, she was detained in unhealthy and shabby prisons in Oras and Dolores towns in Eastern Samar, far away from the medical care she needed. She suffered like other political prisoners under the US-Aquino regime, whose high officials and their accomplices currently accused of corruption and plunder, on the other hand, enjoy special treatment under luxurious “hospital arrest.” The reason she was rushed to but died on the way to the hospital in Tacloban City on August 15 was that her previous treatment had been left unfinished because her GPH military custodians demanded her return to detention, against the protests of her legal counsel and doctors.

But to the very end, in the face of enemy persecution, Comrade Edna held her head high, refusing to bow to the enemy's persecution and remaining steadfast in her revolutionary commitment. Despite her fatal ailment, she never collaborated with the enemy and betrayed the comrades and the masses. She raised the prestige of the revolutionary movement and set an example by her selflessness, dedication and self-sacrifice.

Comrade Edna came from a relatively well-off petty-bourgeois family in Samar, but had been orphaned at a young age. She was studying in college in Manila when she was first organized as a mass activist in the youth and students movement in the anti-dictatorship struggle against Marcos in the 1970s. She was recruited into the Party and was collectivized in the regional support group in Manila. Up to the early 1980s, she did liaison work, linking the Party in the region and in Manila. Afterwards, she was in the staff of the Visayas Commission, where she was discontented with the decadent lifestyle of the counterrevolutionary traitor Arturo Tabara.

The mid-1980s came with major challenges for Comrade Edna, at the time when the revolutionary movement was following the wrong line of premature regularization and military adventurism. Comrade Edna returned to Eastern Visayas with her husband, Comrade Paulo. She was assigned to the Political Department of the then regional battalion of the NPA in Samar. Comrade Paulo served as a member of the Battalion Party Committee and a political officer of a company in the battalion. The other comrades in the battalion praised Comrade Edna for serving as a model for the “Red Detachment of Women” in the people's army in her remoulding, self-sacrifice and problem-solving.

But Comrade Paulo was martyred not long after their deployment in a guerrilla offensive in San Jorge, Samar. Comrade Edna was also wounded in an incident and suffered from personal crisis while convalescing. But after a time, Comrade Edna recovered her morale and revolutionary optimism, wholeheartedly dedicating herself to the masses and to the revolutionary struggle.

Comrade Edna did regional propaganda and education work in the early 1990s. She was one of the anchors in the revolutionary VHF radio program Radyo Katalwasan. When the Second Great Rectification Movement began in Eastern Visayas, she was one of those who ensured the reproduction of education materials to guide the comrades. As a comrade recalls of that time, she would be busy all day typing, as well as smeared all over with ink from running the mimeograph machine. The rectification movement reinvigorated the comrades including Comrade Edna, and they strived to once again strengthen the Party in ideology, politics and organization.

In 1996, Comrade Edna was deployed to Southern Leyte to help in the recovery work there after the setbacks during the time of the wrong line. A Red commander who was also her comrade in the collective said the conditions at the start were very difficult. There were only seven comrades when they started. They traveled long distances to organize the peasant masses in far-flung barrios. They subsisted on root crops and could only eat rice once a month, if there were any. The Red commander relates you would never think Comrade Edna came from the petty bourgeoisie, as she never once complained at the hardships, but sharing weal and woe with other comrades and the peasant masses. She lived up to being a proletarian revolutionary fighter of the CPP-NPA in political work as well as joining guerrilla offensives in the armed struggle. She proved to be a good leader in territorial work and the people's army grew from a handful to being an undersized company in due time. Because of her exemplary work, she was raised to the Party's Leyte Island Committee in 2003.

Comrade Edna also remarried during this time to a peasant comrade and they had one daughter. But they encountered irreconcilable differences in the marriage and were divorced in 2005. During the same year, she was deployed to Eastern Samar as a member of the provincial Party committee. But she did not let her personal problems get in the way of her political work.

In 2010, when the provincial Party committees were reorganized to better carry out comprehensive work, Comrade Edna began serving as the deputy secretary for education of the Southeast Samar Committee. A staff member of the committee recalls that the enemy attacked during the plenum and the comrades had to withdraw to a distant barrio. During the retreat, even the younger comrades were left exhausted by the forced march. But they marveled that Comrade Edna was one of the few comrades who could still call on a peasant household and happily converse despite her own tiredness. She showed enthusiasm in dealing with the comrades and masses of all ages. She was sharp and direct in speech in striving for the correct line, never tiring of educating other comrades, and showing humility and selflessness.

