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4 AFP troopers killed in Aurora clash, CPP reports

Four government troopers were killed last May 28, Tuesday, in an encounter with the New People’s Army (NPA) in Barangay Bazal, Maria Aurora town in Aurora Province, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) reported.

In an announcement on its website, the CPP said the clash was the third in a week that is part of the ongoing operations by the 84th Infantry Battalion-Philippine Army (IBPA) against Communist guerrillas in the province.

The CPP said the NPA suffered no casualty and were able to maneuver to safety after the clash.

“Even after the gunfight was over and the people’s army has withdrawn, the soldiers continued to fire indiscriminately in random directions,” the CPP added.

The 84th IBPA has not issued a statement on the incident on its Facebook page.

The 703rd Agila Brigade of the 7th Infantry Division however said the May 22 clash in Barangay Toytoyan between the 91st Infantry Battalion and the NPA fighters resulted in the wounding of a government trooper.

The army unit told Inquirer.net that it saw “heavy bloodstains” on the NPA’s withdrawal route.

It also claimed it recovered a M14 rifle that belonged to an NPA fighter in the May 21 clash.

Scores of civilians evacuate from AFP’s bombing operations in Aurora Province. (Altermidya photo)

Massive evacuation after bombings

Reports from human rights organization Karapatan-Central Luzon (CL) said the ongoing military operations started last May 20 at Barangay Toytoyan, Dipaculao town when combined Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and Philippine National Police (PNP) launched operations against the NPA in the area.

At around six o’clock of May 21, two helicopters of the 91st IBPA of the 7th Infantry Division conducted search operations in barangays Diamanen, Toytoyan, Puangi, Dimabuno, Salay, and Sapang Kawayan in Dipaculao, the group said.

The helicopters then conducted bombing operations in barangays Bannawag, Bayanihan, and Cadayacan in the adjacent town of Maria Aurora, Karapatan-CL added.

The AFP said its heightened military operations launched at the start of 2024 is to go after so-called NPA remnants, claiming they are about to decisively “wipe-out” out the revolutionary army by year-end.

The same claim however has been repeated for decades, without the promised results.

Civilians pile themselves and their belongings on tricycles on their way to evacuation centers following AFP’s bombing operations near their communities in Aurora Province. (Altermidya photo)

Rules of war

The CPP said that the AFP operations have displaced and terrorized the civilian population, disrupting their livelihoods in the village and forests.

Since May 20, up to 3,633 families have been affected by the non-stop combat operations of the AFP in the area, the group said, quoting a May 25 Department of Social Welfare and Development report report.

Aurora Gov. Reynante Tolentino said they evacuated affected residents to the Dipaculao Sports Complex, Mega Evacuation Center, and Ipil Evacuation Center.

The Maria Aurora local government suspended classes at all after the second clash last May 22.

In its report, Karapatan-CL condemned the “indiscriminate firing and bombing operations” of the AFP and PNP in the area, calling on government forces to abide by International Humanitarian Law.

It added that as early as April, government troopers have prevented civilians from attending to their farms as part of “focused military operations” in the province.

The National Council of Churches of the Philippines also urged the government military to stop its bombing operations that affect civilians.

“The trembling effects of these bombs instilled fear among residents that resulted in mass evacuations, disrupted school classes, and prevented farmer residents from tending to their fields,” the fellowship of the biggest Protestant churches in the Philippines said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Ang kinang ng isang maikling tula ng pagmamahal sa litanya ng pang-aapi’t pagsasamantala

Ni Nuel M. Bacarra

How Do I Love Thee? (Sonnet 43)

By Elizabeth Barrett Browning

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

I love thee to the depth and breadth and height

My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight

For the ends of being and ideal grace.

I love thee to the level of every day’s

Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.

I love thee freely, as men strive for right.

I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.

I love thee with the passion put to use

In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.

I love thee with a love I seemed to lose

With my lost saints. I love thee with the breath,

Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose,

I shall but love thee better after death.

Ang unang linya ng sonetong How Do I Love Thee? (Sonnet 43) ni Elizabeth Barrett Browning ay ganito: “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.” Ang sumunod na isang-dosenang linya ay pawang litanya ng pagmamahal sa kanyang irog. Hindi nakapag-tatakang popular pa rin ang tulang ito sa lahat ng mangingibig mahigit isa’t kalahating siglo na ang nakakaraan.

