As a multimedia group, Kodao publishes news stories, opinion essays, cartoons, photos and others here.

Disruption of CPP event violates ceasefire, Joma says

The disruption by the Philippine Army (PA) of the Communist Party of the Philippines’ (CPP) event in Surigao del Sur earlier today, December 30, was a violation of the ongoing reciprocal unilateral ceasefires between the government and the rebels, Jose Maria Sison said.

“The troop movement is offensive in character, provocative to the NPA (New People’s Army) and disturbing to the community and is, therefore, a violation of the ceasefire,” Sison told Kodao in an online interview.

Asked to react to the incident, Sison warned that such actions by government troops may lead the NPA to defend itself.

Government soldiers belonging to the PA’s 401st Infantry Brigade “swarmed” a village in Bacuag town Monday morning, causing the NPA to cancel its celebration of the CPP’s 51st founding anniversary and mass wedding of its members.

NPA Guerilla Front 16 spokesperson Ka Oto also asked journalists on their way to the venue to turn back “as it is no longer safe.”

Col. Maurito Licudine, 401st IBPA commander, said they arrested two suspected communist rebels Sunday who admitted under interrogation that the CPP event was to be held Monday.

Licudine immediately deployed troops to the event venue, along with four 105mm howitzers, Mindanews reported.

“What held us was our concern that the communist rebels will withdraw from the negotiating table,” he said.

PA 4th Infantry Division commander Major General Nemecio Gacal, Jr. for his part blamed the communist rebels from “venturing out from their camps,” thus also violating the ceasefire agreement, Mindanews reported.

Sison disagreed, however, crediting his comrades for preventing a potentially deadly incident that may derail ongoing efforts to restart the peace negotiations between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).

“[I]t is less than an incident in which the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) or PNP (Philippine National Police) fires at the NPA and sheds blood. Apparently, the CPP and NPA were able to adjust to the situation and prevent their enemy from firing at them and the people,” Sison said. 

He advised the CPP and NPA units threatened by the AFP troop movement to report and file a complaint to the NDFP negotiating panel. 

Sison also urged the GRP side to adhere strictly to the ceasefire agreement “just like the NDFP side has done.” # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Joma, Bello welcome Medialdea’s inclusion to GRP’s next peace panel

President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision to include Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea to the government’s negotiating panel bodes well for the possible resumption of formal peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), Jose Maria Sison said.

Sison, NDFPs chief political consultant, said Malacañan’s announcement to include Medialdea to its next negotiating panel signifies that Duterte gives importance to the work of his negotiating panel.

“Duterte gives importance to the work of his negotiating panel and possibly indicates that his Executive Secretary will help him act faster on major issues in the peace negotiations,” Sison told Kodao in an online interview.

Sison acknowledged that the executive secretary would be the highest-ranking government official ever to be a Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) Negotiating Panel member.

“The Executive Secretary is considered the little President or his alter ego. He signs presidential issuances under the line, by the authority of the President. Thus, he may be considered the highest-ranking government official ever to be a negotiating panel member,” he said.

He also pointed out that the President’s decision goes against the public pronouncements of “militarists” in Duterte’s own Cabinet.

“The appointment indicates that Duterte is concerned about asserting the principle of civilian supremacy in view of the militarist actuations and actions of his military minions who blatantly oppose his desire for the resumption of peace negotiations,” Sison said.

‘No one closer to Duterte’

Former government chief negotiator Silvestre Bello III echoed Sison’s views, saying Medialdea’s appointment to the GRP panel is a significant gesture by Duterte in his bid to restart the negotiations he himself ordered terminated in 2017.

 “You cannot get closer to an authority from the President than that,” Bello told a gathering of reporters Friday, December 27. 

“The presence of his executive secretary shows the President’s commitment and resolve [to restart the talks],” Bello said.

Both the NDFP and the GRP expect to hold more backchannel meetings next month at about the time the parties’ reciprocal unilateral ceasefire agreement ends on January 7. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Ceasefire finally on; NDFP receives GRP’s truce orders

The Philippine government has finally transmitted its ceasefire orders to the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) Negotiating Panel the group said paves the way for the unilateral and reciprocal ceasefires to “proceed effectively.”

In an announcement, NDFP chief negotiator Fidel Agcaoili said they received copies of Suspension of Offensive Military Operations (SOMO) and Suspension of Offensive Police Operations (SOPO) from the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) at 8:54 a.m. Thursday, December 26, at their office in The Netherlands. (3:54 p.m., Philippine time.)

