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Protesta sa Araw ng Kalayaan upang ipaglaban ang West Philippine Sea laban sa agresyon ng China

Ipinagdiwang ng mga progresibong grupo sa pangunguna ng Bagong Alyansang Makabayan ang ika-123 anibersaryo ng deklarasyon ng kalayaan ng Pilipinas mula sa Espanya sa pamamagitan ng isang kilos protesta sa harapan ng konsulada ng Tsina sa Makati city noong Sabado, Hunyo12. Tinutulan nila ang anila’y kapabayaan ng gubyernong Rodrigo Duterte sa West Philippine Sea at pang-uupat ng Tsina sa mga mangingisdang Pilipino sa loob ng Exclusive Economic Zone ng bansa. (Bidyo nina Jek Alcaraz at Joseph Cuevas. Editing ni Jek Alcaraz)

Activist groups challenge NPA to ensure justice for blast victims

They challenged the NPA conduct a thorough investigation and submit its report to the Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC) of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) signed between the National Democratic Front of the Philippines and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines.

Activist groups condemned the death of two civilians in a botched military operation by the New People’s Army (NPA) in Masbate last Sunday, June 6.

In a statement, progressive group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) said the incident was a violation of the International Humanitarian Law that prohibits harm on unarmed civilians in the course of an armed conflict.

“These civilian deaths are condemnable. We extend our sincerest condolences to the families of the two victims,” Bayan said Wednesday.

Human rights group Karapatan likewise criticized the NPA unit responsible for the “deplorable and lamentable incident.”

“We take to task the CPP (Communist Party of the Philippines) and NPA for the woeful and tragic incident and expect them to make sure that it does not happen again. The parties to an armed conflict should always distinguish civilians from combatants and adhere to ‘the principles and rules which limit the use of violence in times of armed conflict,’” Karapatan said.

The group added it expects the group to live up to its promise to ensure prompt investigation and to indemnify the victims through their families.

The Makabayan Bloc of progressive parties at the House of Representatives who, like Bayan and Karapatan, are incessantly accused by government agencies to be “CPP front organizations” and “NPA recruiters and defenders” also condemned the incident.

“We condemn the military action by a unit of the NPA in Masbate City that caused their death and injuries to others for violating international humanitarian law,” Bayan Muna, Gabriela Women’s Party, ACT Teachers’ Party and the Kabataan Youth Party said.

“Mariing kinukundena ng Kabataan Partylist ang naturang aksyong militar ng NPA na humantong sa pagkamatay nina Kieth at Nolven Absalon sa Masbate. Ipinapabatid muli ng Kabataan ang taos-pusong pakikiramay sa kanilang pamilya,” the Kabataan Party in a separate statement said.

(Kabataan Party firmly condemns the NPA military action that led to the deaths of Keith and Nolven Absalon in Masbate. Kabataan sends its heartfelt condolences to their families.)

‘Rules of war violation’

Cousins Keith (21) and Nolven (40) Absalon were killed by a roadside explosion reportedly set off by a NPA unit in the area last June 6 at past six o’clock in the morning while the victims.

Nolven’s son Crisbin Daniel (16) was likewise injured.

Keith was a college football star who played with the Far Eastern University junior and senior football teams, earning most valuable player honors in high school. He was also a member of the under-19 Philippine national team.

Nolven was a chairperson of the Board of Directors of the Masbate Electric Cooperative Employees Union.

As per its practice after each military action, the NPA admitted responsibility for the incident last Tuesday.

The death of two civilians and injury of another however prompted the CPP to speak for the guerilla army it leads.

 “The entire (CPP) and (NPA) express their deep remorse over the untimely and unnecessary deaths of cousins Keith and Nolven Absalon and injury to others,” CPP information officer Marco Valbuena said.

“The entire CPP and NPA take full responsibility for the tragedy. There is no justification for the aggravation this has caused the Absalon family,” Valbuena added.

In another statement issued June 9, Valbuena said the takes cognizance of the grave sentiments and denouncement expressed by concerned quarters.

Valbuena admitted that the botched military operation appears to have violated rules of war as well as the NPA’s own policies.

