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Aklan activists demand military withdrawal from communities

‘Special Ops’ targeting chairperson and spokesperson, BAYAN says

Activists in Aklan province called on the military and police to stop its operations targeting their leaders and demanded the withdrawal of army troops in civilian communities.

In an alert, the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan in Aklan said it condemns the harassment against its chairperson George Calaor and spokesperson Kim-Sin Tugna, as well as members of peoples’s organizations and other civilians.

“We will hold the 301st Brigade of the Philippine Army, the local PNP, and the Duterte government responsible for any harm done to Calaor and Tugna,” the group said.

BAYAN-Aklan reported that a coordinated police and military operation is ongoing against its leaders and members that is “clearly intended to sow fear and silence activists like Calaor and Tugna.”

“This could be a prelude to a wider violent crackdown in the province and region. We remember how state forces previously attacked communities in Capiz and Iloilo which led to massacres and extrajudicial killings,” the group added.

The Philippine Army denied BAYAN’s accusations.

‘Only for training’

In a statement, 301st Infantry Brigade-Philippine Army commander Brig. Gen. Marion Sison said the presence of soldiers Barangay Cawayan, New Washington, and Barangay Poblacion, Kalibo, is part of a 45-day immersion phase as students of the Civil-Military Operations Competency Enhancement Training (CMOCET).

“CMOCET is an In-Service Training of the Philippine Army’s 3rd Infantry Division Training School focused on “community consultations and problem-solving sessions,” the general said.

“CMOCET students were not deployed to conduct surveillance on anyone but to apply their learning through community visitations, dialogues, symposiums, and awareness drives,” he added.

Sison also said that the deployment has the approval of local government officials.

Surveillance against activists

BAYAN-Aklan however reported that the soldiers are conducting surveillance operations against Tugna and Calaor, both red-tagging victims by the military.

The group said that Barangay Poblacion chairperson Neil Candelario has confirmed that a “special operation” is being conducted against the Calaor, also a well-established poet, and Tugna.

“In fact, our (Calaor and Tugna) pictures were first shown to him (Candelario) while investigating our persons to the Punong Barangay. It was also the barangay captain who told us about the “special operation” as verbalized by their personnel when they a paid courtesy call to Punong Barangay Candelario on June 20, 2022,” BAYAN-Aklan revealed.

“Moreover, there are people in the communities that can confirm their surveillance activities against Mr. Tugna and Mr. Calaor,” it added.

The group said it fears that the “special operations” would lead to warrantless searches and arrests, and possibly, extra-judicial killings, recalling the massacre of nine Tumandok indigenous persons and the arrest of 17 others in December 2020.

Like the massacre and mass-arrest victims, BAYAN-AKlan leaders and members have been the subject of intensified vilification and red-tagging by the military and the police, it added.

BAYAN-Aklan said the military have no business being in civilian communities except to so fear among the populace. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Red-tagging of 1st IFI woman bishop, 3 priests go unabated in Ilocos Norte

A bishop, Iglesia Filipina Independiente’s (IFI) first-ever woman prelate, is being red-tagged in Ilocos Norte, along with three priests.

Bishop Emelyn Gasco-Dacuycuy and IFI priests Noel Dacuycuy, Randy Manicap and Arvin Mangrobang were accused by a shadowy group calling itself the Tagapagtanggol ng Bayan Laban sa Terorismo as New People’s Army (NPA) recruiters.

Posters and streamers bearing the victim’s pictures and alleging the priests and the bishop were NPA recruiters were found at the IFI Parish in Batac town Thursday morning, June 2.

The bishop also disclosed that more such flyers were distributed this morning at the IFI Cathedral in Laoag City and the Parish of Banna where she pastorally resides.

The posters ordered the priests to surrender at a police station to clear their names.

In a press conference Friday, Rev. Mangrobang said he does not need to have his name cleared again after already talking to the Vintar chief of police earlier.

Mangrobang revealed that a hand-painted streamer made from a rice sack had already been hung in Vintar last May 8 accusing him of being a NPA supporter.

“The new posters bearing our photos are worse. I have not even seen a NPA member,” Mangrobang said.

The priest said he only recruits sacristans to assist in the altar during Masses and to help in doing God’s work.

“They must know that I am a full-time priest and that I stay in the convent,” he added.

Rev. Dacuycuy for his part blamed President Rodrigo Duterte’ anti-terror law for the red-tagging activities against them.

