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Despite filing of charges, military refuses civilian jail for Alexa Pacalda

They could not force her to say she indeed is a surrendered New People’s Army (NPA) fighter, so criminal charges were finally filed against human rights worker Alexa Pacalda at the Quezon Provincial Prosecutor’s Office last Saturday.

Seven days after her supposed arrest last September 14 in General Luna town and long before the 36-hour deadline for filing of criminal charges, the 201st Infantry Brigade-Philippine Army (IBPA) charged Alexa with illegal possession of firearms and ammunition in what the military obviously planned to be a secret inquest proceeding last September 21. Her lawyer and family were not informed.

But it did not turn out exactly the way the military wanted it.

The National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers’ (NUPL) Atty. Kristina Conti was nearby, giving a lecture on human rights reporting to dozens of Southern Tagalog journalists, when she found about the inquest proceeding. Journalists who attended the training received a tip that the young human rights defender would be taken to Lucena City from the military camp in Calauag town where she is detained. After a phone call from her NUPL colleague and Alexa’s lawyer Maria Sol Taule, Conti rushed to the Quezon Provincial Capitol compound where the Provincial Prosecutor’s Office is located.

She was met by Alexa’s father Arnulfo and Karapatan-Quezon Chapter colleagues, gratitude and relief on their faces. Conti’s entrance at the fiscal’s office, however, was different. The three lawyers from the Judge Advocate General’s Office (JAGO) tried to hide it but betrayed their surprise by asking where she came from, appearing all of a sudden when the inquest should have been secret.

A local activist (left) takes a selfie with a military intelligence operative (second from left) at the Quezon Provincial Prosecutor’s Office)

The mood inside the old and stuffy building became tenser when Alexa’s fellow activists called out the many intelligence operatives who kept on taking photos and videos of them. “Kanina ka pa kuha nang kuha ng photo ko, a. Para di ka na mahirapan, selfie na lang tayo,” said one to an intelligence officer in civilian clothes. (You’ve been taking lots of photos of me. Why don’t we take a selfie to make it easier for you?) The latter tried to play it cool and obliged but the mood did not lighten. Pretty quickly, more intelligence operatives, four of them, entered the building, apparently to assist their comrades.

Arnulfo Pacalda (left) listening to military personnel inside the Quezon Provincial Prosecutor’s Office.

All the while, Arnulfo and his young son with him kept their cool. As the lawyers were wrangling inside the fiscal’s room, they were seated at a distance. At exactly three o’clock, Arnulfo’s phone sounded, reciting the Catholic’s Three O’Clock Prayer. He stepped out of the room, went to a corner and finished the prayer with his head bowed.

Inside the prosecutor’s office, Conti was still being quizzed by the most senior of the three JAGO officers. She was asked if she is a local lawyer, explaining her sudden appearance. She in turn badgered her counterpart where Alexa was so she could consult with her client. The soldiers refused, even when the fiscal herself asked. “She is nearby. But there are security concerns,” the soldiers cryptically said. “But a lawyer must have access to her client, doesn’t she?” Conti shot back. The fiscal agreed and Alexa was finally brought inside.

Arnulfo and Alexa embrace at the Lucena City Regional Trial Court lobby.

Arnulfo and Alexa’s younger brother rushed to hug her as she entered the building. The embraces were long and tight. Beside them, Conti was smiling. When it was her time to speak to her, Conti asked, “Naaalala mo ako?” to which Alexa replied “Yes” and smiled back. Alexa had been Conti’s paralegal on some human rights cases they both collaborated on in the recent past.

Alexa and her younger brother embrace inside the Lucena RTC building.

Alexa looks nowhere near that of the female NPA fighter toting an AK-47 assault rifle and undergoing military training on the photos being shared on social media. (The photos appeared online only when Alexa’s video was released by her lawyer refuting giddy claims by her captors they had another surrenderee.) Alexa is hardly five feet tall and is very slight of built.

Arnulfo and Alexa Pacalda outside the prosecutor’s office.

Even with Alexa already inside the prosecutor’s office, the JAGO and the soldiers still refused to give Conti time to consult with her and her family in private. What followed were argumentations that went in circles. Finally, with the public prosecutor’s prodding, the JAGO relented and Conti and the Pacaldas were given 15 minutes at a dark corner of the building, surrounded by file cabinets outside of the female toilet.

