Posts

‘Terrorist’ wins UN Champions of the Earth award

An indigenous people’s rights defender and environmentalist the Rodrigo Duterte government wanted labelled as “terrorist” is named winner of the Champions of the Earth Award by the United Nations, one of the international body’s most prestigious awards.

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) announced that Joan Carling is the winner of the Champions of the Earth Award for lifetime achievement in her advocacies.

“She has been defending land rights from grassroots to international levels for more than 20 years. Her main concerns include protection of land rights of indigenous peoples, ensuring sustainable development of natural resources and upholding human rights of marginalized people,” the UNEP said in its announcement.

A member of the Kankanaey tribe of Mountain Province, Carling is a former chairperson of the Cordillera Peoples’ Alliance and former secretary general of the Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact based in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Carling was also appointed by the UN Economic and Social Council as an indigenous expert and served as a member of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues between 2014 and 2016.

Just last February, however, the Duterte government named Carling as one of the 600 leaders it wanted the Manila Regional Trial Court to declare as terrorists.

I have dedicated my life to teaching about human rights. I have spent much of it campaigning for environmental protection and sustainable development. So, I was surprised to learn that I was labelled as a terrorist,” Carling said.

“I haven’t been home since. It has uprooted me: I fear for the safety of my family and friends. But I need to stay more motivated than ever. I cannot give up the fight for my people,” Carling added.

Carling however thanked UNEP for the award, saying she is humbled by the recognition.

Carling said she started her indigenous people’s rights and environmental protection advocacies as a member of the Kankanaey Tribe who was first inspired by the Cordillerans’ resistance against so-called development projects that destroy the environment and their culture. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

[Watch this UNEP video of Joan Carling]

CPP: ‘Red October’ plot an AFP invention

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) denied repeated claims by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) of a so-called Red October plot to oust President Rodrigo Duterte by October.

The CPP said the AFP conjured the fictional plot only to set the stage for the Duterte government’s draconian measures against the people.

“This so-called Red October plot is nothing but an AFP invention. Like the rest of the AFP’s fakery, it is a poorly concocted story. They came up with this ‘intelligence information’ as early as July,” the CPP in a statement said.

The group challenged Duterte and the AFP to show proof especially after Duterte himself recently claimed he is in possession of a recorded phone conversation between the CPP and other groups.

But the AFP continues to push its story as its spokesperson Col. Edgar Arevalo told DZMM Tuesday that so-called legitimate opposition groups such as Tindig Pilipinas and Magdalo refused participation in the plot.

Arevalo cited the groups’ absence at the Rizal Park rally last September 21 commemorating the 46th anniversary of the declaration of martial law by the Ferdinand Marcos dictatorship.

Arevalo claimed that part of the plot involved engaging in massive workers strikes, adding they learned of the plan from digital files and documents recovered from former communist rebels who surrendered.

‘What are Duterte and AFP planning for October?’

The CPP shot back that the real question is not whether there is such a conspiracy but what Duterte and the AFP are plotting for October.

“Is this a foreshadowing of a declaration of martial law by October? Indeed, ‘Red October’ sounds very similar to 1972 claims of a ‘Maoist rebellion’ which Marcos used as justification for declaring martial law and imposing his fascist dictatorship,” the CPP said.

The group said that in hyping up the alleged conspiracy, the clear aim of the AFP is to justify the implementation of increasingly severe measures in the name of “defeating the plot” to target legitimate protest actions which express the sentiments of a disgruntled people.

The revolutionary party said it is very apparent that Duterte and the AFP are increasingly insecure amid the rising economic and political crisis.

The CPP said Duterte has only himself to blame for his regime’s destabilization.

“By turning a deaf ear to the Filipino people’s most urgent demands for an end to the burdensome TRAIN taxes, solution to incessant price increases, wage increases, jobs and job security, as well as their clamor for an end to state terrorism, rampant violations of human rights, narco-politics and bureaucrat capitalist corruption, Duterte is inciting more and more people to rise up in protest and resist his rule,” the CPP said.

‘His own destabilizer’

In a separate statement, the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) said the so-called Red October plot is an obvious attempt to cover-up legitimate consumer actions and public grievances against frequent price hikes.

“Strong public opinion and actions against high rice prices have heightened during the past months and it really shook up Duterte’s leadership,” KMP secretary general Danilo Ramos said.

