Sat. Jul 24th, 2021

Former members of the defunct Alex Boncayao Brigade (ABB) and the Cordillera Peoples’ Liberation Army (CPLA) have commended the progress of the Duterte administration’s “Whole of the Nation Approach” to finally end the 52-year-old armed struggle of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) in the Philippines.

Presidential Human Rights Committee Executive Director, Undersecretary Severo Catura, spokesperson of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), said the former rebels remain keen observers of the government’s initiatives to dismantle the communist threat.

“These groups commended the manner in which more former rebels have surfaced and given opportunities to start new lives, the greater number of villages that are now enjoying peace and development under the Barangay Development Program, the clearing of more CTG-influenced villages, and the dismantling of more Communist Terrorist Group fronts,” Catura said in a news release on Sunday.

“Remember, that these groups—the RPA-ABB and the CPLA—know what they’re talking about, having had their own experiences in working for decades for peace in the countryside alongside government,” he added.

The NTF-ELCAC spokesperson on human rights, peace process, and international engagements also said that, “the NTF-ELCAC is not the playground bully as being portrayed by critics of the government, specifically the CTG front organizations.”

“The NTF-ELCAC is, more than anything else, an instrument to bring about a just, equitable and lasting peace in a society that is free from terrorism—all in keeping with our people’s desire to live in a society that is free from such,” he added.

Catura assured the Filipinos that the government will remain committed to its obligations to human rights and International Humanitarian Law in line with the position of the Commission of Human Rights (CHR).

It should be recalled that the CHR has condemned the latest landmine blasts perpetrated by the CPP-NPA that killed three unarmed government soldiers in Jipapad, Eastern Samar and football star Kieth Absalon and his cousin Nolven in Masbate.

Deputy Spokesperson Mark Siapno said the CHR condemned the use of anti-personnel mines (APMs), adding that all these crimes by the NPA will be accounted for. He gave assurance that the CHR will seek justice for the victims.

Siapno also reiterated the government’s call that the CPP-NPA-NDF should be held accountable for all other crimes they have perpetrated against the Filipino people in violation of IHL and Human Rights Laws.

Catura expressed his gratitude for the CHR’s alignment with the government’s position against the CTG’s continuous grave violations of IHL.

This, he said, will ultimately put a stop to the never-ending atrocities of the CPP-NPA-NDF to the Filipinos.

“We only need to remind ourselves of what befell the Absalons, of Kieth’s and Nolven’s grieving parents; we only need to look at the morbid images and testimonies of cruelty and brutality suffered by unarmed soldiers who were not on duty. And this must stop,” he said.

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