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Govt counters NPA claims, Deles enumerates rebels' human rights violations
The online news portal of TV5

MANILA – Responding to claims by communist rebels that the peace talks are not going anywhere due to the government’s human rights violations, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos-Deles gave her own list of such violations committed by the New People’s Army (NPA).

In reaction to the statement of Diego Wadagan, NPA Agustin Begnalen Command based in Abra, Deles said the NPA’s victims were mostly civilians, making their actions “shameful, cruel, and senseless.”

Earlier, Wadagan said the prospect of signing a peace agreement with the present administration is bleak, citing the government's alleged failure to implement an accord on respect for human rights.

The 44-year insurgency in the country is being waged by the Communist Party of the Philippines/New People’s Army/National Democratic Front (CPP/NPA/NDF).

The peace talks between the government and the CPP/NPA/NDF has been on-and-off the past four decades.

“The Philippine government has always been open and committed to bring peace to our land, through peace talks with all insurgent groups,” Deles said.

“Failing that, we shall pursue peace through other means that would effectively bring peace to our people through peaceful means,” she said. “This involves peace and development programs guided by a strict regime of respect for human dignity and human rights, even as government defends itself and its citizens from the violence inflicted by armed rebel groups.”

Deles emphasized that the government has the obligation to defend its integrity and sovereignty and its citizens from parties that seek to overthrow it and harm its populace.

“But when we react accordingly, the communist rebels quickly and conveniently accuse us of human rights violations,” Deles pointed out.

She said the people can see through the propaganda line of the CPP-NPA-NDF.

The rebels accused the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) of alleged human rights violation in connection with its air strikes in Malibcong, Abra on May 30 and 31 that injured two teenagers.

Deles said that the “AFP has not denied that there were air strikes and Mayor Benido Bacuyag of Malibcong has verified that there were no civilian casualties. If the NPA insists that two teenagers were injured, could it be that they were not civilians but NPA child soldiers?

“While the CPP-NPA-NDF has been quick to blame the GPH (Government of the Philippines) for human rights violations, it has its own shameful violations against civilians,” she said.

A list of abuses

Deles enumerated the atrocities allegedly committed by the NPA as: the recent ambush-killing of eight off-duty police officers in Alacapan, Cagayan using improvised explosive devices (IEDs); their massive extortion campaign on political candidates during the last elections; the ambush-killing of 27 civilians in La Castellana, Negros last January; the attack on the Good Friday procession in Butuan City last March; the ambush of Gingoog City Mayor Ruthie Guingona that killed two of her bodyguards in April; the grenade attack on a fiesta in Paquibato, Davao City that wounded 50 civilians in September 2012; and the assassination of Vicente Ferrazzini in Davao City in 2005.

According to Deles, these “are only some examples of the cruel and senseless violence inflicted by the NPA on non-combatants.”

“It is unfortunate that after 22 difficult years of trying to achieve peace with the CPP-NPA-NDF, the talks are again in another prolonged impasse,” she said.

But Deles said “we have realized that the tortuous and protracted pace of the peace talks has been designed by the CPP-NPA-NDF precisely to make the process protracted, and in fact, unending, while, without conceding anything to government, it harvests for itself as many concessions as it can in terms of virtual international recognition and the release of their detained comrades.”

“We are therefore bringing the peace talks back to its core intent of ending the violence against our people and attaining a just and lasting peace,” she said.

“To do this, there is a need for a new approach under which the community and other peace stakeholders should play a pivotal role. And on this rests our hope and belief that peace will, sooner than later, reign in our land,” Deles concluded.