The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) Negotiating Panel said it considers it absurd that a “mere government agency,” the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), has filed complaints against its allied organizations before another government agency.
NDFP Negotiating Panel interim chairperson Julieta de Lima said it is absurd and preposterous the AFP filed complaints against the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New People’s Army (NPA) with the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) as if the revolutionary organizations have become “subject to the authority of the GRP (Government of the Republic of the Philippines) and its agencies.”
De Lima said both the CPP and the NPA belong to the NDFP and the revolutionary movement’s “People’s Democratic Government,” and not to the GRP.
“It is completely stupid and unacceptable for the AFP as mere agency of the GRP to consider the CPP and NPA as mere subjects to the authority of the GRP,” she said.
De Lima pointed out that the CPP and the NPA, as well as 16 other NDFP allied organizations, are at war with the GRP.
“The fact is that there is a civil war between the co-belligerents: the GRP and its agencies on one side; and the People’s Democratic Government, the NDFP, CPP, NPA, other revolutionary forces and the entire Filipino people on the other side,” de Lima said.
Conduct of war
The CHR meanwhile urged both the government and the rebels to respect international humanitarian law (IHL) in the conduct of war as it acknowledged receipt of the cases filed by the AFP on the alleged attacks against civilian properties by the CPP and the NPA since 2010.
“In looking into these cases, the CHR asserts its independent, impartial position in investigating human rights violations, including those committed in the context of armed conflicts. We equally assert our jurisdiction over these cases. International humanitarian law (IHL) covers both State and non-State actors alike,” CHR spokesperson Jacqueline Ann de Guia said.
The CHR said civilians must be protected from atrocities under the IHL
“While CHR stands firm for the liberty of people to believe in specific ideologies, ones freedom to act on these beliefs should be guided by what is lawful and respectful of the rights of others,” de Guia said.
The CHR spokesperson noted that the CPP in a statement has admitted that civilian properties were destroyed or damaged by NPA in the course of several operations.
“[T]he CPP claims that those who have suffered damages were compensated,” de Guia said.
‘The proper venue’
De Lima however said the CHR is not the venue for the filing of such complaints against the NPA as an agreement has been signed between the GRP and the NDFP for exactly such a mechanism.
The GRP and the NDFP signed the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) on March 16, 1998 in The Hague, The Netherlands establishing a Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC) to receive and investigate reports of human rights and IHL violations by either party.
De Lima reminded the AFP that if it wants to file complaints against the CPP and NPA, the most appropriate thing it can do is to ask GRP President Rodrigo Duterte as GRP principal to file through his representative complaints against the underground groups to the NDFP Section of the JMC.
“Unlike the GRP under the Duterte regime which engages in fascist crimes of state terrorism, the NDFP strictly adheres directly to the international law on human rights and humanitarian conduct in war as well as through the provisions of CARHRIHL,” de Lima said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)