DILG slams Elago for peace talks call after NPA attack killed FEU football player in Masbate
By Chito Chavez / Manila Bulletin
The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) chided Kabataan Party-list Rep. Sara Elago on Wednesday, June 9, for urging the resumption of peace talks between the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) and the Philippine government in the wake of the killing of Far Eastern University (FEU) football player Keith Absalon and his relative Nolven Abasalon.
The Absalons died in a roadside blast from the improvised explosive device planted by te communist rebels in Masbate City on June 6.
DILG Undersecretary and spokesperson Jonathan Malaya branded Elago’s call as “distasteful” and “repulsive”, adding that the communist rebels’ only interest is to utilize the deaths for propaganda purposes to force government to return to the negotiating table where they can exact concessions while continuing their terror attacks against the people.’
In a statement, Elago said: “This incident highlights why the government must resume the peace negotiations and resolve the decades-old armed conflict through addressing the roots of armed struggle such as extreme poverty, abuse, marginalization, and injustice.”
Malaya, however, said: “By attempting to use the death of Absalon in the hands of the NPA as justification for the resumption of peace talks only proves that Elago and her kind are not interested in exacting accountability from the NPA terrorists who murdered a promising young individual.”
Malaya is also one of the spokespersons of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF ELCAC).
“It’s repulsive that instead of calling for justice for the death of the Absalons, Elago has used the murders for propaganda purposes. If anything, the death of the Absalons reinforces the futility of the peace talks because nothing will come out of it or has come out of it for decades due to the lack of sincerity from their end,” Malaya stressed.
The DILG official challenged Elago and the leadership of the NDF as well as their allies who have been representing the CPP/NPA on so many occasions to take responsibility for the senseless murders.
“Now that the CPP has accepted responsibility for the murders, the DILG challenges the Makabayan Bloc and their allied organizations in the NDF to distance themselves from and condemn the NPA and to campaign for a total ban on the manufacture, stockpiling, transport and use of anti-personnel mines anywhere in the country,” Malaya said.
Malaya noted that there is a 1997 international ban against the use of such mines but the NDF continues to tolerate if not acquiesce to the actions of the CPP/NPA which has led to numerous civilian deaths through the years.
DILG Secretary Eduardo M. Año added that the senseless death of the Absalons is another concrete proof that the NPA is a terrorist organization without regard for innocent lives in its 52-year old armed struggle to establish a Communist state in the country.
“It is very clear that their twisted and obsolete beliefs only bring harm and violence to the Filipino people and the country as a whole,” Año said.
Even before the CPP accepted full responsibility, Malaya said the fingerprints of the NPA were all over the incident.
He said that the attack in Masbate does not come as a surprise because it came in the heels of the order of CPP founder Joma Sison for the NPA to ramp up and escalate attacks against “reactionary forces.”
“There is a standing order for the NPA to form partisan teams to mete out punishment against enemy units and officers who have committed bloody crimes against the people,” Marco Valbuena, a spokesman for the CPP, said in a statement.
The incident in Purok 4, Barangay Anas in Masbate involved Kieth Absalon, 21, his cousin Nolven Absalon, 40, and Chrisbin Daniel Absalon, 16, who is Nolven’s son.
Kieth and Nolven were killed by the blast, while Chrisbin sustained injuries and is currently being treated at the Masbate Provincial Hospital.
The Police Regional Office 5 reported “the three victims were cycling with their relatives headed towards the Barangay B. Titong proper, when the APM went off and hit the victims in the blast.’’
More than three hours after the Masbate explosion, three persons were wounded when armed men believed to be NPA terrorists ambushed a police special weapons and tactics (SWAT) team in Legazpi, Albay.
Visitacion Mariscotes, 38; her daughter Clara Fay, 11; and lawyer Myrna Patterson were taken to a nearby hospital for treatment.
The DILG said that Mariscotes and her daughter were hit by pieces of broken glass when a stray bullet struck their tricycle, driven by her husband Romeo, 38 while Patterson was driving her car when she was hit by a sharp object in the arm.
Barangay Captain Beejay Ariola said the victims’ vehicles were tailing the SWAT‘s car when the ambush occurred in Sitio Tico-Tico. The SWAT team returned fire, prompting the armed men to retreat toward the jungle.
Authorities expressed belief the armed men were the same people who attacked and torched a cell site located more than a kilometer away from the scene of the ambush.