“With the NPA restrained from mounting offensives, the AFP and PNP continue to violate the people’s rights with impunity.”
By JONAS ALPASAN
MANILA – Benito Tiamzon, peace panel member of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, clarified that there has been no exchange of drafts on a bilateral ceasefire with the Philippine government (GRP) and that government claims that the two parties are close to signing a bilateral ceasefire agreement are not true.
In a MindaNews report, government peace panel chair Silvestre Bello III said they are hoping to sign the bilateral ceasefire agreement on Dec. 10, International Human Rights Day, and that the GRP and NDFP have been exchanging drafts.
Bello said the parties have yet to define critical terms such as what constitutes “hostile acts” and have to agree on mechanisms to monitor the implementation of the bilateral ceasefire agreement.
Tiamzon, however, referred to such pronouncement as “persistent disinformation” from the end of the Philippine government. He also belied Bello’s statement that defining “hostile acts” and “buffer zones” are the only hurdles to the forging of a bilateral ceasefire agreement.
He said it is improbable that a bilateral ceasefire agreement in the near future may be signed in the face of reports that they have been receiving that state security forces are violating their own unilateral ceasefire, as stipulated in their respective Suspension of Military Operations (SOMO) and Suspension of Police Operations (SOPO).
In a separate statement, human rights group Karapatan said it has documented several encampments by soldiers in communities, especially in the regions of Bicol, Caraga, and Socksargen. A Lumad school in Sultan Kudarat was also forced to stop its operations due to continuous threats, harassments, and vilification campaigns against their teachers and students.
Cristina Palabay, Karapatan secretary general, said that, “instead of hurriedly pursuing its obsession on a joint ceasefire declaration with the NDFP, the GRP should have its own reality check first if it could honor its own unilateral ceasefire declaration.”
Tiamzon also reiterated that there have been no releases of political prisoners, as promised by the Philippine government during the last round of talks in Oslo.
“With the NPA restrained from mounting offensives, the AFP and PNP continue to violate the people’s rights with impunity,” Tiamzon said, adding that such conditions show that it is difficult to maintain even the unilateral ceasefire.