End martial law, abuses, or face more Moro resistance – CPP

June 10, 2017 - 12:32 PM
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Smoke rises from the center of Marawi as fighting continues between government forces and extremist gunmen. (Reuters file)

The Communist Party of the Philippines urged resistance to martial law in Mindanao, saying it would “fail to resolve the emergence of various armed Moro groups” and instead “will succeed in pushing more Moro people to take up arms and engage in war.”

In the editorial of the June 7 issue of its official publication “Ang Bayan,” the CPP dismissed as “unacceptable” President Rodrigo Duterte’s justification for issuing Proclamation No. 216, the “rebellion and terrorism of the so-called Maute group.

The editorial made no mention of an earlier offer by the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, which represents communist rebels in peace talks with government, of cooperation to fight local extremist groups. Duterte earlier welcomed the offer but has since rejected it.

It said martial law “must be denounced because it gives the AFP and PNP (Armed Forces of the Philippines and Philippine National Police) unrestrained freedom to abuse their powers against the people,” adding that Duterte himself “has even openly encouraged the soldiers to carry out abuses when he said he will answer for them.”

The CPP said martial law had worsened the human rights abuses it said were being committed “under the Duterte-Lorenzana all-our war” against the rebels by making the military “more ruthless in waging brutal operations against people suspected of supporting the armed revolution.”

It cited alleged aerial bombardments and incidents of strafing in Davao del Sur, Bukidnon, Cotabato and Compostela Valley provinces, “which are quite a distance from the said rebellion of the Mautes.”

And even as Duterte “is giving more powers to the military,” the CPP said he has also “given more weight to his threats against the courts and other government agencies” even as Congress has “become a mere ornament,” citing its refusal to convene in joint session to tackle the martial law declaration.

It also warned that the continuing fighting between government forces and the extremists “is now rousing anger among Moro leaders because of the relentless destruction of the lives of Marawi’s people.”

“If the complete destruction of Marawi continues, the war launched to ‘suppress terrorism’ will be regarded by the Moro people as a war against them,” it added.

“If the Duterte regime will not rein in the AFP’s bombardment, instead of suppressing the armed bandit groups, the ruthless and brutal war of the AFP will succeed in pushing more Moro people to take up arms and engage in war,” the CPP warned.