DAVAO CITY – Communist rebel leader Jose Maria Sison has condemned the Philippine government for reneging on its commitment to free hundreds of political prisoners languishing in jails across the country.
Sison, founder of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the chief political consultant for the National Democratic Front negotiating peace with Manila, said the Duterte government violated the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees and the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law).
“The non-release of political detainees also runs counter to the possible declaration of the bilateral interim ceasefire agreement between the NDF and the Philippine government and the acceleration of the peace negotiations,” he said during the 48th founding anniversary of the CPP.
Duterte has repeatedly said he will not free the prisoners unless the NDF agreed to sign a bilateral ceasefire with the Philippine government, although this was a pledge he made during the election campaign.
But Luis Jalandoni, former chief of the NDF peace negotiating panel, and now senior adviser, stressed that the NDF will not lay down its arms even as it is engaged in peace talks with the Duterte government.
Jalandoni also warned that “as human rights abuses are perpetrated with the continued implementation of counter-revolutionary program Oplan Bayanihan and Enhanced Oplan Bayanihan, it will be forced to withdraw its ceasefire declaration to protect the masses and defend communities.”
Communist rebels accused the Philippine military of violating its own truce by deploying troops in areas where the New People’s Army (NPA) is actively operating.
A rebel leader, Ka Wendell, said the communities are clamoring for an end to the ceasefire as they face threats from military troops that continue to operate in peasant and Lumad communities.
NDF consultant Eduardo Genelsa said: “Mindanao continues to be resilient and to advance despite escalating enemy attacks because communists, cadres, NPA combatants, and revolutionary forces have vigorously waged the armed struggle and raised the people’s war to greater heights.”
NDF leaders have asserted that “there can be no peace until the roots of armed struggle are addressed decisively. The revolutionary forces are now stronger more than ever to wage armed revolution, gain concrete benefits for the people, and ultimately attain justice and true peace.”
Rubi del Mundo, a rebel spokesman, said the anniversary celebration was participated by more than 15,000 people in Paquibato District in Davao City where they also held so-called National Peace assembly hosted by the NPA’s 1st Pulang Bagani Battalion.
The 1st Pulang Bagani Battalion also condemned the unfulfilled promises of the Duterte government in granting amnesty to the more than 400 political detainees and in the numerous ceasefire violations committed by police and military, and pro-government militia groups in some 500 villages across the country.
The rebels, led by NDF consultant Porferio Tuna, Jr., also gave tribute to NPA leader Leoncio Pitao, alias Ka Parago, who was killed along with his medical aide by government troops in June 2015 in Paquibato District.
Tuna also hailed the NPA as the “true army of the masses – determined, disciplined and strong defender of the people.”
“The only way to annihilate the roots of violence and unrest is to realize the land distribution for the millions of peasants in the country, to respect the ancestral domain of indigenous people and Moro people, to abolish the wage slavery and end the exploitation of all workers, and to attain justice for all victims of human rights abuses and oppression. And the only way to pursue peace is only by waging the national democratic revolution and the people’s war,” the CPP said. (Mindanao Examiner)
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