“They insist that those who speak out in behalf of the people are automatically leftists or terrorists,” Dacuycuy explained.

In a statement Friday, Bishop Dacuycuy said she strongly condemns the “malicious accusations” and denied she ever recruited or is involved with the NPA.

The prelate said she met with Ilocos Norte police director Julius Sibaen Thursday who, she said, assured them of their security.

“Today, we will go to Batac PNP to file a blotter about the hanging of the tarpaulin at the gate of [the] Batac convent and scattered flyers bearing our faces with false accusation that happened yesterday morning,” Bishop Dacuycuy said.

Dacuycuy said her diocese is ready to hold a dialogue with government agencies and the military in the area.

Dacuycuy made history when she was consecrated IFI’s first woman bishop in May 5, 2017 whose diocesan see was the birthplace of IFI co-founder and first supreme bishop Gregorio Aglipay.

Ilocos Norte is also the home province of president-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr. whose family also dominated the local elections in the province earlier this month. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

(This report earlier mistakenly said the Rt. Rev. Dacuycuy was the country’s first-ever woman bishop. Two United Church of Christ in the Philippines woman bishops in fact preceded her.)

Stone-throwing from inside Camp Aguinaldo mars EDSA uprising commemoration

Has Camp Aguinaldo become ungrateful of People Power? Do its current occupants, once desperate for the people’s protection, think nothing of injuring those who once protected them from a dictator’s tanks and guns?

As hundreds of people commemorated the 36th anniversary of the People Power uprising with a rally at the monument at the corner of EDSA and White Plains Avenue on Friday morning, they were pelted with stones and plastic bottles from inside the military camp.

“Mga kababayan, bago po ako magsimula, nais ko pong ibalita sa inyo na kanina pa hong may lumilipad ng bato at mga bote mula sa loob ng Camp Aguinaldo papunta po rito sa ating hanay,” Bagong Alyansang Makabayan secretary general Renato Reyes Jr. announced at the start of his speech towards the end of the rally. (Compatriots, before I start, let me announce that stones and bottles flew towards us from inside Camp Aguinaldo.)

Reyes said that the police failed to let the pelting stop, adding that a Polytechnic University of the Philippines employee was hit on the head by a stone.

“Nasan po yung mga pulis? Nasan yung mga pulis? Bakit hindi nyo po maprotektahan yung mga tao laban doon sa mga nambabato [mula] sa loob ng Camp Aguinaldo?” Reyes asked. (Where is the police? Where is the police? Why can’t you protect the people from those throwing from inside Camp Aguinaldo?”

Victim Vilma S. Tuno being attended by a paramedic after being hit by a stone from inside Camp Aguinaldo. (Kapatid photo)

The victim, Vilma S. Tuno said she was seated near the camp’s wall along White Plains Avenue and intently listening to the program when hit by a stone.

“Tumama sa ulo ko. Ang laki ng maga at sobrang sakit kaya na-obliga ako pumunta sa emergency room,” she told Kodao. (The stone hit my head. The swelling was huge and it was very painful. I was forced to go to the emergency room.)

Tuno was rushed to the V.R. Potenciano Hospital at EDSA-Mandaluyong where she was advised to undergo a CT Scan to check for possible effects to her previous brain surgery for epilepsy,” human rights group Kapatid said.

“This is to strongly inform the Camp Aguinaldo officials that the stone-throwing incident from inside your wall has caused physical injury. Several other rally participants were also directly hit by stones, sticks and plastic bottles,” Kapatid added in its statement.

“This kind of incident must not go unpunished. Kapatid condemns this despicable act against us who are marking #EDSA36 near the People Power Monument. We call on Camp Aguinaldo officials to investigate this incident and put a stop to all such acts.

This reporter was also hit on his torso while another stone bounced off the pavement and hit his thigh.

Journalist Lito Ocampo also complained that he was almost hit by an empty soda bottle thrown from inside the camp.

Camp Aguinaldo is the headquarters of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and where the Department of National Defense is located.

It was where then defense minister Juan Ponce Enrile and his cohorts holed up when they turned against then President Ferdinand Marcos.

Reyes bewailed that during the uprising, the people went to EDSA to protect the people from inside the camp from an impending full-scale military attack ordered by Marcos.

