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Military operations hamper release of NPA POWs

Plans for the release of 15 New People’s Army (NPA) prisoners of war (POW) are being hampered by continuous Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), the National Democratic Front of the Philippines-North East Mindanao (NDFP-NEMR) said.

In a statement, NDFP-NEMR said that the NPA’s Front 21B and 21C are preparing to release the two soldiers of the 3rd Special Forces Battalion of the Philippine Army and the 13 Civilian Active Auxiliary (CAA) troopers.

“The plan however, is hampered by the continuous military operations launched by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the utter disregard of AFP officials and the Government of the Philippines (GRP) for the welfare of their troops captured by the NPA,” NDFP-NEMR spokesperson Maria Malaya said.

The first of the 15 POW was captured in an ambush by the NPA against the CAA under the command of the 29th IBPA last November 29 in Remedios T. Romualdez town, Agusan del Norte.

The other 14 POWs were captured in a raid by the revolutionary guerrillas against the AFP detachment in Brgy. New Tubigon, Sibagat, Agusan del Sur last December 19.

The NPA raid was made without a shot fired, prompting Defense secretary Delfin Lorenzana to say suspect some paramilitary troopers may have colluded with the guerrillas.

“Baka itong CAFGU (Civilian Auxiliary Force Geographical Unit) na may kamag-anak na NPA ang naging conduit para makapasok sila, para hindi mapagsuspetsahan,” Lorenzana last December 20 said.

In reaction to the incidents, the AFP has launched “unrelenting” military operations in different areas of the region that lasted for  25 days, Malaya said.

“The Philippine Air Force launch indiscriminate bombings and strafing and threaten miners, farmers and Lumad earning a living in the said areas,” Malaya added.

Earlier, the Communist Party of the Philippines said POWs are being treated humanely in accordance with the International Humanitarian Law.

The CPP in a December 20 statement also said they planned to release the POWs in time for Christmas but were prevented from carrying out the plan due to the government’s refusal to reciprocate the NPA’s unilateral ceasefire declarations during Christmas and New Year.

Instead, Malaya said the AFP launched unrelenting military operations that only earned six counter attacks from the NPA.

The AFP incurred several casualties from the NPA’s use of command-detonated explosives, Malaya claimed.

NDFP-NEMR called on the families and relatives of the POWs as well as peace advocates to call on President Rodrigo Duterte to suspend military operations to hasten the release of the captured government troopers.

The group also challenged the AFP as well as the Philippine National Police to suspend military and police operations to ensure the safe release of their comrades. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

NPA on the Sagay massacre: RPA, AFP and landlords did it

The New People’s Army (NPA) in Negros Island said the culprits in the massacre of nine farmers in Sagay City Saturday evening are “mercenaries” calling themselves the Revolutionary Proletarian Army (RPA) under the command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ (AFP) Special Civilian Active Auxiliary (SCAA) unit stationed in Hacienda Mirasol, Brgy. Baterya, some 2 kilometers from the massacre site.

The Apolinario Gatmaitan Command of the NPA said the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the AFP should  stop its “series of heinous lies” as they only exonerate the landlords and their goons who are behind the massacre.

The NPA said the RPA is a renegade band led by Stephen Paduano alias Lualhati Carapali and other “opportunist traitors” who broke away from the NPA during the 1990s.

“The RPA has since operated simultaneously as armed goons of Negros landlords and politicians and auxiliary force of the AFP,” the group, through its local spokesperson Juanito Magbanua, said.

Hacienda Nene (also known as Hacienda Barbara), the site of the massacre where nine farm workers, including two minors, were killed is part of the vast landholdings under the control of the family of incumbent Negros Occidental Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr, and his son, Alfredo Marañon III, incumbent mayor of Sagay City, the NPA said.

Its landlords and leaseholders, the Tolentinos and Sumbincos, are related to the Marañons who control Sagay City for many decades, the Communist guerillas added.

“For many decades, Sagay has been Marañon territory. They have used the RPA and SCAA to terrorize and murder defenseless farmers who stand against their despotic reign,” Magbanua said in a statement, adding the Marañons’ offer of a P500,000-reward for the culprits’s identification is “an outrageously barefaced ploy to cover up their tracks.”

The NPA also scored Police Regional Office-6 Director Chief Supt. John Bulalacao, Negros Occidental Provincial Police Office (NOcPPO) director SSupt. Rodolfo Castil and AFP Spokesperson Edgar Arevalo for what they call obvious attempts to gloss over state culpability.

The massacre was immediately downplayed by Castil as a “selective shooting” incident, pointing to some planted evidence of empty shells from a .38 caliber revolver and live shotgun ammunition to insinuate that an exchange of fire between perpetrators and victims transpired.

In Manila, police director general Oscar Albayalde and newly-appointed presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo echoed the police and military line the NPAs killed the victims.

“This shameless victim-blaming echoes the lies that the military and police fed the public to absolve themselves of the 2004 massacre of farm workers in Hacienda Luisita, Tarlac, the biggest sugarcane estate in the country,” the NPA said.

