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Left to discuss peace talks resumption with Leni

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) said it plans to engage in discussions with Vice President Leni Robredo for the resumption of its peace negotiations with the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP).

Recently-appointed NDFP Negotiating Panel interim chairperson Julie de Lima said the Left should “engage the (GRP’s) constitutional successor to press for the resumption of the peace negotiation as a rallying point in the effort to oust [GRP President Rodrigo] Duterte,” the Communist Party of the Philippines’ Ang Bayan reported.

“[T]he NDFP, including its panel, should hold discussions with opposition parties, in particular, the Liberal Party,” de Lima told the underground newsletter.

She added that prospects for resuming the peace negotiations after Duterte, whether he is ousted or he finishes his term, “are possible and desirable.”

De Lima pointed out the peace negotiations can immediately resume on the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER) once Duterte is out of office.  

Duterte cancelled the peace negotiations in July 2017 as both the GRP and NDFP were ready to finalize important agreements under the CASER.

Prior to her new appointment, de Lima is a long-time NDFP Negotiating Panel member and head of its Reciprocal Working Committee on Social and Economic Reforms.

CASER to combat COVID-19

The CASER, de Lima said, has relevant provisions on confronting the issue of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The draft agreement has a whole article consisting of seven sections which are devoted to the discussion of the people’s right to health. This includes the establishment of a universal public health system that provides free, comprehensive and quality health services for all,” de Lima explained.

The CASER provides immediate and adequate financial, material, moral and psychosocial support, ensuring disaster preparedness and respons, and holding criminally and civilly liable corrupt and grossly negligent officials, she added.

“The NDFP and GRP can elaborate on the issue based on a summing up of experience and learning lessons from both sides as well as from the positive and negative practices of foreign countries and international agencies in responding and confronting this particular pandemic as well as other pandemics.”

Robredo has yet to respond to Kodao’s request for a reply to de Lima’s statement. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

NPA to give military honors to Fidel Agcaoili tomorrow

The New People’s Army (NPA) ordered all its units to render military honors to the late National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) Negotiating Panel chairperson Fidel Agcaoili on the occasion of his 76th birth anniversary tomorrow, Saturday.

“On August 8, Day of Remembrance and Tribute to Ka Fidel, all units of the NPA are directed, wherever they may be encamped, to go on formation at the break of dawn, hoist the banners of the Party, NPA and the NDF, present arms, and sing The Internationale as a way of remembering and giving Ka Fidel our snappiest Red salute,” the guerrilla army’s National Operations Command (NOC) said.

Agcaoili died of pulmonary arterial rupture in Utrecht, The Netherlands where the NDFP International Office is based last July 23.

He was cremated after a solemn tribute ceremony in Utrecht last July 31. His ashes will be eventually flown home to the Philippines in accordance with his family’s wishes.

In a statement Thursday, August 6, NPA spokesperson Jorge Madlos said they were deeply shocked and saddened by news of Agcaoili’s untimely death and extended the guerrilla army’s heartfelt sympathies to the wife, children, grandchildren, friends and colleagues of the late chief negotiator.

“Ka Fidel was a respected and beloved leader of the Filipino people and revolutionary movement. He upheld the interests and cause of the toiling masses and all the oppressed classes in Philippine society,” Madlos said.

The rebel spokesperson said Agcaoili  had always marched along the straight path of revolutionary struggle from his youth until his senior years for more than five decades.

“Although he came from a well-off family, Ka Fidel chose the path of simple living and all-out and dangerous struggle. Ka Fidel’s life, his militance, commitment and determination to advance the revolutionary struggle for national freedom and social liberation will forever serve as inspiration for all Red fighters of the NPA and for the Filipino people,” Madlos added.

Madlos recalled that wherever Agcaoili was assigned and whatever the task given him by the revolutionary movement his desire to see an end to “the oppression and exploitation of the Filipino people, as well as all the peoples of the world was always foremost in his mind.”

“It is clear that Ka Fidel was imbued with the communist spirit of selfless service to all oppressed and exploited,” Madlos said.