“Noong EDSA, iyong mga tao, pumunta rito sa EDSA para po protektahan yung mga nasa loob ng Camp Aguinaldo. Ngayon po, yung mga tao, nagtitipon dito sa EDSA, binabato ng mga naroroon sa loob ng Camp Aguinaldo,” Reyes complained. (During the uprising, the people went to EDSA to protect those inside Camp Aguinaldo. Now that the people commemorate the uprising, stones are being thrown at us from inside the camp.)

The police, hundreds of them, did not stir from under their tents and under the trees, even after hearing the complaint. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Military cremates Oris’ remains; CPP furious

Government troops have cremated Jorge Madlos’ remains and the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) is furious.

Reacting to reports that the slain rebel leader’s remains were cremated, CPP chief information officer Marco Valbuena said in a statement that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is trying to get away with murder.

“The AFP’s lies to cover up their murder of Ka Oris (Madlos) and Ka Pika (his aide Eighfel Dela Peña) just continue to pile up. They are trying to get away with murder by burning all evidence, when they had Ka Oris’ remains cremated with dispatch, on the pretext of Covid-19 protocols,” Valbuena said.

“They did not even have the human decency to wait for the family to view his remains for the last time,” he added.

A Rappler report said that Philippine Army 4th Infantry Division commander Major General Romeo Brawner Jr., announced on Wednesday, November 3, that the swab test performed on Madlos showed he was COVID-19 positive and his remains were turned over to the town government of Impasug-ong, Bukidnon.

Brawner said the town’s COVID-19 task force took Madlos to the Divine Shepherd Crematorium in Cagayan de Oro City for cremation and returned the ashes back to Impasug-ong.

Brawner reportedly said it would be up to the Impasug-ong town government to decide to whom the urn would be given.

Rappler’s report added that younger brother Rito was on his way to Bukidnon to collect the ashes.

The CPP however questioned the move, asking who gave the AFP the right to decide to cremate Madlos’s remains?

“If they wanted to follow protocols, then Ka Oris’ remains could (and should) have been buried in Impasug-ong, especially since there are no cremation facilities in Bukidnon,” Valbuena said.

The CPP spokesperson also noted that Department of Health COVID-19 protocols do not provide cremation as the only option for disposing of remains.

“This further reinforces our view that the AFP is covering-up their crime,” Valbuena said.

Valbuena added that by unilaterally having Madlos’ remains cremated, the AFP has also eliminated all chances of clearing their (military’s) name.

Madlos and Dela Peña were reportedly on board a motorcycle from Impasug-ong on their way to a medical treatment session when killed by 4thID troopers.

The NPA spokesperson is publicly known to be suffering from renal failure for years.

In separate statements, the CPP and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines-North East Mindanao Region alleged Madlos was waylaid when he is unarmed and was in no condition to fight on Friday, October 29.

Valbuena said that even if Madlos was indeed COVID-19 infected, the military should not have feared having independent pathologists perform an autopsy.

He noted that the same tactic was used on fallen rebel leader Kerima Tariman’s remains in Negros Island that the military agreed to give back to her family only after being cremated.

“Indeed, cremation has become part of the AFP’s protocol to hide their crimes and prop up a false image of respecting human rights,” Valbuena said.

The tactic violates cultural sensitivities, Valbuena said, adding in a separate statement that the AFP “set aside honor in facing an adversary.”

“In waging war, it is natural to win some and lose some. But there are rules that govern war that humanity have established in the course of civilization. Ka Oris, himself, did not preclude himself getting killed in battle,” Valbuena explained.

Madlos was erstwhile NDFP-Mindanao spokesperson before becoming spokesperson of the New People’s Army’s national operational command in 2016.

In its second national congress in the same year, the CPP elected him as a member of its Central Committee, its Political Bureau, and its Executive Committee.

The CPP congress also tasked Madlos to be among the leading cadres in the CPP’s Military Commission and its Mindanao Commission.

He was also assigned as a consultant of the NDFP in peace negotiations.

Madlos is the most senior CPP cadre to die at the hands of the AFP after fellow CPP Central Committee, Political Bureau and Executive Committee stalwart Julius Giron who died in a military raid in Baguio City last March 13. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

’19 MARTYRS’: CPP confirms ‘big loss’ in military aerial strike in E. Samar

AFP’s bombs failed to distinguish the medics and the patients, and other unarmed personnel who were not in a position to battle, the CPP complained

Nineteen New People’s Army (NPA) fighters died in an air strike by the government military in Dolores, Eastern Samar last August 16, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) website announced.