“We hope that from hereon the unilateral and reciprocal ceasefires declared by the two Parties shall proceed effectively,” Agcaoili said.

Agcaoili said former GRP chief negotiator Silvestre Bello III sent the documents. 

The NDFP chief negotiator said the SOMO, dated December 24, was issued by Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff Noel Clement while the SOPO, dated December 22, was issued by Philippine National Police (PNP) officer in charge Archie Gamboa.

Both documents comply with a memorandum issued by Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) secretary Eduardo Año, Agcaoili added.

Last December 22, Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo announced that GRP President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the AFP, PNP, DILG and the Department of National Defense to issue the government’s truce orders.

On the same day, the Communist Party of the Philippines has issued its truce order, a day ahead of the scheduled start of the ceasefire agreement last December 23, Monday.

Earlier, questions were raised whether government military and police forces would abide by their commander in chief’s directive as combat operations were reported to have been conducted as late as December 23.

Ninth Infantry Division-Philippine Army public affairs chief Major Ricky Aguilar told reporters Monday that a platoon of government soldiers on combat patrol was ambushed by New People’s Army (NPA) fighters in Labo, Camarines Norte.

A government trooper was killed while six others were injured by an improvised explosive device as the soldiers were pulling out from Barangay Paat at about 9:20 a.m., Aguilar said.

Also last Monday, PNP’s Gamboa accused the NPA of staging an ambush against the Iloilo Mobile Force Company that injured two police officers in Tubugan town, Iloilo Province.

NDFP chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison said that both incidents were not violations of the ceasefire agreement as the GRP has yet to issue its truce orders at the time.

The ceasefire would be in effect only after both parties have issued their respective truce orders, the December 21 NDFP-GRP Joint Statement signed in Utrecht, The Netherlands reads.

As to GRP’s transmittal of its truce orders, Sison said there is no more problem about continuing the CPP ceasefire order to the NPA.

“The best thing to do is cool down and proceed with the reciprocal ceasefires and let them generate goodwill and confidence in preparation for the resumption of the peace negotiations,” Sison added.

The holiday truce shall be in effect until January 7. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

‘Invincible, founder declares on CPP’ 51st anniversary

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the revolutionary mass movement it leads are invincible and continue to grow, its founder said on the underground party’s 51st founding anniversary today, December 26.

In a statement, Jose Maria Sison said that seven succeeding Philippine governments over the past five decades have failed to crush the local communist movement despite repeated announcements they would do so.

“The CPP and revolutionary mass movement are invincible. They have been tempered by more than 50 years of revolutionary struggle against the ruling system and all the strategic plans devised by US imperialism and their Filipino puppets to destroy them,” Sison said.

Sison said the CPP keeps on growing “because the objective conditions for waging [its] armed revolution are increasingly favorable and the broad masses of the people demand revolutionary change.”

Sison and 10 other comrades founded the CPP on December 26, 1968 in Alaminos, Pangasinan which then formed the New People’s Army (NPA) in March the next year. The CPP and the NPA is known as the longest-running Marxist-Leninist-Maoist armed revolution in the country today.

Weathering anti-insurgency drives

The CPP was the first underground armed resistance launched against the emergent Ferdinand Marcos dictatorship and widely acknowledged to have substantially contributed to the late strongman’s eventual ouster in 1986.

Internal conflict racked the party in the late 1980s to early 1990s however that led to the issuance and implementation of its “Second Great Rectification Movement.”

The CPP said the rectification movement successfully stopped the party’s disintegration and has since resulted in its biggest membership in its history.

The NPA for its part said it currently has about 120 guerrilla fronts in 73 of the country’s 81 provinces.

Consistently seen by seven succeeding Manila governments as the biggest security threat to the Republic, the CPP has weathered many counter-insurgency drives: Marcos’ Operational Plan (Oplan) Katatagan; Corazon C. Aquino’s Oplan Mamamayan and Oplan Lambat-Bitag I and II; Fidel Ramos’ Lambat-Bitag III and IV, and Oplans Makabayan and Balangay (which transitted into Joseph Estrada’s presidency); Gloria Arroyo’s Oplan Bantay Laya I and II; Benigno Aquino III’s Oplan Bayanihan; and Rodrigo Duterte’s Oplan Kapayapaan and Oplan Kapanatagan.

