CHR deplores NPA rebels’ ‘burning of church, houses’ in Misamis Oriental amid pandemic
MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) on Tuesday deplored the attacks allegedly perpetrated by the New People’s Army (NPA) on a village in Misamis Oriental, especially at a time that the country is facing a public health crisis.
Members of the NPA allegedly torched a church and four houses at a mountain village in Opol town in Misamis Oriental province last Thursday, May 28.
“As if the threat of the coronavirus is not worrisome enough, these acts of terrorism were meant to instill fear, anger, and hatred in the hearts and minds of the people, particularly among our tribal communities in rural areas,” CHR spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia said in a statement.
While the commission does not support communist rebels and the armed struggle, it commits solidarity with oppressed communities through non-violent means, she added.
The government and the NPA earlier agreed to a ceasefire due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic but this agreement had already lapsed.
“By and large, these attacks run counter to the cessation of hostilities declared between the Reds and government during the start of the pandemic. It is deplorable that the communist groups decided to end the ceasefire in May and continue to endanger innocent civilians while they carry out acts of lawlessness such as destruction of public and private properties,” De Guia said.
The CHR appeals to the government and rebel groups to end its long-standing armed conflict and agree on a peace negotiation.
However, it does not discount that such conflicts are deeply rooted in historical injustices and it needs to be equally addressed by the government.
“Now more than ever, we need to band together as a nation and concentrate our efforts in overcoming a global health crisis that crosscuts all sectors of our society and jeopardizes the lives of every Filipino especially the most vulnerable, disadvantaged, and marginalized,” the CHR said.
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