To Duterte: Stop using the NPA to deflect attention from your failures— Communist Party of the Philippines says

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The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the Filipino people condemned on Friday President Rodrigo Duterte’s renewed threats to declare martial law.

“Again, Duterte is blaming the New People’s Army to cover-up his governments failures. This is a classic deflection tactic to draw away the people’s attention from the government’s inept, incompassionate and irresponsible actions in the face of the pandemic,” said the CPP in a statement.

“Duterte is using the Covid-19 crisis, one that has blown up because of his government’s military-minded response and failure to conduct mass testing, to carry out agenda of imposing martial law. Duterte’s ultimate aim is to establish his dictatorship, something he has long sought to do,” the CPP said.

Imposing martial law will not stop the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic but will only cause greater hardships on the people. “Duterte wants to kill democracy, at a time when democracy is needed to mobilize the people in a mass campaign of screening and testing to detect and isolate the virus and break its chain of transmission,” the communist party said.

The Party also condemns Duterte’s further extension of the lockdown in lieu of any decisive push for mass testing. The lockdown is now deceptively referred to as “general” or “modified” quarantine has been expanded to cover large parts of Visayas and Mindanao. There is now creeping nationwide martial law and the entire country is now effectively under the highhanded and control of the military and police, they said.

The armed clashes between the New People’s Army (NPA) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in the past days are a result of the attacks of the AFP and active defense of the NPA, they said. Since Duterte’s ceasefire lapsed last April 15, the AFP has further stepped up its counterinsurgency operations.

In fact, the AFP never went on ceasefire, even when Duterte ordered a suspension of offensive operations last March 19 to April 15, deploying troops to more than 350 barangays and 120 towns to conduct counterinsurgency, mounting at least 24 offensives and six aerial bombardments, the CPP said.

A case in point: The clash in Himamaylan City last April 15 where three AFP soldiers were killed, happened in the interior areas 10 kilometers away from Barangay Carabalan, where the DSWD was scheduled to distribute “social amelioration” to the residents. The 94th IB platoon was clearly on combat operations when they carried out the attack against the NPA. The NPA fighters rightfully defended themselves in battle.

The AFP’s pretend and “pang-press release” relief work serve only as cover for their intensified counterinsurgency operations. Across the country, the AFP is imposing martial law on communities and forcing people to “surrender” bringing greater hardship and oppression more than the threat of the Covid-19, said the CPP.

Hundreds of millions of pesos are being wasted in their combat operations and use of helicopters and fighter jets to conduct aerial bombardment.

Last Sunday, the AFP used fighter jets to drop aerial bombs in the vicinity of Barangay Gasi, in Kiamba town, Sarangani province. The bombing operation, described by the 27th IB as “aerial support” for their relief work, terrorized the residents and traumatized children. On the same day, the 9th ID used at least two helicopters to drop “surrender leaflets” in Aroroy town, Masabate province. Earlier last week, the AFP also used helicopters to drop similar leaflets in various communities in Sagada and Besao towns, in the Mountain Province.

“Just think: One hour of flight of AFP Huey helicopters costs at least P110,000, which is the equivalent of at least 55 sacks of rice,” said the CPP.

The AFP has stepped up its counterinsurgency drive to prevent the NPA from conducting its own public health campaign in response to the Covid-19 and economic and production work to help the people cope with the sharp economic downturn. The NPA campaign has been warmly received by the masses in the guerrilla zones and areas, especially where Duterte’s government does not exist, the communists said.

The Party reiterates the ceasefire order of the Central Committee that has been extended to April 30.

The standing order is for the NPA to prioritize its public health campaign to raise people’s awareness of the Covid-19, and help the masses take measures to prevent its spread and assist them in preparations in the eventuality of infections in their villages.

All units of the NPA must, however, remain vigilant and on high alert against attacks of the AFP and ready to engage in battle, the CPP also said./Stacy Ang

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