By CPP Information Bureau
The National Democratic Front of the Philippines-Eastern Visayas said today that the New People's Army is undertaking steps to prevent civilian casualties over concerns of such occurring last 8 and 14 December in Northern Samar. "In upholding the people's war as just, correct and principled, it is important for the NPA to ensure the observance of the rights of civilians," said Fr. Santiago Salas, NDFP-EV spokesperson.
"This demonstrates the NPA's firm unity with the people and differentiates it from the enemy, which is carrying out an unjust and unpincipled counterrevolutionary war backed by US imperialism. It is the people, not arms alone, who are decisive in war — contrary to the casual acceptance of so-called "collateral damage" as well as the willful targetting of civilians by the Armed Forces of the Philippines."
The NDFP-EV spokesperson condoled with the families of the civilian victims in the 8 and 14 Dec. NPA tactical offensives, and assured them the NPA units involved are being investigated and will face sanctions if found responsible for the deaths of their loved ones.
"The initial report indicates that the NPA unit involved in the 8 Dec. riverside ambush between Brgy. Taylor and Brgy. L. Impon, Las Navas should have held their fire and even called off the tactical offensive if at all uncertain of the danger to civilians. The river is a common transportation route, and AFP troops often disguise themselves as civilians as well as use civilians as human shields.
Meanwhile, it is still being ascertained whether the NPA or the AFP is at fault in the death of a nine-year-old boy in the 14 Dec. ambush in Brgy. Sta. Fe, Las Navas where 10 AFP troops were killed. Be that as it may, the NPA will certainly learn the lessons and be even more determined in serving the people and safeguarding the civilians."
Fr. Salas also called on the people to struggle for their rights and to oppose the Aquino government's newfangled Oplan Bayanihan. "The deaths of civilians in the civil war have mounted mainly because of the AFP's impunity for human rights violations in the past decade under its Oplan Bantay Laya. Yet the Aquino government's US-backed Oplan Bayanihan is once again the violent suppression of the people who demand land, jobs, basic social services, defense of national sovereignty and national patrimony, and other legitimate calls. The AFP's human rights violators under Oplan Bantay Laya have gone unpunished, and Oplan Bayanihan will be an extension of a dirty war that pays lip service to human rights while carrying out fascist state terrorism against the people.
"It is untrue that civilians are being caught in the middle of the civil war. They are in fact being attacked by the AFP on mere suspicion of links to the revolutionary movement, while also coerced as human shields, guides in military operations, and props in psywar acts. Thus the people must press for the punishment of the human rights violators while asserting their rights amidst the renewed government offensive. They must quickly expose to the media the human rights violations in military operations in the countryside. They must call on local government officials to assert civilian supremacy over the military and stop the militarization of the countryside. They must form alliances with the Church and other concerned sectors to struggle for human rights, justice and peace."
NDF-EV Media Liaison Officer
Cellphone No. +639196199369
E-mail: [email protected]