Atty. Conti and the Pacaldas in a private consultation.

Back at the prosecutor’s office, Alexa was asked by Conti if she indeed signed the so-called surrender papers the JAGO submitted as part of its evidentiary documents. The young prisoner replied, “I do not remember anything.” Conti later told Kodao that even if she did, Alexa was obviously under extreme duress after being captured by the soldiers, tortured with sleep and food deprivation for 30 hours and forced to sign the proffered papers they told her would lead to her freedom. The same was true when her father Arnulfo was made to sign a document the Philippine Army said would help his daughter regain her freedom.

Conti asked the prosecutor if Alexa could already be committed to a civilian jail facility. The soldiers objected. The fiscal asked police officers present on who had authority over the prisoner. The police said the soldiers merely informed them two days after the abduction that Alexa had been in their custody but was never in the PNP’s. The fiscal then said Alexa’s lawyers had to file a motion first before deciding on Conti’s request. (Alexa’s lawyer and family filed a Petition for Habeas Corpus at the Supreme Court Monday, September 23.)

Military intelligence operatives taking photos and videos of the proceedings and the activists present.

Alexa’s other lawyer, Taule, told Inquirer.net Saturday that the criminal charges filed against her proves the soldiers were lying.  “They can’t win over Alexa despite detention of seven days in their camp so their game now is to file charges,” she said. The military for its part said they still consider Alexa as a surrenderee, admitting, however, that things have changed since they made public Alexa’s so-called surrender document. Lt. Col. Dennis Cana, public information officer of the Philippine Army’s Southern Luzon Command, told Inquirer.net that Pacalda’s video message refuting the military’s claim “will have a very strong effect on her surrender status” as her sincerity to lay down her arms “is put into question.”

After the inquest proceeding, Alexa was quickly brought outside to a parked black pick-up truck with darkened windows. The Pacaldas were allowed the quickest of goodbyes. By then, more fellow human rights defenders from all over the province had gathered at the gate and managed to chant, “Alexa Pacalda, palayain!” as the soldiers’ convoy sped off back to their camp in Calauag.

Alexa’s family and colleagues shouted “Alexa Pacalda, palayain!” as the military convoy taking her back to Calauag, Quezon sped by.

Conti said she was glad to have assisted Alexa during the inquest. “She really did not surrender as the military claimed,” she said. She also pointed out that if indeed Alexa was in possession of a firearm and blasting caps, it was not the 201st IBPA’s role to arrest her. It was the PNP’s. Alexa’s case is obviously a case of unlawful arrest or abduction, she said. # (Report and photos by Raymund B. Villanueva)

Pagtatakip ng gubyerno sa paglabag ng karapatang pantao, kinondena

Sa pagharap ng ilang representante ng gubyerno, militar at pulis sa isinasagawang public inquiry ng Commission on Human Rights (CHR), nagdaos ng kilos protesta ang mga human rights advocates sa pangunguna ng KARAPATAN National upang pabulaanan ang pagtatakip ng pamahalaan sa maraming paglabag sa karapatang pantao sa bansa. (Arrem Alcaraz/Kodao)

Commission on Human Rights, Quezon City

September 12, 2019

EO 70, ‘Whole-of-Nation Approach’ will escalate and prolong armed conflict, not end it

By Esperanza dela Paz

What do the following have in common?

– the recent spate of killings in Negros, Bukidnon, Bicol and elsewhere;
– the bombing of Lumad communities and closure of Lumad schools;
– the red-tagging, terrorist-branding and other attacks on activists;
– the AFP-invented ridiculous “Oust Duterte” conspiracies and conjured matrices;
– the trumped-up criminal and sedition charges, illegal arrests and detention of a broad range of critics of the administration;
– government’s termination of the peace talks with the NDFP and announcements; and
– fake news of NPAs “surrendering in droves.”

All of the above are part of the “whole-of-nation approach” (or WONA) being bannered by the AFP as the “new paradigm” that would “end the local armed conflict” or the “communist insurgency”.

Here are 10 things we the people should know about WONA but which the generals in the national security establishment are not telling us.

