“After all, Teodoro comes from the same ilk of military warmongers who served Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and supported convicted war criminal Jovito Palparan.”
By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA – The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace negotiating panel said it was not surprised with the statement of recently appointed Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro rejecting the resumption of peace negotiations with the revolutionary group.
In a statement, interim chairperson of the NDFP peace negotiating panel, Julie de Lima said Teodoro has always been against pursuing peace talks with the NDFP.
“After all, Teodoro comes from the same ilk of military warmongers who served Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and supported convicted war criminal Jovito Palparan,” de Lima said.
This is the second time that Teodoro has been appointed as defense secretary. He served as defense secretary from 2007 to 2009 under President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
During the Arroyo administration, several human rights violations were recorded by human rights groups including aerial bombings in Mindanao as well as cases of enforced disappearances. It is also under the same administration that counterinsurgency program Oplan Bantay-Laya was implemented.
“Teodoro was one of the main implementers of Oplan Bantay Laya which is one of the bloodiest counterrevolutionary campaigns under the US-Arroyo regime,” de Lima added.
‘Scraped from the bottom’
Meanwhile, human rights group Karapatan said Marcos Jr.’s new appointees were ‘scraped from the bottom of the barrel.’
Aside from Teodoro, Marcos Jr. also appointed Dr. Teodoro Herbosa as health secretary whom health groups criticized for his pro-privatization stance of public hospitals and the red-tagging of progressive health workers.
Under the Arroyo administration where Teodoro served as defense secretary, Karapatan documented 181 extrajudicial killings, 24 enforced disappearances, 20 cases of abduction, 99 cases of torture, 456 illegal arrests and 164 illegal arrests with detention.
Also under Teodoro’s term, Karapatan recorded 117,133 documented victims of indiscriminate firing, 148,044 victims of forced evacuation and displacement and 9,154 victims of hamletting. The use of schools, medical, religious and other public places for military purposes (in violation of International Humanitarian Law) victimized as many as 19,358 persons. Food and other economic blockades victimized 23,249 individuals.
Among the victims of extrajudicial killings include Fr. Cecilio Lucero, Rebelyn Pitao, Dr. Rogelio Penera, Dr. Bartolome Resuello, peasants Manuel and Jocelyn Suarez and their four children, Edelina Jerus, Wilma Ambil, Charito Caspillo, and eleven year old Halima Bansil.
Some victims of abduction were James Balao who remains missing, Melissa Roxas, a Filipino American activist who went missing for six days in May 2009 for being suspected as a member of the New People’s Army, and Pastor Rodel Canja who was tortured before he was surfaced.
Read: Kin, colleagues of James Balao not giving up search
Read: Court Affirms Melissa Roxas’s Abduction, Torture Claim But Clears Arroyo, Military
Read: Protestant Church sues Arroyo for killings, human rights abuses
Favorable conditions for peace negotiations
Meanwhile, de Lima reiterated that it is NDFP’s policy to remain open to peace negotiations. However, under the Ferdinand Marcos Jr. administration, she said they see no signs of willingness to create the necessary conditions for peace talks to continue.
For one, de Lima said that the continued US military presence and intervention is an obstacle to creating favorable conditions for peace negotiations.
“The most recent Balikatan exercises, considered the largest in recent memory, is a demonstration of direct US support for counterrevolutionary attacks by the Marcos Jr. regime,” de Lima said.
De Lima also stressed that the Philippine government must first remove the designation of NDFP peace consultants as ‘terrorists’ under the Anti-Terror Law and release political prisoners in order to continue the negotiations.
In June last year, Luis Jalandoni, NDFP senior advisor, was designated by the Anti-Terrorism council as a ‘terrorist.’ Peace consultants who remain in jail such as Rey Casambre, Vicente Ladlad and Adelberto Silva were also designated by the ATC.
“But while the revolutionary movement is always ready to talk peace with the GRP, we will advance the people’s war to defend the Filipino people against more brutal fascist attacks and US military intervention, which we expect to intensify with the newly appointed DND chief,” de Lima said. (RTS, RVO)