Guingona to NPA: Surrender culprits
MANILA, Philippines -- Nine days since the ambush of the New People's Army (NPA) on his mother's convoy, Sen Teofisto "TG" Guingona III said the NPA should surrender its members responsible for the attack.
In an interview with Karen Davila on ANC's Headstart on Monday, April 29, Guingona said his mother, Gingoog City Mayor Ruthie Guingona, is recovering well. But he also spelled out his expectations from the communist rebel group.
"The NPA must surrender the culprits. These people must face the law. They must show sincerity," he said.
He clarified there is only one government of the Philippines, and the NPA guerrillas -- who opened fire when the older Guingona's vehicle failed to stop at their checkpoint -- had no right to set up checkpoints in the first place.
"NPA's checkpoints must be dismantled. No if's, no but's," he said.
The senator's 78-year-old mother Ruthie, who joined the interview via phone from her hospital bed, was grazed by bullets in her cheeks and thigh.
"Why us? I have served my people faithfully for the past 9 years and I am not running anymore. Why did they include me?," she asked.
The outgoing mayor -- who served for 9 years -- is campaigning for her daughter, Stella Marie de Lara Guingona, who is seeking to replace her.
Ruthie also explained she has never been stopped at NPA checkpoints before and clarified she has never paid the NPA any money in the past. She said she has worked to give them livelihood. The guerrillas are known to extort from politicians and businessmen.
Intent to kill
"We have not done anything [bad]," she said.
She said she's feeling better but echoed the words of her son and demanded justice. "There is only one president, there is only one government," she said. "Two people died for what they have done."
On Saturday night, April 20, the NPA attacked the vehicle of Mayor Guingona and her companions at the outskirts of Gingoong City, Misamis Oriental. They were on their way home from a fiesta.
Guingona's two aides -- her driver-bodyguard and his brother -- died in the attack. Guingona and her security escort, plus another civilian, suffered wounds.
The NPA has apologized for the attack but claimed they did it for self-defense, an explanation the senator does not believe.
"NPA's intent was to kill," Sen Guingona said. "Every time there was a movement in the vehicle… they would raid the vehicle with gunfire again. Then after a while, stop. [My mom] had to play dead inside the vehicle for several hours," he said.
It took the police 5 hours to arrive, he said.
The Guingonas have personal ties with key leaders of the Left, which has made this attack difficult for both sides.
The patriarch, former Vice President Teofisto Guingona Jr, is a fomer political detainee and has espoused nationalist views all throughout his career. In its apology to the family, the National Democratic Front (NDF) peace panel said they hold the Guingona family "in the highest regard because of its steadfast stand for national independence and democracy during the struggle against the US-supported Marcos fascist dictatorship and thereafter against the anti-national and anti-democratic policies and acts of the successors of Marcos."
Key members of the rebel peace panel also know the Guingona couple personally. "We thank him for speaking as a statesman, rising above the pain of his wife and family, expressing his continuing respect for the NDFP and calling for the GPH-NDFP peace negotiations to move forward," NDF peace panel head Luis Jalandoni said.
In the Headstart interview, Sen Guingona cited an increase in hostilities involving the NPA and said the peace process with the rebels must be pursued. He said the process must be "time-bound, agenda bound… and there must be a cessation of hostilities monitored by a third party."
But both sides have expressed doubts that the stalled peace process will gain any momentum soon. - Rappler.com