“The NPA recognizes and expresses its gratitude for the leadership and all the contributions of Ka Fidel, from the period of nationwide building of the Party and people’s army, to the struggle against the Marcos dictatorship, to helping develop international anti-imperialist solidarity of all the oppressed classes, and in ably representing the entire revolutionary movement in various stages of peace negotiations,” he said.

“The NPA upholds the highest tribute of the Party’s Central Committee to Ka Fidel and recognition as a hero of the Philippine revolution,” Madlos ended. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

NDFP bids farewell to Fidel Agcaoili

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) International Office bid its final farewell to NDFP Negotiating Panel chairperson Fidel Agcaoili in a solemn ceremony at one o’clock Friday afternoon, July 31, in Utrecht, The Netherlands (8 pm Philippine time).

His remains were cremated after the ceremony that was streamed online for select comrades, colleagues and friends worldwide.

Agcaoili died of pulmonary arterial rupture last July 23 in the Dutch city where the group’s peace panel and international office is located.

NDFP Senior Adviser Luis Jalandoni gives Agcaoili a last militant salute. (Photo by Nwel Saturay/Kodao)

His remains will be flown home to the Philippines, the NDFP said.

A tribute is planned for Agcaoili in Europe on August 8 when he would have turned 76 years old.

The Communist Party of the Philippines has declared the same day as Fidel Agcaoili National Day of Remembrance and Tribute all over the country. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

CPP declares August 8 as Fidel Agcaoili Day of Remembrance

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) declared August 8 to be its National Day of Remembrance and Tribute to Fidel Agcaoili, National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) Negotiating Panel chairperson, who died last week, July 23.

Agcaoili would have turned 76 years old on August 8.

“The Central Committee calls on all revolutionary forces, progressives, patriotic and democratic forces, migrants and other oppressed sectors, political detainees, as well as various anti-imperialist organizations and personalities across the globe to conduct tribute meetings and other activities wherever they may be to commemorate and celebrate Ka Fidel’s life of struggle and service to the people and revolution,” the CPP’s Central Committee in a statement Wednesday, July 29, said.

Agcaoili died of pulmonary arterial rupture at the NDFP International Office in Utrecht, The Netherlands.

His remains are scheduled to be cremated Friday, July 31 in the Dutch City. His ashes will be eventually flown home to the Philippines, the NDFP said.

In its statement, the CPP said the entire revolutionary movement mourns the passing of who they regard “a hero of the Filipino revolution,” one who “gave blood and sweat, and time and talent to advance the Filipino people’s great cause to achieve national and social liberation, as part of advancing the international working class movement for socialism and communism” for five decades.

The group recalled that Agcaoili joined the Student Cultural Association of the University of the Philippines in the 1960s and helped found the Kabataang Makabayan in 1964. He was later elected to the CPP’s Central Committee in 1970.

Agcaoili was captured in 1974 along with wife Rosario and their two sons. He spent nearly 11 years in jail as the longest-held political prisoner under Ferdinand Marcos’ martial law, enduring intense physical and psychological torture, including solitary confinement.

Upon his release, Agcaoili co-founded the human rights group Samahan ng Ex-detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (SELDA) and the political party Partido ng Bayan and helped in the preparations of the 1986-1987 peace negotiations between the NDFP and the Corazon Aquino government.

In 1988, Agcaoili sought refuge in Spain due to threats from rightist elements of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and joined the NDFP Negotiating Panel in 1989.

He took over from long-time NDFP chief negotiator Luis Jalandoni in October 2016.

Facilitators of the Royal Norwegian Government praised Agcaoili as a negotiator.

‘Kind, dedicated negotiator’

In a tweet, Norwegian Special Envoy to the Philippine Peace Process Idun Tvedt sais she is “deeply saddened by the sudden death” of Agcaoili.

 “He was a professional and dedicated negotiator in the search for a peace solution to the armed conflict in the Philippines. We send our heartfelt condolences to his family,” Tvedt said.

Elisabeth Slattum, Tvedt’s predecessor, for her part said Agcaoili was a negotiator “with great dedication and heart for the cause.”

