DAVAO CITY, Philippines— Did Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte order the Armed Forces of the Philippines to end its offensive operations against the New People’s Army?
This was the question posed by the Communist Party of the Philippines to the government after Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza and Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella issued two separate statements, castigating the CPP for the recent attacks staged by its armed-wing, the NPA.
“If Malacañang cannot show such specific orders by Duterte, then its spokesperson must better refrain from issuing statements which castigates the NPA for carrying out actions against the AFP’s all-out war,” the CPP said in a statement on Sunday, June 25.
The CPP reiterated that the NDFP’s earlier declaration to order the NPA to refrain from carrying out offensives in Mindanao rests on the critical precondition that “the AFP will likewise refrain as well from attacking the NPA and the people in the revolutionary base areas in Mindanao. Presently, such conditions do not exist concretely.”
Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza, in a statement issued over the week end, said the NPA attacks in Mindanao and elsewhere in country “fuel the public’s doubt on whether it is still worthwhile to continue the peace negotiations with them.”
Dureza said the spate of attacks targeting government forces, civilians and private property, violates the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law.
“To us and the public as well, this is not only disturbing. This disrupts the conducive and enabling environment in peace making and peace building. In the meantime, we will await further validation of these recent incidents and will undertake corresponding and appropriate steps to deal decisively with this situation,” Dureza pointed out.
However, the CPP argued that AFP have consistently conducted “pursuit” operations against the NPA, adding that “the AFP’s war of suppression in Mindanao has worsened since the imposition of Martial Law more than a month ago.”
“Before claiming the right to castigate the NPA, the GRP must first account for all its unabated armed offensives and aerial bombardments across the country. These offensives have resulted in at least eight NPA casualties over the past ten days in Mindanao alone. Paramilitaries have been employed as well to attack the schools run by Lumad organizations,” the CPP pointed out.
With the AFP’s offensive operations against the communist rebels, the CPP said that “human rights abuses continue to worsen and have become more intense compared to the period prior to Martial Law.”
In Davao region, for instance, the number of extrajudicial killings continues to go up, according to CPP, with at least five people were killed by government troops since Martial Law was declared.
“In addition to close to 310,000 people who have been forced to evacuate in Marawi City and nearby towns, thousands more in North Cotabato, Bukidnon, Davao del Sur and elsewhere are now in evacuation centers after AFP aerial bombardment targeting their communities and farms,” it said.
CPP claims further that AFP has deployed government troops across the country to wage offensives operations in Davao del Norte, Davao Oriental, Compostela Valley, Davao del Sur, Davao City, North Cotabato, Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao, Bukidnon, Surigao del Sur, Surigao del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Agusan del Norte, Lanao del Sur, Zamboanga del Norte and other provinces.
The fifth round of talks between the government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines was cancelled after the government peace panel refused to participate citing lack of enabling environment for the talks to proceed brought about by latest skirmishes with the NPAs.
The CPP said it anticipates the resumption of talks by August or September this year. (davaotoday.com)