Moro-Christian group hits Duterte’s “on-off” stance on Peace Talks


BAGUIO CITY — President Rodrigo Duterte’s “on-off-on” stance on the peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) is “nauseating” as state-perpetrated violence among national minorities and activists continue to rise, a grassroots alliance of Muslims and Christians said.

In a statement, the Moro-Christian Peoples Alliance (MCPA) pointed out that the president’s attitude on the peace negotiations is a signal for military operations in indigenous and Moro communities to escalate.

The group said that state forces, in February, have declared an all-out war against the Communist Party of the Philippines-New Peoples Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) after Duterte called off the talks.

“As a result [of his attitude and the all-out war], indigenous peoples’ communities became targets of intensified military operations,” the MCPA said.

Escalating attacks

The group cited the March 16 bombing of Barangays Lat-ey and Mataragan in Malibcong town, Abra by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) as a sign of the administration’s rising attacks against indigenous peoples. The group also highlighted similar cases of bombings and indiscriminate firing in Mamanwa, Blaan, and Moro communities in Mindanao.

“Since the AFP launched its all-out war in February 2017, at least 3,558 indigenous peoples or 640 families were affected by aerial bombing and artillery shellings,” the statement said.

“The AFP were so impatient to try out their newly acquired killing machines– the FA50PHs “Fighting Eagle” jet fighters acquired from South Korea, and used them to bomb our communities,” the group adds.

MCPA reports that a total of 15,379 individuals from the national minorities are documented to have been affected by AFP bombings.

More forced evacuations

The Muslim-Christian alliance said that “a big bulk” of national minorities have been displaced by the intensified military operations of the Duterte administration.

In their statement, MCPA reports that military operations in indigenous areas forced the evacuations of 24,739 people in just 11 months.

“The disruption of lives, livelihood, education of children brought by AFP operations in their ancestral lands and territories make them more vulnerable to hunger, disease and deeper poverty,” MCPA said.

Militarized bureaucracy

The group also lamented the President’s appointment of military generals in his cabinet as “bad taste for national minorities”.

“Already faced with state violence, the  national minorities’ plight is further undermined as President Duterte appointed two more former AFP chiefs of staff in his cabinet,” the group said.

Duterte recently appointed Arroyo army chief, Roy Cimatu as environment secretary, and current chief of staff Eduardo Año as local government secretary.

MCPA said that Cimatu’s appointment would further militarize IP and national minority territories in defense of large-scale mining and big business interests. Año, on the other hand has “notoriously” implemented counter-insurgency programs Oplan Bantay Laya, Oplan Bayanihan and now Oplan Kapayapaan specifically targeted national minorities using insurgency as justification. #


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