LUCENA CITY—The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) On Wednesday strongly protested the government offer of P466.8 million bounty for the capture of 235 suspected communist rebel leaders.
In a statement, the CPP countered that the cash rewards will only lead to more corruption in the military, illegal arrests, torture and other grave human rights abuses.
“The reward system will only be used by military and police officials to pocket millions of pesos and commit grave violations of human rights,” the CPP said.
The CPP said the cash figures were contained in a joint order by the Department of Interior and Local Government and Department of National Defense which was recently released by DILG Secretary Manuel Roxas.
Leading the list of wanted rebel leaders are New People’s Army top commander Benito Tiamzon, CPP-National Finance Commission head Wilma Tiamzon, National Democratic Front-Mindanao spokesperson Jorge Madlos, and NPA Eastern Mindanao leader Leoncio Pitao.
The CPP cited the recent case of civilian security guard Rolly Panesa who was arrested together with his wife, son and daughter-in-law last October 5 in Quezon City.
Panesa was identified by his military captors as “Benjamin Mendoza”, the alleged top CPP leader in Southern Tagalog with P5 million reward for his capture.
“We can anticipate more cases of false arrests of supposed CPP leaders, especially now that they have further raised the reward money,” said the CPP.
However, the military insisted that they bagged the true rebel leader and claimed that Rolly Panesa is one of Mendoza’s aliases as confirmed by their supposed witness.
The CPP said the issuance of cash bounties against revolutionary leaders only “seeks to demonize and criminalize” the rebel leaders.
“What are peace negotiations to the Aquino regime but a meaningless decorative piece when it demonizes and criminalizes the act of waging revolution and armed resistance against the oppressive and exploitative system?”
The CPP added that the reward system violates the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) which prohibits either party to subject to surveillance, arrest or criminal persecution personnel of either side who serve as officials, consultants or staff members in peace negotiations.
“The Aquino regime talks of peace but acts in a contrary manner, when it regards as criminals those who advocate and advance the struggle for national sovereignty, social justice, land reform and national industrialization and other fundamental demands of the Filipino people,” said the CPP.
The on and off peace talks between the government and the communist rebels have been stalled since 2004 because both parties were adamant in pushing for their respective preconditions before the start of the talks.
The government and the communist rebels have yet to return to the peace table after they first met in Oslo in February last year.
The communist negotiators insisted that the state security forces first released their jailed comrades before the start of the negotiation. The government countered that the discordant demands from the rebels impede the resumption of the peace talks.