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HRW a mouthpiece of CPP-NPA – Defense chief

Hitting back at the Human Rights Watch (HRW), Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana has accused the New York-based group of being a “mouthpiece” of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA) — both of which are considered terrorists by the Philippine government.

“(HRW) stays silent even when the NPA goes on a killing rampage while quick to accuse Philippine law enforcement agencies of trumped-up or unconfirmed violations. When Jose Maria Sison ordered the CPP-NPA to kill one soldier per region every day, not a pip was heard from the HRW... It is obvious that the HRW is acting as the spokesperson of the CPP-NPA,” he noted.
Sison is the founding chairman of the CPP.
The Defense chief also pointed out how the HRW stays mum on the “terrorism” done by the communist rebels against their former comrades and on the way they allegedly exploit indigenous communities in Mindanao.

“When the NPA beheaded a former comrade of theirs who had just returned to the fold of the law, the HRW was silent. Why did the HRW not say anything when the NPA killed a father and his son —Lumad leaders who attended a Lumad Summit with the President? Where was the HRW when the NPA was burning left and right the equipment of public companies for not acceding to their extortion demands?” Lorenzana asked.
The Defense secretary also slammed the HRW’s statement that the Chief Executive’s offer to give monetary rewards for every communist rebel killed encourages “war crimes.”
“We disagree with the assessment of HRW that President Rodrigo Duterte’s reward offer of P20,000 for every NPA member killed ‘encourages war crimes,’” Lorenzana stressed.
He maintained that neutralizing rebels and terrorists is a legitimate law enforcement function, and the government is not precluded from offering rewards under Philippine laws.
“Furthermore, our defenders are under strict orders to adhere to the principles of human rights and international humanitarian law when they operate in the field. They know only too well that anyone of them who is found guilty of abuse will be sanctioned accordingly,” he said.
Lorenzana stressed the Chief Executive’s pronouncement that he will pay for every communist rebel killed came after the killings of “lumads” and Sison’s directive to kill one soldier or policeman per region a day.
“In the interest of neutrality, objectivity, and the truth, we strongly urge the HRW to stop its hypocrisy and, instead, do the right thing by acknowledging and investigating these glaring atrocities being committed by the NPA. including the murder of innocent civilians, who resist their aggressive exploitation, and the deceptive recruitment of our indigenous population,” he said.
Lorenzana assured that the government will do everything in its power to protect communities and uphold the rule of law.
Meanwhile, a day after Malacañang assured Norwegian envoys that the government is still willing to win peace with the communist National Democratic Front (NDF), Sison said it is Mr. Duterte himself who shows lack of sincerity and initiative in the stalled negotiations.
He noted that the President’s frequent tantrums have hijacked the initial success over the first few rounds of negotiations that began in 2016.
“The (Government of the Republic of the Philippines) and NDF negotiating panels were making significant progress in the peace negotiations. But it was Duterte himself who kept on sabotaging the peace negotiations,” Sison stressed.
“All the way, Duterte has been the one making the obstacles and obstructing the peace negotiations. He has been obsessed with scapegoating the CPP and NPA in order to have the convenient and false excuse for martial law and fascist dictatorship through a pseudo-federal constitution railroaded by his constituent assembly of pork barrel plunderers,” he added.
The communist leader reiterated the communist group’s openness to continue talks with government negotiators.
“Duterte has already gained the notoriety of a power-crazed tyrant, an inciter and inducer of mass murder under Oplan Tokhang ang Oplan Kapayapaan. But for the sake of the Filipino people who clamor for a just peace, the NDF is always willing to negotiate peace with the GRP whether it is still run by Duterte or no more,” Sison said.

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