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PIA Press Release

RP envoy to US says "very little attention" given by media to NPA atrocities

Manila (30 June) -- Philippine Ambassador to the United States Willy C. Gaa said media gives scant attention to the plight and sufferings of victims and relatives of atrocities of the outlawed communist movement in the Philippines.

The ambassador to Washington also stressed that not much media exposure is made of the accountability and responsibility of the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing, the New People's Army (CPP/NPA), "for these violations of human rights."

The Philippine ambassador to Washington gave these views following the June 16 wreath-laying event on the second anniversary of the establishment of the "Victims of Communism Memorial," which is located in the federal capital.

Ambassador Gaa said "It is unfortunate to note that other than international organizations such as Human Rights Watch, the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation and a few local organizations in the Philippines that don't get much media exposure, very little attention is given to the suffering and plight of victims and relatives of victims of atrocities committed by the CPP/NPA and of the accountability and responsibility of the CPP/NPA for these violations of human rights."

His comments were relayed to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

The New People's Army has long been in the list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTO) of the U.S. government and the European Union (E.U.).

The CPP's self-declared political arm, the National Democratic Front (NDF), which based itself in The Netherlands, has pledged to continue harassing residents of far-flung Philippine villages as well as government military units and not return to peace talks with government unless the latter moves to have the FTO tag removed.

The government said it cannot counter the "sovereign decision" of the United States and the European Union. President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has set year 2010 as the administration's deadline for "breaking the back" of the communist insurgency in the Philippines.

The ceremony was part of a series of events hosted by the non-profit Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation (VCMF), an educational organization established by an Act of the U.S. Congress with overwhelming bi-partisan support. Its mission is "to educate the present and future generations about the history, philosophy and legacy of communism."

Ambassador Gaa said that the Philippines ' presence at the ceremony symbolized government's pledge "to honor the memory of the innocent civilians and former communist rebels that have been killed, tortured and harassed by the CPP/NPA."

He reiterated that the Philippines is "a country that has to deal with acts of terrorism and atrocities committed by members of the communist New People's Army (NPA) under the leadership and direction of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP)."

"Through this simple gesture (of attending the wreath-laying), the Philippine Government wishes it to be known that it has not forgotten these victims and will be doing all that it can to help them attain justice," he pledged.

The Act began with the co-sponsorship of Reps. Dana Rohrabacher and Robert Toricelli, and Senators Claiborne Pell and Jesse Helms. It then became Section 905 of Public Law 103-199, which passed unanimously in 17 December 1993 and signed into law by U.S. President Bill Clinton.

It was renewed through Section 326 of PL 105-277, effective from October 21, 1998 to December 17, 2007. The Memorial was dedicated by then President George W. Bush on June 12, 2007.

VCMF is currently developing The Global Museum on Communism, the first museum on the Internet dedicated to telling the complete story of communism, according to the DFA. (OPS/PIA) [top]

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