Mapalad ang mga iniibig. Sila ang taga-tanggap ng mabubuti’t magaganda sa mundo. Kabaligtaran naman kapag ang isang tao ang kinasusuklaman. Sambot niya ang lahat ng ngitngit, uyam, poot, at suklam, ito man ay karapat-dapat o hindi.

Ang kaso ng isang politiko at isang botante ay isang halimbawa. Sa panahon ng eleksiyon, tila isang pursigidong mangingibig ang isang kandidato sa panliligaw ng ating mga boto. Subalit ang pag-ibig ng isang nahalal ay nasusukat lamang kapag naluklok na siya sa pwesto.

Kung kaya, ihambing natin ngayon ang noong manliligaw na si Bongbong Marcos ngayong nabigyan siya ng pagkakataon kung paano niya patunayan ang kanyang mga pangako dalawang taon na ang nakakaraan.

1. Presyo ng bilihin

Bukod  sa ipinangakong gagawin kung manalo sa eleksyon, ang presyo ng bigas ay napako rin sa antas na pang-dalawang kainan na lamang tayo sa isang araw sa halip na tatlo. O baka nga may katulad ko rin noon na ang almusal ay mumog, kanin at itlog, minsan talong ang ulam sa tanghalian at tulog ang hapunan. At hindi na kailangang amyendahan pa ang Rice Liberalization Law. Ibasura na dapat ito antimano. Hubarin na ang maskara na hindi ito para sa mamamayan kundi pagpasok sa buslo ng neoliberal na patakaran ng pag-asa sa importasyon. Tiba-tiba rito ang mga kasabwat na importer at treyder ng gubyerno. Pero madali pa ring lusutan ito dahil halos tuwing Martes kada linggo ay may pataw na dagdag-presyo sa mga produktong petrolyo. Ito ang produktong kapag tumaas, bitbit din ang presyo halos ng pangunahing produkto. Magtatambol naman ang gubyerno ng pagbaba na ₱0.50 kada litro, Pero sa sunod na linggo, ₱1.25 naman ang itaas. At muling ipaghihiyawan na “regulated” na yan dahil may gera sa Ukraine at ngayon sa Israel kaya apektado ang suplay ng produktong petrolyo. May kasunod itong panghimagas na pagtaas ng singil ng Meralco.

2. Produkto ng magsasaka

Ramdam ng mamamayan ang pangunguna ng Pilipinas bilang pinakamalaking taga-angkat ng bigas sa buong mundo. Ito na ang patakaran kapalit ng dapat ay pagpapaunlad ng lokal na produksyon. May budget para sa irigasyon, pero walang tubig na dumadaloy sa mga palayan. Atrasado ng apat na taon ang ayuda mula sa Rice Farmers Financial Assistance o walang kundisyong tulong sa mga magsasaka mula sa execss tariff collection ng gubyerno. Ayon sa Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, ang ₱12.79 bilyon noong 2022 at ang para sa 2023 na halos ₱20 bilyon mula sa excess tariff revenue collection ay di pa naipamamahagi. Nauna pa rito ang pinagsamang halaga na halos ₱7.60 bilyon para sa 2020-21 na ‘di pa rin naibibigay. Ang sibuyas ay ₱15/kg sa bukid pero nasa merkado na halos ₱60 – ₱80 na. At ito ang modelo ng iba pang produkto ng mga magsasaka.

3. Sahod ng manggagawa’t kawani

Sa kabila ng pag-igting ng paggigiit ng manggagawa para sa taas-sahod o legislated wage increase, nakapakong maigi sa starvation level ito. Ang kailangang sahod ng isang manggagawa para mabuhay ay dapat nasa ₱1,208 para sa isang 5-kataong pamilya na malayo sa kasalukuyang pambansang abereyds na ₱441 kada araw, ayon sa Ibon Foundation. Sa National Capital Region (NCR), ang minimum na sahod ay ₱610. Kaya ang mga manggagawa ay nagiging kakumpetensya pa ng mga walang trabaho na dumidiskarte na rin para may dagdag kita. Ang huling pagtaas ng sahod sa NCR ay noong Hulyo 2023. Mayroong hinihilot sa Senado na ₱100 taas-sahod na nasa ikatlong pagbasa na pero may pasiklab ang mababang kapulungan na dalawang panukala para sa isang ₱150 at isa pang ₱350 para raw sa umento sa sahod. Tandaan, eleksyon na uli sa isang taon. Iginigiit naman ng mga organisadong karaniwang kawani ng gubyerno ang ₱33,000 na entry-level salary.

