The Commission of Human Rights (CHR) has condemned the burning of an evangelical church and houses in a mountainous village in Opol town, Misamis Oriental that was allegedly perpetrated by members of the New People’s Army (NPA) on May 28.
“The incident occurred last 28 May 2020 while the country remains to be in the middle of a health crisis. As if the threat of the coronavirus is not worrisome enough, these acts of terrorism were meant to instill fear, anger, and hatred in the hearts and minds of the people, particularly among our tribal communities in rural areas,” said CHR spokesperson Atty Jacqueline Ann C. de Guia.
She noted that “CHR does not support communist rebels and the armed struggle but commits solidarity with oppressed communities through non-violent means.”
“By and large, these attacks run counter to the cessation of hostilities declared between the Reds and government during the start of the pandemic. It is deplorable that the communist groups decided to end the ceasefire in May and continues to endanger innocent civilians while they carry out acts of lawlessness such as destruction of public and private properties,” she added.
However, de Guia said CHR does “not discount that these conflicts are deeply rooted in historical injustices that have endured several decades of oppression and that need to be equally addressed by the government.”
“But now more than ever, we need to band together as a nation and concentrate our efforts in overcoming a global health crisis that crosscuts all sectors of our society and jeopardises the lives of every Filipino especially the most vulnerable, disadvantaged, and marginalised,” she said.
“Instead of violence, we underscore the importance of peacebuilding and emphasises the need for engaging and collaborating with local communities in nurturing sustainable and lasting peace,” the CHR spokesperson said.