By KATHLEEN T. OKUBO
BAGUIO CITY — In a press statement emailed to media the NPA said, “Nothing has changed, AFP still harasses the people under Oplan Bayanihan, insubordinate AFP troops undermine Duterte’s promise that change is coming.”
The New Peoples Army’s (NPA) Nona Del Rosario Command (NDRC) spokesperson Ka Wigan Moncontad said, “for once, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is telling the truth: ‘Hindi kami mapapasunod ni Duterte.’ Such insolent statement, their usual retort regarding ‘peace and development’ teams in civilian populations and actual military operations, only means that the violations are conscious and intentional.”
The spokesperson pointed out, “The 54th Infantry Battalion (IB) in Ifugao may not have the guts to express opposition to the suspension order, unlike their more articulate counterparts in other AFP-infested areas, but their actions belie any intention to allow changes to happen to the prevalent system. For example, the plague that is the peace and development teams is alive and persistent in Ifugao, occupying supposedly civilian spaces and even using the administration’s anti-illegal drug campaign to intimidate legal mass leaders.”
Since the second half of September, civil-military troops have set up base in three areas in the municipality of Tinoc, two barangays in Asipulo, another two in Ambaguio, Nueva Vizcaya and even in the bordering sitio of Mansoyusoy, Barangay Catlubong of Buguias.
Moncontad stated that the AFP cannot use the alibi that these are mere civil operations. “Firstly, these troops are armed. More importantly, from August 12 to September 5, they conducted another large-scale military operation with two Division Reconnaissance Companies (51st and 53rd) supplementing the 54th BI. Together, they made up 17 columns combing the communities in the triboundary area of three municiplaties namely Tinoc, Asipulo and Ambagio, Nueva Vizcaya.”
Also, in violation of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Laws between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) wherein paramilitary troops were declared unlawful, the 77th IB continues to recruit and train members of the Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit.
The local unit of the Philippine National Police even tagged two individuals from Barangay Gumhang and Barangay Binablayan as “persons of interest” in relation to the infamous Oplan Tokhang. Martin Waling of Gumhang and Ricardo Mayumi of Binablayan are officers of the Gumhang Farmers Development Association and Hulukan Indigenous Farmers’ Organization, respectively. They are known mass leaders against corporate energy projects that aim to plunder the natural resources in the area.
Moncontad said, “This led the New People’s Army – Ifugao (NPA-Ifugao) to proclaim, “Nothing has changed! The people of Ifugao has long suffered from Oplan Bayanihan so it is not illogical that they would hope for an immediate policy reversal since Duterte first ordered a ceasefire last August.”
He expressed, “they are expecting something far different from Noynoy Aquino’s Oplan Bayanihan where “peace and development” was tantamount to political repression masked by tree-planting and free haircuts. Also, the AFP should stop claiming to be one with the people by cloaking their anti-people and anti-minorities role as Investment Defense Forces under the command of foreign businesses such as the Horizon Resources and the Shipside, Inc. (both dummy companies of the Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company presently plundering the natural riches of Benguet), the Cordillera Exploration Co., Inc. (a subsidiary of Nickel Asia), the Santa Clara, Inc., the Quad River company and Chevron that have mining applications, hydropower plant and geothermal energy projects in the area.
Moncontad further expressed dismay, “…even after separate ceasefire orders from both the GPH and the NDFP … already in place, nothing has changed.”
According to the Communist Party Of The Philippines, Moncontad said, “the GPH cannot force the revolutionary movement into laying down arms, especially not through an indefinite ceasefire while the violations of its troops go unchecked. Also, Duterte should deliver on his promise of general amnesty for all political prisoners which he promptly promised upon taking his seat in Malacañang.”
The NDRC concluded, “It is not too late for Duterte. The Ifugao people challenges him to stand by his words and not let the wholly reactionary part of his administration get away with insubordination and underhanded maneuvers to secure the present rotten system.”
Meanwhile, the NPA-Ifugao vowed to continue to uphold the ceasefire order. “Despite the AFP’s violations, the revolutionary army will refrain from any military action because that is the principled thing to do. However, once life and limb is endangered, be it the armed unit’s or from the ranks of the masses, the Red army will not hesitate to protect its own. It is pleased to assure the masses, and even the mercenary troops of the reactionary government, that the armed revolution continues to advance despite the present complications arising from the AFP’s swindling and impudent actions.” # nordis.net