NDFP: Martial law to affect GRP-NDFP peace talks

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 25 May) – The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) said the declaration of martial law in Mindanao effective May 23 would affect the peace negotiations between the government (GRP) and the NDFP, whose panels are set to hold the fifth round of talks from May 27 to June 2 in The Netherlands.

In a statement released Thursday, or two days before the talks, the NDFP maintained the martial law declared by President Rodrigo R. Duterte is not only against the New People’s Army (NPA) but also against people in general because it curtails their civil and political rights.

The NDFP was reacting to a statement by GRP chief negotiator Silvestre Bello, who said that the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) “made a false reading of the intents of President Duterte in placing Mindanao under Martial Law.”

Bello maintained the martial law was not directed against NPA combatants.

“There was a need to restore law and order, protect the lives of the citizens and preserve private and state properties.
The President, in no uncertain terms, categorically declared he was not after the New People’s Army,” he said.

But the NDFP countered by saying it was Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana himself who cited NPA as one of the of the government’s “problems” for placing the entire Mindanao under military rule when the skirmishes happened only in Marawi City between military and local terrorist Maute Group.

Bello asked the CPP to recall its order on the NPA to carry out offensives in the Philippines.

But the NDFP said “it is imperative for the New People’s Army (NPA) to take action to oppose and fight it in order to defend the people’s rights and interests.”

It added that NDFP expressed concern the martial law would result to human rights abuses to be committed by soldiers who they alleged have been behind occupation of civilian communities, extrajudicial killings, abductions and detentions under its Oplan Kapayapaan.

“Under martial law, it is the military, these notorious abusers of human rights, who rule,” it said.

The NDFP said GRP “must be made to answer for these gross violations of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL). 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 NDFP cited the Davao City where people in some communities are being rounded up.

It claimed close to 300 people have already been arrested by the military for “failing to comply with the arbitrarily rules imposed by the military and the militarist-minded bureaucrats,” apparently referring to Davao City’s “Oplan Bolabog” where police conducted a house-to-house verification in Mini Forest, Barangay 23-C, to weed out criminals and suspects terrorists.

But Davao City Police Office (DCPO) spokesperson Senior Insp. Maria Teresita Gaspan said some 161 individuals were taken to police headquarters for “questioning” and “profiling” for failure to present valid identifications (IDs) to authorities.

None of them, however, were arrested or detained, she said, contrary to the NDFP’s claim.

Gaspan maintained the police conducted the operation to strengthen their monitoring mechanism on non-residents entering the city.

The President also suspended the writ of habeas corpus, which allows for a warrantless arrest, in light of his declaration of martial law.

During his arrival message at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Wednesday, Duterte assured he will not tolerate abuses while the island is under martial law. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)