In one of the NPA’s biggest loss in a single incident in years, the CPP said those who perished were part of a 50-man unit who were in the area to conduct political, military, economic, education, cultural and medical work among peasant masses.

The Red fighters were also conducting an investigation into the socioeconomic conditions of the peasant masses in the area with the aim of addressing their needs and problems, the group added.

“They were among the best sons and daughters of the people who dedicated their lives to the cause of national freedom and democracy. Their deaths bear hard upon the hearts of the workers and peasants across the country and all the oppressed peoples in the entire world,” the CPP in a statement said.

The group’s statement came at the heels of several announcements by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) that an undetermined number of NPA guerrillas were killed in an early morning air strike, followed by fire fights that lasted the entire day.

Wikipedia map.

The Philippine Army’s 8th Infantry Division in Catbalogan City said no casualty had been reported among its 52nd Infantry Battalion troopers who engaged the guerrillas, aided by the Philippine Air Force.

The state troopers also said they recovered at least 20 assault rifles, a laptop and a handgun at the NPA encampment where the rebels were allegedly manufacturing bombs.

The CPP however said the Red fighters were conducting a continuing campaign to raise the people’s awareness of the Covid-19 pandemic to prevent infections from reaching their hinterland communities where there are no medical facilities.

The group added a team of medics were among the NPA unit to perform a surgery in the camp for a civilian patient suffering from hernia.

‘A big loss’

The CPP admitted that the deaths of the NPA “martyrs” was “without a doubt…a big loss.”

“It is, however, a temporary setback and does not negate the overall forward direction of the people’s war. Indeed, in Eastern Visayas and the rest of the country, the NPA continues to make strides in recruiting new Red fighters, building more units, expanding its areas of operations, building new guerrilla fronts, defending the people against the AFP’s armed suppression and mounting tactical offensives to strike blows against the fascist monsters,” the CPP statement said.

The group expressed confidence that the NPA in the said municipality will be reorganized with new recruits to continue the work of their fallen comrades.

“We may have lost a number of fine people’s warriors, but even greater numbers are sure to emerge to take their place as new Red fighters of the heroic people’s army,” the group said.

‘Indiscriminate bombing’

The CPP meanwhile condemned AFP’s aerial bombing and strafing as well as artillery shelling it said constituted a disproportionate use of force.

In the case of the Dolores bombing, the AFP’s bombs failed to distinguish the medics and the patients, and other unarmed personnel who were not in a position to battle, the CPP complained.

In a Manila Bulletin report, unexploded AFP bombs allegedly hit at least two houses in Brgy. Cabaguan that pierced ceilings and terrorized residents.

“These terrorist weapons should be banned as these cause massive loss of lives among unarmed people, endanger the lives of civilians, traumatize thousands of people, especially children, and damage and ravage the environment and property,” the CPP said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

NUJP to military: Why blame the journalists, not the Chinese?

A media group strongly reacted to an Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) statement blaming an ABS-CBN news team over an incident with Chinese military vessels at the West Philippine Sea last Thursday.

Reacting to AFP spokesperson Maj. Gen. Edgar Arevalo’s statement issued Friday, April 9, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) took exception to AFP’s suggestion the incident was caused by the “journalists’ insatiable desire to be ahead in reporting.”

A Chinese Coast Guard and two missile-bearing People’s Liberation Army-Navy boats engaged a civilian Filipino vessel with the news team on board in an extended high-speed chase near Palawan Thursday.

ABS-CBN reporter Chiara Zambrano and her team were headed to Ayungin Shoal in Kalayaan, Palawan and was intercepted by Chinese ships while inside the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.

Arevalo implied Zambrano was simply hungry for a scoop and did not exercise prudence in doing her job.

“While we understand the journalists’ insatiable desire to be ahead in reporting, we appeal to them to exercise prudence in the course of their job,” Arevalo said.

The NUJP pointed out however that the journalists were on board a civilian boat sailing in Philippine waters and were not doing anything illegal.

“It is almost like the military is asking the Filipino journalists ‘what were you doing there?’” the NUJP said.

“[T]he better question might be aimed at the AFP: What were you not doing there? An even more important question is what the Chinese military was doing in our waters and how the (Rodrigo) Duterte administration plans to address this incident,” the group retorted.

