NDFP slams cops for failing to stop the brawl between leftist, Muslim youths
MANILA, Philippines—The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) has blamed the police and the “government’s intelligence group” for the melee which broke out on Thursday between its members and a group of Muslims in Mendiola, Manila.
The NDFP, the political arm of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), said “hundreds” of its members were in the area to hold a lightning rally to celebrate the 45th anniversary of the New People’s Army (NPA) on March 29.
It said the gathering, organized by members of the Revolutionary Council of Trade Unions, Kabataang Makabayan and other underground groups, was also meant to protest the arrest of CPP leaders and NDFP peace consultants” Benito and Wilma Tiamzon.
But the lightning rally coincided with a program being held at the busy university belt area by a group of Muslims in connection with Thursday’s historic signing of the peace agreement between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
Although it did not explain how the fracas started, the NDFP said the brawl involving its members and the Muslim group “was a case of misunderstanding between the organizers of both protests.”
“The (NDFP) meant no disrespect to our Bangsamoro brothers and sisters. We respect and support their aspiration for genuine just and lasting peace in Mindanao,” the NDFP said in a statement.
The group said the event “was a peaceful gathering of revolutionary forces which did not, in any way, intend to disrupt the ongoing protest of our Bangsamoro brothers and sisters.” (While the NDFP called it a protest, Muslim groups said they were holding a prayer vigil in support of the signing of the peace agreement between the Philippine government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front.)
“It has been a yearly tradition for the National Democratic Revolutionary forces to hold gatherings and rallies in the country’s capital to commemorate the anniversaries of the NPA, the CPP and the NDFP,” it said.
The NDFP said members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and state intelligence agents might have started the violence “as the attackers came from beside the watching police forces and uniformed state intelligence personnel.”
“The truckloads of police forces from the PNP’s Civil Disturbance Management company who were on the scene also just stood and watched as the incident occurred and intervened only after the tension eased,” it said.
The group also condemned the violent confrontation, saying it was “instigated by a few provocateurs from the Bangsamoro protesters.”
“The failure of Bangsamoro protest organizers to calm down and hold their ranks forced our self-defense units to protect and defend our ranks. We stand firm that the misunderstanding could have been resolved peacefully,” it said.