DAVAO CITY, Philippines — The National Democratic Front of the Philippines in Southern Mindanao said on Sunday that the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ counter-insurgency program dubbed as “Oplan Bayanihan” has displaced 35,000 and killed 36 civilians across the country since Pres. Rodrigo Duterte came into office.
This as the communist group claimed that it documented cases of physical violence and assault against the people perpetrated by the military in the towns of Kibawe, Bukidnon; Compostela, Mawab and Pantukan, Compostela Valley, and in Loreto, Agusan del Sur.
Extra-judicial killings were also noted in Arakan and Magpet in North Cotabato and harassment of Lumad in Talaingod, Davao del Norte, Kitao-tao, Bukidnon and Loreto, Agusan del Sur.
For Rubi Del Mundo, spokesperson of NDFP-SMR, ending the US-designed Oplan Bayanihan would be a necessary step “to uphold human rights and at the same time promote just peace.”
Del Mundo said the AFP’s so-called peace and development outreach program (PDOP) only instils “fear, intimidation and terror in Lumad and peasant communities in the region” of which they condemned both the AFP and PNP for the continued implementation of Oplan Bayanihan.
Oplan Bayanihan, according to Del Mundo, has been used by the military troops to go after civilian leaders of peasant organizations and activists. The NDF, however, warned that “NPA will not stand idly by while the rights and welfare of the Filipino masses are being trampled upon.”
“While the reactionary armed forces carry on victimizing the people, the NPA in Southern Mindanao is using this most opportune time to explain to the masses the importance of their support to the peace negotiations. NPA units with the help of mass organization and organs of political power conduct peace forums in communities within NDF territories and enjoin the masses to put forward their agenda for socio-economic relief,” Del Mundo said in a statement.
But the appointment of the AFP’s new chief of staff Philippine Army commanding general Eduardo Año was viewed by the communist group and the Left in general as “critical.”
Año was credited for the arrest of Communist Party of the Philippines chairman Benito Tiamzon in 2014 and the killing of NPA’s commander Leonardo Pitao alias “Kumander Parago” in 2015. He was also involved in the disappearance of Jonas Burgos during his stint at ISG under the then Gloria Macapagal Arroyo administration.
With Año’s rise in the AFP hierarchy, the communist group demanded the President “to immediately terminate Oplan Bayanihan that deputizes the AFP, PNP and paramilitaries to perpetrate systematic violation on human rights.”
“In the same vein, the unconditional release of all political prisoners must speedily be undertaken to ensure that the third round of the negotiations in January 2017 will continue on positive ground,” the NDF said. (davaotoday.com)