Has President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to stop its all-out war against the New People’s Army (NPA) yet?, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) asked Malacañan in a statement today.
Reacting to a statement yesterday by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) and Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella questioning the Left’s sincerity in resuming formal peace negotiations in light of recent clashes between the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the NPA, the CPP asked the Duterte government if it would order its troops to stop attacks against the rebel guerrillas at all.
“Since yesterday, Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza and the Malacañan spokesperson have issued…statements impugning the revolutionary forces’ seriousness to talk peace citing military actions of the NPA in Mindanao and elsewhere which they claim ‘disrupts the conducive and enabling environment’ for peace talks,” the CPP said.
“Has GRP (Government of the Republic of the Philippines) Pres. (Rodrigo) Duterte ordered the AFP to refrain from carrying out offensives against the NPA since the June 18 statement of GRP Negotiating Panel Chief Silvestre Bello III declaring ‘not undertaking offensive operations’ against the NPA?” the CPP asked.
“If Malacañan 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 group added.
A statement issued by both OPAPP and Abella yesterday said several recent offensives in Mindanao and elsewhere allegedly committed by the CPP-NPA-NDFP further fuel supposed doubts by the public on whether it is still worthwhile for the GRP to continue its peace negotiations with the Left.
“These communist leaders even offered to refrain from undertaking offensive operations in Mindanao to enable our government to focus manpower and resources in the fight against terrorists,” the statement said.
Malacañan was referring to recent battles between the AFP and the NPA in Cateel, Davao Oriental and Pantukan, Compostela Valley it claimed was instigated by the guerrillas.
But the CPP said the “prejudicial question” of whether Duterte would order the AFP and the Philippine National Police to stop attacking the NPA in Mindanao must be asked of Abella and Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza.
“More than a week after (GRP chief negotiator Silvetre) Bello’s (June 18) statement, the people have not seen nor heard of a Duterte order ‘not to undertake offensives’ against the NPA,” the CPP said.
“On the contrary, his defense secretary and military commanders have repeatedly declared that the AFP will conduct pursuit operations against the NPA,” it added.
Forced to defend
The CPP said the NPA is forced to defend itself under Duterte’s all-out war and “launch military actions in the widest possible area to dissipate the offensives of the AFP and blunt its attacks against the people.”
The CPP accused the AFP of deploying more troops 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.
“Paramilitaries have been employed as well to attack the schools run by Lumad organizations across Mindanao,” the CPP said.
It said the AFP also launched offensives and attacks against civilians in Abra, Kalinga, Isabela, Quirino, Camarines Norte, Sorsogon, Albay, Northern Samar, Leyte, Iloilo, Capiz, Negros Occidental and other provinces.
“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 10 days in Mindanao alone,” the CPP said.
The CPP, however, said it looks forward to the continuation of the stalled fifth round of NDFP-GRP peace talks in August or September as it anticipates preparations to be conducted by both sides in the interim. # (Raymund B. Villanueva/Featured image by John Rizzle Saligumba of Davao Today)