During the NPA’s 50th founding anniversary last March, AFP Spokesperson BGen. Edgard Arevalo predicted it would be the revolutionary army’s last.

“We say there is nothing for them to celebrate. The AFP with other relevant agencies of government is working diligently to ensure that this anniversary will be their last,” Arevalo said.

Sison however said the Duterte government has failed to destroy the revolutionary movement even with its “all out war” strategies.

“All efforts of the Duterte regime to destroy the CPP and the revolutionary mass movement have failed,” Sison said.

“Since he became president in 2016, Duterte has been obsessed with seeking to destroy the revolutionary movement in order to please US imperialism and the local reactionary classes,” he said.

Sison said Duterte even went as far as claiming to be “Left” and “socialist” and pretended to be for peace negotiations only to later implement anti-CPP measures such as Proclamations Nos. 360 and 374 to Executive Order No. 70, terminating the peace talks, declaring the CPP and NPA as terrorists, and creating an anti-insurgency task force, respectively.

‘Systemic crisis begets resistance’

Sison, the President’s college political science professor, said Duterte’s escalating oppression and exploitation drive more Filipinos to wage people’s war and all forms of resistance.

“[The Duterte government] has worsened the conditions of underdevelopment, high unemployment, low incomes, soaring prices of basic commodities and mass poverty that. It has further bankrupted the economy by shunning land reform and national industrialization, increasing import-dependent consumption and rapidly making the local and foreign debt burden and tax burden of the people intolerably heavier,” he explained.

Sison also said that colossal amounts of public funds are wasted on bureaucratic and military corruption and on futile schemes to destroy the revolutionary movement and impose a fascist dictatorship on the people.

“It is apt to describe the regime of state terrorism and unbridled greed as unwittingly the best recruiter of CPP members, Red fighters and other revolutionaries. It is also the best transport and supply officer of the New People’s Army for sending its troops for annihilation on terrain advantageous to guerrilla warfare,” he said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Joma: GRP forces should release their SOMO-SOPO

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan–Government agencies tasked to issue official unilateral ceasefire declarations seem to have bucked President Rodrigo Duterte even as their rebel counterparts have already issued their truce order today, Monday, December 22.

A day after Presidential chief legal counsel and spokesperson Salvador Panelo announced Duterte has directed the Department of National Defense, Department of Interior and Local Government, Armed Forces of the Philippines, and Philippine National Police to issue ceasefire declarations and suspension of military and police operations, National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison said he has yet to see copies of the government’s truce orders.

“Not yet…They should follow their President and commander in chief. They should release their SOMO (Suspension of Military Operations) and SOPO (Suspension of Police Operations) to the media,” Sison told Kodao in an online interview.

The Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines released its truce order yesterday in time for the supposed start of the holiday season ceasefire today in accordance with the Joint Statement signed by Duterte’s emissaries and NDFP negotiators in Utrecht, The Netherlands last December 21.

The statement said however that the reciprocal unilateral ceasefire agreements would only be in effect when both parties have issued their respective truce orders.

Questions on whether the reciprocal unilateral ceasefire agreements are already in effect were raised after a New People’s Army (NPA) unit ambushed Philippine Army (PA) troopers Monday morning.

Gov’t troopers on combat patrols ambushed

Ninth Infantry Division-PA public affairs chief Major Ricky Aguilar told reporters earlier today that a platoon of government soldiers on combat patrol was ambushed by NPA fighters in Labo, Camarines Norte.

A government trooper was killed while six others were injured by an improvised explosive device as the soldiers were pulling out from Barangay Paat at about 9:20 a.m., Aguilar said.

The killed and wounded soldiers have yet to be identified.

Joint Task Force Bicolandia commander Major General Fernando Trinidad condemned the attack as “treacherous” and a violation of the ceasefire agreement.

“This action is a clear manifestation of their (NPA) deceptive and ill motives,” Trinidad said in a press statement.

Also last Monday, PNP’s Gamboa accused the NPA of staging an ambush against the Iloilo Mobile Force Company that injured two police officers in Tubugan town, Iloilo Province.

Sison however said it is possible that the PA’s movement was seen as offensive by the NPA given that government SOMO and SOPO orders have yet to be announced.

“I presume that there are no deliberate violations of the ceasefire agreement: only two isolated incidents in places distant from each other in the entire archipelago do not mean wilful and systematic violations of ceasefire,” he said.

