MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte is speaking with a “forked tongue” to lay the basis “for nationwide martial law, which will further aggravate the campaign of murder and brutalities under his strongman rule,” communist rebels claimed.
Calling this a “direct challenge” to the New People’s Army, the Communist Party of the Philippines said the guerrilla force “must firmly grasp their weapons, confront the fascists in the battlefield, wage guerrilla warfare intensively and extensively, further deepen and expand the people’s support and carry forward the people’s war to ever greater heights.”
The CPP’s latest tirade, in a statement released Monday, came after Duterte said last Friday that he would “refuse to resume the peace talks with them until they stop extortion” and accused the rebels of sending conflicting signals.
“First you directed your soldiers to fight, to engage us…Mayamaya nagsabi kayo tutulong kayo [Then you said you would help] to fight alongside with government. Mayamaya nandito na naman, fight na naman kayo [Then here you are again fighting],” he also said in Davao del Sur last Wednesday.
But other government officials have been making equally conflicting statements recently, with Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, the chief negotiator to peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, which represents the communists, saying negotiations may resume in mid to late August but Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana recommending the talks’ suspension.
And, although Duterte earlier said his declaration of martial law in Mindanao soon after fighting broke out between extremist gunmen and government forces in Marawi City on May 23 would not target the communists, security officials later said part of the objectives is to neutralize the NPA.
The CPP, in its statement, said these made it “all too apparent that the Duterte regime is not at all interested in the substantive agenda of peace negotiations with the NDFP and only wants to use the talks to compel the revolutionary forces to sign a premature bilateral ceasefire to silence the weapons of the NPA and prevent the people from resisting the (government’s) all-out war.”
Duterte, it said, “speaks with a forked-tongue in condemning the armed offensives of the NPA after having ordered the AFP [Armed Forces of the Philippines] to carry out an ‘all-out war’ and employ means to ‘flatten the hills’.”
“He feigns confusion why the NPA continues to carry out attacks when he has not ordered any letup in the armed offensives of the AFP against the NPA and the people,” it added, citing the “intensified large-scale (military) offensives against the NPA over nearly two months which has compelled the people’s army to carry out armed counteractions to defend itself and the people.”
These include alleged air strike, “upon orders of Duterte,” on communities in North Cotabato, Bukidnon, Davao del Sur, Davao City, Agusan del Norte and Surigao del Norte suspected of supporting the NPA, the CPP said.
All over the country, it said, “military units have occupied civilian communities.”
“Over the past 50 days, the AFP has forced at least one hundred people a day to leave their homes out of fear,” the CPP climed. “In Mindanao, more than 5,000 civilians are now staying in evacuation centers (not counting those displaced from Marawi). School children and teachers in self-organized community schools in Surigao del Sur and Davao del Norte have been subjected to murder threats and harassments.”
Duterte cries crocodile tears over the grave sufferings and hardships of the people in Marawi City who were forced to flee by his orders to pound their homes with relentless aerial bombardment in the name of “driving away the terrorists.” Duterte, the US and the AFP have employed shock and awe tactics to confuse and dumbfound the people and force them to accept military rule and foreign intervention.
The CPP said that, with the 60-day end of the martial law declaration approaching, “the mind-conditioning apparatus of the ruling regime is now working double-time to lay down the legal and political justification for the extension of Duterte’s strongman rule,” with the “unequivocal support” of the US and the recent Supreme Court ruling that “not only gave its imprimatur to Duterte’s declaration of martial law in Mindanao, but laid out as well the legal basis for the imposition of martial law nationwide granting him the complete prerogative to do so.”
“Duterte brandishes military and police powers with utter contempt for human life, human rights and humanitarian laws,” it said, noting that even “without martial law, Duterte’s so-called ‘war against drugs’ has already succeeded in killing a reported 10,000 people in both police operations and vigilante killings.”
But, the CPP warned, “if Duterte continues along the path to attain his ambitions of becoming a strongman, he is bound to be confronted and opposed by a broad united front of forces who are against the return of martial law.”