Youth groups assail AFP over fascist attacks amid all-out war

Various progressive youth organizations trooped to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) general headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City on February 13 to condemn the spate of fascist attacks against the Filipino people following the military’s declaration of an all-out war against the New People’s Army (NPA).

“The all-out war has emboldened not only the military but also other armed groups such as paramilitaries and private goons to launch fascist attacks against civilians and targeted individuals and groups. This all-out war declaration ultimately translates to grave violation of human rights and civil liberties,” said Daryl Angelo Baybado, CEGP national deputy secretary general.

Baybado highlighted such cases reported in recent weeks, including the killing of Lumad leaders Renato Anglao and Matanem Lorendo Pocuan in separate shooting incidents in Bukidnon on February 3; and peasant leader Orlando Eslana in a shooting incident during a kampuhan in President Roxas, Capiz on February 11.

Moreover, indigenous peoples in Sarangani were displaced following a series of aerial bombardment by the AFP’s 73rd Infantry Battalion on February 11, while delegates of the National Medical and Solidarity Mission in Talaingod, Davao del Norte were threatened by paramilitary group Alamara on February 12.

“We cry justice for the victims of this state terrorism led by the AFP which targets even innocent individuals in civilian communities. Clearly, this is an all-out war not only against the communist rebel group but also against the Filipino people,” Baybado underscored.

He added that cases of human rights violations will inevitably rise and intensify as the peace talks between the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) remain in limbo.

“The AFP will indubitably take advantage of the suspension of the peace negotiation to continue its counterinsurgency program Oplan Kapayapaan in the guise of peace and development initiatives. This spells heightened terror and more human rights abuses against communities and activists,” Baybado furthered.

Meanwhile, he also slammed the imposition of the mandatory Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) program for senior high school students, saying that it perpetuates the culture of fascism in educational institutions.

“With the all-out war in place, the ROTC will serve as an extension of the military’s fascist operations in academic institutions. It will be used to harass progressive student leaders and spy on them through a student intelligence network. More so, it will be used to instill a militarist mindset among ROTC cadets justifying political killings and harassment,” he said, adding that the mandatory instruction of ROTC fosters a skewed sense of patriotism and nationalism which serves the interests of the ruling elite.

Baybado called on President Duterte to stop the all-out war which triggered intensified human rights violations and continue the peace negotiations to address the socio-economic roots of armed conflict for the benefit of the wider Filipino masses.

“We enjoin President Duterte to heed to the Filipino people’s call to end the all-out war and return to the negotiating table and not succumb to the AFP’s militarist agenda. The NDFP and GRP have made historic strides in reaching a common understanding in discussing the substantive agenda of social and economic reforms which the government should not just throw away,” he said.

“Sabotaging the peace talks would also sabotage the people’s interests. We firmly stand that it is the majority of the Filipino masses—peasantry, workers, national minorities, professionals, and youth—who will gravely suffer if the root of armed conflict cannot be resolved. The least the Filipino people need now is an all-out war,” Baybado ended.###