By LUIS G. JALANDONI
Chairperson, NDFP Negotiating Panel
The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) condemns in the strongest possible terms the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and its armed forces for committing war crimes in violating international humanitarian law.
Earlier, in a statement, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) claimed that the New People’s Army killed an average of one civilian per week in 374 violent incidents in 2012. This, and the statement that the civilians killed in the 27 January La Castellana incident were deliberately targeted, are sheer lies and mere psywar attempts aimed at discrediting the revolutionary national liberation movement in the country represented by the NDFP.
To set the record straight, the figures being peddled by the AFP are false, to say the least, paling in comparison to the number of violations of international humanitarian law actually committed by the armed forces of the GPH. Under the Aquino administration alone, 748 violations of international humanitarian law were recorded from complaints filed against the GPH with the Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC).
The use, occupation or attack of private residences, schools, and other public places (e.g. day care centers and barrangay halls) is the leading violation against civilians, with 146 recorded incidents. Not included in this number is the use of the Sadanga National High School in Mountain Province by elements of the 54th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army as a military detachment since 2009, as reported by Human Rights Watch (HRW) in 2011.
The other common violations were: divestment of property, 121 instances; killings, 102 instances; destruction of property, 87 instances; and forcible evacuation and displacement, 72 instances, all of which were committed in pursuit of military and paramilitary operations against civilians and communities suspected of supporting or under the influence of the revolutionary movement.
Other violations of international humanitarian law were also recorded:
- indiscriminate gunfire, strafing, bombing, and aerial bombardment of civilian communities (51 instances), from which four (4) civilians had died;
- use of civilians in police, military or paramilitary operations as guide and/or shield (34 instances);
- exploitation of children in the context of armed conflict (19 instances);
- forced recruitment or conscription of children (14 instances);
- and the creation, maintenance and support of paramilitary groups within civilian communities (nine instances).
There were also victims who, aside from being forcibly displaced from their residences, collectively experienced denial of humanitarian access and medical attention (nine instances), food and other economic blockades (five instances), and hamletting (two instances).
Fallen revolutionary fighters who, under international humanitarian law were entitled to rights as hors de combat, suffered from atrocities in the hands of GPH security forces. There were four (4) horrifying incidents of mutilation and desecration, and refusal to tender the remains of NPA members who were killed in battle.
The GPH has been diverting the people’s attention away from these deplorable facts — of committing war crimes in implementing Oplan Bayanihan, the US-designed counter-insurgency military strategy of the AFP. But the people will not be fooled and misled by psywar propaganda of the GPH. They have stood witness to the truth that GPH armed forces are war criminals and leading violators of international humanitarian law. No amount of perverting the news will change this fact.
Once again, the Aquino government is being reminded that it is responsible for these gross violations of international humanitarian law and human rights. It is accountable under universally accepted rules of war and international humanitarian law, as well as agreements which the GPH has forged with the NDFP. As such, it should address these violations, abide by its commitment under the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) and engage in good faith in the peace negotiations in order to solve the roots of armed conflict.