Fr. SANTIAGO “Ka Sanny” SALAS
NDFP – Eastern Visayas
The National Democratic Front of the Philippines – Eastern Visayas today dismissed the issues raised by the 8th Infantry Division of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) against the New People’s Army as “old hat,” such as the alleged use of proscribed land mines and minors.
“The NPA has long been complying with the Geneva Conventions and other aspects of international humanitarian law,” said Fr. Santiago Salas, NDFP-EV spokesperson. “The NPA uses command-detonated explosives and not the prohibited anti-personnel land mines. Likewise, the NPA recruits Red fighters who are at least 18 years old as regular combatants, and any claims to the contrary by the military have all been found to be untrue.
The minors who are used for such psychological warfare tactics by the military have turned out to be helpless children of ordinary peasants or coerced relatives of Red fighters. For example, the military’s claim in 2009 that the mentally handicapped 12-year-old Joel Silvestre from Matuguinao, Western Samar was an NPA fighter was later exposed as a brazen lie by his fellow villagers. It goes to show that the military remains unchanged in trying to deceive the people, even though it is the one being hounded by unresolved and continuing human rights violations.”
The 8th ID allegations came after an NPA ambush in Paranas, Western Samar last 20 July and the alleged “rescues” of minors from the NPA in Northern Samar. Fr. Salas added that the 8th ID is trying to cover up not only its human rights violations but also its continuing losses by smearing the NPA.
“It has been noted that Aquino government forces in Eastern Visayas committed at least six extrajudicial killings in the past year, as well as 60 other cases of human violations, including six violations of the rights of a child. Meanwhile, the region is one of the most heavily militarized in the country, and in fact has the most number of army battalions with eight in Samar and three in Leyte.
“But the NPA continues to stand by the people in fighting these difficulties. Last July 20, Red fighters of the Arnulfo Ortiz Command ambushed troopers of the 34th Infantry Battalion in Paranas, killing one and wounding six, as well as confiscating their weapons. The very same day, Red fighters of the Mt. Amandewin Command in Carigara, Leyte, launched a counter-raid against attacking elements of the 19th Infantry Battalion, killing two soldiers. There were no NPA casualties in both instances.”
The NDFP-EV spokesperson called on the people to continue to expose and oppose (the Aquino government’s national security program) Oplan Bayanihan. “The Aquino regime and its Oplan Bayanihan are no different from previous fascist regimes and their counterrevolutionary campaigns.
The justice long denied the people can only come from asserting their rights. The NDFP-EV is one with the victims of human rights violations under Oplan Bayanihan and their demand for justice. The people must unite in the antifascist struggle and immediately bare the deceit and the real violators of human rights whenever the military reruns its scripted performances against the NPA and the people.”