“Indeed, the unfortunate incident involves a breach of international laws of war and of the internal rules of the NPA which gives the highest priority to the protection of civilians at all times,” Valbuena said.

He explained that the NPA unit and personnel responsible are under the authority of the NPA and the so-called People’s Democratic Government it has established in areas under its control.

Valbuena said that the incident is currently being “fully assessed, with the aim of avoiding such errors in the future.”

In line with the NPA’s rules, Valbuena said those found responsible can be meted out “disciplinary action or punishment” corresponding to their individual responsibilities and conduct during the incident.

‘Proper mechanism’

Bayan and Kabataan however said that while the CPP have promptly owned up to the tragedy and promised indemnification, they challenged the NPA conduct a thorough investigation and submit its report to the Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC) of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines-Government of the Republic of the Philippines Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL).

“There should be accountability in accordance with the mechanisms agreed upon by both parties to the armed conflict…The JMC should be convened as a mechanism for the aggrieved parties who wish to file a complaint against erring armed units,” Bayan said.

Makabayan has urged the Absalon family to file a complaint against those responsible to the JMC.

“Marapat lamang na paganahin ang malinaw na patakaran, tulad ng (JMC) ng CARHRIHL bilang awtoridad sa ganitong mga kaso, para matiyak ang hustisya at pananagutan,” Kabataan for its part said.

(The JMC must be activated as the proper mechanism in addressing such cases. This is to ensure justice and accountability.)

Valbuena said their groups agree to the recommendations.

“Under the CARHRIHL, we are obliged to cooperate with the NDFP Section of the (JMC) if a complaint is filed before it,” he said.

He added that the CPP and the NPA shall likewise consult pertinent provisions of the Geneva Conventions as guides to determining the proper resolutions. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Bayan on Fr. Jun Mercado: ‘Remarkable human being’

Fr. Eliseo “Jun” Mercado Jr. made his mark as a peace champion in behalf of the Bangsamoro. Quite unknown or forgotten however was his past as one of the founding leaders of the militant Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan).

In a tribute, Bayan chairperson Dr. Carol Araullo revealed Mercado was one of the first vice presidents of the country’s biggest alliance of progressive organizations. He was a stalwart of the national alliance of patriotic and democratic mass organizations at the height of the Filipino people’s struggle against the Ferdinand Marcos dictatorship, Araullo wrote. She added that Mercado was once of its founding leaders when the alliance was founded in 1985 and served as one of the vice presidents of Bayan’s founding chairperson Senator Lorenzo Tañada.

“[Fr. Jun] spearheaded the formation of the People’s Caucus after the fall of the Marcos dictatorship. The People’s Caucus was organized by Bayan in order to form a broad front that would continue to push for fundamental socio-economic and political reforms in the post-Marcos era,” Araullo said.

Araullo recalled that one of the main projects of the People’s Caucus was to put together a blueprint for the conversion of the former United States military bases into productive industrial and commercial hubs once the Philippines would be able to reassert national sovereignty over the sprawling prime real estate in Subic, Olongapo and Clark, Pampanga.

“This was to disprove allegations of pro-US quarters that the local economy built around and dependent on the US military installations would collapse should the US pull out. This was important in the campaign to reject the renewal of the RP-US military bases agreement in 1991,” Araullo said.

Both the former US Navy base in Subic and the US Air Force base in Clark have since become economic enclaves when the Americans left in a hurry as Mt. Pinatubo erupted in the early 90s.

Mercado died last May 23 in a Cotabato hospital of a heart attack as he was battling Covid-19.

 ‘Jovial and untiring’

Araullo remembered Mercado as a “very jovial, unassuming, cooperative, sincere and untiring Bayan official and People’s Caucus secretary general.”

“[He] lent his sharp intellect, articulate voice, persuasive charm and warm hearted generosity for the pursuit of BAYAN’s advocacies through its political education and information campaigns as well as mass mobilizations including people’s strikes under the Cory Aquino administration,” she said.

The priest was born and raised in Bulacan and Manila, respectively. His father was an American -trained World War II pilot.

