By JORGE "Ka Oris" MADLOS
The Philippine Daily Inquirer
After reading the Editorial of your Philippine Daily Inquirer issue dated Jan. 9, 2011, I took pain in writing to answer the points raised in your Editorial.
Your editorial accused the New People's Army (NPA) of running "around agreements that call for peace" and "treachery" for staging an ambush against an army unit that was conducting offensive military operation against the NPA in Samar two days before our self-declared ceasefire took effect. The NPA in Mindanao was also put in bad light for its ambush against a team of the 3rd Special Forces that conducts military operations in the guise of community organizing for peace and development on 6 Jan. 2011, two days after the expiration of our self-declared ceasefire.
In letter and in spirit, we have not violated our self-declared ceasefire — there never was treachery on the part of the NPA. First, the two incidents took place well beyond the ceasefire period. Secondly, both the AFP-PNP-CAFGU (Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine National Police, and the paramilitary Citizens Armed Forces Geographical Unit) and the NPA understood the possibility of military incidents between the two warring armed forces after the ceasefire period. In fact, the government forces were still on aggressive offensive operations on the eve of their ceasefire declaration as well as right after their ceasefire expired. All units of the NPA were also advised to stay on alert and defensive mode right before their declared ceasefire commenced as well as after the ceasefire deadline.
To prove their serious interest in the peace process, the NPA strictly adhered to our suspension of offensive military operation for the whole duration of our ceasefire declaration. We have also conducted Peace Forums to explain to different sectors our serious intention to discuss peace with the GRP negotiators. Putting in bad light the legitimate military actions of the NPA is in effect ganging up on the NPA, preventing them to fight as a true People's Army should, even as the AFP-PNP-CAFGU continue to attack the revolutionary forces before, during, and immediately after the ceasefire.
Proof of this is very clear in Mindanao: two prominent leaders of the revolutionary movement were arrested by the military and police operatives during the ceasefire period, one in North Central Mindanao and the other in Davao City. The GRP's alibi was simple: both have pending criminal cases. Isn't it a fact that all revolutionary leaders have pending criminal cases in GRP courts because it is a common dirty tactic of the AFP to treat rebellion cases as common crimes? It is good that we have warned NPA Red fighters and officers not to go down to avoid being arrested and charged as common criminals. But the two arrested leaders were having their medical check-up and other legitimate matters to attend to in the urban centers.
Another glaring proof is the deployment of AFP troops in the NPA areas in the hinterlands during the ceasefire period in the guise of securing the safety of multi-national corporations in Mindanao like the mining companies, large-scale plantations and giant logging companies. We have strict orders to all NPA units never to launch during the same period punitive military actions against these companies that violate the rights of the Lumad, peasants, workers, including the massive destruction of Mindanao's environment.
Another, this paper and all major media network carried the news that the military attempted to block the media and the ten thousand people who wished to attend the 42nd anniversary celebrations of the CPP in Mindanao and the peace forum organized by the NDFP.
There was no report of NPA casualty in these last few days after the ceasefire deadline even if the AFP was actively conducting offensive military operations because the NPA forces are more careful of their security and enjoy mass support. The AFP in Mindanao succeeded in the arrest of prominent revolutionary leaders only during ceasefire what it failed to do so before and after the ceasefire period.
Before the AFP ceasefire began, all the AFP units in Mindanao were ordered to launch Civil Military Operations during the period of ceasefire in traditionally NPA-influenced barrios under the guise of Community Organizing for Peace and Development (or COPD). These operations involved the "invitation" of suspected mass leaders for questioning, some were tortured. This is in clear violation not only of the ceasefire but of the basic human rights of the peasant and Lumad masses in the countryside.
On the arrest of Ka Bart, we were accused of "using as a convenient excuse" the Joint Agreement for Security and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG), arguing that we arbitrarily declare who should be protected once such personalities got arrested. As a legitimate party to the peace talks, the NDFP has the right and prerogative to choose its consultants, in the same manner that we respect this same right and prerogative on part of the GRP negotiating panel.
We believe that peace must be based on social justice, in concrete there should be genuine land reform, national industrialization, national sovereignty and genuine democracy. Peace negotiation as an arena for realizing social justice is just one among the different forms of struggle, and should not prevent the people from wielding and strengthening their own army — the New People's Army. Therefore, NPA launching tactical offensives should not be misconstrued to be a sign of insincerity towards the pursuit for peace, more so that it does not violate our declared ceasefire. No less than the spokesperson of the 4th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army announced that the NPA in Mindanao have no violation during the ceasefire period.