4. Charter Change

Bagamat may paghupa sa dalawang kapulungan ng Kongreso ang usapin ng ChaCha, hindi kailangang mabulaga ang taumbayan na maaaring ibuwelo muli ang pagratsada nito. (Lalo pa’t may bagong liderado sa Senado na pumalit sa dati na ibinunyag ang presyur mula sa mga kampon ni Marcos para palusutin sa mataas na kapulungan ang kasuklam-suklam na sayaw na ito.) Salik sa paghupang ito ang pagtutok ng mga pulitiko sa darating na eleksyon. Ang pagbago sa Konstitusyon kapag di nilabanan ng mamamayan ay magbubunsod sa bansa sa ibayong kontrol ng dayuhan sa mga aspetong panlipunan at iba pang probisyon na pawang pabor sa mga malaking burgesya komprador at panginoong maylupa. Ang nais isingit sa Konstitusyon ay ang linyang “Unless otherwise provided by law” na pagkapon sa konstitusyon. Iniinda, partikular ng konggreso, ang papalaking bilang ng mga protesta ng mga progresibong pwersa laban sa ChaCha dahil naisisiwalat nito ang kiling sa mga dayuhan sa pamamagitan ng mga panukala ng pagbibigay 100% pag-aari ng lupa at negosyo sa larangan ng edukasyon, masmidya, yutilidad at iba pa.

5. Pambobomba sa komunidad

Noong 2018 sa panahon ni Duterte, sa bisa ng Memorandum Order 32 at E.O. 70, integrado na sa “kontra-insurhensyang” programa ng gubyerno ang pambobomba na ipinagpatuloy naman nang maupo si F. R. Marcos Jr. sa poder. Inutil ito sa layong pagparalisa sa operasyon ng New People’s Army o paggapi mismo dito dahil mas ang mga sibilyang komunidad ng mga magsasaka at pambansang minorya ang nabubulabog at biktima nito. Sa ulat ng Karapatan, sa unang taon ng rehimeng Marcos Jr., 23,391 indibidwal ang apektado ng pambobomba. Ginawa ito para diumano sa “kapayapaan at seguridad” at sa pambansang saklaw. Bawat pagbomba, tuliro ang mga komunidad at lalong nasasapanagnib ang kanilang buhay maging ang kabuhayan nila. Kontra ito sa internasyunal na makataong batas at sa Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law. Malaking badyet rin ang winawaldas ng gubyerno para rito.

6. Pagpapanatili ng NTF-ELCAC

Kibit-balikat lang ang tugon ng rehimeng Marcos sa desisyon ng Korte Suprema na ang red-tagging ay banta sa buhay, kalayaan at seguridad. Patay-malisya ito sa mga kilos protesta na nananawagan na buwagin na ang NTF-ELCAC, ang ahensyang lugod na lugod sa panre-red tag na bumiktima na ng libu-libong buhay na pangunahin ay mga kritiko at aktibistang kritikal sa gubyerno. Malaki diumano ang papel ng ahensya sa pagpapalaya sa mga komunidad sa pamamagitan ng pagpapasuko sa masang tagasuporta ng rebolusyonaryong kilusan sa kanayunan, na ayon sa tagapagsalita ng Philiippine Army, ay nasa “survival mode” na. Mula nang itayo ito, naging karaniwang tunguhin ang mga ekstrahudisyal na pamamaslang sa mga konsultant sa usapang pangkapayapaan ng National Democratic Front of the Philippines at sa iba pa, pagdukot sa mga aktibista, huwad na pagpapasuko, at iba pa.  Ang testimonya ni Jonila Castro, isang tagapagtanggol ng kapaligiran na biktima ng pagdukot kasama ni Jhed Tamano, ay mga buhay na halimbawa ng kabulukan ng NTF-ELCAC na biktima. Si Castro ay isa sa mga delegado ng Pilipinas bilang saksi at para sa isiwalat ang kabuktutan ng ahensyang ito sa katatapos na International People’s Tribunal sa Belgium. Hinaharap ni Castro ngayon ang gawa-gawang kaso na ginagawa rin sa iba pang mga aktibistang target ng NTF-ELCAC.

