Airstrikes in Abra may derail peace negotiations with NDFP

Airstrikes in Abra may derail peace talk resumption with NDFP; CHR probe urged

/ 09:44 PM April 05, 2024

Airstrikes in Abra may derail peace negotiations with NDFP; CHR probe urged

Map of Abra province | INQUIRER FILES

MANILA, Philippines — The airstrikes in Abra targeting the New People’s Army (NPA) may derail the peace negotiations between the government and Maoist rebels.

Former Bayan Muna Rep. Eufemia Cullamat made the remark in view of aerial bombings in Pilar, Abra since April 3, causing panic and prompting evacuations of hundreds of residents in the area.


A protest action led by Cullamat and other sectoral leaders was staged in front of Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City to condemn the military action, which was also reported in Ilocos Sur.


READ: PH Army used airstrikes vs NPA in Abra, spox confirms

“These bombings were emphasized so the government could withdraw from the peace talks,” Cullamat told in Filipino after the brief demonstration.

Nevertheless, Cullamat is still pushing for the continuation of National Democratic Front of the Philippines’ (NDFP) negotiation with the government to come up with a framework to restart the peace talks.

“But on our side, we are not calling to stop the peace talks because, of course, if there is a problem, we should talk about it, not add to it,” she said.

CHR probe urged

Cullamat also called for the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) to investigate the military action, which she said could constitute violations under International Humanitarian Law.


The NDFP International Office also condemned the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on what they deem to be human rights violations, but without echoing Cullamat’s call for CHR probe.

The Communist Party of the Philippines, which the NDFP is under, does not recognize the jurisdiction of CHR since it is a body created under the 1987 Constitution which the Maoist also rejects.

“Aerial bombing campaigns inherently lack precision and discriminate poorly between legitimate military targets and civilian populations, resulting in the disproportionate and indiscriminate loss of civilian lives and property,” the rebels’ negotiating arm said in a statement on Friday.

“Such tactics, utilized by the AFP, demonstrate a callous disregard for the sanctity of human life and the principles of distinction, proportionality, and precaution enshrined in international laws governing the rules of war,” the NDFP added.

Panic, confusion arise

Footage shot in Pilar, Abra during nighttime made rounds in social media, showing flames shooting out of an aircraft.

Army spokesperson Col. Louie Dema-ala confirmed that the military used A-29B Super Tucano aircraft to serve as “closed air support” for the 50th Infantry Battalion against some 30 NPAs operating in Pilar town. A soldier was also hurt due to the encounter.

Funa-ay Claver, spokesperson of indigenous rights advocates Katribu, told that some 700 residents in Pilar have evacuated since the bombings. So far, there are no reports of residents hurt due to the military action.

Claver also lamented that the local residents are still reeling from the effects of El Niño on top of this.

“They are really terrified…that is the general feeling,” she said in Filipino, citing reports they receive from local residents.

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“They don’t understand why there are bombings,” Claver also said.


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