CPP warns Duterte martial law to be ‘worse than’ Tokhang

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Malacañang file photo of President Rodrigo Duterte.

MANILA, Philippines – The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) has belied that it made an error in its negative reading of President Rodrigo Duterte’s martial law declaration and insisted that the imposition of military rule “is not only against the NPA (New People’s Army) but also “against the people in general” and will be worse than the administration’s drug war campaign.

“It curtails the people’s civil and political rights. It curtails their freedom of movement and other freedoms. Martial law transfers these freedoms to the military and subjects the people to abuse. Under martial law, it is the military, these notorious abusers of human rights, who rule,” the CPP said.

The party founded by Jose Maria Sison issued the statement on Thursday after the government’s chief peace negotiator Department of Labor and Employment Secretary Silvestre Bello III said that he was “deeply disturbed” by the CPP’s alleged “false reading” of Duterte’s intention for placing Mindanao under military rule.

“As Duterte’s martial law is against the people, it is imperative for the NPA to take action to oppose and fight it in order to defend the people’s rights and interests,” the CPP said.

“If it was true that martial law in Mindanao is not directed against the NPA, then Bello must inform Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana. In announcing the declaration of martial law, it was Lorenzana himself who cited the NPA as one of the GRP’s “problems” why the entire Mindanao had to be put under martial law.”

To prove that military rule is anti-people, the CPP cited a case in Davao City “with its overzealous martial law supporter Mayor Sarah Duterte,” where people in their communities were being “rounded up.”

“Close to three hundred people have already been arbitrarily arrested by the military for failing to comply with the arbitrary rules imposed by the military and the militarist-minded bureaucrats. Duterte’s martial law is bound to be worse than its Oplan Tokhang,” it said.

The CPP said that “with these stringent policies, Duterte is demonstrating that under his martial law, everyone is a suspect until they can prove otherwise.”

“As every Filipino knows, especially the poor and downtrodden, proving one’s innocence to the military is often impossible.”

The communist group said the Philippine government must be made to answer “for these gross violations” of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law.

“These are in addition to the outstanding issues of close to 500 political prisoners who remain detained under the Duterte government, as well as the growing list of human rights violations perpetrated by the AFP under its Oplan Kapayapaan,” the CPP said, referring to the Duterte administration’s internal peace and security plan.

“Even before the Duterte administration’s declaration and imposition of martial law in Mindanao, the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) has been carrying out a dirty war through occupation of civilian communities, extrajudicial killings, abductions and detentions under its Oplan Kapayapaan.”

“Emboldened by Duterte’s order to the military to “flatten the hills,” it has carried out aerial bombardments near civilian communities, sowing terror among the residents and damaging their livelihoods. These attacks have been carried out primarily against the peasant masses who the AFP suspect to be active in the revolutionary cause.”