7. Kabuhayan ng mga tsuper at opereytor

Masaker sa kabuhayan ang taguri ng mga drayber at opereytor sa Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program (PUVMP). Naobligang palawigin ang itinakdang palugit nito ng presidente mismo nang ilang ulit dahil na rin sa paglaban ng sektor at sa kawalang-kahandaan ng gubyerno matapos ang pitong taong implementasyon ng programa. Walang mahusay na koordinasyon ang mga ahensyang imbwelto dito kaya walang maiharap na matinong plano kaugnay ng rasyunalisasyon ng mga ruta at paano haharapin ang malawakang dislokasyon ng malaking bilang na mawawalan ng trabaho. Ibubulid sila ng gubyerno sa kawalang-trabaho at sa ibayong pagpapatibay ng kontrol ng dayuhan at malalaking burgesya kumprador na ang tunguhin ay pribatisasyon at korporatisasyon.

8. Demolisyon at kawalan ng social housing

Tuluy-tuloy ang demolisyon. Kapag may malaking negosyong itatayo sa isang lugar, asahan na ang mga demolisyon. Paboritong lugar ang Sityo San Roque sa Quezon City na aabot ng 20,000 pamilya, maging sa Beinte Reales sa Valenzuela,  sa Sugbo at sa Dabaw. Kaya sa mga ganito, bagay na bagay ang kasabihan na “huwag tutulug-tulog at baka magkasunog.” Aasa pa ba ang maralitang tagalunsod sa programang pabahay sa ilalim ng programang 4PH (Pambansang Pabahay Para sa Pilipino Housing Program)? Pangako man o pangarap ang isang milyong pabahay sa mga maralita kada taon ng panunungkulan niya, na katulad rin lamang ito ng pangako na ₱20 kada kilo ng bigas. Nais niyang buhayin ang dating programa ng magulang niya na Bagong Lipunan Improvement of Sites and Services o BLISS. Iwinagayway ni BBM ang proyekto sa Naic, Cavite at sa San Fernando, Pampanga. At malamang sa hindi, hanggang dito na lang ito uli. Tulad ng maralita sa lunsod na nangangarap ng kahit paano ay may masisilungang bahay, subalit mangangailangan ang gubyerno ng libu-libong ektarya ng lupaing publiko para rito. Ito ang panganib na idudulot din ng ChaCha ni Marcos. Kapag niratsada ito, goodbye pabahay dahil ang lupa ay aariin kundi man ng dayuhan, o ng tulad ng mga Villar. Hangga’t umiiral ang buktot na pamamahala sa gubyerno, korupsyon at ang dinastiya sa pulitika, suntok sa buwan ang proyektong pabahay.

9. Korupsyon at agawan ng pwesto sa gubyerno

Ito ay eksaktong kumbinasyon ng ekonomya at pulitika ng nasa poder. Negosyo ang pamamalakad sa gubyerno. Matapos mamuhunan para sa halalan, kukubra na ng tubo. Bida lagi ang korupsyon taun-taon at kibit-balikat lamang ang tugon sa trilyong pisong napupunta lamang sa korupsyon. Tama! Nakalista lamang sa ilalim ng korupsyon. Walang napapanagot. Dito rin maiuugnay ang bangayan sa pulitika ng “team unity” na halos isang taon pa lang ay “team hiwalayan” na at maging ang pagiging maka-China at maka-US ng mga Marcos. Isang taon pa lang, tila ramdam na kaagad ang paghahanda sa para sa eleksyon sa 2028. Ang agawan sa kapangyarihan ay laro ng agawan sa kaban ng bayan. Tama, maging ang nangyaring rigodon sa Senado kahapon lamang.

