It’s not a case of extortion but a reflection of an ongoing civil war.
Renato Reyes, secretary general of the leftist group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan), on Tuesday dismissed military claims that the New People’s Army (NPA) attack on the convoy of Mayor Ruth Guingona was a “case of plain extortion.”
“It is detached from the bigger picture, which is the ongoing civil war and the stalled peace negotiations,” said Reyes.
Reyes blamed the government for the deadlocked talks, saying it had shown “disinterest” in the negotiations and refused to honor previous agreements, such as the Hague Joint Declaration and the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees.
The 78-year-old mayor, wife of former Vice President Teofisto Guingona Jr., had just attended a village fiesta in Gingoog City, Misamis Oriental, when her convoy came under fire on Saturday, allegedly from an NPA checkpoint. Guingona was wounded in the attack; her driver and bodyguard were killed.
The National Democratic Front (NDF) on Tuesday said it might recommend sanctions on the NPA group involved in the assault.
“As far as I know, the NDF can recommend that but it is the NPA that has the responsibility and duty to impose appropriate sanctions if warranted after a full investigation,” said NDF lawyer Edre Olalia in a text message to the Inquirer.
Olalia said the incident could also be discussed in the Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC) composed of government representatives, the NPA, the NDF and the Communist Party of the Philippines set up as part of the peace process.
“It highlights through an unfortunate incident such as this the need, urgency and importance of the talks, the resolution of the various complaints before the JMC, and the wisdom of addressing the roots of the armed conflict which has engendered the continuing war,” Olalia said.
Reelectionist Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV said Saturday’s incident coincided with the NPA’s muscle-flexing in the Caraga region “so that the administration will finally talk to them.”
“I think it’s political in nature. That information was known already by the family of the Guingonas long before it happened. But it also coincided with the increased aggression of the NPAs in the Caraga region,” Trillanes said.
“I think it’s more of trying to be relevant because they have been ignored by the administration thinking that they had been diminished, and true enough in some fronts they have been greatly diminished but not in that area,” he said.
Bro. Eddie Villanueva, the lone senatorial candidate of Bangon Pilipinas, urged President Aquino to make sure that his order to military and police units to dismantle NPA checkpoints and protect politicians in communist-controlled areas was carried out to the letter.
He said in a statement that Aquino “must show that these are not mere words.”
“The President must also exact accountability from police and military units who fail to carry out his directives,” said Villanueva, the leader of the Jesus is Lord Church, who was campaigning in Mindanao on Tuesday.—With reports from Norman Bordadora and Jerry E. Esplanada
(We are reposting this article to correct Renato Reyes’ affiliation from Bayan Muna to Bagong Alyansang Makabayan or Bayan.)
Originally posted: 9:17 pm | Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013