Rev. Fr. Neo Pher Aglipay, Spokesperson, Father Nilo Valerio Chapter, CNL-Northern Luzon
The Father Nilo Valerio Chapter (FNVC), the Christians for National Liberation (CNL) chapter in Northern Luzon, and the progressive Christian and Church leaders in Northern Luzon appreciate and congratulate the Duterte administration for the resumption of the formal talks in the peace negotiations between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP/GPH) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), being facilitated by the Royal Norwegian Government in Oslo, Norway, which started last year in August, continued in the second round of the peace talks in October, and to be followed by a third round of peace negotiations in Rome, Italy this January 2017.
With the whole revolutionary movement, the FNVC also welcomes the Duterte administration’s policy declaration to leave the military and economic dominance of the United States in the country and to forge closer ties with China and Russia for the promotion of a Philippine independent foreign policy. Duterte’s declaration is supportive of the NDFP’s objective to address the roots of the armed conflict in the peace talks, based on the principles of national sovereignty, democracy and social justice. This encourages the assertion of the Filipino people’s right to national independence and freedom from the dictates and impositions of US imperialism.
However, President Duterte’s declaration for the advancement of an independent foreign policy, fully liberated from US imperialist directives, remains on the level of mere rhetoric if the fascist AFP-PNP commanders continue to implement Oplan Bayanihan and violate unceasingly the unilateral ceasefire declaration of their own commander-in-chief.
Oplan Bayanihan and its PDT (Peace and Development Teams) operations had been and are still being carried out daily with impunity by the AFP, PNP and CAFGU forces throughout the Northern Luzon provinces. Units of the revolutionary people’s government from the various guerrilla fronts all over Northern Luzon report that military tensions are widespread because the AFP, PNP and CAFGU troopers continue to launch base-denial operations targeting the territories of the NPA and the people’s revolutionary government. Combat, intelligence and PDT-civil military operations are being done daily by the 81st IB and the 24th IB of the 7th ID in Abra and in the three (3) provinces of the Ilocos Region – La Union, Ilocos Sur and Ilocos Norte; and by the 77th IB, 50th IB, 17th IB, 54th IB and the 86th IB in the Cordillera provinces of Apayao, Kalinga, Mt. Province, Ifugao and Benguet and in the Cagayan Valley provinces of Cagayan, Isabela, Quirino and Nueva Vizcaya. Furthermore, the innumerable CAFGU detachments are widespread and being maintained every day by said PA battalions in all the Northern Luzon provinces.
According to the Cordillera People’s Democratic Front (CPDF) spokesperson, Comrade Simon “Ka Filiw” Naogsan Sr., in his November 14, 2016, statement, “Since August 20 to date, the CPDF recorded 74 incidents of ceasefire violations committed by units of the 5th IDPA and 7th IDPA and the PNP PRO-Cordillera, RPSB, PPSC and PNP-SAF deployed in the Cordillera provinces. These violations take the form of continuing combat, intelligence, psywar, civil-military operations and CAFGU recruitment which cover 64 barangays in 17 towns of Abra, Ifugao, Kalinga, Mt. Province, uptown Ilocos Sur and the tri-boundary of Ifugao, Benguet and Nueva Vizcaya.”
These are all in violation of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL), one of the five (5) earlier significant agreements signed by the principals of the GPH (during the Ramos and Estrada regimes) and the NDFP. Other violations of the CARHRIHL committed last year, also indicators of the reactionary GPH armed forces’ insubordination to any declaration of their own commander-in-chief, include the following: (1) Joaquin Cadacgan, a farmer of Sitio Se-et, Brgy. Mabaka, Tanudan, Kalinga and suspected as an NPA was shot to death with no apparent reason by elements of the 50th IB last June 9, 2016; (2) Nardy Gunnawa, a hunter from Brgy. Viga, Tanudan was mercilessly slain by operating troops of the same 50th IB last July 2 with the preposterous alibi of an encounter with the NPA; (3) Ariel Diaz, chairperson of the Danggayan Dagiti Mannalon ti Isabela (DAGAMI) was shot dead in his farm in Villa Pereda, Delfin Albano, Isabela last September 7 by three armed men, believed to be from the fascist army; and (4) last September 11, Marcos “Lin-o” Aggalao – 73 years old and a retired NPA red fighter since 2012 due to old age and severe health reasons – was arrested by joint operatives of the 50th IB and PNP-SAF at Sitio Kudkudwi, Brgy, Gawaan, Balbalan, Kalinga and is currently detained at the Provincial Jail in Tabuk City, Kalinga for a trumped up charge on illegal drugs, which the fascist troops planted inside his pocket.
Numerous additional types of the widespread violations by the reactionary AFP-PNP-CAFGU to the CARHRIHL and to the GPH unilateral ceasefire have also been reported by NPA commands and the NDFP organs in the various regions of the country up to Mindanao. Such violations to President Duterte’s unilateral ceasefire declaration would surely shoot up this New Year if Oplan Bayanihan is not ended. Now, it is very clear that despite the Oplan Bayanihan combat, intelligence and PDT operations and the countless ceasefire violations by the reactionary armed forces all over the country, there has been no firefights in the past four months last year mainly because the NPA forces have strictly avoided armed encounters in accordance and full respect to the revolutionary movement’s interim unilateral ceasefire declaration.
