The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) described as squid tactics Rodrigo Duterte’s latest tirades against the revolutionary movement and called the President’s renewed threats to impose martial law a mere cover up of his government’s failure to contain the coronavirus pandemic.
After an invective-peppered rant against the New People’s Army (NPA) Friday morning, April 24, the CPP said Duterte’s latest threat to impose military rule on the country is a classic deflection tactic to draw away the people’s attention from the government’s “inept, uncompassionate and irresponsible actions in the face of the pandemic.”
“Duterte is using the Covid-19 crisis, one that has blown up because of his government’s military-minded response and failure to conduct mass testing, to carry out agenda of imposing martial law. Duterte’s ultimate aim is to establish his dictatorship, something he has long sought to do,” the CPP said in a statement.
Duterte again riled at the NPA in his televised address accusing the guerrillas of killing two government soldiers he claimed were escorting relief workers delivering aid to communities in Aurora Province last Tueday, April 21.
“If you persist in your lawlessness—and it is happening all over the Philippines—maybe I will declare martial law,” Duterte said.
The Philippine Army (PA) identified Pfc. Ken Lester I. Sasapan and Pfc. Jackson M. Mallari as those killed in a clash with the NPA Barangay Diaat, Maria Aurora town.
The Philippine Army however said the 91st Infantry Battalion of 7th Infantry Division was “conducting a security patrol in the vicinity in relation to the distribution of the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s Special Amelioration Program.”
CPP information officer Marco Valbuena said the government troops attacked the local NPA unit who merely defended themselves.
“Sugod kasi ng sugod ang AFP. Utos ni Duterte eh. Pinambabala sa kanyon ang mga sundalo niya. Siyempre, NPA is alert and ready to defend themselves,” Valbuena said. (They keep on attacking. It was Duterte’s order. He treats his soldiers as cannon fodder. Of course, the NPA is alert and ready to defend themselves.)
The CPP said the armed clashes between the NPA and the AFP in the past days are a result of the attacks of the AFP and active defense of the NPA.
Since Duterte’s ceasefire lapsed last April 15, the AFP has further stepped up its counterinsurgency operations, the group said.
“In fact, the AFP never went on ceasefire, even when Duterte ordered a suspension of offensive operations last March 19 to April 15, deploying troops to more than 350 barangays and 120 towns to conduct counterinsurgency, mounting at least 24 offensives and six aerial bombardments,” the CPP said.
The CPP pointed out that a separated clash in Himamaylan City, Negros Occidental last April 15 that killed three AFP soldiers happened in the interior areas 10 kilometers away from Barangay Carabalan, where the DSWD was scheduled to distribute “social amelioration” to the residents.
“The 94th IB platoon was clearly on combat operations when they carried out the attack against the NPA. The NPA fighters rightfully defended themselves in battle,” the CPP said.
The CPP in turn accused the AFP of conducting “pang-press release” (for press release purposes) relief work that serve as cover for its intensified counterinsurgency operations against the NPA.
“The AFP has stepped up its counterinsurgency drive to prevent the NPA from conducting its own public health campaign in response to the Covid-19 and economic and production work to help the people cope with the sharp economic downturn,” the CPP said.
The group added that should Duterte impose martial law, the move will not stop the Covid-19 pandemic but will only cause greater hardships on the people.
“The Party condemns Duterte’s further extension of the lockdown in lieu of any decisive push for mass testing. The lockdown is now deceptively referred to as ‘general’ or ‘modified’ quarantine has been expanded to cover large parts of Visayas and Mindanao. There is now creeping nationwide martial law and the entire country is now effectively under the highhanded and control of the military and police,” the CPP said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)