“Duterte is his own destabilizer. Any ploy or operation plan is not needed for his ouster,” the peasant leader added.
The farmers’ group however added that AFP’s canard could also lead to witch hunting and political persecution of activists and progressive mass leaders.
“The AFP could use this to justify more illegal arrests and detention of activists,” Ramos said, adding that almost 200 individuals were already arrested and detained since 2016 based on trumped-up criminal charges.  # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

NPA to carry out rescue, relief and rehab after ‘Ompong’

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) announced Saturday, September 15, that New People’s Army (NPA) units are ready to conduct humanitarian activities for victims of Typhoon “Ompong”.

“The NPA and all revolutionary forces in North and Central Luzon, as well as in Metro Manila and the rest of Luzon, are geared to carry out rescue, relief and rehabilitation work for millions of people whose homes and livelihood were ravaged by strong winds and rains brought about by typhoon Ompong,” the CPP said in a statement.

The CPP said that while remaining vigilant over “relentless” offensive operations of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, local NPA commands shall primarily concentrate in civic action amid the disaster in the next few days.

The CPP announcement was issued even as tropical cyclone “Ompong” (International name: Mangkhut) is still barrelling across extreme northern Luzon, packing sustained winds of around 205 kilometers per hours (kph) and gusts of up to 285 kph.

“Ompong” made landfall at 1:40 am at the rice-producing town of Baggao in Cagayan Province and moved west-northwest at a speed of 25 kph after hitting the Sierra Madre mountain range.

Billions of pesos in damages to crops are expected as rice and corn, both major crops  in Cagayan, Isabela, Apayao, Abra and Ilocos Sur, have yet to be harvested before “Ompong” ravaged the area.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council has yet to announce any casualty from the typhoon.

As of 1 pm Saturday, the typhoon has weakened and its center was located off the coast of Laoag City in Ilocos Norte.

The typhoon’s path closely followed the trajectory of Supertyphoon “Lawin” which hit the same area in late 2016, killing eight victims and causing an estimated P60 billion in damages to crops and properties.

Typhoon Ompong’s aftermath in Cabagan, Isabela.

Extending all help

In light of the widespread destruction, the CPP urged the Filipino people and international humanitarian agencies “to unite and extend all possible help to address the welfare of the people. “

“[The CPP] urges all democratic sectors to establish Serve the People brigades to help collect and distribute relief assistance. The broad masses of workers, peasants, minority people, fisherfolk and other basic sectors suffer the most from the damage wrought by typhoon Ompong,” the CPP said.

The revolutionary group added there is urgent need to mobilize peoples and groups to facilitate the entry and equitable distribution of all financial and material assistance.

The CPP warned that rampant corruption and inefficiencies by the government may hijack relief operations, as when Supertyphoons Pablo, Sendong, Yolanda and Lawin devastated large parts of the country in recent years.

The group also urged the Rodrigo Duterte government to implement wage increases, land distribution, cancellation of debt, agricultural subsidies, free irrigation and livelihood assistance and economic relief to help the victims. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Sison, Magdalo: No conspiracy; Duterte ousting himself

Prof. Jose Maria Sison dared Rodrigo Duterte to publicly present what the President claimed to be recorded conversations given to him by a “sympathetic foreign country.”

“Duterte is lying and bluffing by claiming that there are recorded conversations provided by a foreign government,” Sison said in a statement.

In a quick riposte to Duterte’s televised interview Tuesday with his legal adviser Salvador Panelo, Sison said he knew his former student long enough as “a congenital liar and an incorrigible political swindler.”

In his televised conversation with Panelo, Duterte claimed that Trillanes’ Magdalo Party, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and his other political opponents are conspiring to oust him.

Sison, Magdalo, pati iyong mga ayaw sa akin. ‘Yung talagang ayaw tumanggap sa akin ever since the election – they have combined,” adding he has evidence of the plot given him by a foreign country. (Sison, Magdalo, including those who don’t want me. Those who never really accepted me ever since the election – they have combined.)

Sison and leaders of the Magdalo Party have readily denied Duterte’s accusation.

Sison said that while the broad united front promoted by the CPP against the Duterte government is open to all patriotic forces, he said that as far as he knew, there had been no talks between the CPP and [Senator Antonio] Trillanes group or the Liberal Party.

“The experts will easily expose the fakery if he dares to present anything. This could be something like his invented foreign bank accounts of Trillanes,” Sison added.

