Satur Ocampo says there is still hope for peace under Duterte
DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Satur Ocampo, a co-founder of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines and former deputy minority leader of the House of Representative, said there was still hope to achieve peace under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte.
Ocampo told reporters here Monday, April 9, “there’s still hope for President Duterte to redeem his promise to achieve peace, just stick to respecting all the previous agreements.”
Ocampo was among the group which released a report on the incidences of human violations in Mindanao while under martial law.
Last month, Ocampo filed before the Manila Regional Trial Court a motion to remove his name from the terrorist list produced by the Department of Justice. He was included in the list of 600 individuals identified by the DOJ in its proscription petition as “terrorists” who were linked to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New People’s Army (NPA).
Monday’s press conference revealed results of a 4-day, fact-finding mission conducted in Mindanao, where allegedly hundreds of farmers and Lumad were subjected to the military’s psychological warfare in a bid to “surrender” as NPA members.
The mission identified up to 11 killings of farmers and leaders who were campaigning against land grabbing in areas including those identified as ancestral domain. The data was obtained through key informant interviews and focus group discussion in 3 key areas – Caraga, Northern Mindanao, and Southern Mindanao.
Also part of the report was the case of some 400 people in Puting Bato, Barangay Ngan, Compostela Valley, who were made to appear as a group surrendering.
Anakpawis Representative Ariel Casilao, who was part of the fact-finding mission, claimed these people were among the group brought by the Armed Forces of the Philippines to Malacañang to meet the President.
“Remember the gatherings in Malacañang? Those were worth billions. But out of the two thousand documented by the AFP, those 400 from Southern Mindanao Region were not NPAs but peasant community leaders,” he said at the same press conference.
The mission started gathering data on April 6 and included political leaders from Sri Lanka and Indonesia, apart from leftist groups Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas and lawmakers from the Makabayan bloc.
Ocampo said that with President Duterte now reconsidering negotiating for peace with the communist rebels, it was time that Filipinos give him another chance.
“He said that he’s a dictator; he should forget about that first...Let’s go back to the negotiation, and negotiate as friends,” he said. (Read: Joma to Duterte: We are ready to resume peace talks ASAP)
Talks with the communists collapsed last year in the wake of an incident in Bukidnon, where a 4-month-old baby was killed in an NPA ambush that targetted troops. Soon after, Duterte issued a proclamation to begin the process of declaring the communists rebels as terrorists.
But the doors to peace were again opened this month when Duterte said he would give another “last” chance with the communists – with a condition that both sides agree to a ceasefire.
Ocampo represented the NDFP as a consultant to the peace process. He was previously given a bail by the SC to make way for his involvement in the talks in Oslo last year. – Rappler.com