1) WONA is NOT a new paradigm or concept. It is an old, worn-out concept and approach derived from US counter-insurgency (COIN) doctrine. WONA is synonymously or interchangeably used with “comprehensive approach” in US COIN manuals to address persistent problems and difficulties in coordinating US military and civilian forest involved in “peace and stabilization” operations in countries they had invaded, occupied or intervened militarily such as Iraq, Afghanistan and Sudan. The difficulties are aggravated by the complexities of US forces dealing at the same time with the host or local government’s military, civilian agencies and the population at large. Studies show the WONA has not adequately solved these problems and difficulties.

2. The concept and program of involving civilian government agencies and the private sector goes as far back as 1992, in Ramos’ Oplan Mamamayan. Ramos realized from the failed COIN campaigns of the Marcos dictatorship (Oplan Katatagan) and Corazon Aquino (Oplan Lambat-Bitag) that the CPP-NPA cannot be defeated nor destroyed through military operations alone.

3. The Arroyo regime adopted the same US-directed “holistic approach to addressing the insurgency problem” in its 2001 National Internal Security Program (NISP 2001), better known by its AFP campaign Oplan Bantay Laya. The BIG difference — what was really NEW in Bantay Laya was the policy and practice of unleashing military operations to “neutralize” unarmed activists and leaders of progressive organizations in urban areas nationwide. These were tagged as “communist fronts”, “enemies of the state” and as “CPP-NA legal political infrastructure” that had to be destroyed in order to defeat the NPA. This brought about the horrific and unprecedented rise in extra-judicial killings from 2001 to 2006.

4. In 2006, then AFP Chief-of-Staff Gen. Esperon declared Oplan Bantay Laya an unqualified success, claiming it cut NPA strength by 5,000, from 12,000 to 7,000. Arroyo unabashedly displayed her approval of and elation over the bloody, murderous campaign by specially citing and congratulating the notorious Gen. Palpoaran in her 2006 SONA for “doing good work”.

5. Arroyo’s NISP 2007 (or Oplan Bantay Laya 2) is described in AFP documents as “enhanced NISP 2001”. It refurbishes the political, information, economic and security aspects of the “holistic approach” into “5 offensives” – political, legal, strategic communications, economic and military – and “3 programs” – DDR (disarmament-demobilization-reintegration), amnesty, and human rights. Extra-judicial killings off unarmed activists and leaders continued, but scaled down as a result of universal outrage and condemnation here and abroad, capped by the investigations and findings of UN Special Rapporteur for extrajudicial, summary and arbitrary executions, Philip Alston (Feb 2007), Amnesty International (Aug 2006) and the Arroyo-created Melo Commission. All attributed most of the killings and the impunity with which these were perpetrated by elements of state security forces. Alston and Amnesty International went further to conclude the perpetrators acted in line with the state’s counter-insurgency program NISP 2001 and Oplan Bantay Laya.

To sustain the attacks on the so-called “legal political infrastructure”, Arroyo created the Inter-agency Legal Action Group (IALAG) to plan, direct and implement the “legal offensive”, i.e., filing trumped-up criminal charges, arrest and detention of targeted leaders and members of the legal democratic movement.

6. The phrase “whole-of-nation” was used in Oplan Bayanihan, the AFP’s implementing campaign for Aquino III’s 2011 National Internal Peace and Security Plan (NISP 2011-2016). Closely hewing to the 2009 US COIN Guide, it describes the collaborative roles of the civilian and military components. On paper, it asserts the primacy of the non-military component, with the military playing only an enabling role. In practice, however, the military was the main and leading force, set the direction and held the initiative over the civilian component throughout. Extrajudicial killings and other grave human rights violations, including the “legal offensive” continued unabated.

7. The current “new paradigm” so-called was first announced by the AFP in Sept 2018, along with a proposal for a “national task force to end the communist insurgency by mid 2019.” The revelation of a supposed “Red October” Oust-Duterte plot signaled the escalation of attacks against the legal democratic movement. Trade unions and worker’s strikes, youth organizations and schools, peasants’ and indigenous peoples’ struggles, churches and hospitals, environment and human rights defenders, peace advocates — all were accused of being recruiters and training grounds for the CPP-NPA. If this sounds like Oplan Bantay Laya over again, it is because the proposal “to end the communist insurgency using the “whole-of-nation approach” is in line with NISP 2018-2022, which the AFP describes as an “enhanced version of NISP 2007” or “E2NISP”(since NISP 20074 is “E1NISP”).

8. In the AFP proposal, the five offensives and three programs in NISP 2007 are transformed to twelve (12)”pillars” or “clusters” of cooperation, wherein each “pillar” is assigned a cluster of civilian and military/security agencies.