Far from being a priest, Mercado originally wanted to become a politician. His plans drastically changed when he heard Oblate priest Bertrand de Merz introduce the Oblates of the Missionary Immaculate (OMI) in a visit to his school. The young Mercado entered the seminary in 1964 after high school at age 16 and professed his first vows as an Oblate in 1967. Mercado went on to study Classics and Philosophy at the University of Santo Tomas and Theology and Missiology at the Gregorian University in Rome.

As a seminarian, Mercado’s scholarship was drawn to the rituals of birth to death of the Tausug in Sulu province. This influenced his decision to pursue Islamic Studies and Arabic Studies in Italy and Special Studies in Islamic Archaeology in Cairo. In a Philippine Daily Inquirer interview, Mercado described his dedication to study Islam as a “great passion (and) thirst.”

Thus, after his historic role as one of Bayan’s founding leaders and helmsman for the People’s Caucus, Mercado transferred himself to Mindanao from where he became active and well known for his championship of the Bangsamoro. From his Notre Dame University base in Cotobato City, Mercado played the role of peacemaker.

In so doing, Araullo said Mercado was being consistent in his advocacy for the Moro’s right to self determination, a role he played in all of his five decades as a religious.

“[He was] unwavering, if at times critical (in his) support for the GRP (Government of the Republic of the Philippines)-MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front) peace negotiations…[as well as in] his courageous and unflinching role as a human rights advocate and defender of civil and political rights in the troubled island,” Araullo said

She added that Mercado took a principled stand against the Rodrigo Duterte administration’s martial law declaration in Mindanao in the wake of the Marawi Siege and became a convenor of Mindanaoans for Civil Liberties and Barug Katungod Mindanao.

Araullo said Mercado exemplified the activist priest who found and practiced the highest convergence of being the servant of God and service to the people.

“He did not shirk from social and political activism as unbecoming of a man of the cloth but embraced it with scholarly enthusiasm and imbued it with a high moral and spiritual conviction. His life-long focus on the plight, struggles and aspirations of the Moro people is a testament to his profound understanding and embrace of the most exploited, oppressed and discriminated against among God’s people,” Araullo said.

The Bayan leader said they are privileged and proud to have been a part of Mercado’s life’s journey as a “remarkable human being.”

“May his fine example shine a light on many more religious men and women who aspire to be relevant and contribute significantly to our people’s national and social liberation,” she said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

‘It is just a sweeping accusation, no different from red-tagging’

“The designation is arbitrary, has no clear standards, with no evidence presented and no specific terrorist acts cited. It is just a sweeping accusation, no different from red-tagging, that violates the rights of those designated. Those listed will also suffer the freezing of their bank accounts, a direct injury. All of this was done without due process.” — Renato Reyes, Secretary-General, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan

Groups: ‘New ECQ is display of gov’t’s incompetence’

Groups condemned government’s announcement of plans to put Metro Manila and and provinces of Cavite, Laguna, Bulacan, and Rizal under the strictest quarantine measure anew.

Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) said the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) recommendation to President Rodrigo Duterte for another round of enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) is a display of “never-ending cycle of incompetence.”

“We are going back to ECQ but without the government assurance that there will be increased free mass testing, better contact tracing and increased capacity of our hospitals including more health workers. We are going back to ECQ without the assurance of aid for the economically displaced,” Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes Jr. said.

Reyes said the IATF recommendation again places the burden and sacrifice squarely on the people.

“We cannot merely rely on lockdowns to stop the spread of COVID. The lockdowns are only supposed to buy government time to beef up the health care system,” Reyes added.

In a Facebook post on March 27, Presidential spokesperson Herminio Roque Jr said the ECQ shall again involve the heightened presence of uniformed personnel to enforce community quarantine protocols.

Curfew shall also be imposed from six o’clock in the evening to five o’clock the next morning.

Nearly 10,000 new cases daily are being reported in the Philippines in the past few days, the worst in the Western Pacific.

Migrante International also scored the announcement, saying the new lockdown measures only show the Duterte government has failed in dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.

Migrante said the government’s militaristic response is to blame for the country’s failure to check the spread of the virus, including its new variants.

