MANILA – The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) described as “distasteful” and “repulsive” the call of Kabataan Party-list representative Sara Elago to resume the peace talks between the Communist Party of the Philippines – New People’s Army – National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) and the government after Far Eastern University football player Keith Absalon and his cousin Nolven were killed in an explosion and ambush by communist terrorists in Masbate on Sunday.
In a statement, Elago said “this incident highlights why the government must resume the peace negotiations and resolve the decades-old armed conflict through addressing the roots of armed struggle, such as extreme poverty, abuse, marginalization, and injustice.”
“By attempting to use the death of Absalon in the hands of the NPA as justification for the resumption of peace talks only proves that Elago and her kind are not interested in exacting accountability from the NPA terrorists who murdered a promising young individual,” National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF ELCAC) spokesperson, DILG Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya, said in a news release on Wednesday.
Malaya said their only interest is to use the deaths for propaganda purposes to force the government to return to the negotiating table where they can exact concessions while continuing their terror attacks against the people.
“It’s repulsive that instead of calling for justice for the death of the Absalons, Elago has used the murders for propaganda purposes. If anything, the death of the Absalons reinforces the futility of the peace talks because nothing will come out of it or has come out of it for decades due to the lack of sincerity from their end,” he said.
Malaya challenged Elago, the NDF leadership, and their allies who have been representing the CPP-NPA on so many occasions, to take responsibility for the senseless murders.
“Now that the CPP has accepted responsibility for the murders, the DILG challenges the Makabayan Bloc and their allied organizations in the NDF to distance themselves from and condemn the NPA and to campaign for a total ban on the manufacture, stockpiling, transport, and use of anti-personnel mines anywhere in the country,” he said.
Malaya said there is a 1997 international ban against the use of such mines but the NDF continues to tolerate, if not acquiesce to the actions of the CPP-NPA that has led to numerous civilian deaths through the years.
Interior Secretary Eduardo M. Año, meanwhile, said the senseless death of the Absalons is another concrete proof that the NPA is a terrorist organization without regard for innocent lives in its 52-year old armed struggle to establish ac state in the country.
“It is very clear that their twisted and obsolete belief only bring harm and violence to the Filipino people and the country as a whole,” Año said.
Even before the CPP accepted full responsibility, Malaya said, the fingerprints of the NPA were all over the incident.
“There is no denying that this is the work of the NPA, which operates a guerilla front in the area. It is common knowledge that the NPA continues to use weapons that do not distinguish between friend or foe in its terroristic activities. Its use of improvised explosive devices with anti-personnel characteristics is well-documented,” he said.
He said the attack in Masbate does not come as a surprise because it came on the heels of the order of CPP founder Joma Sison for the NPA to ramp up and escalate attacks against “reactionary forces.”
“There is a standing order for the NPA to form partisan teams to mete out punishment against enemy units and officers who have committed bloody crimes against the people,” Marco Valbuena, a spokesman for the CPP, said in a statement.
Also wounded in the incident was Absalon’s 16-year-old nephew, Chrisbin Daniel, who is being treated at the Masbate Provincial Hospital.
According to the Police Regional Office 5 (Bicol), the three victims were cycling with their relatives headed towards Barangay B. Titong proper, when the APM went off and hit them.
More than three hours after the Masbate explosion, three persons were wounded when armed men, believed to be NPA terrorists, ambushed a police special weapons and tactics (SWAT) team in Legazpi, Albay.
Visitacion Mariscotes, 38; her daughter Clara Fay, 11; and lawyer Myrna Patterson were taken to a nearby hospital for treatment. Mariscotes and her daughter were hit by pieces of broken glass when a stray bullet struck their tricycle, driven by her husband Romeo, 38. Patterson was driving her car when she was hit by a sharp object in the arm.
The victims’ vehicles were tailing the SWAT‘s car when the ambush occurred in Sitio Tico-Tico, Barangay Homapon, according to village chief Beejay Ariola. The SWAT team returned fire, prompting the armed men to retreat toward the jungle.
Authorities expressed belief the armed men were the same people who attacked and torched a cell site located more than a kilometer away from the scene of the ambush. The SWAT team escorted a fire truck to the cell site and was returning to the barracks when the NPA fired at them.
Malaya said this is the reason why 84 percent of local government units (LGUs) nationwide have declared the CPP-NPA-NDF as persona non grata (unwelcome people).
A total of 1,436 out of 1,715 provinces, cities, and municipalities around the country have passed resolutions through their local legislative bodies condemning the atrocities of the communist terrorist groups (CTGs) and proclaiming them to be unwelcome in their locality.
He said these resolutions serve as an express declaration of the sentiment of the Sanggunians (councils) composed of elective officials, who represent the voice of their respective constituencies, that the ideologies and acts of CTGs are detested by the Filipino people.
The use of APMs is a violation of the International Humanitarian Law and the 1997 Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention adopted by the international community, prohibiting the acquisition, production, stockpiling, and use of weapons.
The CPP-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines. (PNA)