Civil-Military operations of the AFP violate mutual ceasefire – NPA-Southern Mindanao
THE New People’ Army in Southern Mindanao on Thursday accused the Armed Force of the Philippines (AFP) of violating the mutually-declared ceasefire which began on 15 February 2011 and will end on 21 February 2011 following the resumption of the peace negotations.
Homer Sandejas, spokesperson Front 25 operations command said the AFP conduct military operations in the guise of “civil-military operations” (CMO), “Peace and Development Teams” (PDTs) or “Community Organizer for Peace and Development” (COPD) in many barangays in all provinces of Mindanao.
Fully-armed AFP-PNP-CAFGU units enter barrios or communities in platoon or company formations under the guise of promoting “peace and development” in a desperate attempt to “win over” the people through deceit and intimidation, taking advantage of the NPA reciprocal ceasefire. They break into two groups, whereby one takes charge of psy-war operations in barrio or community centers, while another does the security clearing operations, the NPA said.
Through “friendly” and direct intimidation, they “invite” barrio-folk to mass meetings for lectures on the AFP’s twisted concept of peace, human rights and development. Those in attendance are asked to cough out any information on the NPAs and are pressed to contact AFP hotlines written on calling cards they distribute to report any NPA movement. All are video-taped, often without people’s consent.
Later, they would “invite” certain individuals for interrogation, asking them if they know of anyone who is an NPA or if they have seen them in their village. The military would further ask them if they have relatives who have joined the NPA, or if they knew of mass activists from among their neighbours who side with the NPA. Those who are “uncooperative” are threatened and, in some instances, are mauled by their interrogators. Many are recruited to the CAFGU as part of the AFP’s plan to forcibly set-up detachments.
These AFP CMOs clearly violate the mutual ceasefire, for the following reasons:
1. CMOs are offensive military operations against the NPAs and the revolutionary masses in suspected NPA areas launched way outside AFP detachments or camps;
2. Investigation or interrogation done during CMOs are intelligence operations, which form part of offensive military operations;
3. Intimidation and mauling employed during the interrogation of civilians in the course these CMOs are both human rights violation and a breach of the ceasefire; and,
4. Revolutionary masses who are being targeted are covered by the very substance and intent of the mutual ceasefire.
Since the AFP conducts these CMO operations in almost all provinces in Mindanao, we have now on-going widespread ceasefire violations in Mindanao, possibly nationwide.
The seven-day ceasefire is too short for the AFP to win significant politico-military victories over the NPA in the field, but is too long a time for Mr. Aquino to show its sincerity in the peace process. We challenge Mr. Benigno Aquino III to demonstrate this sincerity and to prove, if indeed he is the commander-in-chief, that he can prevail over the hawks in the AFP by ordering all AFP-PNP-CAFGU units to stop all CMO operations during the ceasefire period, Sandejas said.