‘Spreading disinformation’

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) in Negros Island also belied government accusations it was the NPA who attacked the farmers’ campout and pointed to the RPA as the culprits.

In  a statement, NDFP Negros Island spokesperson Frank Fernandez said the people of Negros know very well that the Sagay Massacre was “perpetrated by hired guns, armed by local landlords and emboldened by the climate of impunity and Duterte’s own pronouncements to stifle dissent and kill.”

Fernandez said the public must not be misled into believing that the RPA and the NPA are one and the same.

“The pseudo-revolutionary RPA is now actively integrated as auxiliary force of the AFP since their supposed ‘surrender’ and ‘peace pact’ with the government. The RPA is nothing but a horde of bandits serving as private army to big landlords such as Eduardo ‘Danding’ Cojuangco Jr and the Marañon ruling dynasty who have lorded over Sagay City and the whole province of Negros Occidental for generations,” Fernandez said.

The former Catholic priest also condemned the police and the military for spreading disinformation, planting incriminating evidence against the victims and ridiculing their call for genuine land reform.

‘Pet parrot’

Meanwhile, NDFP Negotiating Panel chairperson Fidel Agcaoili accused Panelo of not only serving as the spokesman of President Rodrigo Duterte but as national security adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr.’s “pet parrot” as well.

Reacting to Panelo’s claims the nine victims were killed by the NPA to discredit the Duterte government, Agcaoili said Panelo, like Esperon, has no credibility to accuse the revolutionary movement.

“In 2006, Esperon attempted to put one over on UN Special Rapporteur Philip Alston by submitting ‘documentary evidence’ purportedly showing that the Left was responsible for the rampant extrajudicial killings of activists under the Arroyo regime,” Agcaoili recalled.

“Alston dismissed the theory as ‘strikingly unconvincing’ and bearing ‘hallmarks of a fabrication’ which ‘cannot be taken as evidence of anything other than disinformation’,” he added.

“At least Esperon presented some bogus documents to Professor Alston to pass off as proof of his preposterous lies. Parrot Panelo just manages to be preposterous,” Agcaoili said.

‘On the side of the oppressed’

The NPA said the people are aware they are mainly a peasant army waging agrarian revolution to address the fundamental problem of landlessness and various other forms of feudal and semi-feudal exploitation prevailing in the vast Philippine countryside.

“The NPA is the fighting force of the oppressed masses; it does not carry out senseless killings like state troops and its paramilitary forces,” Gatmaitan said.

The NPA added that the massacre of the victims justify the revolution they have been waging for nearly five decades. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

3 CAFGUs die in Masbate encounter

Three government troopers under the 2nd Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army were killed in an encounter in Masbate Province Friday morning, a spot report from the Philippine National Police said.

The soldiers figured in a fire fight with suspected members of the New People’s Army at Barangay Mactan, Cawayan town at about 8:30 in the morning that resulted in the deaths of three Civilian Armed Force Geographical Unit auxiliary troopers, the police added.

The Masbate Provincial Police Office (MASPPO) said that soldiers of the Philippine Army detachment based in Barangay Del Carmen in Uson town were conducting combat patrol operations when they encountered NPA fighters in the area.

The MASPPO did not reveal the names of the casualties.

The PNP said they have yet to determine if the NPA also suffered casualties.

The Romulo Jallores Command of the NPA in the Bicol Region has yet to issue a statement on the incident. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Caraga Reds declare ceasefire for barangays polls

The New People’s Army (NPA) in Caraga Region has announced it has suspended military operations against government forces during the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections.

In a press statement, the NPA-North-East Mindanao Region said that in deference to the people’s right to vote freely during the polls, its local command has directed its units as well as its People’s Militia to “temporarily suspend the launching of tactical offensives against Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Philippine National Police (PNP) and CAFGU forces from May 14 until May 18, 2018.”

The NPA said the directive is in response to popular calls for the free, orderly and safe conduct of the elections being held today.

The communist guerrillas said that despite the “reactionary elections” controlled and run by big politicians, it hopes that the people could fully exercise their sacred right of suffrage without the influence and pressure on whom to vote for.

They also expressed hope that despite the torrent of money intended for vote-buying, intimidation and coercion, it is possible for “sincere and well-meaning candidates who truly serve the interests of the people to win in the elections.”

The NPA, however, cautioned that the reactionary elections is not the solution to the Filipino’s social problems.

“All the machinery of the reactionary government only function to serve their selfish interests and continue to gain back the victories attained as a result of people’s struggles,” the NPA said.

The NPA challenged the AFP, PNP, CAFGU and paramilitary units to desist from harassing voters and interfering in the elections, especially those encamped within communities or near polling precincts.

Meanwhile, the PNP has recorded 27 deaths and 20 election-related incidents a few days before the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan polls.

Last May 12, former La Union Rep. Eufranio Eriguel, 58, was assassinated while addressing a campaign rally in Barangay Capas in Agoo town.

In a visit to Butuan City on Saturday as part of his inspection tour of Mindanao before the elections, PNP Director General Oscar Albayalde said police units have been alerted on potential vote-buying incidents.

