EXODUS FOR JUSTICE AND PEACE
February 7, 2017
For Reference: Rev. Jurie Jaime, Spokesperson
It will not be the New People’s Army (NPA) that will be hit hard as Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff General Eduardo Año said in the aftermath of the lifting of the government’s ceasefire.
It would rather be the lumads, farmers, activists and civilians that will be the primary casualty and targets of the AFP’s new state of operations under Oplan Kapayapaan.
This will be contrary to Año’s claim that the AFP will “protect the peace in communities” and “work for peace”. This will rather unmask the AFP and Año’s true nature as disruptor of peace, and violator of human rights.
We have to recall Año’s track record as a man in uniform. Under his watch as ISAFG, he has arrested NDF negotiators and consultants Wilma and Benito Tiamzon. His unit is also linked to the disappearance of Jonas Burgos, a farmer activist and son of press freedom icon Jose Burgos.
Año was also implicated in the infamous Paquibato Massacre in Davao City during his term as commander in the 10th Infantry Division.
Indeed, under his watch as AFP Chief of Staff, the AFP ran roughshod with the government ceasefire as it continually operated on lumad and civilian communities, and attacked the NPAs as shown in the operations in Makilala as the peace talks were underway, and recent encounters also in Malalag and Manay, Davao Oriental.
Lumad leaders were also killed by riding-in-tandem suspects, the modus of hitmen linked to the military, as in the case of Nico Delamante who resisted mining operations in Claver, Surigao del Sur last January 20 and Renato Anglao, leader of the Tindoga organization in Quezon, Bukidnon just this February 3. Purok chairman, Emelito “Tatay Entik” Rotimas was killed in front of a community school in Maco, Compostela Valley while Glenn Ramos, a health worker and Bayan Muna Partylist coordinator, was shot dead inside his house in Maa, Davao city, 3 days after Anglao was killed.
Already, these are disturbing signs that the AFP will litter the path of peace taken by the administration and of the NDFP with blood. No way can there be peace when lumads, farmers, human rights defenders are under fire.
No way will peace come to the communities when the people are held under the gun while mining corporations and agribusiness are protected by the military and paramilitary groups.
We have to fight back Año’s stance to wage war in the end of the ceasefire. After all, peace panels from both the government and the National Democratic Front express that they can still work on pursuing the agenda of peace, and are still tenable to working for a bilateral ceasefire.
We urge President Duterte, who sounded the call to the AFP to prepare for combat, to reconsider and see the efforts of the protagonists of the armed conflict and as well as his constituents, to work for peace talks.
For if we go the path of Año’s war, peace and justice in the communities, and the country will be its casualty. #