He added that the NDFP is still awaiting the NPA’s report on the incident.

Davao City mayor wants ceasefire exemption

Meanwhile, Mayor Sara Duterte announced her desire to have Davao City excluded from the scope of the Christmas ceasefire with the NPA, saying the rebels will use the opportunity to regain communities previously cleared of their presence, consolidate their forces and derail the progress of existing rural development projects.

“To be covered by the ceasefire or the peace negotiations will only disrupt and threaten the gains of our process of peace and development in these communities formerly controlled by the terrorists,” Mayor Duterte said in a statement.

Sison criticized the mayor’s demand, saying the local chief executive and Presidential daughter should instead obey her President.

“Does this mean Davao City is an independent queendom? She should just follow her chief executive and commander in chief,” Sison said.

“She should not try to destroy a good thing, the ceasefire agreement,” he added. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

CPP orders Xmas truce; Panelo says Malacañan to follow suit

SAN VICENTE, Palawan–The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) declared a unilateral ceasefire Sunday, December 22, ahead of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines’ (GRP) reciprocal declaration Malacañan Palace said is forthcoming.

In its order, the CPP asked all commands and units of the New People’s Army (NPA) and people’s militias to implement a nationwide ceasefire that will take effect from December 23 to January 7.

The CPP said the ceasefire order shall take effect upon the issuance of the corresponding and reciprocal ceasefire declarations from the GRP in the form of suspension of military and police operations.

In response, presidential spokesperson and chief legal counsel Salvador Panelo said in a statement that GRP President Rodrigo Duterte has directed the declaration of a unilateral nationwide ceasefire effective on the said dates.

The President has instructed the Department of National Defense and the Department of Interior and Local Government, as well as the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police to issue Manila’s official ceasefire declaration, Panelo’s statement reads.

In its order, the CPP said the reciprocal and unilateral ceasefires aim to generate a positive atmosphere conducive to the holding of informal talks preparatory to the formal meeting to resume the peace negotiations between the GRP and the NDFP.

Formal peace negotiations between the two parties stalled in 2017 after the GRP sent its negotiators home just as an interim peace agreement was about to be signed.

The GRP for its part said the confidence-building measures reflects Duterte’s commitment to the possible resumption of the peace talks.

Panelo’s statement also announced that Duterte ordered the reconstitution of the GRP Negotiating Panel, naming executive secretary Salvador Medialdea as among its members. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

GRP, NDFP propose reciprocal unilateral ceasefires over the holidays

SAN VICENTE, Palawan–National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) representatives in Utrecht, The Netherlands have agreed to recommend the issuance of reciprocal unilateral ceasefires over the holidays.

A joint statement sent to Kodao by NDFP chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison says the proposed ceasefire declarations, if approved by NDFP Chairperson Mariano Orosa and GRP President Rodrigo Duterte, would be effective from midnight of December 23 to January 7.

“The ceasefires are intended to generate a positive environment conducive to the holding of informal talks preparatory to the formal meeting to resume the peace negotiations,” the statement, signed last Saturday, December 21, reads.

“These shall be measures of goodwill and confidence building during the traditional celebrations of Christmas and New Year holidays,” it added.

Sison also posted photos of the informal talks in The Netherlands, the second since Duterte announced last December 5 that he has sent labor Secretary Silvestre Bello to Europe to try to reopen the stalled formal peace negotiations with the NDFP.

Only former agrarian reform secretary Hernani Braganza and his assistant Rhoda Ignacio were present in the December 21 meeting for the GRP however.

Saturday’s joint statement appears to be initialed in behalf of Bello and signed by Braganza in behalf of the GRP while negotiating panel chairperson Fidel Agcaoili and senior adviser Luis Jalandoni signed in behalf of the NDFP.

Royal Norwegian Government’s Kristina Lie Revheim witnessed the document in her capacity as Third Party Facilitator.

The document adds that the parties shall separately issue the corresponding ceasefire orders.

“During the ceasefire period, the respective armed units and personnel of the Parties shall cease and desist from carrying out offensive military operations against the other,” the statement explains. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Christmas ceasefires possible after ‘friendly’ back channel talks–Sison

Reciprocal unilateral ceasefires can be declared by both National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) forces and the Manila government during the Christmas season following successful “informal” talks between the NDFP and President Rodrigo Duterte’s envoys in The Netherlands last weekend.