“Kaya po sa pagbabalik ng ECQ sa ating bansa, ang kailangan po natin ngayon ay panagutin ang mga nagkasala, ang mga nagkulang at naging palpak mula nang unang ipatupad ang lockdown noong isang taon,” Migrante International said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

BAYAN, ipinaliwanag ang #DutertePalpak sa pandemya

Ipinaliwanag ni Renato Reyes, pangkalahatang kalihim ng Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN), ang aniya’y maraming kapalpakan ng gubyernong Rodrigo Duterte sa isang taong pagharap ng bansa sa pandemyang coronavirus. Sa harap ng Commission on Human Rights sa Quezon City noong Marso 17, 2021, inilahad ni Reyes ang kawalan ng maayos na sistema sa pagharap sa pandemya na nagdulot ng isang taong nagdurusa ng mamamayan sa mga hakbangin ng pamahalaan. Kabilang dito ang matinding pagbagsak ng ekonomiya, malawakang pagkawala ng trabaho, walang sapat na ayuda sa mga maralita, at patuloy pagdami ng nagkakasakit ng COVID – 19.

Aklan activists warn of more SEMPO-like raids by police, seek help from local leaders

Activists in Aklan province asked local political and church leaders to stop a repeat of mass killings and arrests of civilians by the police.

In an open letter to Aklan Governor Florencio Miraflores, Representatives Carlito Marquez and Teodorico Haresco Jr., the Diocese of Kalibo, and the local media as well as to residents, members of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN)-Aklan and the Makabayan bloc appealed for the preemption of a repeat of the massacre of nine Tumandok tribespeople and the mass arrest of 16 others last December 30.

“[W]e are conveying our appeal to all of you to take necessary actions so as to preempt the perceived occurrence of a SEMPO (Synchronized Enhanced Management of Police Operations)-like operation in the province of Aklan that might cost lives of civilians,” the activists said in their January 24 letter.

The activists explained they suspect that another SEMPO is about to happen, this time against leaders and members of both BAYAN-AKLAN and the MAKABAYAN Bloc in the province.

Makabayan is a group of progressive political parties that are members of the House of Representatives, including Bayan Muna, Gabriela Women’s Party, Kabataan Youth Party and ACT Teachers Party.

“We are making the public aware that the gale of red-tagging campaign of the NFT-ELCAC (National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict) is blowing strongly in the province of Aklan amid (the) crisis of COVID19,” they said.

The activists said tarpaulins demonizing their groups abound in Kalibo City while surveillance and monitoring of their activities increased since January 4.

The activists suspect that State forces are behind the harassments.

The 12th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army also increased its harangues against their organizations on its Sunday block time radio program, the activists complained.

The Tumandok had been subjected to the same threats and harassments before the Rizal Day massacre and mass arrests, the letter explained.

“The current red-tagging and subjecting of activists under intense surveillance are incidents that serve as preludes to warrant-less search and arrests, massacre and killings,” the activists said.

The appeal added that local political and church leaders personally know the activists who are engaged with them in dialogues and humanitarian activities for Aklanon’s welfare.

“Yes we are activists, but we are not terrorists,” the letter said.

“[W]e are appealing to the provincial government of Aklan through Governor Florencio T. Miraflores and to the Chairman of the Committee of on Human Rights in the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Aklan to immediately take necessary action to protect our civil, constitutional and human rights as your constituents in the province,” the activists said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Muling pagsusulong ng Charter Change, mariing tinutulan

Nagtungo sa tarangkahan ng Batasang Pambansa ang iba’t-ibang grupo kahapon, Enero 13, upang tutulan ang muling tangka ng mga kaalyado ni Pangulong Rodrigo Duterte na baguhin ang Saligang Batas.

Ayon sa Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, bukod sa economic provisions na nagreresulta sa 100% pagmamay-ari ng mga dayuhang korporasyon sa mga lupa at mahahalagang industriya sa bansa, nais din ng Charter Change o Cha-Cha na magkaroon ng term extension sa mga pulitiko mula kongresista hanggang kay Pangulong Duterte.

Alvin Luque’s journey to immortality

By Raymund B. Villanueva

Alvin Luque’s story was of a red-tagged activist who chose to fight back by joining an armed group to carry on a commitment to serve the people. He eventually perished in a hail of bullets in the dead of night last December 10, International Human Rights Day while on his sickbed. In his death, however, he gained immortality in the eyes of many.

