NPA-Negros regional spokesperson Juanito Magbanua dies

Guerrillas claim gov’t troopers summarily-killed ailing leader

The spokesperson of the New People’s Army (NPA) in Negros Island had been killed by government troopers Monday afternoon, the communist guerrilla’s regional command confirmed.

Juanito Magbanua, spokesperson of the NPA’s Apolinario Gatmaitan Command (AGC), was killed by Philippine Army’s 94th Infantry Battalion (IB) troopers in Sitio Medel, Barangay Carabalan, Himamaylan City at around 5:45 in the afternoon, the group announced.

The NPA however said Magbanua (born Romeo V. Nanta) was summarily-killed as there was no clash in the area and only four shots were fired that ended the ailing rebel spokesperson’s life.

The AGC said Magbanua was suffering from hypertension and arthritis and chose to stay at Sitio Medel to closely monitor the mass evacuation of civilians as well as the NPA’s manoeuvres during the ongoing military operations in the area.

[WHAT WENT BEFORE] Philippine Army orders mass evacuation in Himamaylan City

The 303rd Infantry Brigade ordered the evacuation of thousands of civilians last weekend following a clash with the NPA’s Mt. Cansermon Command that killed two government soldiers and injured six others.

The NPA said Magbanua was captured and should have been accorded hors de combat (unable to fight) status.

B/Gen. Inocencio Pasaporte, 303rd Infantry Brigade commander, claimed that Magbanua was killed during a 10-minute clash between the 94th IB and 10 NPA fighters.

Magbanua’s remains was brought to Himamaylan City proper where he was identified.

The NPA said it mourns Magbanua’s death and vowed to exact justice for his “cold-blooded murder.”

“This is a day of mourning for all comrades, revolutionary forces, friends and family and especially the exploited and oppressed masses, not only in Negros but the whole country,” the NPA said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Philippine Army orders mass evacuation in Himamaylan City

More than 15,000 residents of Barangays Carabalan and Cabadiangan of Himamaylan City have reportedly sought refuge in evacuation centers this morning following the imposition of a week-long lockdown by government forces starting last weekend.

The 303rd Infantry Brigade of the Philippine Army (PA) ordered civilians to either vacate their homes or stay indoors as pursuit operations are being conducted against New People’s Army (NPA) rebels.

The evacuations were ordered after the 94th Infantry Brigade of the PA clashed with a unit of the NPA’s Mt. Cansermon Command last Thursday, September 6, at Sitio Sig-ang, Brgy. Carabalan, Himamaylan.

Those ordered to evacuate are residents of Sitios Palayan, Tongo and Guia of Barangay Cabadiangan as well as several sitios of Barangay Biao.

Earlier, the NPA said government troops bombed sitio Double Yarding of Barangay Mahalang last October 7 that lasted 20 minutes.

Sitios Cunalom, Casipungan, Cambulan, Pangi and Igaw of Barangay Carabalan were also bombed by the Philippine Army, the rebels said, adding government troops also destroyed houses and slaughtered farm animals.

Philippine Army justifies evacuations

Meanwhile, PA’s 94th IB announced on its Facebook page that two of its soldiers died while six others were injured in Thursday’s fire fight .

The Region 6 Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (RTF6-ELCAC) has justified the military’s evacuation orders but admitting to only 290 families or 1190 individuals evacuated in seven refugee centers in the city.

“The evacuation of these families is necessary so that they will not be use(d)…as human shields or as hostages to deter the pursuing army troopers,” RTF6-ELCAC spokesperson Flosemer Chris Gonzales said.

Gonzales also criticized local social media news outlets and “some ill-informed media outfits” for so-called “heavily slanted and heavily-biased news articles” of the October 6 clash.

‘Rights violations after defeat’

The NPA’s Apolinario Gatmaitan Command said the PA’s evacuation order on civilians is the result of its frustration over its October 6 defeat.

Juanito Magbanua, the Negros Island Regional NPA spokesperson added that the PA is also extending their pursuit operations to increase its expenses that “give way to their corruption and at the expense of “terrorized” civilians.

The National Democratic Front in Negros meanwhile called on the local government of Himamaylan City to protect its constituents.