9. Executive Order 70, dated 4 December 2018,seeksto institutionalize the whole-of-nation approach in attaining inclusive and sustainable peace, create a national task force to end local communist armed conflict, and direct the adoption of a national peace framework. Like the 2011 Oplan Bayanihan and the 2009 US Counterinsurgency Guide, it purports to prioritize and harmonize the non-military, i.e., economic and political aspects of the counter-insurgency drive (such as delivery of basic services and social development packages) and ensure the active participation of all sectors of society in the pursuit of the country’s peace agenda. Not so curiously now, the EO70 makes special mention of SUCs in directing all government departments, bureaus, agencies or instrumentalities to “render the necessary support to the Task Force” But it not only underplays, it covers up and is totally silent about the military and “security” aspects such as the so-called legal offensive and the “neutralization” or destruction of the so-called “legal political infrastructure of the communist terrorists”.

10. EO70 institutionalizes and declares government’s total abandonment of its commitment to and obligations in implementing CARHRIHL and in forging basic political, social and economic reforms that would address the roots of the armed conflict and bring about a just and lasting peace. It has also stripped off the pretense of shifting to local peace talks instead of national peace negotiations by pursuing “local peace engagements” aimed at enticing surrenders and encouraging capitulation.

Conclusion

More than a year has passed since the Duterte government announced its intention to shift to local peace talks instead of negotiating with the NDFP for basic reforms. Eight months have passed since the formal announcement of the “new paradigm” or the whole-of-nation approach. What we have seen and experienced so far has not brought us any closer to an “inclusive and sustainable peace”. Rather, we are thrown back to the dark and bloody years of Oplan Bantay Laya and could fall further back to the martial law years. Only the people’s active resistance will prevent that, in what would more truly be a whole-of-nation effort. #

NDF accuses AFP officers of profiteering from ‘fake NPA surrenderees’

The National Democratic Front (NDF) in North East Mindanao accused top officers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) of earning millions of pesos from fake New People’s Army (NPA) surrenders.

Reacting to AFP’s announcement of re-focusing its E-CLIP (Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program) on some barrios in the four provinces of Caraga, the NDF said that the move will yet be a new source of corruption of millions of pesos of public funds.

“Moreover, it is also a capital for the promotion of AFP officials and their impossible dream of demonizing the (NPA) and revolutionary movement through the parading of fake-forced-to-surrenders,” NDF North Eat Mindanao spokesperson Maria Malaya said in a statement.

The NDF said that based on reports it received from various barangays and communities in the region, those impelled to surrender were promised Php65,000 each. Some of the “surrenderees”, however, only received Php5,000 while majority were left empty-handed.

“In other cases, the Php5,000 was paid in the form of ‘down payment’ for a motorcycle, and the ‘surrenderee’ is then obliged to pay in installment the total amount of Php65,000 for said motorcycle,” Malaya revealed.

Malaya accused the AFP officials of cunningly doubling their kickbacks from the E-CLIP budget and from commissions by acting as sales agents for the motorcycle companies.

Since the collapse of the formal peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) Negotiating Panel in November 2017, the Rodrigo Duterte government had been active in parading “NPA surrenderees” and promising them financial enticements through the E-CLIP.

 ‘Jobs, houses’

Duterte himself met with hundreds of the so-called surrenderees since he ordered the termination of his government’s peace talks with the NDFP through Proclamation No. 360 in November 23, 2017.

“Look, I am addressing myself to all the soldiers of the New People’s Army. Surrender now and lay down your arms. There are jobs waiting for you and I am building, all throughout the country, almost 5,000 [houses] with at the National Housing Authority,” Duterte said in November 2017.

Shortly after, in December 2017, the government proscribed the Communist Party of the Philippines and the NPA as terrorist groups through Duterte‘s Proclamation No. 374.

From January to May 2018, AFP claimed that a total of 7,194 NPA members and supporters have surrendered.

Former AFP chief of staff Rey Guerrero, however, clarified in February 2018, that at least 80 percent of the so-called surrenderees are non-combatants.

“Out of about a thousand, 980 are surrenderees. About 800 of them are not regular combatants. They are part of the underground organization, the political structures,” Guerrero said.

In the same period, Duterte welcomed batches of so-called surrenderees in Malacañan and reportedly gave them food packs and smart phones.

