CPP preparing ceasefire declaration, reiterates demand for AFP forces to be confined to barracks

By CPP Information Bureau

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) today said that a declaration of ceasefire to coincide with the forthcoming resumption of formal peace talks on February 15 to 21 is being prepared by the leadership of the CPP and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) in anticipation of a similar simultaneous declaration by the government of the Republic of the Philippines.

The CPP, however, said that it is still having second thoughts about issuing such a ceasefire declaration in the light of continuing AFP counter-insurgency military and psywar operations under the so-called “Community Organizing for Peace and Development (COPD)” conducted against civilian communities where the New People’s Army operates.

“The CPP and NDFP reiterate the demand of the revolutionary forces and mass base for the AFP forces to be confined to barracks during the ceasefire period and suspend not only their outright military aggressions but also their military operations in the guise of the COPD.”

"If Malacañang and its armed forces will insist on conducting such military operations against civilian communities during the peace talks, the negotiating panels might as well continue to conduct the negotiations without holding any ceasefire," said the CPP. "It would be utterly foolish for the CPP to agree to a simultaneous ceasefire declaration without assurances that AFP forces would be confined to barracks."

The CPP said that "more than 90% of the complaints it received of violations of the 19-day ceasefire during the holiday season were related to such military operations against civilian communities." The CPP pointed out that the COPD is actually just a new name for the operations of discredited “Re-engineered Special Operations Teams” that combine “civil-military operations” with outright military aggression and other fascist operations.

Last February 2, the NDFP called for the prohibition of COPD operations in NPA base communities as a way of ensuring the success of the simultaneous ceasefire. However, Malacañang and the AFP insisted that counter-insurgency military operations in civilian communities are not covered by any ceasefire declaration.

"What good is a ceasefire declaration when soldiers continue to conduct military operations disguised as “peace and development” programs which actually target activists and people's organizations in these communities?" the CPP asked.

"For the hundreds of thousands of people in these communities, a ceasefire declaration becomes useless when the reactionary puppet armed forces continue their so-called security patrols, ‘law enforcement’ operations, psywar, intensive harassment of “sympathizers” and other forms of terrorism against civilians who refuse to denounce membership in and sympathy with the revolutionary movement, as well as refuse recruitment into the paramilitary CAFGU (Citizens' Armed Forces Geographical Unit) and AFP barrio intelligence networks."

Under the AFP's Oplan Bayanihan, military operations are to be conducted by the AFP against communities suspected to be active in, supportive of, or sympathetic to, the revolutionary cause. The aim is to dismantle the local mass organizations of peasants, women and youth and suppress their mass struggles, especially the people’s enforcement of their own genuine agrarian reform.

"People have been complaining of living in fear and inability to work freely in their farms whenever the AFP conducts its so-called civil-military operations in their communities," added the CPP. "These operations are now conducted under the refurbished signboard of 'peace and development,' but are actually no different from the vicious special operations conducted by the AFP under Oplan Bantay Laya in 2001-2010."

"Entire communities are complaining that they are being terrorized even by the mere presence of the fascist soldiers," said the CPP. "For weeks up to months, fully armed and combat-ready soldiers of the AFP set up bases in these communities; use schools, day-care centers and barangay halls as their detachments; conduct security reconnaissance in the area, pretend to be friendly with the insidious objective of identifying leaders and activists of community organizations, interrogating them and applying economic, psychological and military pressure to make them stop their political and community-organizing activities."

"Martial law is virtually imposed in these communities," added the CPP. "These fascist soldiers conduct census, compel people to attend meetings, 'invite' suspected activists and sympathizers for interrogation, log the movement of people, and control the supply of food and other commodities."