The NUJP said Zambrano and team should instead be praised by the military and the Duterte government instead of being blamed.

“We commend them for going the extra nautical miles to try to get a better perspective on the situation in the West Philippine Sea,”

Chinese presence within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone had been on the news since last month as hundreds of Chinese vessels had been discovered to be overstaying at the Julian Felipe Reef. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Four other Southern Tagalog massacre victims identified

Four other massacre victims in last Sunday’s brutal police operations against activists have been identified, all of whom were accused of illegal possession of firearms and explosives like the other five.

Human rights group Karapatan Timog Katagalugan said Dumagat Sierra Madre members Puroy Berhemedo dela Cruz and Randy Berhemedo dela Cruz were shot dead by the police in Sitio Mina, Barangay Sta. Inez, Tanay, Rizal.

Urban poor activists Abner Damas Esto y Mendoza and Edward Damas Esto y Mendoza were also killed by the police in sitio Macaingalan, Barangay Puray, Rodriguez, Rizal as part of the Conduct of Simultaneous Implementation of Search Warrants dubbed COPLAN ASVAL by the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines across four provinces last March 7.

In a separate alert, Gabriela Youth Laguna said the dela Cruzes were killed separately but in a similar fashion.

Quoting Puroy’s wife Minda, Gabriela said the raiders arrived between three to four o’clock in the morning and ordered them to surrender with their alleged firearms.

But even before the dela Cruzes were able to comply the raiders shot at the victim four times and killed him, the group added.

Gabriela added that Randy’s family was violently roused from sleep an hour later when the raiders kicked their door down, ordered his wife Violy and their children out and walk 50 feet away.

As soon as the Randy’s wife and children turned their backs, the victim was shot multiple times, killing him instantly.

No details were provided as to how the Estos were killed.

Like the two others killed in Rodriguez, Rizal at what media groups dub as “Bloody Sunday”, the Esto siblings were members of the red-tagged urban poor group San Isidro Kasiglahan, Kapatiran at Damayan para sa Kabuhayan, Katarungan at Kapayapaan (SIKKAD-K3).

The PNP earlier bragged it killed nine persons last Sunday in a “big score” against alleged communists.

The five other massacre victims earlier identified by Karapatan Timog Katagalugan were:

  • Michael Dasigao and Mark “Mak Mak” Lee Coros Bacasno in Rodriguez, Rizal;
  • Manny Asuncion in Dasmarinas, Cavite; and
  • Couple Anna Mariz and Ariel Evangelista in Nasugbu, Batangas.

The police also declared it arrested six others of the same charge as illegal possession of firearms and explosives.

Karapatan Timog Katagalugan said among those arrested was Joan Ignacio Efren of Sitio Lukuang Malaki, San Isidro, Rodriguez, Rizal.

Earlier identified as arrested were:

  • Steve Mendoza and Elizabeth Camoral in Cabuyao, Laguna;
  • Nimfa Lanzanas in Calamba, Laguna;
  • Eugene Eugenio in Antipolo city.

The PNP refuses to identify the nine other target of its operations but human rights groups said one Lito Baez of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-Batangas missed being killed or arrested as he was not home when the police raided his house. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

2ND UPDATE: Massacre and mass arrest as SEMPO rampages in Southern Tagalog

By Joseph Cuevas

(This is a developing story. Refresh for more updates.)

Five activists were killed while four others were arrested in a joint Synchronized Enhanced Management of Police Operations in Laguna, Rizal, Cavite and Batangas provinces Sunday morning, eve of International Women’s Day, March 7.

The Philippine National Police (PNP) and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) conducted joint Synchronized Enhanced Management of Police Operations (SEMPO) in the four provinces that resulted in the massacre and arrests.

In Rodriguez, Rizal, Michael Dasigao, officer of a Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap-affiliate organization and a Mark “Mak Mak” Lee Coros Bacasno were shot dead by the police, an alert from human rights organization Karapatan-Southern Tagalog said.

Manny Asuncion

In Cavite, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN)-Cavite coordinator Manny Asuncion was brutally killed after police and military raided the Workers’ Assistance Center in Dasmariñas.

Photos released by Kilusang Mayo Uno’s Southern Tagalog chapter Pamantik show that Asuncion’s body appear to have been dragged from the center’s upper floor, leaving streaks of blood on the floor and stairs.