“The local government unit (LGU) of Himamaylan City should not just standby and allow these attacks against its constituents. The LGU should assert civilian supremacy and demand an end to the militarization of Himamaylan City,” NDF-Negros spokesperson Bayani Obrero said in a separate statement.

Obrero also stressed “utmost urgency to demand respect for human rights and observance of international humanitarian law,” in the face of military-imposed forced evacuations, bombings, threats of airstrikes and militarization of Negros Island. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Twitter suspends more CPP, NPA and NDF accounts

‘Please standby for new accounts,’ regional NPA spokesperson announces

Social media platform Twitter has “permanently suspended” accounts connected with personalities and groups of the underground Left in the Philippines, a regional New People’s Army (NPA) spokesperson announced.

Apolinario Gatmaitan Command (AGC)-NPA Negros spokesperson Juanito Magbanua told journalists that Twitter has removed the account of Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) spokesperson Marco Valbuena along with the AGC and the National Democratic Front-Negros on Monday, August 1.

Valbuena’s Twitter account is the last known social media platform openly connected with the CPP spokesperson.

Other known CPP, NPA and NDF accounts, including that of CPP founder and NDF-Philippines chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison have earlier been banned by other social networking services such as Facebook and Instagram.

Facebook said that the decision came after the underground groups have violated its community standards on propagating violence.

Valbuena last June said the suspensions were “part of heightened efforts to silence anti-imperialist voices on social media on the pretext of the sham US ‘war against terror’.”

Last June, Twitter accounts @prwc_info, @cpp_angbayan and @sineproletaryo have been suspended along with Sison’s, a move that Valbuena said came “without warning or advice.”

Magbanua said he disagrees with the latest suspension of their other social media accounts as well.

“We see this as another round of attacks against the Philippine revolutionary movement that exposes the truth of what is happening especially in the countryside and calls out the ruling class for the worsening oppression and exploitation of the Filipino people,” Magbanua told reporters.

He said that the “attacks” would not deter them from continuing their revolution.

“The people’s democratic revolution goes on. We will continue to fight back in all fields of battle,” Gatmaitan said.

“Please standby for new accounts,” he added.

Magbanua has since told reporters the creation of a new Twitter account by 2:28 PM. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Duterte lies on razor blade killing, NPA in Negros says

The New People’s Army (NPA) in Negros Island denied President Rodrigo Duterte’s accusation it killed a soldier using a disposable razor blade, in turn accusing government troops as “consistent violators” of the rules of war.

“It is not true. The four police officers were fired upon by the NPA and were never tortured,” Juanito Magbanua, spokesperson of the Apolinario Gatmaitan Command of the NPA, told Kodao.

Magbanua was referring to the March 3 ambush of four police officers by the NPA at the boundary of Guihulngan City in Negros Oriental and Isabela town in Negros Occidental that injured four soldiers of the 94th Infantry Battalion (94IB) of the Philippine Army.

But Duterte may have been referring to the killing of a paramilitary trooper and two “military informants” last June 13 in Himamaylan City by a partisan unit of the NPA as punishment for their alleged participation in the implementation of the government’s brutal Oplan Sauron counter-insurgency campaign in the island.

The families of those killed said they were killed with guns.

“That razor incident at hostage-taking never happened,” Magbanua added.

Duterte in his recent report on the government’s coronavirus response Monday night again spent a substantial part of his recorded address verbally attacking the NPA and the Communist Party of the Philippines, accusing them of being the country’s biggest terrorist threat.

The president said the NPA had been attacking police officers escorting relief operations by the government.

“Pati nga ‘yung pulis na kasama ng gubyerno na tutulong sa mga tao, pinatay niyo lahat. Tapos, using a Gillette blade (hand moving across throat). Kaya ako galit sa inyo,” Duterte said.

He added that he had no history of maltreating captured NPA fighters in Mindanao.

“There was never a time that we handled an NPA prisoner sa Mindanao na sinaktan namin. We don’t even allow the mosquitoes to bite them. May warning kami sa mga alimatok pati sa mga…ano ba ng alimatok sa Tagalog? Linta. Leech. Na huwag galawin ang mga NPA na bihag dahil baka tayo ang pagbintangan,” he said.

Magbanua however said it is the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) that consistently violates International Humanitarian Law through strafing of civilian homes, red-tagging of activists, and physical and mental abuse of detainees.

