Permanent ceasefire call a cover-up for AFP violations in Cordillera — NDFP

NDFP Media Office Press release
May 19, 2017

A call by local Cordillera executives for a permanent ceasefire between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) that will prohibit “communist guerrillas” from “attacking the civilian populace” is a desperate attempt to divert public attention from the human rights violations being inflicted by state security forces on national minority communities.

NDFP panel member Coni Ledesma

Coni Ledesma, a member of the NDFP Human Rights Monitoring Committee said that she was not surprised that the Cordillera local government officials issued the call two days after human rights activists from Cordillera and Mindanao trooped to the offices of the GRP-NDFP Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC) on the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) to file reports on CARHRIHL violations by the GRP military against Igorot, Lumad and Moro communities. The local executives had just attended a conference from May 15 to 17 in Baguio City organized by the Office of the Presidential Assistant on the Peace Process (OPAPP) when they issued the call.

Five days before the Cordilleran activists filed their reports at the JMC, the violations were also reported during a dialogue with United Nations lawyer and International Humanitarian Law expert William O’Neill as well as a representative from the Royal Norwegian Government.

Cordilleran activists charged that human rights abuses by the AFP against civilian communities have escalated in the region since President Rodrigo Duterte declared an all-out war policy against the New People’s Army in February.

On May 12, a public forum held in Quezon City chronicled numerous human rights violations that targeted, among others, communities in Ifugao, Abra and Kalinga, all in the Cordillera. Representatives from the Cordillera Human Rights Alliance and the Ifugao Peasant Movement (IPM) attended the forum entitled “Impact of AFP’s All-Out War on the National Minorities.”

The IPM reported that on February 12-17, up to 53 households in Namal, Asipulo town, Ifugao province were forcibly evacuated, threatened, harassed and intimidated by the 54th IB. Soldiers illegally entered and searched houses and pointed guns at women and children, including a 5-year old boy. The community also lost 40% of its next harvest due to the forced evacuation.

On March 13 to 19, civilians in Malibcong, Abra were subjected to food blockades in the course of operations conducted by the 24th IB. Residents likewise reported illegal arrests and detention, the curtailment of their right to movement and indiscriminate air strikes using phosphorus bombs.

In Kalinga, some 30 soldiers under the 50th IB illegally arrested farmer Rodrigo Baguilay on March 25. They also forced two civilians to serve as guides and conducted warrantless searches, seizing cash and cellphones. The military physically assaulted a barangay captain after he questioned the legality of the searches and tried to ensure Baguilay’s safety. Baguilay was later slapped with trumped-up cases of murder and frustrated murder and jailed.

On April 23, combined police and military elements with their name tags and faces hidden set up checkpoints at Balantoy, Balbalan, Kalinga to accost and harass delegates to the 33rd Cordillera Day celebration. They were reportedly looking for NDFP consultant Kennedy Bangibang. ###

Coni Ledesma
Member, NDFP Human Rights Monitoring Committee
Contact No: +31 30 2310431