In Nasugbu, Batangas, activist couple Anna Mariz and Ariel Evangelista were found dead in a funeral home hours after police raided their house in Nasugbu.

Their 10-year old child was able to escape.

In Barangay Mamatid, Cabuyao, Laguna, Steve Mendoza, executive vice-president of OLALIA-Kilusang Mayo Uno, was arrested at his house at around 3:15 this morning.

Nimfa Lanzanas

Nimfa Lanzanas of Kapatid-Southern Tagalog, and aide for political prisoners in the region, was arrested in front of her grandchildren at her house in Calamba City.

Elizabeth Camoral, spokesperson of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) in Laguna, was also arrested after the police raided the office of farmers’s group Defend Yulo at around 4:30 in the morning in Cabuyao.

In Antipolo City, Rizal, Confederation for the Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (COURAGE)-Rizal member Eugene Eugenio was also arrested.

Eugenio is president of the Advancement of Rights and Responsibilities of Organized Workers LGU (ARROWS) – Antipolo City Hall.

Meanwhile, Lino Baez of BAYAN-Batangas missed being arrested as he was absent when his house was raided where the police said they found illegal guns.

Elizabeth Camoral

Karapatan Southern Tagalog is investigating reports of other arrests, including of Dumagat tribes people in Tanay, Rizal.

Manila Regional Trial Court First Vice Executive Judge Jose Lorenzo De La Rosa issued the search warrants used in the SEMPO.

The massacre and mass arrest today followed the simultaneous arrests of unionists Ramir Corcolon in San Pablo City and former Lakas ng Manggagawang Nagkakaisa sa Honda union leader Arnedo Laguinas in Sta. Rosa, both in Laguna province, last March 4.

SEMPO, previously implemented in Negros and Panay islands, has consistently resulted in massacres and mass arrests of activists.

Its latest implementation before this morning’s incident resulted in the massacre of nine and the mass arrest of Tumandok tribes people in Iloilo and Capiz provinces last December.

The Katipunan ng Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan said it condemns the “tokhang-style” attacks against progressive groups in the region and demanded justice for those killed today. # (With Raymund B. Villanueva. Photos provided by Karapatan ST)

Human rights lawyer survives murder attempt

A lawyer, counsel to human rights violations victims and petitioners against the Rodrigo Duterte government’s controversial Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, had been stabbed in Iloilo City Wednesday night, March 3.

Atty. Angelo Karlo Guillen was stabbed with a screw driver on his lower left temple and back by two unidentified assailants at about 9:15 PM along Gen. Antonio Luna Street in the said city.

He was taken to the St. Paul Hospital and is reportedly in stable condition.

An assistant vice president for Visayas of the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) and secretary general of its local chapter, Guillen serves as counsel in various public interest and human rights cases in both Panay and Negros islands.

The lawyer represents red-tagged activists and human rights defenders, including those arrested in the simultaneous raids in Bacolod City in October 2019 and the Tumandok arrested in Panay last December that also saw the killing of nine tribes people in two villages.

On May 1, 2020, Guillen was arrested when he tried to intervene in the mass arrest of 42 activists protesting the murder of Bayan Muna Iloilo coordinator Jory Porquia.

The assailants wore masks and caps, reports said.

Not a robbery

Groups and individuals said the assailants took pains to make it appear the attack was a common crime, a scenario the local police reportedly quickly supported.

“The attack against (the victim) was conveniently dismissed by the local PNP as robbery-hold up. Four hours after the incident there is still no hot-pursuit operation. There were no check points. Not even police visibility in the crime scene,” Lean Porquia, son of murdered Bayan Muna Iloilo City coordinator Jory, said.

Atty. Jose Edmund Guillen, Public Attorney’s Office Region VI chief and uncle to the victim also dismissed the police’s robbery theory.  

“You want to make it appear as a robbery? The CCTV footage says otherwise. It was a kill operation. Right on the dot, after the stabbing, two motorcycles arrived to pick up the masked killers and they disappear[ed] in the dark,” he said.

 “[W]e cannot be fooled by this, because we know for a fact that the state and its security forces have been targeting Atty. Guillen as well as other lawyers handling cases of activists not only in Panay island but in Negros island as well,” human rights group Karapatan Negros Oriental said in a statement.