His old friends say they had no inkling of what Alvin would someday become, a prominent Communist guerrilla who drove the military to countless operations to capture and kill one of loudest voices of the New People’s Army (NPA).

‘The student politician with a Brit accent’

Alvin was born of a well off family in Cotabato City who sent a precocious son to the best private schools in the island—a privilege he paid back by being a good student.

Fr. Eliseo Mercado, OMI, former president of Notre Dame University of Cotabato (NDUC), in a radio address said Alvin was among the brightest in his class, a scholar throughout elementary and high school. Among the thousands who had once been students of the school, he clearly remembers Alvin and felt compelled to talk about him on the day his former ward was killed by the military.

It was not only the priest that remembers Alvin as a child. A schoolmate recalled Alvin was a cheerful and friendly child. He greeted and waved at everyone around the campus. “’Alvin The Good Politician’ ang tawag ko sa kanya pag nakikita na namin siya ng mga klasmeyt ko. Solved na ang Algebra problem ko dahil nakakagaan ng pakiramdam ‘pag nakikita namin siya,” Mohida Sali wrote of her old schoolmate.

A classmate who declined to be named said Alvin was a competitive rival for top class honors. He delighted in debating in English to prove who was best. But his desire to be top did not deter from his being a good friend, his classmate said. “Oftentimes we watched Betamax movies at their house, which only a few families could afford in the 80s,” the classmate said. His nickname was Bimbo, “cute, fat, fair-skinned and chinito,” the classmate added. Alvin was also active in religious clubs and school politics. His father was a manager of a big business while his mother was a teacher at NDUC’s girls’ school.

Bai Ka Uy, an artist friend, said Alvin captained their high school’s debate team, one who spoke with a British accent.

Another friend, Amirah Ali Lidasan, surmised that Alvin cultivated his British accent because of his fondness for New Wave music pioneered by English bands in the 1980s. But his absolute favorite artists in his younger days were Rick Astley and Spandau Ballet. The latter’s song “Gold” was Alvin’s karaoke standard, Lidasan revealed. “But he came from a family of Cotabato city educators who probably had the bigger influence in his mastery of the English language,” Lidasan added.

“When he enrolled at the Ateneo de Davao University for an English degree, he was teased for his accent,” Uy recalled.

At the Ateneo, Alvin could not help but shine. As he did in elementary and high school, he dove into campus politics and was department representative to the student council.  Thus began his student activism and his first brushes with the pointed end of the State’s stick.

Uy recalled: “We were restless and full of hope. The country has just been released from the grasp of one demon to another [In 1986]. All 36 of us marching for students’ rights and [against] oil price hikes when we were halted by three police vehicles, [the police] fired shots. Napagkamalan ka pang pari , which saved you from getting floored. A small price to pay for believing that the Filipino youth deserves…better education.”

Uy said the arrested students, including Alvin, were asked to strip for a search and slept in a dirty cell the night of their arrest. “There was drama all around. But we ate barbeque courtesy of our current president (then Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte) who ordered bunches of chicken bbq from Delongtes which was just nearby. This president has gone a long way too, and by all signs has done his own personal [180 degree turnaround],” Uy continued.

In his senior year, Alvin was persuaded to have a go at the top post but lost. He however took his student leadership to the national level and got elected as National Union of Students of the Philippines vice president for Mindanao in the early 1990s.

After college, Alvin became an English teacher at the Assumption School of Davao. But the calling to serve the poor was too strong for Alvin to ignore.

A young Alvin Luque in Davao City. (Supplied photo)

His generation’s best

Alvin became a workers’ organizer while teaching at the exclusive girl’s school in the late 1990s.  

“He lived and fought with the workers. During his stint in the legal mass movement, Alvin showed resoluteness, courage, perseverance, and humility. He had a deep sense of sympathy for the oppressed even though he came from a middle class family,” the Kilusang Mayo Uno-Southern Mindanao Region (KMU-SMR) said in its tribute.

