By Reynard Magtoto
National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) is prepared to unite with the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) in the fight against terrorist groups to be discussed during the fifth round of peace talks.
The scheduled fifth round of talks from 27 May to 1 June would be an opportune occasion to discuss such cooperation and coordination for the immediate benefit of the people according to NDFP Panel Chairperson Fidel Agcaoili.
GRP has clarified that the New People’s Army (NPA) is not a target of the declaration of martial law in Mindanao, contrary to an earlier statement by GRP DND Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, in the fight against terrorist groups such as the Maute group and Abu Sayyaf that are attempting to affiliate with the CIA-created ISIS or Daesh.
In earlier statement of Secretary Silvestre Bello III, he said that President Rodrigo Duterte, in no uncertain terms, categorically declared he was not after the New People’s Army. “He, in fact, reiterated his keenness on pursuing peace,” Bello added.
“Such clarification is in accord with the message relayed to us by President Duterte when we met last 9 May in Malacañang that the fight against terrorist groups such as Maute and Abu Sayyaf should be a common concern of the GRP and NDFP,” Agcaoili said.
In response to the GRP clarification, the NDFP has recommended to the National Executive Committee of the NDFP and, in effect, to the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) to reconsider its call for the intensification of offensives in Mindanao.
In this regard, “we urge the GRP to reconsider its martial law declaration in Mindanao and intention to impose it elsewhere because military rule, as our own history as a people has shown, will not solve the problems of the people in the social, economic and political spheres,” said Agcaoili.
Martial Law against the people
CPP reiterated that Duterte’s martial law is not only against the NPA, it is against the people in general. It curtails the people’s civil and political rights; their freedom of movement and other freedoms according to them.
“Martial law transfers these freedoms to the military and subjects the people to abuse. Under martial law, it is the military, these notorious abusers of human rights, who rule,” CPP stated.
Duterte’s martial law is bound to be worse than its Oplan Tokhang according to CPP.
Even before Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao, the AFP has been carrying out a dirty war through occupation of civilian communities, extrajudicial killings, abductions and detentions under its Oplan Kapayapaan according to CPP.
Emboldened by Duterte’s order to the military to “flatten the hills,” it has carried out aerial bombardments near civilian communities, sowing terror among the residents and damaging their livelihoods.
“These attacks have been carried out primarily against the peasant masses who the AFP suspect to be active in the revolutionary cause,” CPP said.
In Davao City after the declaration of Martial Law, people in their communities are being rounded up. Close to three hundred people have already been arbitrarily arrested by the military for failing to comply with the arbitrary rules imposed by the military and the militarist-minded bureaucrats.
“With these stringent policies, Duterte is demonstrating that under his martial law, everyone is a suspect until they can prove otherwise. As every Filipino knows, especially the poor and downtrodden, proving one’s innocence to the military is often impossible,” CPP said.
The imposition of martial law in Mindanao will have negative implications in the ongoing NDFP-GRP peace negotiations according to CPP.
CPP demands the GRP to answer for these gross violations of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL). These include the outstanding issues of close to 500 political prisoners who remain detained under the Duterte government, as well as the growing list of human rights violations perpetrated by the AFP under its Oplan Kapayapaan.
“As Duterte’s martial law is against the people, it is imperative for the NPA to take action to oppose and fight it in order to defend the people’s rights and interests,” CPP said.
GRP Peace Panel reaffirms their commitment and remain confident in winning their quest for lasting peace. While NDFP hopes for the successful scheduled fifth round of talks. (BaretangBikolnon.com)