By CPP Information Bureau
The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) today chided Philippine President Benigno Aquino III, saying “the Philippine government does not have the moral high ground to question the sincerity of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) in the peace talks.” The CPP asserted that the NDFP has consistently shown its capability and determination to engage in negotiations to resolve the roots of the armed conflict.
“How can Aquino question the sincerity of the NDFP when it has been his government that has failed to show good faith in peace talks after carrying out the arrest earlier this year of at least two key NDFP peace consultants and failing to fulfill its obligations to effect the release of at least 17 peace talks consultants of the NDFP?” pointed out the CPP.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) arrested NDFP consultants Tirso Alcantara on 4 January and Alan Jazmines on 14 February in outright violation of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG). Alcantara was arrested while preliminary talks were going on, while Jazmines was arrested hours before formal peace talks between the government and NDFP panels were to resume in Oslo, Norway. As of July, the Philippine government has released only NDFP consultants Jovencio Balweg, Jaime Soledad and Maria Luisa Pucray.
For the past two decades, the NDFP has demonstrated before the international community its determination to engage in peace negotiations to resolve the roots of the armed conflict and to wage people’s war in accordance with the standards set by international conventions. The revolutionary forces have also demonstrated their ability to uphold agreements forged with the Philippine government, particularly, the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CAHRIHL) signed in 1998.
“The Aquino government is in no position to demand that the revolutionary forces stop waging the war of resistance when its armed forces continue their war of suppression in the countryside under the AFP’s Oplan Bayanihan,” said the CPP.
“Behind its human rights rhetoric, the AFP continues to violate with impunity the political, economic and cultural rights of the people as well as international rules on the conduct of war,” said the CPP. “These operations invariably cause severe economic and psychological hardships on the peasant population in the countryside.”
The CPP said a cursory search of the Philippine Revolution Web Central (PRWC) website (www.philippinerevolution.net) for the keywords “human rights” will reveal numerous cases of abuse committed by the AFP under the Aquino regime. The CPP cited a number of practices being carried out by the AFP under Oplan Bayanihan:
Encamping in barangay (village) centers, church grounds, school buildings, day care centers and other civilian centers, endangering the lives and properties of the civilian population.
Conducting barrio census for counter-insurgency.
Forcing people to attend military-sponsored “mass surrender” assemblies.
Forcibly enlisting people to serve as guides in their military operations.
Compelling people to contribute wood and other material to build military detachments
Compelling people to work in building detachments.
Compelling people as young as 15-years old to join the Barrio Defense System and carry out early morning reconnaissance.
Imposing night-time curfews and restricting people from engaging in activities such as collecting firewood and working in the fields.
Threatening people who refuse to cooperate with the military with enlistment in the AFP’s Order of Battle.
Imposing a food blockade and restricting the volume of commodities that people can buy.
Illegally arresting people and using torture to force them to divulge information.
“The New People’s Army (NPA) will continue to carry out tactical offensives against legitimate military targets in response to the demands of the people to punish abusive military and police forces as well as criminal and antisocial elements who disrupt community peace and order.”
“The NPA’s tactical offensives are being carried out in accordance with the instructions of the Party’s central leadership,” added the CPP.
“The Filipino people’s revolutionary forces will continue to engage the Aquino regime in peace negotiations as long as the Aquino regime shows interest in discussing and resolving the socio-economic roots of the armed conflict. But the Philippine government must show that it is capable of abiding by the agreements forged in talks with the NDFP,” said the CPP.