• Rights group hit for bias

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    ZAMBOANGA CITY: The Philippine Army has slammed the human rights group Karapatan for its silence over the atrocities of the communist New People’s Army rebels, who were blamed for a recent arson in North Cotabato province.

    Army officials also strongly criticized the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and National Democratic Front (NDF) for tolerating the NPA, its armed wing.

    Lt. Col. Noel Dela Cruz, commander of the 57th Infantry Battalion, said rebels raided the Davao Concreting Product Construction in the village of Ladayan in Arakan town and torched equipment.

    “This is very disheartening to the community and the people who are the direct beneficiaries of the projects. Burning down the equipment is simply delaying the entry of the basic services that the government wants to deliver to the people. It is clear that the NPA is anti-development,” he said.

    Lt. Gen. Ricardo Rainier Cruz 3rd, Eastern Mindanao Command chief, said the CPP and the NDF should explain to the public the atrocities of the NPA and its human rights violations.

    He said Karapatan human rights group should also explain its continued silence over atrocities committed by rebels in provinces in the south.

    “The NDF represented the CPP and NPA when it signed the agreement on CARHRIHL [Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law]. However, it seems that it is tolerating the NPA in violating the provisions by turning its back when civilians and their properties are attacked,” the military official said.

    “Self-claimed Human Rights Advocates like KARAPATAN, just like the NDF, is also mum on the violations of CARHRIHL by the NPA. Their silence is suspicious when the NPAs are the ones victimizing the civilians,” he stressed.

    CARHRIHL is the first substantive agreement signed in 1978 in The Hague between the Philippines and the CPP and NDF.

    The military linked Karapatan and several other human right groups and nongovernmental and church organizations to the CPP and NDF, and the NPA, which have been fighting for a separate state in the country.

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