NDF warns of peace talks spoilers after US embassy dispersal
MANILA, Philippines – The communist National Democratic Front (NDF) condemed the "brutal dispersal" of protesters at the US embassy on Wednesday, blaming the incident on cops who are defying the foreign policy direction of President Rodrigo Duterte.
"The NDFP Negotiating Panel strongly condemns the brutal police dispersal of the peaceful rally of lumads and their supporters in front of the US embassy calling for the scrapping of EDCA and other unequal treaties with the US and an end to the US-instigated Oplan Bayanihan," the NDF said on Thursday, October 20, in a statement signed by its panel chairman Fidel Agcaoili.
"Apparently, parts of the military and police apparatus are still stuck in the old mindset of subservience and mendicancy to US imperialist interests contrary to their President’s avowed commitment to pursue an independent foreign policy," the statement added.
The NDF negotiating panel said there could be spoilers within the police and the military who are out to "sabotage" the talks between the communist rebel group and the government.
"Most likely, there are elements within the military and police who are against the new policy direction of their commander-in-chief and are out to sabotage the ongoing peace negotiations between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP)," the statement said.
Protesters and police clashed in front of the US Embassy in Manila on Wednesday, October 19, as cops tried to disperse a rally of indigenous peoples protesting alleged military and US presence in their ancestral lands. (READ: Police van overruns protesters in US embassy dispersal)
Some of the protesters were injured after cops drove a police vehicle through the crowd. Around 30 activists were also arrested in the violent dispersal, organizers said.
The NDF called on the President to "rein in his troops." (READ: US embassy dispersal: Duterte not blaming anyone yet)
"They must be told to respect the people’s rights to peaceful assembly and free speech. These rights are guaranteed in the GRP constitution and in the CARHRIHL (Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law) signed by the two sides in the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations," the statement said.
The protesters, led by newly-formed alliance of minority groups SANDUGO, were about to wrap up their rally when policemen started dispersing them, the organizers said. They were protesting a new military-to-military agreement between the US and the Philippines and against the military's counter-insurgency program Oplan Bayanihan. – Carmela Fonbuena/Rappler.com
In these changing times, courage and clarity become even more important.
Take discussions to the next level with Rappler PLUS — your platform for deeper insights, closer collaboration, and meaningful action.
Sign up today and access exclusive content, events, and workshops curated especially for those who crave clarity and collaboration in an intelligent, action-oriented community.
As a bonus, we’re also giving a free 1-year Booky Prime membership for the next 200 subscribers.
You can also support Rappler without a PLUS membership. Help us stay free and independent by making a donation: https://www.rappler.com/crowdfunding. Every contribution counts.