State terror in Panay

Porquia said the lawyer’s laptop was taken that contained all the files of the cases he is handling, including his father’s murder, the Tumandok massacre, the anti terror law petition, the mass arrest of 42 activists, the Sagay 9 massacre, and several writ of Amparo cases.

“The attack on Atty. Guillen should be seen in the context of systematic, continuing, and increasing attacks on human rights and human rights defenders. Atty. Guillen has been redtagged for several times just like other peoples’ lawyers and human rights defenders who were tagged as ‘terrorists’ or ‘communists’ and were subsequently attacked and harassed,” the NUPL Panay Law Students group said.

Last February 28, a possible witness to the victim’s Tumandok 9 case was also killed .

Village chief Julie Catamin of Brgy. Roosevelt, Tapaz, Capiz was shot dead by motorcycle-riding assassin in Brgy. Malitbog, Calinog, Iloilo .

Catarmin went on record belying the Philippine National Police’s allegation that those massacred and arrested by police and military operatives in the December 30, 2020 bloodbath were communist guerillas.

Swift condemnation

Various groups and individuals condemned the attack against Guillen and called for an immediate investigation.

The Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) said Guillen’s attackers are evil.

“It is very clear that those who have motives to silence Atty. Guillen, even to the point of violence, could only be the Duterte regime and its tentacles in the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine National Police and the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict,” the labor federation said in Filipino.

The NUPL also condemned the slay attempt against its officer.

The group said it has recorded at least 54 killings of lawyers and judges that appear to be related their human rights work.

In December 2020, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, NUPL, and various legal groups raised concerns over the increasing and alarming incidents of attacks on lawyers before the Supreme Court. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Military ‘sorry’ for false list of dead or captured NPA

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (UP) apologized for its false list of University of the Philippines (UP) students who died or were captured as New People’s Army (NPA) rebels.

In a statement, the AFP said it sincerely apologizes to those “inadvertently affected by inconsistencies” in the list published on its Facebook account.

The AFP said its Civil-Military Operations Office is already conducting an internal investigation, adding it will hold to account those responsible.

The AFP apology,

The list had gone viral despite being deleted shortly after publication.

Among those listed as dead or captured NPA rebels are prominent UP alumni, including former government officials.

Former Congressman and Integrated Bar of the Philippines president Roan Libarios, former Government of the Republic of the Philippines Negotiating Panel chairperson and Philippine Health Insurance Corporation president Atty. Alexander Padilla, former Deparment of Environment and Natural Resources executive Elmer Mercado, and stage and film director Behn Cervantes who died of natural causes in August 2013 were among those listed.

False list

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) condemned the inclusion of at least two journalists in the list.

The NUJP said the listing of Agence France Presse bureau chief for Singapore and Malaysia Roberto “Bobby” Coloma and business and economic journalist Roel Landingin was “malicious red-tagging” by the military.

“It is appalling how the military office tasked with communicating with the citizenry has shamelessly resorted to such blatant falsehood to push the narrative of UP as the supposed ‘breeding ground’ of enemies of the state,” the NUJP said.

“We would normally dismiss this canard as laughably stupid. However, putting the people it names in mortal danger is no laughing matter at all. Especially since AFP units are known to spread disinformation such as this through their own social media accounts,” the media group added.

Schools reject Parlade’s allegation

In a related development, the Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU), De La Salle University (DLSU), University of Santo Tomas (UST), and the Far Eastern University (FEU) protested their inclusion in another list as recruitment havens for the NPA.

In a repeat of his allegations in 2018, National Task Force to End Local Communist and Armed Conflict spokesperson Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade said the NPA recruits new members from 18 Philippine colleges and universities.

ADMU President Roberto Yap, DLSU President Raymundo Suplido, FEU President Michael Alba and UST Vice Rector Isaias Tiongco jointly rejected Paralde’s statement against their schools.

The officials said their universities “seek to direct our students to engage in acts that contribute to the strengthening of social cohesion, defend the country’s democratic institutions, and promote nation-building.”

Parlade’s claims are “really getting old” and that the accusations were irresponsibly “cast without proof,” the school officials said.

Parlade’s statement and the AFP list followed defense secretary’s Delfin Lorenzana’s unilateral abrogation last week of the UP-Department of National Defense Agreement of 1989 requiring the AFP to seek permission before conducting operations in campus.

The move earned widespread condemnation from UP alumni and civil society groups. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)