Aquino urged to address roots of armed conflict
MANILA, Philippines – Militant group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) told President Benigno Aquino III to address the country’s “roots of conflict” to achieve “lasting peace” rather than dismantling checkpoints by the New People’s Army.
“Indeed, rather than making a general statement on dismantling NPA checkpoints, the Aquino [administration] should be more concerned in addressing the root causes of the armed conflict so that a just and lasting peace can be attained,” Bayan said.
Bayan issued the statement following the NPA attack on the convoy of Gingoog City Mayor Ruth de Lara Guingona at a makeshift checkpoint in Alatagan village, Misamis Oriental last Sunday.
“The Aquino [administration] has previously placed many obstacles to the resumption of the peace talks, including the refusal to honor previous agreements such as the Hague Joint Declaration and the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (Jasig). Even the supposedly faster “special track” for the peace negotiations is not moving due to government disinterest,” it added.
Bayan also claimed that the Philippine military was belittling the incident as a case of extortion, rather than looking it as a result of bigger issues that need to be addressed.
“It is not surprising too that the Armed Forces of the Philippines says that the NPA checkpoint was done because of the alleged refusal of Mayor Guingona to pay campaign fees to the NPA. This is meant to make the incident appear as a case of plain extortion, detached from the bigger picture which is the ongoing civil war and the stalled peace negotiations between the GPH and NDFP. The AFP should [stop] using the incident to draw attention away from the many unresolved human rights violations linked to the military, such as the abduction of Jonas Burgos, Karen Empeno and Sherlyn Cadapan and the murder of labor leader Rolando Olalia and his driver Leonor Alay-ay,” it added.
Meanwhile, Bayan lauded the NPA for owning up to their actions. “Complaints by the aggrieved parties can be brought directly to the National Democratic Front of the Philippines through the GPH-NDFP Joint Monitoring Committee on the Comprehensive Agreement for Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law. Mechanisms are in place to ensure that there would be a proper investigation and that there would be accountability for the NPA actions,” it said.
Also this year, the NPA conducted an ambush in Negros that left nine people killed, including eight civilians and one policeman. Their attacks on DOLE and Del Monte Plantations in Bukidnon also killed one security personnel. Based on military records, the NPA killed 53 civilians in 2012.