After explaining our side, is it just as fair if we request the PDI editorial board to also give some prominent space in your respectable newspaper this explanation? We thank you and more power to the PDI.
For reference, I am enclosing herewith list of AFP ceasefire violations in Mindanao.
(Sgd.) Jorge "Ka Oris" Madlos
For reference to the Media and the whole public, we are issuing this partial list of AFP ceasefire violations in Mindanao for the period covering Dec. 16 2010 to Jan. 3, 2011:
In Northeastern Mindanao Region
- December 16, 2010, on ceasefire period up to this writing, AFP troops conducted Community Organizing for Peace and Development (COPD or CMO) in Surigao del Norte.
- Barrios of Malimono: Brgys Tinago, Bunyasan, Hanagdong, Cansayon, Masgad, and Cantapoy
- Barrios of Surigao City: Brgys Silop, Mapawa, Trinidad, Mabwa, Mat-I and Anomar
- Brgy. Ema of Sison
- November 18 – December 27, 2010, prolonged military operation until the Ceasefire Period in Bislig City, Surigao del Sur. Barrios covered: San Agustin and Sitio Mabog, San Agustin, Sitio Km41 in San Roque.
- December 23-25, 2010. Random Checkpoints in the municipalities of Lianga, San Agustin and Marihatag in Surigao del Sur. This military checkpoint is aimed to perceive the supposed venue of the 42nd Anniversary celebration of the CPP in Mindanao.
- December 26, 2010. Checkpoints at the entrances of the venue of the CPP 42nd Anniversary celebration; aiming to stop the people from attending the celebration.
- December 17, police operatives arrested NDF-North Central Mindanao officer Pedro Codaste and his companions at a checkpoint in Bayugan, Agusan del Sur.
- December 17 , one platoon of the 58th IB conducted combat patrol at hinterland brgys. of Sangay and Ginabsan all of Buenavista, Agusan del Norte.
- December 17 -26, one squad from 8 IB, conducted COPD in hinterland Brgy. Sayawan, Municipality of Impasugong, Bukidnon.
- December 17 – 27, 23rd IB – CAA detachment conducted checkpoint and search all passersby at a hinterland brgy of Gilang-gilang Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon.
- December 17-31, four platoons of the 8IB conducted combat patrol at hinterland brgy. of Matupi, San Fernando, Bukidnon.
- January 2, 2011, Edwin Brigano, 53, was arrested around 3 a.m. of Saturday. Brigano was undergoing medical treatment for a serious respiratory illness and hepatitis.
- December 18, 2010, a squad of 73rd IB troopers conducted a military operation in hinterland Brgy. Upper Suyan, Malapatan, Sarangani Province. They entered sitio Dungan Bahay, Brgy. Upper Suyan and ransacked the house of a lumad named Sumil. The soldiers interrogated Sumil and at gunpoint forced him to pinpoint where "Kumander Boyax" was, to which Sumil denied having any knowledge of his whereabouts. The military then confiscated his bolo and threatened to hack him.
- December 18, 2010, the Alpha Company of the 27th IB and Cafgu elements conducted a military patrol in several barrios of Columbio, Sultan Kudarat specifically in Sitio Dam, Brgy. Maligaya. On December 23 they entered Brgy. Sinapulan and reportedly harassed the residents, many of whom are oppositionists to the mining operations of Xstrata-SMI.
- December 23-27, 2010, the Bravo Company of the 68th IB under 1Lt. Cebreon including some Cafgu elements conducted a foot patrol in Barangays Batang, Baynosa and in Lanao, Sitio Lambusong, Brgy. Bacong all of Tulunan town, North Cotabato. They also entered Barangays Bella Flores, Malabuan and Guangan, all in Makilala town, North Cotabato. On the evening of December 23 they were seen by several residents on ambush position in Brgy. Baynosa, near the Stanfilco-Dole banana plantation. Later they moved to the hinterland sitios of Brgy. Bacong, Tulunan, North Cotabato.
- December 30, 2010, about 3 pm until the early morning of December 31, a platoon of 39th IB contingents and Cafgus in full battle gear positioned themselves in Brgy. Macol and Brgy. Sanghay, Malita, Davao del Sur. Their presence was noted by a number of residents who were afraid of what they called "a possible military operation" that could disrupt their New Year's celebration.
Western Mindanao Region — still no reports
In North Central Mindanao Region
In Southern Mindanao Region
In Far Southern Mindanao Region
Released by the office of the Spokesperson of the NDFP-Mindanao