The PNP has identified 5,744 election hotspots in the regions. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Sandugo blames Duterte on death of 19 year old Lumad student

National minority groups camped out at the University of the Philippines in Diliman blamed President Rodrigo Duterte for the death of a Lumad teenager in Davao del Norte Tuesday.

In a press conference on their sixth day in Metro Manila, Sandugo (Movement of Moros and Indigenous Peoples for Self Determination) said the killing of LUmad youth Obillo Bay-ao, 19, by a paramilitary trooper is on Duterte’s hand.

“We mark Obillo Bay-ao’s death with rage. It is another testimony to the mounting crimes of the US-Duterte regime against the national minorities,” Datu Jerome Succor Aba, Suara Bangsamoro chairperson and Sandugo co-chairperson said.

Bay-ao died Tuesday evening at the Davao Regional Hospital in Tagum City eight hours after being shot dead by a certain Ben Salangani of the Armed Forces of the Philippines auxiliary group Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit.

The victim was a grade six pupil of Salugpongan Ta ‘Tanu Igkanogon Community Learning Center in Sitio Dulyan, Brgy. Palma Gil, Talaingod, Davao Del Norte.

Sandugo said it holds the Duterte regime accountable for the escalation of attacks against the national minorities as part of its all-out war and counterinsurgency policies and martial law declaration.

“The national minorities—the Moro and indigenous peoples—are the hardest hit by Duterte’s martial law and all-out war,” it said during the press conference.

Sandugo said there are at least 29 documented victims of extrajudicial killings among the national minorities from June 2016 to June 2017, excluding those killed in the Marawi siege.

“Our people are being killed, harassed, and almost wiped out by state attacks,” Sandugo said.

The Sandugo second assembly at the camp out Tuesday indicted the Duterte for “the intensifying fascist attacks against the national minorities and the worsening land-grabbing and plunder of resources in ancestral lands and territories, which may now lead to ethnocide.”

“The President—who earlier recognized and promised to correct the hundreds of years of injustice against  the national minorities—now embodies national oppression, which has caused the injustices to and oppression of the national minorities,” the assembly declaration said.

Some 2,500 national minorities from the Cordilleras, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, Mindoro, Quezon, Rizal, Palawan, Panay and the island of Mindanao are in Metro Manila for the assembly and Lakbayan. # (Raymund B. Villanueva/Featured image by Alcadev)

Lumad schools decry continuing attacks under Duterte govt

Attacks on Lumad schools remained vicious under the year-old Rodrigo Duterte government, up to 80 percent of reported cases happening in the President’s home region of Southern Mindanao, a network of Lumad schools reported.

Lumad schools continued to suffer threats, harassments, intimidations, vilifications, red-tagging and surveillance in the first year of the Duterte government, the Save Our Schools (SOS) Network in a report said.

SOS added there have been five incidents of extrajudicial killings related to the operations of the schools perpetrated by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and its paramilitary units in the past 12 months. Read more

NPA reports 5 gov’t troopers killed, 2 captured in Southern Mindanao

THE New People’s Army (NPA) in Southern Mindanao announced it has killed five Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) soldiers and captured two auxiliary troopers in three separate incidents last February 14.

Rigoberto Sanchez, NPA-Southern Mindanao Regional Operations Command spokesperson, said a company of Red fighters of their Compostela Valley–Davao Gulf Sub-Regional Operations Command fended off an attack of a scout platoon of the 28th Infantry Battallion-Philippine Army (IBPA) in Brgy. New Visayas, Lupon, Davao Oriental province.

“Five AFP troopers were confirmed killed while several others were wounded,” Sanchez said. Read more

Malaybalay incident a ‘legitimate encounter’–NPA

THE New People’s Army-North Central Mindanao Region (NPA-NCMR) belied accusations by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) that the soldiers killed in Malaybalay City, Bukidnon last February 1 were unarmed and were only deployed for “peace and development” duties.

In a rejoinder to their earlier pronouncements about the incident, NPA-NCMR spokesperson Ka Allan Juanito said Sgt. Owen Yee, Corporal Niño Christopher Talabor and Corporal Pat O. Non were engaged in psy-war (psychological warfare) operations and that their deaths was a result of a legitimate encounter. Read more

NPA to Duterte: You have been deceived, ridiculed

THE NEW PEOPLE’S ARMY (NPA) said that President Rodrigo Duterte was deceived by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) when it claimed the ambush that killed one paramilitary trooper and injured four others in Bagnakan, Sitio Muling, Barangay Gupitan, Kapalong, Davao del Norte last July 27 was unprovoked.

In response to Duterte’s demand to explain the ambush, NPA ComVal-North Davao-South Agusan Subregional Command’s spokesperson Aris Francisco said in a statement that the Civilian Auxilliary Force Geographical Unit (CAFGU) under the 72nd Infantry Battallion of the Philippine Army and Alamara paramilitary troops were engaged in an active combat operation when they were ambushed by the NPA. Read more