DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/16 April) — The word war between Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) has continued even as the peace process between government and the National Democratic Front (NDF) has resumed.
The NDF represents the CPP and New People’s Army (NPA) in the peace negotiations with the government (GRP).
In a statement released on Sunday, Lorenzana called the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) a “fake organization composed of individuals pretending to be patriots and nationalists” and referred to its members as “communist terrorists.”
Lorenzana’s April 16 statement was in response to the CPP’s April 14 statement that “news stories regarding the supposed arrival and presence of members of the Abu Sayyaf criminal bandit group in Bohol island smacks of a US yarn.”
The CPP statement said the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), which it described as “known for spinning fake news stories, has produced a highly dubious story of no less than 60 fully armed men who travelled 300 kilometers by boat from Sulu to Bohol, unhampered by the whole AFP establishment, then upstream to a place unknown to them with only a general plan to ‘target tourists.'”
It said the story was “typical of the tall tales spun by the US Central Intelligence Agency and their conspirators within the Philippine defense and security establishment.”
The CPP in an April 4 statement had referred to Lorenzana, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon, and Gen. Eduardo Año, as “US stooges” seeking to derail the GRP-NDF peace process.
Lorenzana said the CPP, “has become delusional and can no longer distinguish between what is fact and what is fantasy. It has clearly become a victim of its own propagandizing and has rendered itself inutile and an unreliable source of the truth.”
He said the CPP is “not and has never been credible” and “definitely, transparency is not a value they have.”
Lorenzana then raked up the 1971 Plaza Miranda bombing which he said the CPP “hatched, executed, denied, and eventually admitted” and that it is “likely to create scenarios and will pass off these lies as the truth in order to push its selfish, anti-people and anti-government motives, such as extortion, kidnapping and intimidation.”
“If there is a fake organization composed of individuals pretending to be patriots and nationalists — it is these Communist Terrorists,” Lorenzana added.
Troops were deployed to Inabanga, Bohol early morning of April 11 and an encounter with alleged Abu Sayyaf members resulted in the killing of nine persons — five alleged members of the Abu Sayyaf, including Muammar Askali alias Abu Rami, three Army soldiers, including a junior officer; and one police personnel.
But two of the alleged slain Abu Sayyaf members who were slain were later identified to be Constancio Petalco and wife Crisenta, residents of Barnagay Napo, where the clash occurred. Neighbors said they were not members of the Abu Sayyaf.
The Philippine Air Force dropped nine bombs in Barangays Napo, Calenti and Banahao in Inabanga forcing at least 1,200 local residents people to evacuate, the CPP statement said as it condemned the “overkill” military operations which “endangered the lives of civilians.”
It said the story becomes “even more suspect” because prior to the encounter, the US Embassy in Manila released a travel advisory warning their citizens against travelling to Cebu and Bohol because of supposed information of a ‘terror threat’ in these places.”
The CPP said operators of the Abu Sayaff “have long been collaborating with the AFP and the US military” and that the Abu Sayyaf “has since been used by the US and AFP as a multi-tool to discredit the Moro people’s struggle for self-determination.” The statement did not name the “operators.”
It claimed that the Abu Sayyaf “has been used to carry out terrorist bombings and other dirty jobs for the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) to justify its ‘war on terror’ and the presence of US foreign troops in the country” and that its bandit activities, mainly kidnapping-for-ransom, has been lucrative for the Abu Sayaff ringleaders and their AFP handlers,” the CPP said.
“The full extent of the plans surrounding the ‘Abu Sayaff in Bohol’ yarn will likely unravel itself in the coming days and weeks. The Filipino people should keep a critical eye and spot the fakery in all these,” the CPP said.
The US Embassy issued on April 9 a travel advisory to its citizens, citing “unsubstantiated yet credible information that terrorist groups may attempt to conduct kidnappings in Central Visayas” including Cebu and Bohol. The Australian Embassy also issued a similar advisory.
On April 10, a day before the Inabanga operations, President Rodrigo Duterte was asked in a press conference at the Davao International Airport if he had information similar to the US Embassy’s advisory against a possible terror attack in Central Visayas, particularly Bohol and Cebu.
Duterte, who was then leaving for the Middle East with Cabinet officials including Lorenzana and Esperon, replied: “I have read it, not from the military but from the newspaper. And besides kaya natin. Kaya natin (We can take care of this).
He said that during a debate at the Dela Salle University last year where only he showed up among the Presidential cnadidates, Duterte said he was asked how he would deal with terrorism and his answer was “harshly.” (MindaNews)