Address roots of armed conflict

READER’S VIEWS - The Freeman

Another year has passed in the Marcos Presidency but the machinery of state terror, including the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) and the Anti-Terror Law, built during the US-Duterte Regime, remain in place. The Anti-Terrorism Act with its broad sweeping powers and the NTF-ELCAC, along with the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), continue to operate as mechanisms to crush dissent and to violate the civil, political, social, economic and cultural rights of citizens.

The Philippines continues to be a killing ground for perceived political dissidents, community organizers, indigenous people, rights advocates, and alleged drug suspects. As we mark the 75th commemoration of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, ICHRP denounces the ongoing attacks and violations of the rights of the Filipino people by the Marcos Jr administration. But on a more optimistic note we are heartened by the recent joint statement of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) signaling a potential resumption of the peace process that had been abruptly ended by the fascist Duterte government in November 2017.

ICHRP looks positively on the statements of both parties that the roots of the armed conflict need to be addressed. There are a number of important agreements that have been signed by both parties over the years including The Hague Joint Declaration in 1992, the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) in 1995, and the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) in 1998.

These previous agreements should be considered more than isulat sa tubig (write it on water) by the GRP as that would undermine the credibility of their commitment to respect the terms of any future agreements.

ICHRP urges the parties to move on and continue their previous work towards a Compressive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms to be able to address the roots of the armed conflict.

While ICHRP is hopeful that substantive negotiations are steps toward achieving a just and lasting peace we remain deeply concerned about the ongoing level of repression, oppression and exploitation experienced by the Filipino people.

At least 13 peace consultants have been murdered by the Philippine government since it withdrew from the peace talks with the NDFP in 2017. Most recently, NDFP peace consultant Rogelio Posadas was arrested and summarily executed by state agents on April 20, 2023. The killing of Posadas came just days after the announcement of the deaths of Benito and Wilma Tiamzon NDFP negotiating panel member and consultants. They were reportedly captured with eight others in August 2022, tortured, killed, and their bodies placed in a boat which was later blown up by the military. Other recent victims in the killing spree against peace consultants rendered hors de combat by the AFP include Erickson Acosta, peasant organizer Joseph Jimenez arrested and then executed in Negros Occidental, on November 30, 2022, and Pedro Codaste on January 21, 2022.

These cases of abduction, torture and execution by the AFP represent clear violations of International Humanitarian Law. These killings must stop and the perpetrators must be held accountable.

International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines

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