10. Pagka-tuta sa US

Ang ngalan ng ama at ng anak ay kapwa tuta ng US. Kailangan ng dagdag na base militar ng US, ensigida, dinagdagan ng apat pa. Ganito ang kongretong larawan ng isang relasyong tagibang na puro tango sa among imperyalista. Kapag sa kapritso ng US, etsa-pwera ang kapakanan ng mamamayan. Gera ang tunguhin ng galaw ng US kontra sa Tsina na ibinubugaw dahil pain ang Pilipinas bilang sabik na biktima. Tuloy ang paghahamon ng gera ng US sa Tsina sa pamamagitan ng serye ng mga Balikatan. Tuloy ang daloy ng mga angkat na produkto dahil ito ang nais ng amo. Palawakin at paigtingin pa ang ang mga malakihang kontra-mamamayang opensiba laban sa NPA dahil banta ito sa istabilidad ng imperyalistang pangingibabaw sa bansa. Baguhin ang Konstitusyon ng Pilipinas para maluwag na makapagpapasok ang US ng mga armas nukleyar saan man naisin nito sa bansa.

11. Palpak na tugon sa El Niño

Simula’t sapul, ang El Niño ay sinasalubong ng kainutilan ng gobyerno. Ang pinakasimpleng paraan na ginagawa ay ang pamumudmod ng ayuda na bagamat nakatutulong kahit paano, ginagawa ito ng mga pulitiko bilang puhunan sa pulitika. Hindi ito inihaharap bilang suliraning pangkapaligiran, walang alternatibo para harapin ang kakapusan ng pagkain at pagkalugi ng mga magsasaka. Todo-larga ang operasyon ng mga minahan, ng mga proyekto sa reklamasyon, habang walang mekanisasyon sa agrikultura o pagpapaunlad ng teknolohiya. Ang sistema ng pagmomonitor sa pinsala nito ang siya nang pinakamataas na antas ng pagharap sa problema.

Larawan ang makatang si Browning at ang politikong si Marcos Jr. ng dalawang mukha ng bagol—isang nagmamahal at isa namang walang malasakit sa nasasakupan. Kung anong kislap ng isa ay siya namang kalawang ng kabila. Ang pagmamahal ay may kaakibat na sakripisyo, kabutihang-loob at malasakit samantalang ang nangingibaw sa galit at pagkamuhi ay ibayong pagpapahirap, kapabayaan at pagiging makasarili. Ang una ay may kaakibat na suporta ng masa habang ang huli ay aani ng paglaban ng taumbayan dahil sa pang-aapi’t pagsasamantala. #

Tribunal finds Marcos, Duterte, Biden ‘guilty’ of war crimes

The International People’s Tribunal (IPT) found President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., former president Rodrigo Duterte, the Government of the Philippines as well as President Joseph Biden and the Government of the United States of America (USA) guilty of war crimes in Philippines.

In an hour-long presentation of its verdict in Brussels, Belgium Saturday afternoon (local time), the IPT said the respondents are guilty of willfully killing civilians, intentionally directing attacks against civilians and property, as well as using indiscriminate means and methods of warfare that cause injury or unnecessary suffering.

Aside from causing widespread, long-term and severe damage to the natural environment, the Manila government’s military operations cause displacement of the civilian population, impede humanitarian aid, and commit acts or threats of violence and terror among civilians, the IPT said.

“These acts constitute serious violations of treaty and customary international law applicable in armed conflicts. In view of the foregoing factual and legal findings, the tribunal unanimously finds the defendants…guilty of all crimes and charges, including war crimes and violations of the International Humanitarian Law (IHL) alleged in the indictment,” the IPT’s panel of jurors declared.

The Tribunal added that the respondents are guilty of willful killing of New People’s Army (NPA) fighters already rendered hors d’combat (French for “unable to fight”). It also found them guilty of torture and other forms of cruel, degrading and inhuman treatment as well as “outrages against personal dignity and humiliating and degrading treatment and desecration of bodies of slain NPA fighters.”

In addition, the Philippine armed forces also “committed abduction and enforced disappearance, the arbitrary arrest and detention and deliberate attacks against civilians merely suspected of having links with a belligerent party, including the filing of trumped-up charges, red-tagging, terrorist labeling and designation, threats and harassments and intimidation,” the Tribunal said.

The jurors said the prosecutors proved with “clear, convincing, credible, consistent and relevant evidence” their allegations, leading to a unanimous verdict.

