Karapatan on recent dev’ts on GRP-NDFP peacetalks, intensifying fascist attacks vs people

Karapatan welcomes the March 11 Joint Statement of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) on the continuation of the formal peace talks on April and June 2017and the reaffirmation of all bilateral agreements and statements in the peace negotiations, including the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) and the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG). 

We hope that with the continuation of the formal peace talks, discussions on the substantial agenda on economic, social and political reforms will move forward, for the benefit of the majority of poor Filipinos struggling for national industrialization, genuine agrarian reform, and national sovereignty. The root causes of the armed rebellion in country will not be solved when the basic problems confronting the Filipino people remain unaddressed. 

These developments come at a time when the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police are intensifying fascist attacks against the people, through Oplan Kapayapaan and the all-out war declaration. 

Today, a National Peace and Humanitarian Mission led by Bayan, Karapatan and the People Working for People-Batangas will be conducted in Brgy. Kaylaway, Nasugbu, Batangas, after reports of forcible reconcentration of at least 200 residents in four sitios in the said village, even before the armed encounter between the New People’s Army (NPA) and the 730th Combat Group of the Philippine Air Force, the 59th Infantry Battalion-Philippine Army and the 202nd Infantry Division-Philippine Army.  

Prior to the said armed engagement, the military have been conducting operations in the communities, threatening and forcing residents to go to Sitio Balagbag Elementary School on March 9 and restricting their movement within the said school. After the encounter, the soldiers told the residents to go back to their homes, but the troops remained at the school. Initial reports of the Karapatan-Batangas fact-finding mission in the area state that military operations of the AFP continue in the area. 

As of this writing, Quezon-based peasant organizers Christopher Redota, Jennifer Yuzon and Jose “Teteng” Yuzon have yet to be surfaced by the Southern Luzon Command, after they were illegally arrested on March 7 in Brgy. Camflora, San Andres, Quezon. Their legal counsels, family, and human rights organizations still have no access to the three. Recent news reports on attempts of Jose Yuzon to escape military custody also prove that he is being held against his will, and that the three peasant organizers are being coerced and tortured. Dana Marie Marcellana, also a peasant organizer reported missing and daughter of slain human rights worker Eden Marcellana, has been located and is safe with her family. 

While there are also positive pronouncements on the release of some political prisoners, including detained NDFP consultants and those on humanitarian grounds, the number of political prisoners continues to increase with the continuing spate of illegal arrests. On the morning of March 9, 2017, 70-year old Lilia Bucatcat, a former peasant organizer in Western Samar, was arrested by members of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group and the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, while she was walking her dog along the riverside of Brgy. Sto. Nino, Marikina City. Karapatan found her at 4pm the next day at the CIDG-National Capital Region office in Camp Crame, Quezon City. She was accused of trumped up charges of arson. 

Karapatan reiterates its call to Pres. Duterte and the GRP to abide by the CARHRIHL, to stop military operations in communities, to stop the killings of the poor through Oplan Kapayapaan and the war on drugs, and to release all political prisoners. The Filipino people will continue to resist fascist attacks of the AFP and PNP under the Duterte administration, and we will continue to persevere in struggle for a just and lasting peace.