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Is the AFP setting the stage for all-out war again? – Anakbayan

July 9, 2010

This was the question posed by youth group Anakbayan today in reaction to several statements this week by Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and several officials of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

In particular, the group expressed its apprehensions over Gazmin’s statement that the New People’s Army, the armed wing of the underground Communist Party of the Philippines, must surrender its arms before any peace talks between the CPP –led NDFP (National Democratic Front of the Philippines) and the GRP (Gov’t of the Republic of the Philippines) can resume.

“Gazmin most likely knows that the NDFP, or any armed belligerent in any part of the world, will not lay down its arms unconditionally and render themselves defenseless. That’s tantamount to committing suicide on their part” said Anakbayan national vice-chairperson Anton Dulce.

He noted that the NDFP has historically rejected all GRP demands for the NPA’s disarmament as a precondition for the peace talks.

“So why is he making such an impossible demand? Possibly to get some pogi points from a public that desires a resumption of the peace process, and to make it seem like it is the NDFP, instead of the AFP, which does not want to comply with that desire”

The youth leader said that he hoped this was not the official position of President Noynoy Aquino, saying that he should learn from the mistakes of his mother, the late former President Cory Aquino, in regards to the peace process.

After peace talks between the Cory government and the NDFP broke down after the Mendiola Massacre in 1987, the GRP launched its infamous ‘total war’ policy which has been blamed for tens of thousands of human rights violations under Cory’s term.

“However, the NPA was never crushed. Noynoy should know by now that the insurgency problem should be addressed at its roots, socio-economic inequalities, and not through military force” said Dulce.

Meanwhile, Anakbayan reiterated its condemnation of a previous statement by AFP spokesperson Jose Mabanta on the first assassination of an activist under the Aquino administration, calling it ‘Palparan and Gloria all over again’.

Last Tuesday, Mabanta said that Bayan Muna coordinator Fernando Baldomero was the victim of an ‘internal purge’ within the NPA, insinuating that Baldomero had links with the armed group.

“This early, the AFP is repeating Gloria Arroyo and (retired Army general) Jovito Palparan’s lame justifications for murdering more than a thousand activists. The process of conditioning the public into accepting more extra-judicial killings under the new government” said Dulce.

The youth leader added “If a policy of pursuing peace and respecting human rights is really the priority of Noynoy, he should crack the whip on these butchers who are still in the loose in the AFP”. ###

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