“In the numerous meetings and rounds of negotiation that took place in 2016-2017, he was always kind, respectful and cooperative to the Norwegian facilitators. I will remember him fondly, and I’m sending my heartfelt condolences to his wife and family,” Slattum said.

The CPP said Agcaoili’s contributions are thousands of strands woven into the broad fabric of the Filipino people’s struggle.

“His memory will always remain in the people’s hearts and will inspire them as they tread the difficult path of the national democratic and socialist revolutions,” the CPP said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Kometa

Alay kay Fidel V. Agcaoili

Ni Jenny Linares

Maraming taong halos pahapyaw lang
kung dumaan sa ating uniberso.

Palagi na lang, kapag ako,
hindi ko na inaabutan
ang makikinang na bituin.

Masyado ba akong bata o masyadong ligaw
na kaluluwa?

Malalaman ko na lang na naririyan pala sila kapag sila’y bumulusok na,
tulad ng maningning na kometa,

nagniningning pa rin siya
kahit ang baya’y nanatili sa dilim,

siya’y liwanag at apoy, hanggang sa magmaliw,

hindi ko man nasulyapan,
bahagya man lamang sa buhay ko’y dumaan,

kayo’y naririto pala,
kayo’y naririto pa rin,
kayo’y mananatili sa alaala
nitong bayang pinag-alayan
ng iyong mga adhikai’t dusa.

Alaala at Pagkilala kay Ka Juaning Rivera

IN HONOR OF COMRADE JUANITO (KA JUANING) RIVERA
By Jose Maria Sison
Founding Chairman, Communist Party of the Philippines
July 6, 2020

I wish to express sincerest condolences to the family of Comrade Juanito (Ka Juaning) Rivera and to all the comrades who have worked closely with him, loved him and are now saddened by his passing away.

This is a time of grief. But it is also the time for honoring Ka Juaning and celebrating all his achievements in serving the people, especially the proletariat and the peasant masses, as a communist, a Red commander and mass leader of vast experience.

As Chairman of the Central Committee and Military Commission of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), I had the honor of co-founding the New People’s Army with Ka Juaning on March 29, 1969 in Talimundok (Sta. Rita), Capas, Tarlac.

We were also together in the Plenum of the CPP Central Committee in May 1969 when he, together with other peasant cadres and veterans of the old Communist Party and the Hukbong Mapagpalaya ng Bayan were elevated to membership in the Central Committee of the CPP.

Being a peasant himself and having led the peasant masses as a revolutionary cadre and barrio captain, he understood very well the problems of the peasant masses in the haciendas of Tarlac and in the entire Philippines.

He excelled at arousing, organizing and mobilizing the masses in carrying out land reform and raising production, undertaking social programs and training mass activists for Party membership, mass work and service in the people’s army.

We worked together in providing politico-military training to the revolutionary activists from the national capital region and the expansion teams of the NPA for Isabela, other provinces of Central Luzon and for the Southern Tagalog and Western Visayas regions.

Thus, he made significant contributions to building the foundation and immediate expansion of the CPP, the NPA, the mass organizations and the local organs of political power. At the same time, he was always mindful of the concrete improvement of the lives of the people.

He made sure that the peasant masses built better houses and ate better as a result of their gains from land reform. He was strict at banning drinking and gambling places. And he promoted cultural activities that spread the revolutionary message among the youth and the people.

When the headquarters of the CPP shifted to the Isabela forest region, Ka Juaning came for meetings of the Political Bureau and the Central Committee and always contributed substantial reports and recommendations and participated in deliberations and decision-making.

Up to the time of my capture in 1977, I knew Ka Juaning as a dedicated, competent and effective proletarian revolutionary fighter and ever loyal servant of the people. Thus, he assumed higher responsibilities in the CPP, the NPA and revolutionary movement while I was in prison.

I am aware that after his imprisonment his health condition did not permit him to go back to the armed revolutionary movement. He went back to farming and was always proud of the lasting effects of land reform carried out by the revolutionary movement. And he devoted himself to promoting agricultural cooperatives.

I was pleased when then Rep. Jose Yap (Mang Aping) informed me that he had engaged Ka Juaning as a peace consultant at the time explorations and preparations for peace negotiations were being done in the period of 1989 to 1992.

