Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Letter to the Editor on Catarman ambush last August 21 2010-NDF

Letter to the Editor on Catarman ambush last August 21 2010*

August 29, 2010

Letty Jimenez-Magsanoc
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Dear Editor:

This is in reaction to the news article "A town mourns for its slain lawmen" in your August 28 web edition, regarding the August 21 tactical offensive of the New People's Army in Catarman, Northern Samar.

It is mentioned that the NPA remained silent about the accusation it committed coup de grace executions of the casualties from the Philippine National Police. Nothing could be farther from the truth. We bring your attention to the fact the revolutionary movement has issued four statements about the Catarman tactical offensive:

specifically, from the NPA's Efren Martires Command, the Information Bureau of the Communist Party of the Philippines, and the Human Rights Committee of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines. All these firmly state the Catarman ambush was a legitimate act of war and that the PNP casualties were killed in action after refusing to surrender. Furthermore, the statements were emailed to the media, including the Inquirer. If the emails were somehow lost, the statements are still accessible at the websites of NDF-Eastern Visayas and the Communist Party of the Philippines.

Given the seriousness of the allegation, the news report should have been carefully researched and all sides considered. Yet the NPA's side was never quoted.

We hope the Inquirer isn't being casually dismissive of statements from the revolutionary movement. Otherwise, there could be unwanted consequences to the parties involved in the hostilities as well as the people. The Inquirer is widely read and generally trusted. Now, for example, if government forces are being told they would be executed when captured, needless casualties could ensue because they would choose death over surrender during an NPA offensive. That is precisely why the revolutionary movement takes pains to explain its side, such as affirming the lenient treatment of prisoners of war and the hors de combat.

Another point in the news article brought out the result when the people are misinformed. The residents of Brgy. Imelda where the Catarman offensive occurred became panic-stricken and started to flee a day later, due to false reports the NPA had planted landmines all over the area. Yet as the NPA has asserted time and again, including this one, it has never used the landmines banned under international humanitarian law, but command-detonated explosives permissible in war. As the Brgy. Imelda incident shows, if the media neglects to report the NPA's assurances, it would unwittingly be helping to sow disinfomation and fear among the people.

We all do not want that to happen, thus we challenge the Inquirer to be more circumspect and responsible, not prone to "unbalanced news, fearful views."

Karlos Manuel
Efren Martires Command
New People's Army-Eastern Visayas

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