The National Democratic Front (NDF) of the Philippines on Tuesday described the statements of Department of National Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella on the recent raid of a police station in Maasin, Iloilo by the New People’s Army as “baseless, unfair and unwarranted.”
First of all, NDF pointed out in a statement attributed to Fidel V. Agcaoili, NDF Panel Chairperson, “there is no cease fire in place between the forces of the GRP and NDFP in the Visayas and elsewhere in the country.
“What is in place are recommendatory gestures of goodwill by both Parties to refrain from carrying out offensive operations against each other’s forces in Mindanao. And Maasin, Iloilo is not in Mindanao.”
Still, the NDF claimed, “even in Mindanao and everywhere else in the country, the GRP military and police have been aggressively pursuing the all-out war policy against the people and the revolutionary forces, intimidating and suppressing legal democratic organizations in the urban areas while using all types of destructive weapons, including aerial and artillery bombardment and mortar fire against communities and the NPA in the countryside.”
According to the NDF, the martial law proclamation in Mindanao has led to the indiscriminate destruction of lives and property, as well as the displacement of hundreds of thousands of civilians in Marawi City.
“It has also led to the suppression of democratic rights such as the dispersal of workers’ strikes, arbitrary zoning of communities, illegal searches, arrest and detention, food blockades, as well as aerial bombings and other atrocities against communities in the central and eastern parts of Mindanao.”
NDF mentioned that on Sunday, 18 June, the day of the GRP reciprocal announcement to refrain from conducting offensive operations against the NPA in Mindanao, the AFP publicly announced that their forces had killed four NPA fighters, including an alleged NPA Front Secretary, in three separate military operations conducted by the 67th Infantry Battalion, the 104th Division Reconnaissance Company and the 66th Infantry Battalion in the towns of Cateel and Banaybanay in Davao Oriental and the town of Pantukan in Compostela Valley.
Also, NDF said, teachers and students of a Lumad school in Kapalong, Davao del Norte, another province in Mindanao, “have been prevented from holding classes by the military under the Eastern Mindanao Command and the Alamara paramilitary group, who threatened to shoot them should they return to their communities to attend their school. They are accused of being members of the NPA.”
These violations of the GRP’s own pronouncement to refrain from offensive operations against the people and revolutionary forces in Mindanao, said NDF, “clearly manifest the need for the GRP to put words into actual deeds and eschew public relations gimmicks in the pursuit of a just and lasting peace in the country through agreements on social, economic and political reforms.
“The NDFP stands by its 17 June 2017 statement. Any suggestions to the contrary or accusations of bad faith are uncalled for, especially at this sensitive time when the two Parties are about to cooperate, in coordination with the Royal Norwegian Government (RNG), in the preparations to resume the 5th round of formal talks, which have been stalled by the martial law declaration in Mindanao.