Clarifications to the good Archbishop of Calbayog

,

Greetings of peace!

We are writing with regard to the statement which your Diocese released concerning the recent killing of two children in Barangay Roxas, Catubig, Northern Samar last February 8. We are particularly concerned that it misguidedly calls to hold the New People’s Army (NPA) accountable over such incident.

We would like to clarify that it was elements of the 20th Infantry Battalion of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) — not the NPA – who mercilessly strafed upon and killed two children and wounded another civilian while they were gathering copra and working at the farm. The victims were not caught in crossfire nor gunned down by the NPA as the military would like everyone to believe. The firefight which ensued on the same day was a separate incident of NPA counterattack against the reactionary troops that did not involve any civilians. This is the truth that the entire barrio of Roxas can attest to.

We are deeply concerned that your peace-loving intentions and far-reaching influence are used by the fascist murderers in the AFP to give moral justification to their false flag operations — the modus of killing civilians and then conveniently blaming the NPA for such atrocities, to get away with their crime while demonizing the revolutionary forces. Far from the sight of the media, the 20th IB has done this many times over in the rural areas of the region.

The NPA denies any culpability over the incident. Revolutionary forces, including the NPA, have a clear policy and program and a proven track record of protecting the welfare of civilians, most especially children, in the conduct of armed struggle. The AFP on the other hand handsomely pays their victims to keep quiet and avoid pressing charges.

It is a slap on the face of the victims for the Church to heedlessly issue statements that unwittingly assist fascists from getting away with their crimes and make justice even more elusive. In the spirit of truth and justice, we remind the clergy to not fall prey to the systematic disinformation campaign waged by the military to cover up their brutalities in the countryside. It must stand with the people in their struggle for their civil and political liberties, and not serve as an instrument of suppression by murderous oppressors.

Instead of relying on the military’s one-sided spin and manipulation, we enjoin you to launch an independent probe on the incident together with other peace-loving groups and human rights organizations. We highly urge you to obtain testimonies directly from the residents, to offer sanctuary to witnesses who might fear retaliation from state forces, and to help them in exposing and condemning the numerous rights violations by the AFP.

We enjoin the Church to ring louder the call for the protection of human rights, the observance of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) signed by both the NDFP and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP), and the resumption of peace talks between the GRP and NDFP.

We hope this open letter sheds light on the issue in the interest of truth and justice.

For the people,
Fr. Santiago “Ka Sanny” Salas
Spokesperson
National Democratic Front-Eastern Visayas

Clarifications to the good Archbishop of Calbayog
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