MANILA – The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) on Tuesday strongly condemned the recent attacks allegedly perpetrated by members of the New People’s Army (NPA) in Misamis Oriental.
“As if the threat of the coronavirus is not worrisome enough, these acts of terrorism were meant to instill fear, anger, and hatred in the hearts and minds of the people, particularly among our tribal communities in rural areas,” CHR spokesperson Jacqueline Ann De Guia said in a statement.
NPA members reportedly burned down an evangelical church and several houses in a mountainous village in Opol town, Misamis Oriental on May 28.
De Guia noted that the attack was committed while the country was in the middle of a health crisis.
The CHR, she said, does not support communist rebels and the armed struggle “but commits solidarity with oppressed communities through non-violent means.”
“By and large, these attacks run counter to the cessation of hostilities declared between the Reds and government during the start of the pandemic,” she said.
Earlier, the government and the NPA have agreed to a ceasefire in light of the coronavirus health crisis, however, the ceasefire accord had lapsed and the acts of violence reportedly persisted.
“It is deplorable that the communist groups decided to end the ceasefire in May and continues to endanger innocent civilians while they carry out acts of lawlessness such as destruction of public and private properties,” de Guia said.
The CHR has appealed to both the government and insurgent groups to finally put an end to the long-standing armed conflict in the country and agree on a peace negotiation that is acceptable to both parties.
“We need to fully realize peace negotiations where both parties will have confidence that each one will keep their word of maintaining peace,” she said, noting that the CHR does not discount that the conflicts are deeply rooted in historical injustices that have endured several decades of oppression.
Meanwhile, de Guia said the country and people should have to focus on pandemic issues.
“But now more than ever, we need to band together as a nation and concentrate our efforts in overcoming a global health crisis that crosscuts all sectors of our society and jeopardizes the lives of every Filipino especially the most vulnerable, disadvantaged, and marginalized,” she said.
“Instead of violence, we underscore the importance of peacebuilding and emphasizes the need for engaging and collaborating with local communities in nurturing sustainable and lasting peace,” she added. (PNA)