By ALDWIN QUITASOL
BAGUIO CITY — The Cordillera People’s Democratic Front (CPDF) lambasts the claim of the 501st Brigade, 5th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) that the deployment of troops in the Cordillera Region is for peacekeeping purposes.
CPDF spokesperson Simon Naogsan the signatory, in a statement sent to media said the CPDF takes exception to the press statement of 501st brigade spokesperson Capt. Adonis Banez that the AFP troops now on a rampage in the Cordillera are deployed for peacekeeping purposes.
“The more the captain talks, the less sense he makes! What he peddles as localized peace talks is actually summary surrender procedures of the revolutionary forces. Capt. Banez does not comprehend what he is saying,” the statement said.
Naogsan pointed out whether the Provincial Peace and Order Council (PPOC), created by the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) for its counter-insurgency (COIN) campaign, can be the proper forum for peace talks?
He said that there are no “stalled localized peace talks” as there are no localized peace negotiations ever held. He stressed that the peace talks that only took place were between the GRP and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) at the national level.
According to Naogsan, “Banez while parroting the value of peace talks is repeatedly calling for the revolutionary forces to lay down their arms even without resolving the root causes of the armed conflict.”
He said that the purpose of the peace talks is to thresh out the social issues that drove the Filipino people and the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA-NDFP) to wage an armed revolution for over four decades.
“So any call for surrender is really comical and an insult to the intelligence of the revolutionary forces and the people. Does Capt. Banez realize why he makes no sense at all? His name-calling won’t do him any good and only shows how good he is at parroting the lines of his superiors,” Naogsan declared.
The CPDF spokesperson also questioned what Banez claims is the soldiers’ role in the region and that is keeping the peace. Naogsan said that military deployment in the communities of Cordillera turned villages into garrisons as they encamped themselves inside or under the houses, barangay halls, public school buildings and even dap-ays (community elders and leaders meeting area).
He said the military do this to protect themselves from imagined attacks from the NPA. Naogsan also cited that residents have even written or sent text messages to local newspapers complaining that operating troops encamped inside the barrios even dared to court married women.
“The military is being illogical when it insists that localized peace talks can solve current social problems. Can Capt. Banez or even 5th ID commander MGen. Rommel Gomez solve the basic problems of land reform and national industrialization, or the features of the national oppression of the people of the Cordillera?” Naogsan counters.
The military’s insistence on localized peace talks are meant to sabotage the previous achievements of national peace talks between the GRP and the NDFP, such as the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL), the Hague Joint Declaration, and the Joint Agreement on Security and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG),” the statement noted.
Countering the accusation of Capt. Banez that the NPA ambushed their armed peace keeping forces that came from a dental mission on July 9, 2010 somewhere in Bontoc, Mt. Province, Naogsan said the troops actually came from a barrio where they were forcing local officials to take part in the counter-insurgency campaign.
He said they were on their way to a conference with top military officers on how to force more local executives to become part of the COIN.
Naogsan noted that Capt. Banez said the NPA violated international humanitarian law, and he countered, “but it is the military that has repeatedly violated human rights.
Capt. Banez accused the NPA of recruiting minors, and to prove this absurd allegation, the military has produced alleged rebel returnees who are way beyond 18 years of age, if ever they were recruited at all, he added.
“The falsehoods peddled by Capt. Banez are not worth the paper they were printed on. They are part and parcel of an information campaign to demonize the revolutionary forces, and one of the requisites for launching more military operations in the Mountain Province and the rest of the Cordillera.
“There are now more troops in the Mountain Province from the newly organized 86 IB, 54 IB, 50 IB, 77 IB, 52nd DRC, Special Forces, and the Scout Rangers. Why is Capt. Banez calling for peace talks when his superiors are pouring more troops into the Mountain Province and the rest of Cordillera?” questioned Naogsan.
“Greater militarization will result in a greater number of abuses committed by the military. It is clear that the peace talks the military offers is just meant to camouflage their offensive operations and cover up the dismal failure of Oplan Bantay Laya 2,” Naogsan stated further.
Naogsan said the Cordillera people and the CPDF will vigilantly face the divide and rule tactics of the GRP and the AFP. According to Naogsan, the 5th ID is encouraging more Igorot youth to join the AFP and is also reviving the Cordillera People’s Liberation Army (CPLA) which Naogsan said is a bandit group in Eastern Mt. Province.
“The lies and deceptive tactics of the 5th ID have failed in the past and will surely fail again. These deserve to be thrown into the dustbin of history,” ended Naogsan. # nordis.net