NO MERCY: AFP violates own ceasefire, uses Covid-19 “community quarantine” as an instrument for the repression of the people

The Efren Martires Command (New People’s Army-Eastern Visayas) today assailed the Duterte government’s unilateral ceasefire declaration last March 19 as a farce as the Armed Forces of the Philippines continues military operations in the region. The AFP is now also using the Duterte government’s widespread implementation of “community quaratine” over the Coronary Virus Disease-19 (Covid-19) epidemic as an instrument for the repression of the people.

The NPA-EV spokesperson, Ka Karlos Manuel, said, “According to the latest reports by the NPA forces in Northern Samar and Samar province as of March 20, troops under the 8th Infantry Division-Philippine Army are still operating in Catubig, Las Navas, Gamay, Mapanas, Calbiga and Pinabacdao. In one barrio, the fascist troops have even turned the village chapel into their barracks, after the civilians refused to let them stay in their houses. These are violations of international humanitarian law that protect civilians and their places of refuge and sanctuary.

“At nighttime, the fascist soldiers conduct a ‘census’ as a form of surveillance, inquiring on the whereabouts of each person staying in the house, taking their pictures as well as displayed family photos, and then sticking on the door of each house the number of people who belong to that household. On the pretext of monitoring cases of Covid-19, barrio residents were made to present to soldiers “nine requirements” (“siyam nga rekisitos”) which include a government-issued I.D., barangay clearance, medical records, police clearance and NBI clearance. They also had to sign their names on logbooks whenever they pass through checkpoints manned by soldiers and stationed at all exits of the barangay. Soldiers were also seen using a drone to surveil on barrio people who were going to the forest to hunt for wild animals. In fear of being interrogated, the peasants avoided going to their farms altogether.

The NPA-EV spokesperson added that, in fact, more military operations are being set with the cooperation of the fascist multisectoral Task Force on Ending Local Communist Armed Conflict (TF-ELCAC). “Last March 19 , the barangay chairmen of Gamay, Northern Samar were called by the Municipal Peace and Order Council and were told that TF-ELCAC formations will be organized in the villages. They were also ordered to stop evacuating during military operations and instead welcome the military, who would be coming to oversee village projects. The barangay chairman of Rizal village was singled out and ordered to stop the people from evacuating, like they did in February out of fear of the soldiers. The MPOC also announced that local peace talks will be done because of the failure of peace talks at the national level.”

The Efren Martires Command also noted that instead of medical services, the Duterte government is sending the military and police, who are capitalizing on “community quarantine” over Covid-19 to coerce and control the people and prevent them from working and receiving adequate medical attention. “By March 15, checkpoints have been set up across towns in Samar island and the people are required to present an identification card or their cedula (tax form). The barangay chairmen have also been informed that checkpoints will be implemented at the village level as ordered by the Department of Interior and Local Government.

“By March 16 in Eastern Samar, there were checkpoints manned by the military and police. Those who pass through here are required to present an ID card or cedula, a medical record issued by the municipality to certify the bearer is in good health and thus allowed to pass, and a detailed report of where the bearer came from including the towns and villages, and where they were going and why. Those who pass with a cough or fever are quarantined for 14 days in a nearby school even without any proper checkup. Thus the people, especially the peasants, are already reluctant to move about because many of them have no identification papers, which are not widely used where they came from. They also don’t want to be coerced into quarantine as they had to make a living, already leading a hand to mouth existence in the first place.”

Ka Karlos Manuel said the Duterte government’s ceasefire declaration is disingenuous as an attempt to pretend its care for the national interest, while also weaponizing “community quarantine” to further subdue the people and cover up its incompetence and utter failure to deal with Covid-19.

“The Duterte regime’s handling of the Covid-19 epidemic is a disaster waiting to happen. The people have no recourse but to rely on their own strength and on their revolutionary movement to surmount the twin threats of the Covid-19 pandemic and its fellow grim reaper, Rodrigo Duterte at the head of a fascist, corrupt and puppet regime. The People’s Democratic Government and the NPA must link with the people and lead mass campaigns for public health to prevent, detect and contain Covid-19 with due care and concern for the people’s social and economic well-being.#

NO MERCY: AFP violates own ceasefire, uses Covid-19 “community quarantine” as an instrument for the repression of the people