“To many who knew and worked with him, he was fun to be with and loved to exchange ideas with his colleagues. He was brilliant and expressive, and he devoted his talents to advancing the struggles of ordinary people,” the group added.

Former KMU-SMR comrade Omar Bantayan said Alvin became a real activist when he began to identify himself with the marginalized.

“[He] came from a pretty affluent background — eating veggies back then was even a struggle for him,” Bantayan said.

Uy echoed this, revealing that Alvin did not like fish in broth, a staple in Central and Southern Philippines. “Naka-simangot ‘yun, pero ngingiti agad at kakain din naman,” Uy said.

Alvin put his public speaking skills to full use as an activist-leader. “[His] command of linguistics shamed the average politician. The podiums and lecterns [he] stood behind were so honored when [he] delivered [his] fiery speeches,” Bantayan wrote. Alvin also penned the best prose and poetry Bantayan said he ever laid eyes on.

Alvin Luque leading a rally in Davao City. (Davao Today file photo)

It was after his KMU stint and he became Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-Southern Mindanao Region (Bayan-SMR) secretary general that Alvin became a problem for the oppressive State.

Red-tagging victim

Alvin was a tireless and creative Bayan-SMR secretary general, Uy recalled, adding that he always asked that cultural presentations be regular parts of rallies he organized and led. His stint as leading regional activist coincided with the successful campaign to oust the Joseph Estrada government.

Alvin’s success as leader went beyond activists’ circles. In the 2001 national and local elections, then re-electionist Duterte included him in his slate for the city council. He narrowly lost, however.

After the elections, the military stepped up its red-tagging of Alvin. In July 2002, the 73rd Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army accused him and other activists of being NPA members. Like what it does today with many activists, the military presented so-called witnesses with fantastic stories of Alvin giving large amounts and mobile phones to NPA guerillas. One military witness also alleged it was Alvin who ordered the burning of a bus, a farm and a government office.

To counter the rebellion charge against Alvin, his lawyers submitted to the Court a photograph showing him and other Assumption faculty members attending a junior-senior prom. The photo was taken at the time he was allegedly at an NPA camp in Davao City’s remote Barangay Marilog on the second week of February 1999.

In another affidavit, Bishop Felixberto Calang of the Philippine Independent Church (PIC) said he saw Luque at the PIC’s Davao City compound along Torres Street practically every night that week. Alvin helped in the preparations for the centennial celebration of the establishment of the Union Obrera Democratica Filipina, the country’s first real labor federation established in 1902.

“It would be physically impossible then for Alvin Luque to have gone to Marilog in the second week of February 1999 and stay there for a week as alleged,” Calang said.

Still, the military and State did not let up. While dropping charges against Alvin’s co-accused, the rebellion charge against him was ordered all the way from Manila. Soon, even the trumped up charges and threats of arrest did not suffice and Alvin had to take his activism elsewhere in Mindanao and even to Metro Manila.

Alvin Luque as candidate for the Davao City Council, here with the late Bayan Muna Representative Joel Virador. (Supplied photo)

The military’s persecution of Alvin continued to worsen, forcing him to confront his accusers directly and publicly. In a public letter to former Task Force Davao commander Col. Eduardo del Rosario in January 2007, Alvin accused the military and the police of “[using] political killings to silence those critical of [the] government” to win the so-called war against alleged enemies of the State and to win medals.

“The AFP’s Bantay Laya (counterinsurgency program during the Gloria Arroyo government) may have set perhaps the most elaborate and the most expensive military campaign to date, but this has not deterred the people’s will to rid the nation of a Marcos-like regime,” Alvin wrote. “The AFP’s use of the Judiciary circuit to immobilize activist leaders has undermined the Courts. It has turned this institution into an apparatus to carry out the regime’s all-out war, a war that is devoid of any sense of justice,” he added.

To arms

Believing he is about to be summarily killed by the military like many of his fellow activists, Alvin made himself scarce. For nearly three years, people wondered where he had gone. Alvin has in fact sought refuge in the guerrilla zones of the NPA in 2007-2008, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) revealed. In 2009, he made his first public appearance as an NPA guerilla.

At the celebration of the CPP’s anniversary that year, Alvin ended all speculation and spoke before journalists somewhere in Surigao del Sur wearing a CPP shirt and an NPA cap.