Last July 30 to early August, 88 so-called former NPA members enjoyed an all-expense-paid tour of Hong Kong in fulfilment of Duterte’s promise in December 21, 2017 that he would let the former rebels experience life in a developed country.

Duterte also promised to make rebel returnees members of the AFP and even allowed them to keep their firearms.

Forced enlistment

But not all so-called surrenderees are willing conscripts and have become regular troopers of the AFP, the NDF said.

Malaya said there are cases of fake or forced surrenderees who were compelled to enlist and undergo Citizens Auxiliary Force Geographical Unit (CAFGU) training and were promised bigger amounts of cash after they have been presented to the media in the cities or in Malacañang.

“Only a handful was able to receive a small amount of cash. Most of them only got some kilos of rice, noodles and sardines. In short, none of them were able to receive the actual amount promised,” Malaya said.

In the case of the 96 “surrenderees” presented by the AFP’s 401st and 402nd Infantry Brigade in Surigao del Sur in November 10, 2018, AFP officers pocketed Php5.8 million, the rebel spokesperson revealed.

Malaya said that a total of Php480 million had been pocketed by AFP, police and Office of the Presidential Peace Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) from the supposed 8,000 NPA surrenders since 2018.

 “This modus by the military is hardly new, and has long been exposed as a scheme for deception and corruption by AFP officials through the E-CLIP,” she added.

Former Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza resigned in November 27, 2018 for reportedly failing to curb corruption at his agency following Duterte public sacking of OPAPP officials who allegedly pocketed funds for the E-CLIP and the Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan (PAMANA) program. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Armed men ‘abduct,’ grill Himamaylan villagers – rights group

By Visayas Today

Armed men believed to be military personnel barged into a home in an upland village of Himamaylan City early Friday morning, August 30, allegedly handcuffing and blindfolding occupants, including high school students, and forcing them into a vehicle as they searched for purported communist rebels, a human rights group said.

The September 21 Movement Southern Negros said the gunmen forced their way into the home of farmer Delia dela Rosa Pacheco, 64, in Sitio Maliko-liko, Barangay Carabalan around 3 a.m.

They then rounded up Pacheco, her niece Aiza dela Rosa, 24, and two other relatives, one a Grade 11 student, the other in Grade 10, and a guest, Teresita Camanso, 46, a daycare worker from Sitio Lanap, Barangay Buenavista who was staying for the night after attending a seminar at the Himamaylan city hall.

The statement quoted Pacheco as saying they were all ordered to lie on the floor as the gunmen cuffed and blindfolded them. They were later taken to the vehicle.

Camanso told the human rights group that the gunmen asked her if she knew “Loida” and “Toti,” who they said were members of the New People’s Army who were supposedly staying in the house.

She was also grilled about the formation of an indigenous peoples’ organization in her village. 

The other occupants of the house were also interrogated. 

The September 21 Movement condemned the incident and urged vigilance against what it called the “creeping militarism and dictatorship in Negros.” #

Lumad leader, mother of seven, killed in Bukidnon

By Davao Today

DAVAO CITY, Philippines — A Lumad woman leader is the 14th victim of extrajudicial killings against indigenous peoples defender in the province of Bukidnon.

The Kalumbay Regional Lumad Organization reported that Bai Leah Tumbalang, 45, a Tigwahanon leader from San Fernando town of Bukidnon, was gunned down last Friday, Aug. 23 in Valencia City by riding in tandem gunmen suspected to be military agents.

According to the report, a witness claimed that two men riding a motorcycle was seen tailing the victim before she was shot in her forehead, causing her immediate death.

Kalumbay identified Tumbalang, mother of seven, as an active member of Kaugalingong Sistema Igpapasindog Tu Lumadnong Ogpaan (KASILO), a local Lumad and peasant organization in Bukidnon. She is also an organizer of Bayan Muna.

Tumbalang was reported to have received a death threats prior to her death.

Since 2011, Tumbalang and other KASILO members have been receiving threats to their lives as they lead the opposition against the deployment of paramilitary groups believed to be backed by mining interest in their communities.

Former KASILO secretary general Jimmy Liguyon was shot to death in that year by suspected paramilitary members after defending the ancestral domain from an expansion of a plantation project.

Kalumbay condemned the death of Tumbalang, whom they said is the 14th victim of summary killings of rights advocates in the province this year alone.