NDFP chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison told Kodao in an online interview that they have proposed goodwill measures “in the spirit of Christmas and the New Year” during their meeting with labor secretary Silvestre Bello III and Hernani Braganza, Duterte’s envoys, last December 7 and 8.

The goodwill measures include the release on humanitarian grounds of sick and elderly political prisoners and the detained NDFP consultants as well as the declaration and implementation of reciprocal unilateral ceasefires, Sison said.

Sison said Bello promised to present the proposed measures with the President. Bello was supposed to have reported to Duterte Wednesday night.

 Sison added that another informal meeting may soon occur within the month to prepare for the formal meeting to resume the peace negotiations in the second or third week of January 2020 as Bello has earlier announced.

He said that such expectations are reasonable, “especially if the goodwill measures are carried out.”

A holiday truce, however, had been earlier opposed by the GRPs defense chief Delfin Lorenzana.

‘Peace saboteurs’

In a speech last December 9, Lorenzana rejected the idea of declaring a ceasefire with the New People’s Army (NPA) in the coming holidays.

“If there’s a ceasefire, the soldiers go back to their barracks because the operations are stopped. But the NPA are recruiting in the villages to increase their power,” Lorenzana said.

“Let us just not enter into a ceasefire,” Lorenzana said, adding there will be no let up in the conduct of intensified military operations against the NPA.

Sison slammed Lorenzana’s opposition to ceasefire declarations as “hostile and run counter to the wish of the GRP President and commander-in-chief to resume the peace negotiations.”

“The President should assert his political authority to overrule the militarists who wish to spoil or sabotage the efforts to resume the peace negotiations. Otherwise the peace negotiations cannot be resumed,” Sison said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

No more transfer of political detainees, BJMP assures families

The Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) has agreed to stop the reported mass transfer of political prisoners from its Bicutan Taguig facility to various jails nationwide, a human rights group said.

In a statement, families of political prisoners under the group Kapatid said it met with BJMP deputy for operations Gen. Dennis Rocamora last Thursday morning, December 12, who assured them the detainees in Bicutan would spend the Christmas season together.

“We gave our letter to Gen. Rocamora appealing to stop the mass transfer of political prisoners out of Bicutan through the seemingly legal process of court motions this Christmas season,” Kapatid spokesperson Fides Lim said.

Earlier, government prosecutors have asked to transfer National Democratic Front of the Philippines peace consultants Frank Fernandez, Adelberto Silva and his companions, called the “Sta. Cruz 5”, to the Laguna Provincial Jail; Rey Casambre to Bacoor Jail; and government union organizer Oliver Rosales to Malolos City Jail.

Farmer Maximo Reduta from Southern Quezon was transferred to Gumaca District Jail last month.

“This transfer scheme would in effect result in the dissolution of the entire political prisoner’s wing in Bicutan,” Lim said.

During the dialogue, however, Rocamora reportedly assured Kapatid that the BJMP has ordered the warden of Metro Manila District Jail Annex 4 to stop the transfer of all political prisoners out of Bicutan.
In addition, the BJMP will no longer file requests to the court for transfer of political prisoners and not oppose or counter the opposition filed in court by lawyers of affected political prisoners concerning existing motions for their transfer, Kapatid reported.
Also, the BJMP will no longer act on the old list of a previous warden for the transfer of some political prisoners, the group added.

Kapatid said that no political prisoner in Bicutan wants to be transferred because of concerns for their personal security.
“We hope and pray that the BJMP will fulfill its assurances to Kapatid,” Lim said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Arsonists attack radio station after slay try on manager

A radio station was burned down in Mawab, Davao de Oro last Wednesday night, December 11, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) reported.

In an alert, the NUJP said two unidentified men arrived in a motorcycle at 99.9 RP-FM’s transmitter site at around six o’clock in the evening and torched its building while the on-duty staff was in the kitchen.

“The suspects entered the transmitter room and burned equipment like the radio transmitter, Automatic Voltage Regulator (AVR), and electric wiring, causing estimated damage of P1Million,” the NUJP said.

The group said the incident was confirmed by Pat Lucero, former 99.9 RP-FM manager, by phone.

Lucero further told the NUJP the incident could be connected to an attempt on his life on October 11.

Lucero is now in sanctuary for his safety.

He used to host a daily program and was station manager of 99.9 RP-FM.

Authorities are investigating the incident, the NUJP said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)