Mang Aping and I always wished that Ka Juaning could travel to The Netherlands. But his health condition did not allow him to take a long flight. From a distance, I continued to admire him for his continuing service to the peasant masses and the interviews that he gave to journalists, social researchers and peace advocates.

Ka Juaning has lived a long and rich life of service of the people, faced grave risks and dangers to his life and surmounted tremendous odds in fighting for the people’s just cause and struggle for national and social liberation against foreign and feudal domination. He is an outstanding and inspiring historical revolutionary figure, whose example is worthy of emulation by the people and the revolutionary movement.

Long live the memory of Comrade Juanito (Ka Juaning) Rivera!
Emulate his revolutionary service to the Filipino people!
Carry out the people’s democratic revolution until total victory!

A revolutionary and peace warrior’: Tributes pour in for NDFP’s Fidel Agcaoili

Tributes are pouring in for National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) Negotiating Panel chairperson Fidel Agcaoili hours after the group’s international information office confirmed his passing in Utrecht, The Netherlands due to pulmonary arterial rupture .

READ: BREAKING: NDFP’s Fidel Agcaoili dies

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) said Filipino communists and revolutionaries feel a deep sense of sorrow and loss with Agcaoili’s passing.

“He was one of the most beloved and respected leaders of the Party, the NDFP and the Filipino people,” the CPP said in a statement.

“Over the past decades, from the underground movement, to inside prison, to international work and peace negotiations, [Agcaoili] untiringly struggled with the Filipino people and served the revolutionary movement and all the oppressed and exploited classes to achieve national and social liberation,” the group added.

The CPP said Agcaoili firmly upheld its principles at all times and he was imbued with the communist spirit to his last breath.

“The Party and all revolutionary forces, including all Red fighters of the New People’s Army, are in mourning,” the CPP said.

Agcaoili’s government counterpart, labor secretary Silvestre Bello III, told Kodao he joins all peace-loving Filipinos in grieving the passing of a revolutionary whose passion for peace is as ardent as his love for structural change on the land of his birth.

“Ka Fidel V. Agcaoili, my counterpart in the peace table in our efforts to try to end the decades-long armed conflict with the CPP-NPA (New People’s Army)-NDF, was a man of honor and conviction,” Bello said.

Bello added that Agcaoili was an instrument in making the mostly arduous tasks of talking peace smoother and a bit easier.

“It is just sad that Ka Fidel will no longer savor the lasting peace with justice that he was pursuing with passion. Goodbye to a dear friend, a revolutionary and a peace warrior,” Bello said.

Former Quezon City mayor Herbert Bautista, who served as adviser to the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) Negotiating Panel from 2016, said Agcaoili’s death is “sad news.”

“He was kind. He was flexible on the negotiating table yet strict and firm on principles,” Bautista, a Brigadier General of the Armed Forces of the Philippines Reserve Command, added.

Tributes from journalists

Journalists who covered the NDFP-GRP peace process only have kind words for Agcaoili.

“[The news] came as a shock. He was a generous news source, always eager to clarify issues with journalists. He will be missed,” GMA reporter Raffy Tima told Kodao.

Danny Buenafe (right) talks to (from left) Fidel Agcaoili, Jose Maria Sison and Luis Jalandoni. [Photo from Danny Buenafe]

Veteran ABS-CBN broadcaster Danny Buenafe said he had a good time covering the peace talks for more than three decades in large part because of Agcaoili.

“He was tough in taking a stand, but we all know he has a soft spot with journalists when requesting for interviews. Ka Fidel was kind and accessible with us media persons,” Buenafe said.

Buenafe, Europe-based for many years, added Agcaoili was probably the toughest among the so called three “Supremos” (top leaders), the two others being NDFP Negotiating Panel chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison and 20-year NDFP chief negotiator and Agcaoili’s direct predecessor Luis Jalandoni.

“Personally, I found Ka Fidel as the heart of the revolutionary struggle with his decisive character in the negotiating table. Ka Joma (Sison) provides the deeper intellectual discourse, and Ka Louie (Jalandoni) the fatherly approach with the soft touch. Ka Fidel provided a good balance that makes the NDF position solid,” Buenafe said.