On August 12, Jeffrey Bayot, a KASILO member was also gunned down by motorcycle-riding men.

Four days before Bayot’s death, similar shooting incident also happened on August 9, killing another member of the group, Alex Lacay. #(davaotoday.com)

‘One death is too many’

Artwork by Jose Mari Callueng

“One death is too many. In the case of Negros Island, since President Duterte took an oath to “…do justice to every man and consecrate myself (himself) to the service of the nation,” at least 87 lives have been taken. Half of these were killed when Duterte ordered the deployment of more military troops there by virtue of the Memorandum Order No. 32.

“This is the image of Negros Island now. Once an island known as the “Sugarbowl of the Philippines,” has become a killing field. It is bloodied. And the killing won’t stop very soon. What with the threats from the President to deploy even more troops there.

“It won’t stop unless we stop the murderer in Malacañang.”—Jose Mari Callueng, human rights defender

Group reports continuing surveillance on wounded journalist

Brandon Lee, the journalist and human rights activist shot and seriously injured by unidentified assailants in front of his home in Lagawe, Ifugao Tuesday night is being surveiled at the Baguio General Hospital, the Cordillera Human Rights Alliance (CHRA) said.

“Security guards at the hospital alerted us that a certain George Malidow of the [AFP], introducing himself as from Camp Henry Allen in Baguio, was asking for details about Brandon’s case,” the CHRA said in its alert.

“This was brought to our attention as this is not regular protocol for the AFP to be monitoring and investigating such case,” the group added.

Camp Allen is a military camp in the heart of the Cordilleran capital that once served as the site of the Philippine Military Academy.

Hospitals, meanwhile, are designated neutral zones by human rights statutes and local and international humanitarian organizations such as the International Committee of the Red Cross/Crescent.

Lee was brought to Baguio last night from Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya after being initially brought to a local hospital in Lagawe after the attack.

The CHRA said Lee is conscious and able to talk but is in need of type O+ blood donations.

He suffered four gunshot wounds on his torso, reports said.

Lee is a United States citizen, married to a Filipino and a permanent resident of the Philippines. They have a seven-year old daughter.

CHRA photo

Red-tagging victim

Lee, a red-tagging victim of the AFP since 2015, is the Ifugao provincial correspondent of the Baguio-based media outfit Northern Dispatch.

He is also a paralegal of the CHRA, the Ifugao Peasant Movement and the Justice and Peace Advocates of Ifugao, all of which have reported threats and harassments by members of the 54th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army for weeks prior to the attack.

The soldiers gathered data by interrogating and intimidating the organizations’ members and staff, the CHRA reported after Lee’s shooting.

The Philippine Army team was headed by a certain 1Lt Karol Jay R. Mendoza while its Civil-Military Operations head is a certain Lt.Col. Narciso B. Nabulneg, Jr. who both invoked President Rodrigo Duterte’s Executive Order 70 in their interrogations, the group added.

Duterte’s EO 70 issued last December created a task force to combat insurgency that human rights organizations blame for the killing of activists across the country.

Condemnations

Meanwhile, Bayan Muna Reps. Eufemia Cullamat and Carlos Isagani Zarate today strongly condemned the attack against Lee, who they describe as “one of the noted volunteers of the Ifugao Peasant Movement and well-loved by the peasant and indigenous peoples in the Cordillera.”

“It seems like that the dark army and mad dogs of the government that are responsible for the killings of thousands in the anti-drug campaign are now after activists, people’s lawyers, community organizers, and other human rights workers,” Zarate said in a statement.

 “Brandon Lee’s assasination attempt is revealing of the type of government that we have when it threatens death to people like him, who serves the poor peasant and indigenous peoples so selflessly. We should not allow this to continue. This madness must stop and should be investigated promptly, and the perpetrators be brought to justice,” the House Deputy Minority Leader said.

The Cordillera People’s Alliance (CPA) for its part said it holds State security forces that the Duterte administration has let loose in the Cordillera region – the 54th IBPA, the 5th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army and the Northern Luzon Command—acountable for the attack.

‘We urgently call on the people to voice out your concern and call for justice for Brandon and other human rights violations victims. The attacks on human rights defenders must end,” the CPA said.

