By RIGOBERTO F. SANCHEZ
Spokesperson, Merardo Arce Command
NPA Southern Mindanao Regional Operations Command
Peace cannot be anywhere near in the minds of the US-Aquino regime when it announced a ceasefire this year. Peace is also not anywhere close to the mind of GPH Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte who tried to defend her earlier surrender calls to Ka Parago and Ka Oda of the New People’s Army as conciliatory and peacemaking. Stung when her surrender overture was called stupid, she rose to defense by calling the NPA’s response as rabid and vile, and then she went as far as to muddle peace by, again, portraying the NPA as peace haters.
Indeed, the ceasefire offering by the GPH (government of the Republic of the Philippines) is meant to sway public opinion against what it has not done as far as peace seeking is concerned: release of the jailed consultants of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and the hundreds of political detainees, at the same time pursue the GPH-NDFP peace negotiations. The GPH’s unilateral ceasefire actually justifies the continued intensified intelligence operations in the field while combat-ready military elements are poised for more attacks.
Indeed, who is rabid and vile? Certainly, this would refer to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) whose Special Operations Team operations — by so-called Peace and Development teams — continue to intensify in many peasant villages in Davao City. Endorsed by a rabid (read: narrow-minded) GPH mayor in the person of Sara Duterte, the SOT operations show that peace is farthest in the agenda of the local GPH reactionary government. The true state of Davao villages is this: abusive and combat-ready soldiers occupy civilian peasant villages, in schools, in barangay halls and in many civilian auspices.
Like the previous declaration of truce by Benigno Aquino III, the GPH’s ceasefire is deceptive and sham. Unrelenting combat and psywar operations in various villages in Southern Mindanao amid the AFP’s own declaration of suspension of offensives only point to the military’s temerity on violating agreements and human rights. The current 18-day ceasefire has become an occasion by the AFP and the US-Aquino regime to justify an illusory holiday flavour of the counter-revolutionary internal security operations plan Oplan Bayanihan.
The masses are not hoodwinked in the lies peddled by Aquino, the AFP and even with the puerile notions of peace mouthed off by Sara Duterte. In Paquibato, the peasant masses see the 69th IB soldiers and intelligence agents not as protectors but as abusive elements who harass them, conduct surveillance against them, especially as the celebration of the 43rd anniversary of the Communist Party of the Philippines nears.
Sara Duterte is schooled in fundamentally diametrical framework of peace — it is the peace for the ruling class of compradors, bureaucrats, and landlords. In her condemnation of the landmine blast as take- off point when she issued the surrender calls, let it be clear that NPA has not violated the IHL in the use of landmine. The landmine ban in CARHRIHL is specific in protecting civilians and it should not be taken as a blanket prohibition against the use of certain types of landmine directed against legitimate military objects of attack. The CARHRIHL actually prohibits gunfire and landmines directed against the civilian population as an object of attack, something which the AFP is guilty of.
What is prohibited under international law are anti-personnel landmines which have detonating mechanisms that could be triggered by any person that steps on them and are indiscriminate as they cause immediate injury or death. The NPA uses command-detonated landmines or improvised explosive devices (IED) – the detonation of which takes place upon sight of the military target– solely, directly and exclusively directed against legitimate military objects of attack.
For Sara Duterte to understand this and other aspects of the people’s war in the countryside, she has to repudiate her reactionary stance and go to the countryside where the likes of Ka Parago and Ka Oda immerse in the masses and where the organs of political power exercise political authority over its guerilla territory. But for her to mouth off a script from the AFP and to become its prized puppet is, indeed, a reality that is viler and more rabid.