The now retired ABS-CBN Europe Bureau Chief said he can never forget being fetched by Agcaoili and wife Rosario at the Utrecht Grand Central Station to attend a small birthday gathering for NDFP peace panel member Julie Sison at a public park several years ago.

“We will all miss him. Rest in peace, Ka Fidel,” Buenafe said.

Friends grieve

Human rights lawyer Ma. Sol Taule said Agcaoili was among the rights defenders she looked up to.

“We recognize and value his unrelenting efforts for a just and lasting peace. He (was) the boomer we all aspire to be,” Taule wrote on Facebook.

Distant relative and retired University of the Philippines professor Aurelio Solver Agcaoili for his part said Agcaoili’s death is a loss to the Filipino people.

“But we gained something [in his passing]: The thought and the resolve to do things right for our suffering people,” he told Kodao.

The CPP said it will announce the day for mourning, giving honor, and remembering Agcaoili whose remains will be flown to the Philippines in accordance with the wishes of his family.

 “In behalf of the entire Philippine revolutionary movement, the (CPP) extends deep sympathies to the wife and children of Ka Fidel V. Agcaoili, chairperson of the Negotiating Panel of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP),” the CPP said. (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Duterte lies on razor blade killing, NPA in Negros says

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CPP orders NPA to shift to ‘offensive posture’ after ceasefire order ends

There is no more ceasefire in effect in the country after the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) announced it has decided against re-extending its truce order that expired midnight Thursday.

“The refusal of the Duterte regime to relent in its attacks against the NPA (New People’s Army), despite calls for a ‘global ceasefire’ has made the further extension of the NPA ceasefire impossible,” the CPP said in a statement.

The CPP’s 36-day ceasefire was first declared last March 24 and was extended when it ended last April 15. The government’s first and only ceasefire declaration under the ongoing coronavirus pandemic started last March 19 and ended on April 15.

In a recorded address aired last Monday, President Rodrigo Duterte said he will never be ready for any round of peace talks with the CPP, accusing the NPA of attacking soldiers in Ma. Aurora Town in Aurora Province who were escorting a relief operation connected with the government’s Luzon-wide lockdown.

The CPP however denied the allegation, saying the AFP was in fact conducting a counter-insurgency operation, as it did throughout the ceasefire periods.

“Since Duterte called for a ceasefire on March 16, AFP counterinsurgency operations remain unabated, deploying its units in at least 396 villages in 148 towns, ceaselessly conducting combat operations, aerial bombardments and artillery shelling, aerial surveillance and ground intelligence operations, arresting civilians, and violating people’s rights with impunity,” the CPP said.

The CPP said that in more than a month since both parties declared their unilateral ceasefire orders, the AFP mounted at least 36 raids against NPA encampments in 23 provinces that resulted in at least 11 armed encounters.

The group claimed the AFP suffered at least 56 casualties, 31 of whom were killed in action.

On the part of the NPA, 18 Red fighters were killed while eight were wounded, the CPP reported.

The military operations happened in Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Antique, Bohol, Bukidnon, Compostela Valley, Davao Oriental, Davao del Norte, Iloilo, Lanao del Sur, Masbate, Negros Occidental, Northern Samar, Quezon, Rizal, Samar, Sorsogon, South Cotabato, Surigao del Norte, Surigao del Sur, Zamboanga Sibugay, Zamboanga del Norte and Zamboanga del Sur provinces, the group added.

The CPP commended its armed wing for “successfully defending themselves and the masses and thwarting the raids and treacherous attacks mounted by the AFP in their relentless counterinsurgency operations.”

Starting today, Friday, May 1, the CPP has ordered the NPA to shift from “active defense” to an “offensive posture” in anticipation of more attacks against its forces.

‘Offensive posture’

In shifting to an offensive posture, the CPP urged the NPA to be always ready to strike against the AFP, Philippine National Police and the paramilitary forces under the Civilian Auxiliary Force Geographical Unit as well as other armed groups of the government.

