NDFP Media Office
Press statement by NDFP Panel chair Fidel V. Agcaoili
January 23, 2017
The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) vehemently condemns the AFP attack on an NPA unit in Makilala, North Cotabato on January 21 as a serious breach by the military of the unilateral ceasefire declaration of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP).
Field reports from the NPA indicate that despite the guerrillas’ maneuvers to evade the AFP to prevent a gunbattle, the AFP troops pursued the Red fighters for an entire day in an obvious attempt to provoke fighting.
The attack by the 39th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army, which claimed the life of an NPA guerrilla is but the latest of a series of violations committed by this AFP unit since the GRP’s unilateral ceasefire took effect in August last year.
Reports from the NPA Regional Operational Command in Southern Mindanao state that a week following the GRP ceasefire declaration, the 39th IB dispatched so-called peace and development outreach program (PDOP) teams occupying barangay halls, health centers and schools in Kidapawan City, Pres. Roxas, Magpet and Arakan municipalities in North Cotabato.
It likewise continued to mobilize its troops and paramilitaries in various forms of combat operations such as intelligence gathering, combat and psywar in far-flung areas that resulted in the extrajudicial killing of civilians Rita and Norberto Gascon on September 13 in Arakan and Rolan Malignan on November 22 and the harassment and forced evacuation of peasant families in Magpet on December 6.
This incident in Makilala, North Cotabato also happened almost simultaneously with the extrajudicial killings of peasant leader Alexander Ceballos in Negros Occidental and Lumad leader Veronico Delamente in Surigao del Norte. There is clearly an emerging pattern by state security forces of flouting the GRP’s unilateral ceasefire and sabotaging the peace negotiations. The NDFP takes note of the fact that these extrajudicial killings and attacks are similar to those carried out by the military in 2005-06 when practically the same people were at the helm of the state’s security forces–current National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. and newly installed Chief of Staff Eduardo Año.
The NPA has consistently demonstrated its strict adherence to the NDFP’s unilateral ceasefire and commitment to the peace negotiations by actively maneuvering to avoid armed encounters with the AFP. The AFP, on the other hand, has done nothing but provoke the NPA and mock the GRP’s own ceasefire through its unceasing combat operations.
The NDFP panel takes this latest incident seriously. There is strong sentiment among the NDFP forces on the ground that the continuation of the NDFP’s unilateral ceasefire has become increasingly untenable due to the widespread and intensified militarization and AFP clearing operations. This latest incident could be the last straw that may force the hand of the NDFP leadership to rescind its own unilateral ceasefire.