The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) hereby expresses its sincere condolences to the family of footballer Keith and labor leader Nolven Absalon and asserts its duty to investigate their death under the GRP-NDFP Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL).
The NDFP welcomes the urgings of all concerned for the necessary investigation and wishes to have the full chance to do the investigation and make the report to the GRP-NDFP Joint Monitoring Committee if and when convened to deal with the case and a great number of other cases and charges against the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the Duterte regime.
Under the CARHRIHL, in conformity with their respective separate duties and responsibilities, the NDFP has sole jurisdiction over complaints against units and personnel of the New People’s Army (NPA), in the same way that the GRP has the sole jurisdiction over complaints against its own armed units and personnel.
The agreement is in consonance with the fact that the GRP and the NDFP are engaged in a civil war and is a step forward in the direction of negotiating a just peace between the two parties. The agreement established the Joint Monitoring Commitee as the principal mechanism to monitor the implementation of the CARHRIHL. At present, the NDFP-nominated section is open and functioning but the GRP-nominated section is inactive.
Further, it is in accordance with the underlying fundamental principles in the peace negotiations embodied in the GRP-NDFP The Hague Joint Declaration on parity, equality, reciprocity and mutuality between the two negotiating parties.
It is correct for the people and all other entities to expect the investigation of the Masbate incident within the NPA command structure and within frameworks of the CPP, NDFP and the People’s Democratic Government.
Under the responsibility and direction of the NDFP and within the legal system of the People’s Democratic Government, the investigation must be started and completed within the NPA command structure to fully and completely establish the facts and prepare any appropriate charges before any procedure to prosecute and try the case before the military court of the NPA or people’s court.
There must be no rush to judgment against the entire revolutionary mass movement and such revolutionary forces as the CPP, NPA and others. First and foremost, their just cause of national and social liberation is that of the Filipino people. They draw their strength from the people and are necessarily opposed to any act of terrorism.
The NDFP will make sure that certain questions are answered by a thoroughgoing investigation. The questions include the following: 1) If true, which NPA unit and personnel are involved?; 2) Is there no case of the enemy committing the crime and falsely ascribing it to the NPA?; and 3) Is there no local feud involved?
We must emphasize that the Masbate incident is completely different from the series of willful and cold-blooded murders committed by the regime’s armed units and personnel against the NDFP peace consultants like Comrades Randy Malayao, Randall Echanis, Julius Giron, Antonio Cabanatan and his wife Florenda Yap, Agaton Topacio and Eugenia Magpantay, Rustico Tan, Reynaldo Bocala and others.
There are many more cases to cite like the murder of social activists, lawyers and human rights defenders. Until now, the GRP has not done any satisfactory investigation and has not taken action to credibly prosecute the suspects in these clear cases of extrajudicial killings of unarmed people.
There should be no rush to judgment, presumption or insinuation to the effect that the entire revolutionary movement and entire revolutionary forces are guilty of a criminal offense, negligence or error for which certain individuals may be liable on the basis of a full and complete investigation. Crimes or errors of individuals cannot be taken against the whole organization or movement.
Furthermore, there are the tendentious, misinformed and even maliciously distorted claims of the GRP and other entities on the issue of the legitimacy and acceptability of the use of certain types of landmines in warfare in the context of the present armed conflict and in accordance with an accurate reading of international humanitarian law and instruments on the matter.
This present incident and many others in the past are unfortunately being manipulated to blur the distinction between the allowable command-detonated anti-personnel mines, target/contact-detonated as well as command-detonated anti-tank/vehicle mines, on the one hand, and the generally disfavored target/contact-detonated anti-personnel mines, on the other hand.
Every day the revolutionary movement, the revolutionary forces and even the distinct legal democratic organizations and personalities are being pilloried by the Duterte regime and its so-called National Task Force to End the Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) and even by the reactionary elements in the corporate media and troll armies in the social media.
All the revolutionary forces and people in the new democratic revolution, including the CPP, NPA, NDFP, mass organizations and the people’s democratic government, are absolutely against terrorism. They adhere strictly to the international law on human rights and humanitarian conduct, to CARHRIHL and to all the pertinent rules of discipline and the laws of the people’s democratic government.
It is the Duterte regime that is engaged in terrorism as evidenced by rampant and systematic extrajudicial killings, the use of aerial bombings and artillery fire against rural communities and other human rights violations and by the arrogant policy pronouncements and orders of Duterte himself to kill, kill, kill his critics and opponents and to ignore the laws on human rights and international humanitarian law.
Issued on behalf of the NDFP National Executive Committee
NDFP Chief International Representative
Julieta de Lima
NDFP Negotiating Panel Interim Chairperson