By CPP Information Bureau
The National Democratic Front of the Philippines in Eastern Visayas (NDFP-EV) today assailed the announcement of the Armed Forces of the Philippines on extending its (national security program) Oplan Bantay Laya campaign until January 2011 as proving that Benigno Aquino III is no different from his predecessor.
"While the world commemorates International Humanitarian Law Month today, the AFP will be continuing its campaign that has led to many killings of social activists and other civilians," said NDFP-EV spokesperson Fr. Santiago Salas. "The assertions of the Aquino government and its AFP about upholding human rights and international humanitarian law are utterly meaningless. The new Aquino government thus shows it is no different from the previous Gloria Arroyo administration, which despite a so-called truth commission is not being pursued for its many rights violations under Oplan Bantay Laya. More innocent blood will thus be spilled in unresolved extrajudicial killings such as that victimized Fr. Cecilio Lucero, Rev. Edison Lapuz, Dr. Bartolome Resuello, Atty. Felidito Dacut, Atty. Norman Bocar, Sammy Bandilla, and many others."
Fr. Salas also criticized the 8th Infantry Division spokesperson Lt. Col. Armand Rico for saying that the military does not practice extrajudicial killings and that human rights courses are carried out in their ranks.
"Speaking and studying human rights do not amount to anything without deeds. Many human rights advocates including the United Nations have condemned the killings of activists in the Philippines. In fact, Benigno Aquino III was barely warming his seat as the new Philippine president when five activists were killed in succession. But Aquino is not doing enough to stop the killings, such as explicitly ordering the military as its commander-in-chief to stop targeting activists because they are noncombatants under international humanitarian law. Moreover, he should seriously pursue Gloria Arroyo and others who masterminded and implemented Oplan Bantay Laya to bring them to account for their bloody crimes."
On the other hand, the NDFP-EV spokesperson also clarified that not only the New People's Army but the revolutionary mass organizations as well study human rights, especially the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law signed by the NDFP and the Government of the Republic of the Philippine (GRP).
"Everyone in the revolutionary areas, whether a Red fighter or an ordinary peasant, knows and observes human rights more than a loudmouth like Col. Rico. They know the difference between combatants and noncombatants. They know that civilians and their communities should not be harmed in war. They know that enemy soldiers who are prisoners of war and hors d' combat also have rights that should be respected. That is why in the countryside, the NPA has the political advantage and prestige over the AFP, because the people can see the difference between those who really observe human rights and international humanitarian law and those who only pay lip service."
Fr. Salas called on the people to continue to fight the fascist state terrorism of Oplan Bantay Laya and to struggle for justice for its victims.
"By continuing Oplan Bantay Laya, the Aquino government is thus going from its so-called "path of righteousness" to Gloria Arroyo's road to hell of fascism, puppetry and corruption. The people must develop and advance their anti-fascist, anti-feudal and anti-imperialist struggles to fight Oplan Bantay Laya as well as the increasingly anti-people and anti-national impositions of the Aquino government. If Oplan Bantay Laya and any other succeeding campaign will escalate extrajudicial killings and other human rights violations, this will only strengthen the revolutionary armed movement by convincing the people to take up arms. The NPA is ready to fight and reap more victories from the continuation of Oplan Bantay Laya, which the AFP admits has been losing and is therefore bound to lose even more. The NPA looks forward to advancing to the strategic stalemate in the people's war in the next five years."
NDFP-EV Media Liaison Officer
Cellphone No. +639196199369
E-mail: [email protected]