Makabayan solons urge Duterte to reconsider all-out war vs NPA
Makabayan lawmakers in the House of Representatives urged President Rodrigo Duterte to reconsider a declaration of an all-out war against the communist rebels.
In a statement on Tuesday, Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate condemned Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana’s declaration of an all-out war against the New People’s Army (NPA) following the suspension of peace talks with the National Democratic Front.
Zarate said there were chances that the peace talks would resume even though President Duterte himself suspended the talks following the lifting of the unilateral ceasefire by both parties.
“This call for an all-out war betrays the real thrust of the Armed Forces of the Philippines as far as the peace process is concerned. This is a real cause for concern as previous declarations of an all-out war also mean wanton violation of human rights of our hapless people,” Zarate said.
Zarate called on Mr. Duterte to reconsider moves for an all-out war and instead give peace a chance by resuming the peace talks in time for the scheduled fourth round of negotiations on Feb. 22 to 25 at the Netherlands.
“We continue to reiterate our call for the President to reconsider his decision and to give the quest for peace another chance by allowing the negotiating panels to negotiate,” Zarate said.
For her part, Gabriela Rep. Emmi De Jesus called on the administration to have “sober reconsideration” of the peace talks instead of resorting to an all-out war.
“A sober reconsideration of the peace talks and the socio-agenda reform agenda should be the only way to go. Both parties have already made strides in affirming previous agreements and crafting the framework for the comprehensive agenda on social and reform reforms,” De Jesus said in a statement.
“It’s senseless for the Duterte administration to go back to square one,” she added.
The Gabriela lawmaker added that an all-out war had never resulted in peace in the communities caught in the crossfire.
“History tells us that the state’s militarist approach did not bring peace at all to communities. Instead, it has brought unrest to communities, military occupation of Lumad schools, and displacement of thousands of families,” De Jesus said.
Defense Secretary 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,” 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 for this month, when both parties are expected to discuss the bilateral ceasefire agreement. CDG/rga