Comrade Edna also persevered in striving to build a revolutionary family. She was a communist mother  who faced the challenge of being far from her children because of her revolutionary tasks. She remained steadfast in the face of loneliness, distance and the disappointments from time to time of her children. Comrade Edna understood that the poverty and neediness of her children were the same as that felt by the masses of the people. She had no doubt and overcame her family problems as part of her sacrifices as a revolutionary.

Even when Comrade Edna was arrested in 2013, she still rose above her circumstances and proved herself as a proletarian revolutionary cadre. Because of her prestige, friends of the revolutionary movement sent her food, cooking utensils and other forms of support even while she was in detention. She never minded sharing what she received, and befriended as well her fellow detainees and the jailguards.

Comrade Edna knew the US-Aquino regime was corrupt and rotten to the core, and thus persecuting her because she was on the side of the people's resistance. Despite being under duress, despite suffering from a fatal illness, her revolutionary determination remained firm and unshakeable in the face of the enemy. When her treatment was stopped and she was being taken away from the hospital by the military guards of the GPH, her last message to the comrades was: “Padayon kita!” (Let us persevere!)

Let us avenge Comrade Edna, not by the simple act of killing the enemy in battle but by defeating the class enemies and overthrowing the rotten reactionary system. Let us emulate her example of selflessness, self-sacrifice, simple living and diligent struggle. Let us salute and continue her legacy as a proletarian cadre, a woman, a fighter for the revolutionary cause!


Pasidungog kan Nila “Kasamang Edna” Montes

Fr. Santiago Salas
NDFP-Eastern Visayas
Agosto 19, 2014

Nakikisimpatiya yana an National Democratic Front of the Philippines-Eastern Visayas ha pamilya ngan kasangkayan han aton minayuyo nga hi Nila “Kasamang Edna” Montes, nga namatay ha sakit hadin Agosto 15, 2014 samtang nakada ha kustodiya han Government of the Philippines (GPH). Nagserbe hiya ha katawhan ha masobra 30 katuig komo usa nga proletaryo nga rebolusyunaryo nga kadre han Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) ngan han New People's Army (NPA), ngan ha katapusan nagserbe komo ikaduha nga sekretaryo ha edukasyon han Southeast Samar Committee han Partido. Bisan kun nadiskubre nga mayda niya seryoso nga sakit ngan gintatambal tikang pa han 2012, waray paglubad an iya paghigugma para ha katawhan ngan an iya determinasyon nga ipatuman an iya rebolusyunaryo nga mga buruhaton.

Gin-aresto hi Kasamang Edna han militar han GPH basar ha mga hinimo-himo nga kaso dida ha Guiuan, Eastern Samar hadton Hulyo 4, 2013. Bisan pa man kun grabe na an iya sakit ngan nanginginahanglan nga dad-on ha hospital, ginhikawan hiya han makatawo nga konsiderasyon nga gin-apela han iya abogado. Gin-gagarantiyahan gihap ini han Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law nga ginpirmahan han NDFP ngan GPH. Kundi, gindetiner hiya ha mahugaw ngan diri maupay an kondisyon nga mga prisuhan ha mga bungto han Oras ngan Dolores ha Eastern Samar, hirayo ha panmedikal nga pag-ataman nga iya kinahanglanon. Nagkuri hiya sugad han iba pa nga pulitikal nga preso ilarum han rehimen US-Aquino, nga an mga higtaas nga upisyal ngan ira mga kakonsabo nga gin-aakusaran ha presente hin korapsyon ngan pandambong, ha luyo nga bahin, nakakatagamtam han ispesyal nga pagtagad ilarum han huralwa nga “hospital arrest.” An rason kun kay ano nga gindara kundi namatay hiya samtang tikadto ha hospital ha Tacloban City han Agosto 15 tungod kay waray mahuman an iya naglabay nga pagpatambal tungod kay an militar han GPH nga nagkukostudiya ha iya nag-insister nga ibalik hiya ha detensyon, ha luyo han mga protesta han iya abogado ngan mga doktor.

Kundi tubtob ha katapusan, atubangan han pagpuypoy han kaaway, nanindugan hi Kasamang Edna, waray magpadara ha panmuypoy han kaaway ngan nagpabilin nga madig-on ha iya rebolusyunaryo nga  komitment. Ha luyo han iya makamaratay nga sakit, waray hiya makig-kolaborar ha kaaway ngan waray hiya magtraydor ha mga kasama ngan masa. Gin-isa niya an prestihiyo han rebolusyunaryo nga kagiusan ngan nagin usa nga ladawan han iya pagin diri makaiya, dedikasyon ngan pagsakripisyo han kalugaringon.