“The NPA must mount tactical offensives especially against the most notorious human rights violators and those who have subjected people to abuse. The NPA must target the isolated and weak units and detachments of the AFP and its armed auxiliaries,” the CPP ordered.

While getting ready to meet the AFP’s counter-insurgency operations, the CPP also urged the NPA to continue its anti-COVID health services and information drives in various communities. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Cover up for failure to stop COVID spread, CPP says of Duterte’s threat to impose martial law

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) described as squid tactics Rodrigo Duterte’s latest tirades against the revolutionary movement and called the President’s renewed threats to impose martial law a mere cover up of his government’s failure to contain the coronavirus pandemic.

After an invective-peppered rant against the New People’s Army (NPA) Friday morning, April 24, the CPP said Duterte’s latest threat to impose military rule on the country is a classic deflection tactic to draw away the people’s attention from the government’s “inept, uncompassionate and irresponsible actions in the face of the pandemic.”

“Duterte is using the Covid-19 crisis, one that has blown up because of his government’s military-minded response and failure to conduct mass testing, to carry out agenda of imposing martial law. Duterte’s ultimate aim is to establish his dictatorship, something he has long sought to do,” the CPP said in a statement.

Duterte again riled at the NPA in his televised address accusing the guerrillas of killing two government soldiers he claimed were escorting relief workers delivering aid to communities in Aurora Province last Tueday, April 21.

“If you persist in your lawlessness—and it is happening all over the Philippines—maybe I will declare martial law,” Duterte said.

The Philippine Army (PA) identified Pfc. Ken Lester I. Sasapan and Pfc. Jackson M. Mallari as those killed in a clash with the NPA Barangay Diaat, Maria Aurora town.

The Philippine Army however said the 91st Infantry Battalion of 7th Infantry Division was “conducting a security patrol in the vicinity in relation to the distribution of the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s Special Amelioration Program.”

CPP information officer Marco Valbuena said the government troops attacked the local NPA unit who merely defended themselves.

“Sugod kasi ng sugod ang AFP. Utos ni Duterte eh. Pinambabala sa kanyon ang mga sundalo niya. Siyempre, NPA is alert and ready to defend themselves,” Valbuena said. (They keep on attacking. It was Duterte’s order. He treats his soldiers as cannon fodder. Of course, the NPA is alert and ready to defend themselves.)

The CPP said the armed clashes between the NPA and the AFP in the past days are a result of the attacks of the AFP and active defense of the NPA.

Since Duterte’s ceasefire lapsed last April 15, the AFP has further stepped up its counterinsurgency operations, the group said.

“In fact, the AFP never went on ceasefire, even when Duterte ordered a suspension of offensive operations last March 19 to April 15, deploying troops to more than 350 barangays and 120 towns to conduct counterinsurgency, mounting at least 24 offensives and six aerial bombardments,” the CPP said.

The CPP pointed out that a separated clash in Himamaylan City, Negros Occidental last April 15 that killed three AFP soldiers happened in the interior areas 10 kilometers away from Barangay Carabalan, where the DSWD was scheduled to distribute “social amelioration” to the residents.

“The 94th IB platoon was clearly on combat operations when they carried out the attack against the NPA. The NPA fighters rightfully defended themselves in battle,” the CPP said.

The CPP in turn accused the AFP of conducting “pang-press release” (for press release purposes) relief work that serve as cover for its intensified counterinsurgency operations against the NPA.

“The AFP has stepped up its counterinsurgency drive to prevent the NPA from conducting its own public health campaign in response to the Covid-19 and economic and production work to help the people cope with the sharp economic downturn,” the CPP said.

The group added that should Duterte impose martial law, the move will not stop the Covid-19 pandemic but will only cause greater hardships on the people.

“The Party condemns Duterte’s further extension of the lockdown in lieu of any decisive push for mass testing. The lockdown is now deceptively referred to as ‘general’ or ‘modified’ quarantine has been expanded to cover large parts of Visayas and Mindanao. There is now creeping nationwide martial law and the entire country is now effectively under the highhanded and control of the military and police,” the CPP said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)