AFP continues to dangle invite to Left for dialogue on ‘truth’ about Reds
MANILA, Philippines — The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) continued to dangle an invitation to a dialogue to militant groups that the military had been accused of Red-tagging in a continuing reshape of the counterinsurgency campaign.
Bayan Muna had rejected the invitation which the military wanted to use as a forum to dispel fears about Red-tagging and crackdown on the legal Left.
Bayan Muna has been fighting for consumer protection, democratic rights, right to life of those accused as drug trade players and the Philippines’ territorial right in the West Philippine Sea.
Brig. Gen. Edgard Arevalo said while the AFP was not surprised by Bayan Muna’s rejection of the invitation, the proposal for a dialogue remains on the table for the military.
In a statement, Arevalo said the AFP continues to invite people and groups to explain to them that accusations of Red-tagging, villification, crackdown, planting of evidence “are merely for purposes of propaganda” meant only to “court sympathy.”
He said the military was inviting “other like-minded groups, organizations or individuals who desire to seek the truth on activities, the cunning design” of communist rebels.
The military first dangled the invitation last Friday after at least 64 members of the House of Representatives signed a petition demanding an end to a crackdown on activist groups being linked by the military to Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing, New People’s Army.
The petition followed a series of raids and searches by the Army on offices in Negros Occidental and Metro Manila of Bayan Muna, Gabriela, National Federation of Sugar Workers and Bagong Alyansang Makabayan.
Over the weekend, Bayan Muna Representatives Carlos Zarate and Ferdinand Gaite said they felt insulted by the invite to a dialogue and said the military might take it is an opportunity to present fabricated evidence and baseless allegations.
The AFP claims that communist rebels infiltrate supposedly legitimate progressive groups, recruit minors, and purportedly use human and indigenous people’s rights issues as propaganda tools.
Arevalo said the lawmakers who refused the invitation likely do not want “to be confronted with mounting documentary and evidence that shall establish what we have been saying all along.”
He, however, said the military was “pleased” that the invitation had been rejected outright than being accepted only to be spurned when the scheduled dialogue came./Edited by TSB
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