“Yes, I have chosen to seek refuge under the revolutionary movement, particularly with the Communist Party of the Philippines, New People’s Army and the National Democratic Front (NDF). This is the most logical choice on my part because these are the very organizations that can guarantee not only my protection from political killings but also, above all, freedom of the people from the oppressive grip of a reactionary fascist state,” he announced in what became the biggest story of the CPP’s anniversary that year.

“I am still breathing and fighting precisely because of this choice. This has been my personal choice. This does not in any way prove that the organizations I was involved with in the legal arena and the revolutionary forces that I have sought refuge in are one and the same,” he added.

He was henceforth known as Ka (Comrade) Joaquin Jacinto.

Ka Joaquin Jacinto, NDF-Mindanao spokesperson, at the CPP’s 48th anniversary celebrations in Paquibato, Davao City, December 26, 2016. (Kilab Multimedia photo)

For a period, Ka Joaquin was assigned to a local unit of the NPA where he deepened his understanding of the situation of the peasant masses and the necessity of waging armed revolution. He is remembered by the masses and the Red fighters for his almost constant jolly mood, the CPP said.

In several CPP anniversary celebrations in the Caraga and Davao regions, Ka Joaquin was the master of ceremonies. He dropped his British-accented English and spoke flawless Cebuano instead. He presided over the biggest CPP celebrations ever, even a peace summit where Duterte’s Cabinet officials attended and where the President allegedly sent roasted calves.

There was something else different with Ka Joaquin. Gone were the chubby and asthmatic Alvin of Catholic schools and urban areas. What people saw was a lean and muscular Ka Joaquin who looked fit enough to be a real guerilla fighter.

In an interview at a Bukidnon camp, Ka Joaquin said it actually took him long to decide whether to join the NPA or not. “Of course, one question was, would I be able to leave my family, friends and all the things I was accustomed to behind for the NPA. That was easily answered by the greater need to survive,” he said. But his real dilemma for was his health and physical state.

“When I climbed to my first NPA camp, I took 10 steps and stopped to rest and catch my breath. How could they think I was NPA before I actually joined?” he exclaimed.

At the NPA camp in 2012, however, Kodao witnessed Ka Joaquin fetching water from a nearby stream without breaking sweat. He easily carried heavy water jugs on both hands while climbing steep inclines. “My asthma seems cured by our long treks and climbs. I am also eating more vegetables and fresh food,” he said.

The CPP said Ka Joaquin had difficulties adjusting physically to the guerrilla movements of the NPA–night trekking, carrying one’s own load and scaling steep mountains. “He would shed weight and eventually find his ‘fighting form,’” it added.

For several years, Ka Joaquin would join Ka Oris (Jorge Madlos, NPA spokesperson) and help in strengthening the work of NDF-Mindanao. He worked closely with the CPP Information Bureau and served as one of the faces of the Philippine revolution, the CPP said.

Recognizing Ka Joaquin’s keen political sense, he was assigned as NDF-Mindanao spokesperson in 2016.

It was the CPP’s 48th anniversary celebrations in Davao City’s Paquibato District in December 26, 2016 that Ka Joaquin led one of his biggest events. A few months later, Duterte turned his back on formal peace negotiations with the NDF and declared both the CPP and the NPA as terrorist organizations.

Ka Joaquin Jacinto as master of ceremony at the Peace Summit with NDFP peace negotiators. (Kilab Multimedia photo)

By the military’s own admission, they had launched many combat operations specifically to capture or kill Ka Joaquin.

Hors de combat

He was unarmed and was convalescing when a combined military and police raiding team swooped down at a Tandag City resort at one o’clock in the morning supposedly to serve a warrant of arrest on Ka Joaquin.

“He was detached a few months ago from the main office of the NDF-Mindanao to undergo medical checkups and to recuperate from partial paralysis. A few months ago, he was physically debilitated and could not walk after he underwent intense physical struggles amid heavy enemy operations and counter-guerrilla maneuvers,” the CPP said.

On International Human Rights Day, the red-tagged activist, fierce human rights defender and revolutionary leader lay dead on his sick bed, cut down by the military that had long wanted him gone.