Nagtikang hi Kasamang Edna ha usa nga relatibo nga riko nga petiburges nga pamilya ha Samar, kundi bata pa nga nailo. Naeskoyla hiya ha kolehiyo ha Manila han siyahan nga na-organisa komo usa nga panmasa nga aktibista ha kagiusan han kabatan-unan ngan estudyante ha kontra-diktadurya nga pakigbisog kontra kan Marcos han dekada 1970. Narekluta hiya ha Partido ngan nakolektibisa ha panrehiyon nga grupo pansuporta ha Manila. Tubtob ha temprano nga parte han dekada 1980, nagpatuman hiya han buruhaton liaison nga nagsusumpay han Partido ha rehiyon ngan ha Manila. Kahuman hini, nagin istap hiya han Visayas Commission, kun diin nadiskuntento hiya ha dekadente nga istilo han panginabuhi han kontrarebolusyonaryo nga traydor nga hi Arturo Tabara.

An kabutngaan han dekada 1980 nagdurot hin mga mayor nga ayat kan Kasamang Edna, ha panahon nga an rebolusyunaryo nga kagiusan naghahasug ha sayop nga linya han apras nga regularisasyon ngan adbenturismo militar. Bumalik hi Kasamang Edna ha Eastern Visayas upod han iya asawa nga hi Kasamang Paulo. Na-asayn hiya ha Political Department han hadtuanay panrehiyon nga batalyon han NPA ha Samar. Nagserbe hi Kasamang Paulo komo membro han Battalion Party Committee ngan pampulitika nga upisyal han usa nga kumpanya ha batalyon. Gindayaw hi Kasamang Edna han iba pa nga mga kasama ha batalyon tungod han iya pagin modelo para ha “Red Detachment of Women” ha hukbo han katawhan tungod han iya pagremolde, pagsakripisyo han kalugaringon ngan pagsolbar han mga problema.

Pero waray la pag-iha tikang han pagdeploy ha ira, namartir hi Kasamang Paulo ha usa nga gerilya nga opensiba ha San Jorge, Samar. Nasamaran liwat hi Kasamang Edna ha usa nga insidente ngan inatubang ha personal nga krisis samtang nagrerekober. Waray la pag-iha, narekober ni Kasamang Edna an iya moral ngan rebolusyunaryo nga optimismo, ngan hul-os ha kasingkasing nga ginhalad an iya kalugaringon ha masa ngan ha rebolusyunaryo nga pakigbisog.

Nagpatuman hi Kasamang Edna han panrehiyon nga buruhaton propaganda ngan edukasyon han temprano nga parte han dekada 1990. Usa hiya han mga anchor ha rebolusyunaryo nga programa ha VHF nga radyo, an Radyo Katalwasan. Han magtikang an Ikaduha nga Gamhanan nga Kagiusan Pagtutul-id ha Eastern Visayas, usa hiya hadton nagseguro han reproduksyon han mga pan-edukasyon nga materyal agud magiyahan an mga kasama. Nahinganumduman pa han usa nga kasama iton nga panahon, kun diin pirmi hiya nababarikaso ha pag-type bug-os nga adlaw, ngan putos na hin tinta an nawong tungod han pagpinadalagan han makina ha mimeograph. Utro nga ginparayhak han kagiusan pagtutul-id an mga kasama lakip na hi Kasamang Edna, ngan naningkamot hira nga utro nga padig-unon an Partido ha ideolohiya, pulitika ngan organisasyon.

Han 1996, nadeploy hi Kasamang Edna ha Southern Leyte agud bumulig ha buruhaton rekoberi didto kahuman han mga problema ha panahon han pagsimang. An pasaro han usa nga Pula nga kumander nga iya gihap ginkaupod ha kolektibo nagsering nga ura-ura kakuri an ira pagtikang. Pito la hira nga mga kasama han pagtikang. Higrayo an ira ginlalakat agud mag-organisa hin masa nga parag-uma ha mga tay-aw nga baryo. Nabuhi hira ha duma ngan usa kabeses la kada bulan nakaon hin kan-on, kun mayda man. Ginpasaro han Pula nga kumander nga diri gud mahuhuna-hunaan nga nagtikang hi Kasamang Edna ha petiburges, tungod kay bisan makausa waray gud hiya magreklamo ha kakurian, kundi nakigsaro ha kaupayan ngan kakurian ha mga kasama ngan masa nga parag-uma. Nanindugan hiya komo usa nga proletaryo nga rebolusyunaryo nga mangaraway han CPP-NPA ha pampulitika nga buruhaton sugadman ha pagbunyog ha mga gerilya nga opensiba ha armado nga pakig-away. Ginpamatud-an niya an pagin maupay nga lider ha pan-teritoryo nga buruhaton ngan dinako an hukbo han katawhan tikang ha pipira la tubtob magin haros usa ka-kumpanya ha dayuday.  Tungod han iya maupay nga pagtrabaho, naisa hiya komo kaapi han Leyte Island Committee han 2003.