The Tribunal said it heard oral evidence from victims and families, expert witnesses and resource persons. It also read affidavits, letters, written statements, reports, publications, resolutions, and similar documents, as well as saw photographs and images, watched and heard audio-video recordings in the course of its two-day deliberations that started last Friday.

“[There were] 15 witnesses in the proceedings, eight in person and seven through video depositions, who delivered in clear and coherent manner. Eleven were victims, families or colleagues while four were experts or resources persons who testified on the context, nature and scale of IHL and human rights violations,” it said.

Policy and practice

The IPT cited the massacre of the Fausto family in Negros Island, the massacre of Tumandok tribespeople across Panay Island, and the killing and persecution of the Save Our School tribal school volunteers across Mindanao as examples of the “willful killing of civilians by GRP (Government of Republic of the Philippines) forces.”

READ:

  1. Mission reports AFP responsible for Fausto massacre, other killings
  2. Gov’t troops massacre 9 Tumandok in Panay
  3. ‘Chad Booc and 4 others were massacred’ – Save Our Schools Network

It said that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) uniformly claimed the victims were NPA fighters and planted evidence to bolster their canard.

The IPT also said that government air strikes and use of heavy ordnance in various places across the country were “indiscriminate.”

Many captured NPA fighters, including those already rendered hors d’combat have been summarily executed as a “matter of practice,” the jurors added, citing the cases of the five recently killed in Bilar, Bohol and of the 22-year old Jevilyn Cullamat

READ:

  1. Rep. Cullamat pays tribute to martyred daughter; condemns desecration of remains by gov’t soldiers
  2. NDFP peace consultant Randall Echanis murdered
  3. Group reports continuing surveillance on wounded journalist

“That these happened in various regions has rendered this as a matter of policy for state armed forces…The scale and frequency of these practices indicate they were deliberate and undertaken as a matter of policy by the GRP,” the jurors said.

The Tribunal also found the defendants guilty of “sustained nationwide attacks against individuals and organizations led by the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict through red-tagging campaigns and terrorist proscription.

Victims of such vilification campaigns often end up dead like NDFP peace consultant and peasant leader Randall Echanis, or permanently disabled such as paralegal and community journalist Beandon Lee, the jurors said.

The jurors also noted that there has been a steady rise of abduction and enforced disappearance under Marcos Jr. and his government, such as in the case of Jonila Castro and Jhed Tamano, as well as Dexter Capuyan and Gene Roz Jamil de Jesus last year.

The witnesses gave “astoundingly credible detail” of the systematic nature of the abductions,” the Tribunal said.

Witnesses to include former Bayan Muna Rep. Eufemia Cullamat whose daughter, slain NPA fighter Juvilyn, was desecrated by government soldiers. (IPT photo)

“The lack of genuine investigations into these cases and the impunity that characterize these cases all point to to the GRP as the author,” it said.

The Philippine government could not rely on its national laws to violate IHL and human rights, it said, also noting the lack of genuine police investigations or reports of violations, “even passing the blame on the victims.”

US equally guilty

The Tribunal said Biden and the US government are similarly guilty of the said war crimes and human rights violations.

It said the US places large resources at Manila government’s disposal, including USD1.14 billion worth of military equipment.

Presidents Marcos and Biden at the White House in 2023. (Malacanang photo)

The US is also building military facilities across the country and sends thousands of troops to train the AFP and participate in war games called the Balikatan, the Tribunal noted.

It added that the Philippine counter-insurgency strategy is adopted from US doctrine.

“The US is responsible for directing, training and operating the GRP…[playing an] indispensible role in the atrocities,” he tribunal said.

International jurors and prosecutors

IPT 2024 was presided by a panel of international jurors of lawyers, parliamentarians, professors, and a Bishop.

Julen Arzuaga Gumuzio is a Basque politician, writer and lawyer, member of the Euskal Herria Bildu coalition in the Basque Parliament since 2012. He is part of the European Association of Democratic Lawyers.

Lennox Hinds is founder of the National Conference of Black Lawyers and former counsel for the African National Congress. He currently teaches in the Criminal Justice Program at Rutgers University.

Suzanne Adely is a founder of the Middle East, North Africa Labor Solidarity Network in the United States. She is a long-time member of Al-Awda-NY, the National Lawyers Guild, and the Defend the Egyptian Revolution Committee of New York.