The group announced it will hold a social media rally on Twitter and Facebook for Lee at five to eight o’clock Wednesday evening using the hashtags #Justice4BrandonLee and #StoptheAttacks. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Alert broadcaster thwarts ‘warrantless arrest’ attempts by soldiers

A former station manager of a Bukidnon radio station frustrated attempts by government soldiers to bring her to their military camp without a warrant.

Members of the 1st Special Forces Battalion of the Armed Forces of the Philippines harassed former Radyo Lumad station manager Kristin Lim since Saturday, August 3, and even engaged village leaders to convince  her to give herself up, to no avail.

Soldiers on board a military truck arrived at Lim’s home in Damilag, Bukidnon at 8:30 Saturday night and “invited” her to their camp for “questioning.” They were led by a 1st Lieutenant Baquial.

Lim refused after Baquial failed to present a warrant of arrest or a “valid and clear reason,” the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines in Northern Mindanao Region (RMP-NMR) said in an alert.

The troopers, however, were back early Sunday morning, insisting that Lim surrender herself.

The RMP-NMR said the soldiers were using the same tactic they used in the so-called capture of civilians Gloria Jandayan and Gleceria Balangiao who were later presented by the battalion as fake New People’s Army surrenderees.

The soldiers later asked members of barangays council to help convince Lim to be “summoned” to the military camp because of “her knowledge of the Left.”

Lim still refused, the RMP-NMR reported, agreeing to a dialogue only in the presence of a legal counsel.

RMP-NMR added that Barangay chairperson Jun Torres eventually agreed with Lim and in turn told the soldiers that they can summon her at the village hall as long as her safety is assured.

Other members of the council and the homeowners’ association also demanded that soldiers stop visiting their village on board military trucks as “the soldiers make it look like they are pursuing a dangerous criminal or terrorist.”

Red-tagged

Lim was hired as Radyo Lumad station manager in July 2018 until its temporary closure in January this year “due to threats and harassments.”

Radyo Lumad was located in Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon, a community radio station focused on reporting on indigenous peoples’ rights and welfare.

The radio station was part of RMP-NMR’s Healing the Hurt Project with the European Union and the World Association for Christian Communication.

(Disclosure: Kodao Productions was hired as training partner of the Radyo Lumad Project.)

Lim said the radio station decided to temporarily close due to persistent threats and harassments against its staff.

Earlier this year, Lim was among those red-tagged in flyers distributed in Cagayan de Oro City along with lawyers, journalists, church workers, indigenous peoples’ leaders and activists. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

NPA ‘strictly abides by rules of war’ – CPP to HRW

By Visayas Today

Communist rebels offered assurances on Thursday, July 30, that their armed units “conscientiously study and abide by the Geneva Conventions and Protocol I,” which govern the conduct of war.

Earlier in the day, Brad Adams, Asia director of Human Rights Watch, acknowledged that responsibility for the string of killings that have claimed at least 20 lives in Negros Oriental over the past two week “remains unclear.”

He nevertheless urged both the government and rebels to “take all necessary measures to end unlawful attacks, either by their forces or armed elements linked to them.”

State security forces and the New People’s Army have blamed each other for the killings.

The NPA accuses government forces of retaliating on civilians suspected of being rebel supporters following the death of four police intelligence officers in an ambush on July 18. The police accuse the rebels of torturing and then executing the four.

Adams reminded both parties that “killing civilians and captured combatants are war crimes.”

Responding to Adams, the CPP said it considered the attention HRW had given to the Negros killings “important” and agreed with his observation that the violence was “linked to the issues of land rights, poverty and injustice.”

It maintained that the four policemen “died in the course of a legitimate act of war” – an NPA ambush – “and were not tortured as falsely claimed by” President Rodrigo Duterte, and stressed that the rebels “do not have a hand in the successive killings of civilians.”

The CPP also said the deaths of seven persons on July 25, the bloodiest day for Negros Oriental, “fall into the pattern of coordinated operations of the police and military.”

Among those killed on that day were sibling educators Arthur and Aldane Bayawa and Buenavista barangay captain Romeo Alipan, who were shot dead in their respective homes in Guihulngan City, and Marlon Ocampo and his year-old son Marjon, who died when gunmen strafed their home in Sta. Catalina town.

“We believe that they are victims of death squads attached to the military and police in Negros island meant to intimidate the people against supporting the armed resistance of the NPA,” the CPP said. “Many of them have been previously publicly tagged as sympathizers of the NPA.” #