President Rodrigo Duterte’s petition to further extend martial rule and the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus in Mindanao for a full year will target the New People’s Army (NPA) along with other armed groups, his letter to the Senate and House of Representatives (HOR) today revealed.
In his request addressed to both Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III and HOR Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, Duterte wrote the extension aims “to ensure the total eradication of DAESH-inspired Da’awatul Islamiyah Waliyatul Masriq (DIWM), other like minded Local/Foreign Terrorist Groups (L/FTGs) and Armed Terrorist Groups (ALGs) and the communist terrorists (CTs) and their coddlers, supporters, and financiers.”
Military and police pronouncements repeatedly refer to the NPA as CTs.
Duterte added his request is based on National Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana’s recommendations submitted to him last December 4.
In his original Proclamation No. 216 declarating a three-month martial law in Mindanao at the outbreak of the Marawi City crisis last May 23, Duterte did not include the NPA as among the targets.
In the 150-day extension approved by 245 lawmakers last July 22, however, Lorenzana already identified the NPA as among the targets, accusing the revolutionary group as “taking advantage of the situation.”
Duterte accused the NPA of perpetrating 385 so-called atrocitied that killed 41 and wounding 62 government troopers in 2017, as well as 59 arson incidents that targeted businesses such as mining and plantations.
“As a direct result of these atrocities on the part of the NPA, I was constrained to issue Proclamation No. 360 on 23 November 2017 declaring the termination of peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front-Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (NDF-CPP-NPA) effective immediately,” Duterte wrote.
“I followed this up with Proclamation no. 374 on 05 December 2017, where I declared the CPP-NPA as a designated/identified terrorist organization under the Terrorism Financing Prevention and Suppression Act of 2012, and the issuance of a directive to the Secretary of Justice to file a petition in the appropriate court praying to proscribe the NDF-CPP-NPA as a terrorist organization under the Human Security Act of 2007,” he added.
These recent developments involving the NDF-CPP-NPA forebode another year of intensified armed hostilities which continue to make Mindanao the hotbed of rebellion, Duterte wrote.
Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Public Affairs Office chief Col. Edgard Arevalo last December 8 promised there would be no martial law abuses should it be extended.
Aravelo added martial law does not target any particular group.
”This is all hogwash, of course,” Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay said in reaction to Arevalo’s statement.
Contrary to AFP’s assurances, Duterte’s martial rule in Mindanao victimizes civilians, mostly farmers and Lumad, Palabay said.
“Aside from being expert spin doctors, the AFP has also been consistent in denying their atrocities despite witnesses to their crimes,” Palabay said.
Many organizations in different regions in Mindanao, particularly local peasant and indigenous organizations, are targeted for their campaigns against militarization and for agrarian reform,” she added.
Palabay said that members of the Compostela Farmers Assocation (CFA) in the Southern Mindanao Region (SMR), for example, were targets of illegal arrest and political killings.
“These attacks merely escalated after the declaration of martial law, what with the military’s red-tagging of the group as symphatizers. The latest member of the CFA extrajudicially killed by State forces is Rodrigo Timoteo on November 28, 2017,” Palabay said.
Palabay said that activists and progressive groups have long been targeted by State security forces in line with Duterte’s implementation of the counterinsurgency program Oplan Kapayapaan.
She added that the situation was made worse by the declaration of martial law that further endangered individuals, groups, and entire communities who struggle and fight for various advocacies.
“Another year of martial law will not be beneficial to anyone, except the fascist military dogs and their equally proudly fascist leader,” Palabay said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)