Duterte’s backing out from peace talks will bring more suffering to the people

Karapatan strongly urges President Rodrigo R. Duterte to rethink his statement on the termination of peace talks between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP). Both Parties have expressed that the road to a just and lasting peace is not an easy one, but has several bumps and roadblocks. Pres. Duterte should be prepared to encounter these problems in solving the armed conflict. 

Pres. Duterte should see that one big roadblock is the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) being warmongers and peace saboteurs, within and outside the peace process. 

Political killings, enforced disappearances, illegal arrests and detention, threats and harassment of village residents – all these, and more, were perpetrated without let-up by the Armed Forces of the Philippines during the period of the GRP’s so-called unilateral ceasefire. The AFP’s counter-insurgency program Oplan Bayanihan was still in play, with the military’s so-called “peace and development” teams coercing and threatening local government officials and residents as they continued to encamp in peasants’ homes, schools, and barangay halls. This is the reason why the residents, the victims and their families have repeatedly called on the GRP to pull out the AFP troops from their communities and to stop Oplan Bayanihan.  OpBay ironically has been replaced with Oplan Kapayapaan!

In January 2017 alone, at least four peasant activists were killed by state security forces. The following month, on February 3, Lumad leader Renato Anglao, 42, Secretary General of TINDOGA (Tribal Indigenous Oppressed Group Association), was killed by three men on board a motorcycle. TINDOGA, an indigenous people’s organization of the Manobo-Pulangion tribe in Brgy. Botong, Quezon, Bukidnon, has consistently opposed the entry of agri-business plantations in the ancestral land of the lumad. The tribe won back their land and secured its title two years ago. This happened despite moves by the Lorenzo clan to encroach on the land through Rancho Montalvan owned by Maramag Vice Mayor Pablo Lorenzo. Leaders and members of TINDOGA have subsequently been accused of supporting the communist-led New People’s Army.

Violation of Civil and Political Rights under the Rodrigo Duterte Government

August 21, 2016 to January 31, 2017

Based on reports gathered by Karapatan

 

Table 1:

Violation of Civil & Political Rights Under the Rodrigo Duterte Government (August 21, 2016 to January 31, 2017)

 

Violations

No. of Victims

Extrajudicial killing

14

Enforced Disappearance

2

Torture

5

Frustrated Extrajudicial Killing

16

Illegal Arrest without Detention

439

Illegal Arrest and Detention

25

Illegal Search and Seizure

27

Physical Assault and Injury

103

Demolition

114

Violation of Domicile

69

Divestment of Property

45

Threat/Harassment/Intimidation

19,052

Indiscriminate Firing

4,178

Forced/Fake Surrender

1

Forced Labor/Involuntary Servitude

9

Use of Civilians in Police and/or Military Operations as Guides and/or Shield

2

Use of Schools, Medical, Religious and Other Public Places for Military Purpose

9,825

Restriction or Violent Dispersal of Mass Actions, Public Assemblies and Gatherings

1,500

The AFP’s unilateral ceasefire is exposed as a sham by the state military’s continued attacks against people’s rights hiding behind the so-called “peace and development” operations.  The AFP is stretching the opportunities for veiled intelligence and combat operations to gain military advantage. It is provoking the CPP-NPA-NDFP to withdraw its unilateral ceasefire to protect its territories, mass base and the people. 

Pres. Duterte himself admitted that the AFP is standing in the way of the release of political prisoners. Also, treating political prisoners as aces of the GRP in its peace negotiations with the NDFP is hardly an act of peace. 

Ultimately, it is the people who will suffer from the absence of GRP-NDFP official peace talks. History has shown that militarist measures such as counter-insurgency programs never led to the solution of armed rebellion in the country. They instead lead to human and people’s rights violations against the masses in rural and urban communities. 

It is only through earnest discussions and efforts to realize social, economic, and political reforms and fundamental changes can there be a solution to poverty, unemployment, slave labor, landlessness, lack of social services and the like. The struggling Filipinos will continue to fight for a just and lasting peace.

 

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