MANILA - The National Democratic Front on Thursday said it meant no disrespect when its supporters mounted a lightning rally in Mendiola while Muslims were praying and reading the Koran ahead of the historic signing of a peace pact between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
In a statement, the NDF said the clash between NDF supporters and Bangsamoro people, which left 10 people injured, was a misunderstanding.
"It has been a yearly tradition for the National Democratic Revolutionary forces to hold gatherings and rallies in the country's capital to commemorate the anniversaries of the [New People's Army], the [Communist Party of the Philippines and the NDFP," the group said.
"It was a peaceful gathering of revolutionary forces which did not, in any way, intend disrupt the ongoing protest of our Bangsamoro brothers and sisters. The untoward incident that transpired, was a case of misunderstanding between the organizers of both protests."
On the other hand, the NDF criticized "provocateurs" from the Bangsamoro protesters for starting the scuffle between the two camps.
It said the failure of Bangsamoro protest organizers to calm down and hold their ranks forced the leftists to protect themselves.
"We stand firm that the misunderstanding could have been resolved peacefully," the NDF said.
The group also said it is not discounting the possibility that the violence was provoked by agents of the Philippine National Police and the government's intelligence group "as the attackers came from beside the watching Police forces and uniformed state intelligence personnel."
The NDF noted that truckloads of police forces from the PNP's Civil Disturbance Management company only stood and watched the scuffle and did not intervene.
A Muslim imam earlier told radio DZMM they felt insulted when the NDF supporters suddenly mounted a rally in Mendiola even while the Muslims were praying and reading the Koran.
The NDF supporters are calling for the release of CPP-NPA leaders Benito and Wilma Tiamzon.