A flood of tributes poured out when news of his death spread.

Ang kanyang buhay, kahit naiiba, ay itinatanyag po natin sapagkat iyon ay isang buhay na pag-aalalay para sa kapwa at para po sa bayan…Maraming kabataan ang mai-inspire sa kanyang buhay, katulad din ng maraming kabataan na nag-aalay ng kanyang panahon, treasure, at time para sa bayan. Kaya po pinagpupugayan po natin si Alvin Luque,” Fr. Mercado said.

“The eloquent chubby young boy from Cotabato city was not only a friend but now my hero,” Uy said.

Bantayan wrote, “[He[ loved purely and [he was] loved back by [his] friends, students, and the peasants and workers he served. Alvin, you will always live in our hearts.”

KMU-SMR exclaimed, “Highest honor to Alvin Luque, a workers’ and peoples’ martyr!”

The CPP and all revolutionary forces pay the highest tribute to Ka Joaquin. Together, let us raise our fists and celebrate his innumerable contributions in serving the oppressed and exploited Filipino masses and their revolutionary cause,” the underground party said.

But Alvin himself had long predicted his death: “I have no regrets with the choice I have made…and I will use this life to make my mark, together with other revolutionaries, in liberating the people from a rotten society. And should I die in the course of this fight, it is one death I know that is well worth bearing.” #

Army, police kill Alvin Luque in midnight raid

Prominent Davao activist Alvin Luque–who after many threats to his life by suspected State agents joined the New People’s Army (NPA)–was killed by a composite military and police team in a raid at 1AM this morning in Tandag City, Surigao del Sur.

The Philippine Army 4th Infantry Division said Luque, also known by his nom de guerre Joaquin Jacinto, was killed along with a yet unidentified male medic at Hermanias Resort, Purok Milion, Barangay San Agustin by elements of the Philippine Army’s 401st Brigade and the Philippine National Police-Caraga.

The military said they raided Luque’s hideout to serve an arrest warrant but were fired upon.

The ensuing firefight eventually led to the death of the victims, the military press release said.

Luque had at least five pending cases in various courts in Mindanao and a Php6 million bounty for his arrest, the military added.

He was charged with attempted murder, kidnapping and serious illegal detention.

The military also claimed the raiding team recovered a handgun, a grenade, various kinds of ammunition, bomb paraphernalia, an NPA flag and documents at the scene.

Independent Kodao sources confirmed that one of the victims was Luque.

They said that Luque was ailing, unable to walk and a hors de combat (unable to fight), thus the presence of the medic with him.

A frail asthmatic even before joining the NPA, Luque suffered from other ailments that forced him to seek medical care in the Surigao del Sur capital city of Tandag.

Luque and his medic’s killing was reminiscent of the deaths of legendary NPA commander Leoncio “Parago” Pitao and his medic in Davao City in June 2015.

The NPA said Pitao was also being medically attended to when summarily fired upon by government soldiers.

‘Red-tagging victim’

Luque first gained prominence as secretary general of the Southern Mindanao chapter of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan in the late 1990s to early 2000s.

Previously, he was a student activist at the Ateneo de Davao University, a consistent candidate in the school’s student council elections.

In the 2001 national and local elections, Luque was a candidate for a Davao City Council seat with then Mayor Rodrigo Duterte’s party. He narrowly lost.

Due to his inclusion in the military’s order of battle lists and red-tagging campaigns by suspected State agents, Luque decided to join the NPA sometime in 2007.

In an essay, Luque wrote, “I have chosen not to submit myself to the processes of the law under the present reactionary government in the interest primarily of self-preservation, and to be effective still in contributing to the people’s struggle for national liberation and democracy.”

READ: Hounded by Military for Years, Ex-Bayan Leader Takes Refuge in NPA

Luque regularly featured in news reports and radio interviews as one of the more eloquent spokespersons of the Communist guerilla army.

He was also the spokesperson of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines in Mindanao.

A Philippine News Agency report said Luque rose to become a member of the executive committee and spokesperson of the Mindanao Commission of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP). # (Raymund B. Villanueva)