Opposition solons warn against all-out war vs NPA
Opposition solons in the House of Representatives cautioned President Rodrigo Duterte against calling out an all-out war on the New People’s Army (NPA) following the suspension of the peace talks.
In a press briefing at the lower House, the independent minority group called “Magnificent Seven” warned that more lives would be lost in an all-out war against the communist insurgents.
Akbayan Rep. Tom Villarin said the government seems to be shifting its policy from a brutal war against drug pushers and users to an all-out war against the communists.
“This is a dangerous policy shifting from a warfront to another warfront. This will not benefit the Filipino people,” Villarin said.
Villarin also lamented that the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte seems to be “mainstreaming the culture of death” on the back of its brutal narcotics crackdown that has already claimed over 7,000 lives.
Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat for his part lamented the suspension of the peace talks with the National Democratic Front, an initiative he supports even though he is a vocal critic of the administration.
He said the suspension of the peace talks supposedly due to violations of the ceasefire is an indication that both sides are not sincere in the pursuit for peace.
Baguilat said he is worried that the suspension of the peace talks would result in military deployment in the Cordilleras even though there are peace zones in the mountain region.
Northern Samar Rep. Raul Daza said he is also worried that an all-out war against the communist rebels would result in a body count of casualties, similar to what happened in the narcotics crackdown.
“Kung magiging all-out war, body count na naman (If it would be an all-out war, there would be another body count) … You cannot seek peace by war, because war is antithetical to peace,” Daza said.
Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman warned that the skirmishes in an all-out war could serve as a justification for Duterte to declare martial law.
“Another aspect of this militarization against the Left is giving incentive or fuel to attempts to declare martial law. And that is the most perilous aspect of this recent development,” Lagman said.
“These isolated skirmishes can be deodorized as rebellious threats against the government,” he added.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana in a Palace briefing Tuesday said the government will wage an all-out war in hunting down the NPA, which remains a “security threat.”
“Yes, it’s an all-out war. Ano ba ang pinagkakaiba nila sa Abu Sayyaf (How different are they from the Abu Sayyaf)? They are there to terrorize people to get money. That’s extortion; we will hunt them down,” Lorenzana said.
Lorenzana made the statement after Duterte called the communist negotiators “spoiled brats” and tagging the NPA as a “terrorist group.”
Duterte suspended the peace talks after a unilateral ceasefire bogged down, with the NPA lifting the ceasefire first, allegedly due to the government’s failure to release political prisoners.
The peace talks were suspended ahead of the fourth round of peace negotiations in the Netherlands scheduled on Feb. 22 to 25, when both parties are expected to discuss the bilateral ceasefire agreement. JE