Nag-asawa liwat utro hi Kasamang Edna, hini nga panahon ha usa nga parag-uma nga kasama ngan mayda nira usa nga anak. Kundi inatubang hira ha makuri na solbaron nga mga problema ha pag-asawahay ngan nagdiborsyo han 2005. Hiton nga tuig, nadeploy hiya ha Eastern Samar komo membro han pamprubinsya nga komite han Partido. Kundi waray niya pasagdi nga makaulang an iya mga personal nga problema ha iya pampulitika nga buruhaton.

Han 2010, han utro nga gin-organisa an pamprubinsya nga komite han Partido agud mapauswag an pagpatuman han kumprehensibo nga buruhaton, nagtikang hi Kasamang Edna nga magserbe komo ikaduha nga sekretaryo ha edukasyon ha Southeast Samar Committee. Usa nga istap han komite an nahinumdom han atakihon hira han kaaway ha panahon han plenum ngan kinahanglan umatras an mga kasama ha hirayo nga baryo. Samtang naatras, bisan adton mga mas bata nga kasama ginkapoy na tungod han martsada. Gindayaw nira hi Kasamang Edna tungod kay usa hiya han pira la nga kasama nga kaya pa sumangpit ha balay han parag-uma ngan marayhak nga makighampang ha luyo han iya kapagalan. Nagpakita hiya han karayhak ha pakig-usa ha mga kasama ngan masa ano man an ira pangidaron. Matarum ngan direkta hiya magyakan kun nakikigdebate para ha tukma nga linya, waray kapagalan ha pag-edukar ha iba nga kasama, nagpapakita hin kamapainubsanon ngan kadiri makaiya.

Pursigido hi Kasamang Edna ha pagtukod hin usa nga rebolusyunaryo nga pamilya. Usa hiya nga komunista nga iroy nga umatubang ha ayat nga mapahirayo ha mga anak tungod han pagpatuman han rebolusyunaryo nga buruhaton. Madig-on niya nga gin-atubang an kamingaw, an distansya ngan an pana-panahon nga nabutho nga kabiduon ha iya han iya mga anak. Santop ni Kasamang Edna nga an kakablasan ngan kawarayan nga inabat han iya mga anak sugad liwat han inaabat han hiluag nga masa. Waray pagruhaduha nga gin-ungbawan niya an mga problema ha pamilya ngan ginkilala ini komo kaparte han iya mga sakripisyo komo usa nga rebolusyunaryo.

Bisan han gin-aresto hi Kasamang Edna han 2013, tinindog hiya ha butnga han makuri nga sirkumstansya ngan ginpamatud-an an pagin proletaryo nga rebolusyunaryo nga kadre. Tungod han iya prestihiyo, adton mga kasangkayan han rebolusyunaryo nga kagiusan nagpadara ha iya hin pagkaon, higamit pankusina ngan iba pa nga porma han suporta samtang adto hiya ha detensyon. Waray hiya pag-alang nga isaro ha iba an iya nakakarawat, nagin sangkay niya an mga igkasi detinido ngan pati an mga gwardya ha prisuhan.

Maaram hi Kasamang Edna nga an rehimen US-Aquino korap ngan dunot tubtob ha rubas, ngan ha sugad ginpupuypoy hiya tungod kay aada hiya ha gapil han pag-ato han katawhan. Ha luyo han presyur, ha luyo han kakurian tungod han makamaratay nga sakit, nagpabilin nga madig-on ngan waray kabantad an iya rebolusyunaryo nga determinasyon ha atubangan han kaaway. Han undangon an iya pagpatambal ngan pirit hiya nga gin-gagawas ha hospital han mga militar nga gwardya han GPH, an iya katapusan nga mensahe ha mga kasama: “Padayon kita!”

Igbulos naton hi Kasamang Edna, diri la ha simple nga pagpatay ha kaaway ha agway kundi ha pagperdi han mga  kaaway nga klase ngan pagrumpag han dunot nga reaksyunaryo nga sistema. Himuon naton nga susbaranan an iya kadiri makaiya, an pagsakripisyo han kalugaringon, simple nga panginabuhi ngan maduruto nga pakigbisog. Saludaran naton ngan igpadayon an iya natikangan komo usa nga proletaryo nga kadre, komunista nga iroy, usa nga mangaraway para ha rebolusyunaryo nga kawsa!#