By RONALYN V. OLEA
MANILA — The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) ordered the New People’s Army (NPA) to maintain an active defense mode a day after President Rodrigo Duterte’s unilateral declaration of ceasefire with the CPP-NPA.
In a statement, the CPP said it awaits the release of the operational details, schedules and specific orders of Duterte’s declaration. The leadership of the CPP will soon issue its own unilateral ceasefire declaration as a reciprocal act to boost the peace talks.
In his first state of the nation address, June 25, Duterte said he wanted a “permanent and lasting peace” before the end of his six-year term.
The CPP said Duterte’s unilateral ceasefire declaration is a positive boost to the NDFP-GRP peace talks scheduled for August 20 to August 27. The CPP added it expects that such a declaration will be complemented soon with the earlier declared plan to release all NDFP peace consultants and the rest of the 550 political prisoners.
A more detailed order is set to be issued by the National Operations Command of the NPA later.
In his SONA speech, Duterte, addressing the NPA, said, “Let us end these decades of ambuscades and skirmishes. We are going nowhere and it is getting bloodier by the day.”
“President Duterte’s appeal for the NPA to cease the ambuscades can immediately be reciprocated. However, to the people longing for peace, what is more important and urgent is for the operating troops of the AFP [Armed Forces of the Philippines] to withdraw from the civilian communities and homes, their community schools, barangay halls and health centers,” the CPP said.
In a statement to the media yesterday, AFP spokesperson Brigadier General Restituto Padilla Jr. said the AFP will abide by Duterte’s instruction but will remain alert, vigilant and ready to defend itself and pursue attackers if confronted by armed elements of the NPA.
Ka Oris, spokesperson of the NPA National Operational Command, said in a statement that as of this morning, AFP units have remained stationed in communities and have yet to withdraw from their offensive operations in Isabela, Cagayan, Bulacan, Quezon and Batangas, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Albay, Sorsogon, Samar, Surigao, Davao del Norte, Davao del Sur and other provinces.
Ka Oris said that over the past weeks, the AFP has been carrying out intensified combat and patrol operations, reconnaissance and intelligence activities, occupation of civilian communities and attacks against human rights in the vain hope of scoring some points to cover their defeat of the Oplan Bayanihan after six years of failing to achieve their aim of reducing the NPA to inconsequentiality.
The CPP further said it hopes that Duterte will issue a concomitant order for the AFP to put an end to the Oplan Bayanihan war against the civilians.
Ka Oris said further that the AFP has been using the “anti-drug campaign” as pretext to embed themselves in the communities to carry out counter-insurgency patrols, surveillance, campaigns of suppression and militarization of communities.
Ka Oris enumerated several incidents where AFP and its paramilitary forces allegedly sow terror.
–Several people have been killed by fascist soldiers recently including Marjun Baruel, killed on May 19, Paul Saludaga, Mayo 21, Johnny Basilisco, June 6 and Maria Cayad, June 8 in Paquibato district, Davao City.
– On June 9, following an encounter in barangay Lumiad, Paquibato District, two Red fighters Joel Biliran (Ka Will) and Elenita Garing (Ka Milo), were arrested, tortured and murdered. Ka Milo was raped prior to being summarily executed.
– Also last July 1, in Magpet, North Cotabato, the body of a slain NPA Red fighter, Noel Gulmatico (Ka Jepoy) was desecrated last July 1 by elements of the 39th Infantry Battalion with both eyes gouged out, tongue sliced and neck stabbed.
— In Cagayan province, operating troops of the 86th IB abducted 16 members of an Aggay clan, including women and children last June 17. In Malibcong, Abra, four Tingguian minorities hunting wild game were arrested by the 27th IB last July 1.
— There is a renewed offensive against the community schools. Last July 15, armed men attacked Lumad datu Danny Diarog and killed Hermie Alegre, PTA president of the Salugpongan school in Tugbok District, Davao City. A few days earlier, parateachers Fahara Kabuntalan La and Sittie Usop Abdullah were killed when they were ambushed by masked armed men while enroute to Cotabato City. Their companion Aisah Karon Malugka and the tricycle driver were wounded.
Ka Oris said that by staying on active defense, the NPA must remain ever alert to AFP offensive military operations.
Until otherwise specified in further orders, Ka Oris said the NPA will continue with its work of defending the rural communities and the environment, to arrest and disarm big drug traffickers and police and military protectors and operators and to conduct educational, political and cultural campaigns to mobilize the people to assert their rights and advance their struggle for genuine land reform.
“As we welcome the unilateral declaration of ceasefire as a boost to peace talks, we must remind ourselves that it is not so much the absence of war than the presence of justice and freedom that makes peace,” the CPP said. “To the oppressed and exploited masses of peasants and workers, waging people’s war has always been the only viable recourse to attain their aspirations for peace.”