New AFP spox contradicts Marcos, amuses CPP

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) is only amused at inconsistencies in pronouncements made by government officials about the strength of the New People’s Army (NPA), its chief information officer said.

In a statement Wednesday, CPP officer Marco Valbuena said it was quite amusing to observe how new Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesperson Col. Francel Margareth Padilla contradicted her commander in chief President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. a few days into her new job.

In repeating the annual AFP announcement it will eliminate the NPA by the end of the year, the new spokesperson “already sounded like a broken record,” Valbuena said.

In a press briefing last Monday, Padilla said the AFP vows to defeat the NPA by the end of 2024, a promise made anew in the military’s first command conference of the New Year.

“We were given specific deadlines to do such.  So within a span of a year, we are looking at eliminating the threat of the internal insurgency situation,” Padilla said.

Valbuena however pointed out that Marcos himself declared only last January 13 that there are no more NPA fronts, which Brawner in turn rebuffed

“What was interesting, however, is the fact that she issued her statement just days after Marcos, their commander-in-chief, declared that ‘there are no more NPA fronts,’” Valbuena said.

AFP chief of staff Lt. Gen. Romeo Brawner himself rebuffed Marcos two days later by saying the NPA has “eleven weakened fronts,” instead of zero.

“To say the least, these disconnected statements reveal inconsistencies in the Marcos government’s public assessment of the state of the revolutionary armed movement, arising from contradictions in its self-serving objectives,” Valbuena said.

Neither declaration of having strategically defeated the NPA after 55 years or eliminating it can cover up the AFP’s ongoing military offensives and large-scale military operations across the country, Valbuena said.

The CPP officer added that the AFP continues to squander hundreds of billions of public funds in a strategy bound to fail in ending the civil war, he added.

Valbuena explained that the AFP’s annual declaration of crushing the NPA always fails because its strategy results in worsening forms of human rights and international humanitarian law violations.

He added that civilians remain the main targets of AFP’s operation through brutal suppression extrajudicial killings, rounding up people and parading them as “surrenderees,” looting, encampment amid civilian communities, curfews and other arbitrary restrictions on people’s movements and economic activity, food blockades, checkpoints, aerial bombing, artillery shelling and other bloody and dirty tactics.

“The vain objective is to break the people’s spirit and make them cower to submission. The result is the opposite,” he said.

Valbuena cited the recent killings of peasant activists Boy Baloy and Ernesto Torres in Negros Occidental by the 62nd Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army who claimed the victims were NPA fighters killed in an armed encounter.

Such crimes help make the NPA numbers grow amid the CPP’s new rectification campaign launched last December, Valbuena said.

“All in all, we anticipate steady growth during the rest of the year and succeeding period…the Filipino people have no other recourse but to intensify their revolutionary mass movement and armed resistance,” the CPP said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)