Human rights group snipes government’s war mode than peace talks

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CITY OF NAGA, Bicol Region, 3-May-2013 (BicolToday.com] – Human rights groups are accusing the government for clinging to military solutions to end insurgency, rather than pursue peace at the negotiating table, reports reached Bicol Today.com on Friday, May 2.

KARAPATAN pointed to the government for backtracking at the scheduled peace talks, saying that “with eight months left to Oplan Bayanihan’s self-imposed deadline to supposedly render the CPP-NPA-NDF insignificant, the Aquino government is again turning the table against the NDFP negotiating panel, in a bid for a graceful exit from the peace talks and to justify intensified attacks, not only against the CPP-NPA-NDF, but more so against the ordinary tao whom the government considers as supporters of the revolutionary movement.”

In a statement sent to this online news group, Marie Hilao-Enriquez, chairperson of Karapatan, said it was their reaction to GPH peace panel chair, Alex Padilla “who threw a tantrum before the media, and unilaterally declared the collapse of the peace talks between the GPH and the NDFP. “

Hilao-Enriquez is an independent observer to the peace negotiation between the GPH and the NDFP.

Padilla’s statement, Hilao-Enriquez said, “reflects the Aquino government’s position on the peace negotiation with the NDFP. The GPH’s sincerity to resolve the causes of the armed conflict is questionable from the very beginning.”

“Now that the self-imposed deadline of rendering the CPP-NPA-NDFP insignificant in 2013, the Aquino government’s accusation that the NDFP is not intent on the peace negotiations provides it with a very convenient excuse to scuttle the talks and resort to war,” Hilao-Enriquez added.

Karapatan cited the promotion of “berdugos” and implementors of (then President) Gloria Arroyo’s Oplan Bantay Laya among the military, such as Col. Aurelio Baladad, Gen. Jorge Segovia, Brig. Gen. Eduardo Año; the appointment of Oplan Bayanihan’s author, Gen. Emmanuel Bautista as AFP Chief of Staff; and recently, the appointment of Gen. Palparan’s right hand man, Brig. Gen. Ricardo Visaya in the 4th ID as “a sign that the GPH wants war, not peace.”

Hilao-Enriquez also cited the GPH’s refusal to release the detained NDFP consultants despite the GPH’s commitment “to release most, if not all” NDFP consultants.

The GPH’s commitment was contained in a joint statement with the NDFP in the February 2011 talks. “The consultants should not be in jail, in the first place, because they are covered by the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) that was signed as early as 1995.” The NDF consultants are slapped with criminal charges.

She added, “In the years that I have been involved in the peace negotiation as an observer, I haven’t seen any proposal from the GPH that would facilitate the resolution of the root causes of the armed conflict. All the GPH want is for the CPP-NPA-NDF to lay down its arms and surrender. It’s essentially ending the peace talks. If that happens, nothing would be resolved; oppression and exploitation of the majority of the poor Filipinos will remain.”

“The GPH’s so-called “new approach” to peace is nothing new. It means war. What it cannot get on the negotiating table, it will pursue in the battlefield. The GPH merely wants to renege on its previously signed agreements with the NDFP and wipe out all forms of opposition to its pro-US, anti-people and anti-national policies,” said Hilao-Enriquez.

Karapatan called on the Filipino people to stand firm and resist the blows of terror from the Aquino government “given the GPH’s stance on the peace negotiation with the NDFP, and the approaching deadline of Oplan Bayanihan.” [BicolToday.com]

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