Joris Vercammen is a Belgian cleric and archbishop of the Old Catholic Church, active in the Netherlands. Vercammen was elected to the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches in 2006.

Séverine de Laveleye is a Belgian politician active for Ecolo. In 2018 she was elected as a municipal councilor of Vorst for Ecolo and was elected as as a member of the Belgian Chamber of Representatives in 2019.

The prosecutors meanwhile were Belgian human rights lawyer Jan Fermon and his German colleagueRoland Meister.

The jurors said copies of their verdict shall be sent to the Philippine Embassy in Brussels, the US Embassy in Brussels, the European External Action Service, the European Parliament, the International Criminal Court, the International Court of Justice, the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council, the UN High Commission on Human Rights, the International Committee of the Red Cross/Crescent, the UN Secretary General, and the Permanent People’s Tribunal. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

AFP bombing spree in Mindanao disobeys Duterte’s Covid-19 ceasefire order, Reds report

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is disobeying President Rodrigo Duterte’s ceasefire order, undertaking aerial bombing, cannon firing, and other military operations amid the corona virus disease (Covid-19) emergency, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) reported.

In a statement, the CPP said that based on New People’s Army (NPA) field reports, the AFP  is on a bombing spree and continues to carry out focused military offensives in the Bukidnon-Davao border area in disregard of the ceasefires declared by the Duterte government.

“Philippine Air Force (PAF) units under the AFP’s 4th Infantry Division used an FA-50 fighter jet to indiscriminately drop five 500-pound bombs near two Lumad communities in Barangay Mandahikan, Cabanglasan (Bukidnon province) on March 27,” the CPP said in a statement.

According to the CPP, the fighter jet dropped three bombs around 9 a.m. and two more at 2 p.m, traumatizing children and other community residents.

The bombing damaged the primary source of food and livelihood of the Lumad in the area, the group added.

On March 29, the AFP, using attack helicopters, fired at least 10 rockets in the same barangay at around noontime.

Rounds were also reportedly fired from artillery cannons installed at an adjacent barangay in Loreto, Davao del Norte province.

A Cessna surveillance aircraft flew overhead the whole day after the airstrike, the CPP said.

The military also deployed additional soldiers at Sitio Miyaray to conduct combat operations while two trooper units and three armored fighting vehicles were also deployed at Sitio Tapayanon, Barangay Gupitan, Kapalong, Davao del Norte, the CPP reported.

The bombings and troop deployments followed a fire fight resulting from an operation by the AFP’s 60th and 56th Infantry Battalions against the NPA in the area last March 24.

“The military made it appear that the attack was staged by the NPA although it was clear that they were carrying out offensive combat operations as evidenced by the fact that they have prepositioned artillery units to back up their ground troops,” the CPP said.

The underground group also said that the military raided an NPA encampment in Little Baguio, San Fernando, Bukidnon on March 29 at 2 a.m.

“Residents reported that military troops continue to operate in Barangays Kibongcog and Poblacion, San Fernando; Barangay Concepcion, Valencia; Santa Filomena, Quezon; Barangays Bulonay and Kalabugao, Impasug-ong; Barangays Busdi, Caburacanan, Manalog, Saint Peter and Zamboanguita, Malaybalay City; and Barangay Poblacion, Cabanglasan,” the CPP said.

The AFP also placed two artillery cannons in Sitio Nursery, Barangay Concepcion and another in Sitio Salaysay in Barangay Santa Filomena and have subjected the area to continuous aerial surveillance since the last week of March, reported the CPP.

Philippine Army Commanding General Lt. Gen. Gilbert I. Gapay however has only issued congratulatory messages to his troops engaged in fire fights against the NPA in Zamboanga Sibugay and Quezon provinces, admitting however that the fire fight in Mulanay town happened after his troops responded to reports that NPA rebels were in the area.

In the Zamboanga Sibugay encounter, Gapay said his troops were merely in the vicinity as part of the Philippine Army’s community visitation for Covid-19 information awareness.

The CPP, however, said that the military had been using the Covid-19 pandemic emergency to camouflage its intensified counter-insurgency operations in contempt of the United Nations plea to a global truce and in direct contravention of Duterte’s unilateral ceasefire order effective March 19 to April 13. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)