Nonetheless, let us not forget that the present Oplan Bayanihan and other AFP operational plans in the past Philippine puppet regimes are historically based on earlier US imperialist counter-insurgency campaigns against the Filipino people through benevolent assimilation and armed pacification in order to fully colonize and make the whole Philippines totally subservient to US imperialism up to the present. In its past counter-insurgency campaigns against the Filipino people from 1899-1913, US imperialism formed and trained “native” constabulary units, which led to the “hamleting of communities” (i.e., tightly controlled zones serving as concentration camps) and the massacres of civilians in their thousands as what happened in Samar and Mindanao (Bud Dajo massacre), and other unreported massacres and killings by US armed pacification units in other parts of the country like the massacre of a dozen of Igorots from the Mainit tribe in Mt. Province, Cordillera. Indeed, such US imperialist COIN campaigns continued through the reactionary Philippine armed forces in the war against the Huks after World War II.
The entire Filipino people have to be reminded of the historical fact that US imperialism has ensured that the whole fascist AFP-PNP of the reactionary government by carrying out its COIN campaigns has become the strong pillar of US military might in the Philippines today. Under the overt and covert directives of US imperialism, numerous killings of workers, peasants, indigenous peoples, Church and media people, lawyers, leaders of sectoral and multi-sectoral people’s organizations and other violations of the people’s basic rights have been committed by the fascist AFP-PNP from the Marcos dictatorship up to the present Duterte regime. The violent dispersals of the rallies of patriotic organizations led by the indigenous peoples in front of Camp Aguinaldo and of the US embassy in October 18 and 19 last year are also actual aftermaths of the fascist AFP-PNP Oplan Bayanihan operations under the covert directives of US imperialism. These violent dispersals are again direct violations of the CARHRIHL.
Thus, if President Duterte, as the GPH commander-in-chief, is really sincere in his unilateral ceasefire declaration and in pursuing the GHP-NDFP peace negotiations, he has to end Oplan Bayanihan and compel all AFP-PNP-CAFGU commands to dismantle their detachments in the far-flung barangays and territories of the NPA and stay in their headquarters and barracks away from these areas. If Oplan Bayanihan is not terminated, more harmful ceasefire violations by the AFP-PNP-CAFGU against the people’s rights will continue and consequently force the CPP-NPA to declare the end of its own interim unilateral ceasefire and reject entering into a bilateral ceasefire agreement with the GPH.
On the other hand, the CNL is very confident that the NDFP negotiation panel is willing to sign with the GPH negotiation panel an interim bilateral ceasefire agreement, only right after President Duterte fulfills his promise to grant amnesty to political prisoners and release them all.
Despite all the above-mentioned violations of the fascist AFP-PNP due to its implementation of the US imperialist-directed Oplan Bayanihan and also owing to the AFP-PNP’s non-compliance of their commander-in-chief’s unilateral ceasefire declaration, the whole Filipino people – most especially the workers, peasants, petty bourgeoisie, national minorities and other democratic classes and sectors of Philippine society – continue to aspire for the end of exploitation and oppression throughout the country. This ever worsening exploitation and oppression, intensifying yearly and affecting the entire Filipino people, is due to the basic problems of US imperialism, feudalism and bureaucrat capitalism under the class rule of the big bourgeois compradors and big landlords, and being secured and preserved by the reactionary and fascist AFP-PNP. That is why such exploitative and oppressive system of Philippine society can only be overthrown by waging the National Democratic Revolution with a socialist perspective through protracted people’s war. Such causes of the continuing exploitation and oppression of majority of the Filipino people are, in fact, the obstinate roots of the on-going armed conflict. This is the very reason that we, in CNL, absolutely stand up for the armed struggle, that is being waged by the NPA and the armed Filipino masses, because we deem it as necessary, just and legitimate for the Filipino people to liberate themselves and achieve a just and lasting peace.
Nonetheless, the CNL fully supports the on-going peace negotiations between the GPH and the NDFP because we believe that the comprehensive agreements to be reached and signed on social and economic reforms, on political and constitutional reforms and on the end of hostilities and disposition of forces would surely uphold and advance the basic rights, interests and demands of the Filipino people, especially the workers, peasants and national minorities. Accordingly, the CNL considers such comprehensive agreements as essential facets of resolving the causes and roots of the armed conflict.
But, for the Duterte administration’s declaration to advance a Philippine independent foreign policy and for the comprehensive agreements to be attained and signed by the GHP and the NDFP peace negotiation panels, President Duterte himself and the AFP-PNP commanders loyal to him must vigilantly guard against the evil hand of US imperialism and its lapdogs from among the ruling classes of big landlords and big bourgeois compradors and inside the reactionary AFP-PNP with their intent tosabotage the ongoing peace talks or to oust Duterte. Obviously, US imperialism has nothing to lose in case the on-going GPH-NDFP peace negotiations would collapse. The Filipino people know very well that US imperialism wants the Philippines to continue as the US “military pivot to Asia” and to remain semi-colonial and semi-feudal. And as such, economic backwardness, ever dependent on US imported commodities, investments and loans, will persist in our country, thus preventing genuine economic development through national industrialization and land reform.
As proclaimed by NDFP spokesperson Luis Jalandoni, “the NDFP will be a reliable ally to President Duterte” in advancing the latter’s policy declaration to depart from the US military and economic dominance in the country and to forge equal and mutual bilateral relations with other countries. To add more strength to the Duterte administration’s independent foreign policy declaration, the Filipino people are aspiring that President Duterte must end Oplan Bayanihan and compel the AFP-PNP-CAFGU to fully implement the CARHRIHL. And for the Philippines to be liberated from the economic and military intervention of US imperialism, the GPH should terminate all unequal military treaties and agreements like the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT), the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), and the Mutual Logistics Support Agreement (MLSA). The aforesaid demands are the basic aspirations of the Filipino people. And if such aspirations are fulfilled, then we, revolutionary Christians, have to recognize such liberating events as “the hand of the Almighty who puts down the mighty from their thrones and raise up the humble, send away the powerful and the rich empty-handed, and fill the hungry with good things.”