The picket at Camp Aguinaldo calling for the military to pull out troops from rural communities. (Pamalakaya photo)
On the eve of the third round of peace talks between government and communist rebels, activist farmers and fisherfolk picketed Camp Aguinaldo to press demands for the immediate pullout of military forces from communities in the countryside.
The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas and Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas also blasted the Duterte government’s new internal security plan, named Kapayapaan, saying it was no different from the previous administration’s Oplan Bayanihan.
KMP secretary general Antonio Flores accused the military of continuing to commit human rights abuses despite the government’s unilateral ceasefire and in violation of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law, one of the five agreements between the government and National Democratic Front of the Philippines, and even before Kapayapaan, which means “peace,” was unveiled.
The third round of formal negotiations between the rebels and the current administration are slated to take place from January 19 to 25 in Rome.
In a protest at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City, the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) said the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) continues to commit grave violations of the KMP secretary general Antonio Flores said the military had been violating CARHRIHL even before OPK was unveiled and the abuses continue without let-up.
Pamalakaya secretary general Salvador France, on the other hand, said “the military’s failure and frustration to capture their enemies is always diverted to the farmers and innocent civilians through harassment, filing of trumped up charges and worse … extrajudicial killings with impunity.”
Flores called for CARHRIHL violations to be taken up in the Rome negotiations. “The AFP never implemented the government's unilateral ceasefire declaration. In fact, it continued to violate and disrespect the peace talks by seriously harming civilians,” he said.
The KMP listed what it said are the more glaring violations of the CARHRIHL and the government ceasefire:
- Caraga - more than 100 barangays are highly-militarized as soldiers enter communities through the Peace and Development Outreach Program.
- Masbate - troops from the 9th Infantry Battalion and 2nd IB of the Philippine Army are leading Bayanihan Team Activities to penetrate remote barangays despite the declared ceasefire.
- Ifugao, Mt. Province and Benguet - the 54th IB conducts so-called civic actions as part of their combat and intelligence operations.
- Eastern Visayas - the 20thIB, 78thIB and 87thIB use medical and dental missions as front to conduct military operations in upland areas and farmers fear for their lives because of intense militarization.
- Panay - the 61stIB and 82nd IB of the 3rd Infantry Division continue armed operations, with farmers as primary victims.
- Agusan provinces - the 26th IB, 23rd IB, 58th IB, 8th IB and 1st Special Forces Battalion under the 4th ID and the 13th Regional Public Safety Battalion of the Philippine National Police are using the Oplan Tokhang anti-drug campaign to “terrorize” civilians.
- 19 extrajudicial killings
- 414 illegal arrests
- forced evacuation of 13,734 people
- 18,675 instances of threats, harassment and intimidation
- 14,097 cases of the military and paramilitary units using schools, medical facilities, churches and public places for military purpose in rural and indigenous people’s communities
“How can there be genuine peace if guns are pointed at our heads?” he asked.