Marco Valbuena, information officer of the Communist Party of the Philippines, also said that Duterte is, in fact, the country’s biggest terrorist, using the AFP and the entire State machinery to unleash “wanton terror” in his government’s drug war, massacres, extrajudicial killings, the bombardment of communities in his nearly four years in power. # (Raymund B. Villanueva) 

THE NPA ON NEGROS | Fully recovered and growing

by Roy Magsilang for Kodao Productions


CENTRAL NEGROS — If there was any region most affected by the split within the revolutionary movement in the early 1990s, it would have to be Negros.

In 1993, the then Negros Island Regional Committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines declared its “autonomy” and rejection of the Second Great Rectification Movement and, just like that, one of the strongest bastions of the revolution was decimated, losing 80 percent of its strength.

Of the New People’s Army, which was known to mount company-sized operations and could easily muster a battalion on short notice, all that was left was a lone platoon operating within only three villages.

It was to this that former priest Frank Fernandez, who had not too long before left Negros after being given greater responsibilities in the movement, returned, his mission to oversee the recovery – rebirth would probably be a more apt term – of the revolutionary movement on the island.

Fast forward to December 22, 2016, as Juanito Magbanua, commander of the NPA-Negros’ Apolinario Gatmaitan Command, gestures to the thickly forested peaks, above which hawks occasionally soar, that stand like sentries around the village deep in the Central Negros highlands where the rebels are hosting a grassroots peace forum that has gathered easily more than 3,000 people by mid-morning with even more streaming in as the day progresses.

It is the largest event the rebels say they have ever hosted.

“We have a few platoons stationed around us to guard the occasion,” he tells a journalist who has just passed an NPA checkpoint manned by one of the platoons at the road leading to the village.

And in the grounds of the school where the forum was being held, there were easily two or three more platoons, one detailed to render military honors during the singing of the communist anthem “Internationale,” the others involved in preparing and performing in a cultural program, feeding the multitude, entertaining the guests, including children, and the host of other tasks involved in such a huge event.

For all the cynicism with which the so-called millennial generation is often looked at, they were an overwhelming presence among the Negros NPA. Just as they were at the protests that followed the burial of the dictator Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.

It was, indeed, a far cry from 1993 when the NPA platoon that remained after the split celebrated the founding anniversary of the Communist Party of the Philippines, its 25th but the first in Negros in the time of rectification.

Held in a small forest hollow in the dead of night with only some 30 or so of the masa, the songs, speeches and militant chants reduced to whispers because just that afternoon they had gone on high alert after a military patrol was spotted in the vicinity.

Speaking later to journalists at a press conference together with Fernandez, who allowed the media to show his face publicly for the first time in three decades, Magbanua said Negros is currently divided into four guerrilla fronts, each covering the rough equivalent of one congressional district: the Roselyn Pelle Command of the Northern Front, the Leonardo Panaligan Command of the Central Front, the Armando Sumayang Jr. Command of the Southwest Front, and the Rachelle Mae Palang Command of the Southeast Front.

“And we are currently busy developing even more guerrilla fronts,” Magbanua said, laughing off claims of Brigadier General Jon Aying, commander of the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division and former chief of the Negros-based 303rd Infantry Brigade, “that only around 200 NPA fighters remain” on the island.

“Just look around you and judge for yourself if what he claims is true,” Magbanua said.

In fact, he said, given that the NPA is now spread through 120 guerrilla fronts throughout the country, “the government does not have the capacity to defeat, much less, crush us.”

He noted that during the term of former President Benigno Aquino III, “he wanted to deploy one battalion to each NPA front. His problem was, there are only more than 80 infantry battalions.”

And even if it could be managed, the NPA of Negros have proven time and again that a battalion or even two are not enough to defeat a much smaller, but highly mobile and disciplined, guerrilla force.

For example, that lone platoon in 1993 survived the next few years with nary a scratch despite major offensives involving one or more Army battalions before it deployed small teams to undertake recovery and expansion work.

Militarily, Magbanua explained, “the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) can mount full-scale operations in only 10 guerrilla fronts and only for up to six months at most, giving the other 110 fronts the opportunity time to rest, strengthen themselves, and mount their own operations.”

“Really, the future is bright for the revolution,” he said, “which is why the government has been forced to enter into peace talks with us.” #