The National Democratic Front in Eastern Visayas (NDF-EV) today condemned the 8th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army’s urging for martial law in Samar as a crude attempt to sabotage the efforts to resume peace talks. Spokesperson Captain Reynaldo Aragones, in a radio interview, called on GRP President Rodrigo Duterte to declare martial law in Samar in the wake of a successful ambush of the New People’s Army against state forces in Borongan, Eastern Samar.
But NDF-EV spokesperson Fr. Santiago “Ka Sanny” said the 8th ID’s call for martial law indicates it is only interested in the purely military solution and resists addressing the root causes of the armed conflict. “We condemn the Armed Forces of the Philippines for clamoring for all-out military rule in Samar even as the path is being cleared for the resumption of peace talks between the NDFP and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines. It goes to show the brutality and narrow-mindedness of the AFP’s generals. On the other hand, the NDF-EV supports the resumption of peace talks that will discuss the people’s grievances and may lead to social and economic reforms.”
Fr. Salas noted Samar has been in a state of undeclared martial law since Duterte issued Memorandum Order 32 in November 2018. Two Army battalions have been redeployed to conduct bigger and more widespread operations against the NPA in hundreds of barrios. At least 34 have been extra-judicially killed throughout Eastern Visayas, including barangay officials sympathetic to local peasant issues and against military presence in their communities. Units of the 8th ID have actively participated in illegally arresting, torturing, Red-tagging and campaigning to declare peasants, activists and progressive organizations as “persona non grata.” More than a thousand have been forced to surrender, and even more residents, peasants, students and government employees have been coerced to attend so-called “peace assemblies.”
The NDF-EV spokesperson said, “By egging on Duterte to put Samar under martial law, the 8th ID shows it is against peace and is hell-bent on further curtailing human rights and international humanitarian law in its all-out war. It is time for the people to confront the 8th ID and say, ‘Give peace a chance, enough of the extrajudicial killings, tortures, arrests, political harassments and other vicious attacks against democracy!’”#