Magdalo Party Rep. Gary Alejano also denied Duterte’s accusation in a statement Tuesday night, saying “I categorically deny that the Magdalo is involved in any oust plot against the President.”

“This is only meant to divert the attention of the people from the present economic woes they themselves have failed to address. If there is someone destabilizing the present government, they should not look beyond themselves for they are ones destabilizing it,” the statement added.

Sison added Duterte has shown he is worried to death and desperate as to imagine that he would be ousted next month.

“But it might take a little more time to build up the broad united front and the mass movement and prepare the way for the key military and police officers to withdraw support from Duterte,” Sison said.

“At any rate, Duterte will be lucky if he survives 2018 and even luckier if he survives middle of 2019,” he added. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

‘Mas maraming human rights violation’

“Sa pagtalikod ni Duterte sa usapang pangkapayapaan sa CPP at NDF ay mas lalong nagkakaroon ng kalayaan ang mga State Security Forces para magkomit ng samu’t-saring human rights violation.”—Joms Salvador, Secretary General, Gabriela

Esperon’s claim on Joma’s health ‘fake news’–NDFP

The chief negotiator of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines slammed the government’s national security adviser for spreading lies against Prof. Jose Ma. Sison’s heath, saying Hermogenes Esperon Jr. is an active purveyor of fake news.

NDFP Negotiating Panel chairperson Fidel Agcaoili in a statement said that contrary to the security adviser’s claim that Sison is seriously ill, the group’s chief political consultant is “very well and has fully recovered from his arthritis last year.”

“Look at his face, isn’t he sick? That is expected, but let me not go into details. But he is really ill,” Esperon told reporters in Quezon City Friday, the Philippine Star reported.

Contrary to Esperon’s claim, however, Agcaoili said Sison is up and about, conducting interviews with journalists and many others.

“His mind remains as sharp as ever and his analysis of political situations as incisive, brilliant and comprehensive as before,” Agcaoili said.

Seventy nine year-old Sison had been hospitalized several times since late 2016 due to several health complaints his comrades attributed to advancing age but has been very active lately, granting interviews and issuing statements to both Philippine-based and international journalists.

Lying Esperon

On the other hand, Agcaoili added, Esperon remains a “pathological liar” just as when he dismissed the many cases of extrajudicial killings of activists in 2006 as the doings of “internal purges” in the revolutionary movement.

“His allegation was dismissed by Prof. Philip Alston, then UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions, as ‘especially unconvincing’ and the document presented as bearing ‘all the hallmarks of a fabrication and cannot be taken as evidence of anything other than disinformation,’” Agcaoili said.

Alston at the time concluded that “there is no reasonable doubt that the military is responsible for a significant number of the killings and that subsequent evidence points to the continuing nature of that practice.”

Esperon was Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff in 2006.

Agcaoili added that Esperon also lied when he implied that the Fidel V. Ramos and Joseph E. Estrada governments have conspired with the NDFP in attempting to topple the Manila government by signing The Hague Joint Declaration, the Joint Agreement on Security and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) and the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL).

“Such nonsense!” Agcaoli said.

On the so-called localized peace talks being pushed by the Rodrigo Duterte government, Agcaoili suggested that Esperon read the statements of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), the National Operational Command of the New People’s Army, as well as the NDFP territorial units and regional commands rejecting the scheme.

Agcaoili said that Esperon must first know the positions of revolutionary forces on the ground “before he embarks on this road show meant only to line the pockets of bureaucrats, military commanders and faked surrenderers.” # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

CPP says no to ‘pretend talks’ with LGUs

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) slammed Malacañan’s announcement of an executive order for localized peace negotiations, calling the scheme “pretend talks.”

After local National Democratic Front formations have rejected peace negotiations with local government officials, the CPP itself strongly spurned the offer, saying President Duterte will only use these to “pretend to want peace while actually waging total war against the people.”

Malacañang yesterday announced it will soon issue an executive order to pursue “localized peace talks” istead of formal negotiations between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) abroad.

“So-called localized peace talks are a sham, a waste of people’s money, and are doomed to fail. It is a worn-out psywar tactic to project victory to conceal the continuing failure of the AFP to suppress the people’s resistance and stem the steady growth of the NPA (New People’s Army),” the CPP said.

“The civil war will continue to rage despite local peace talks,” the group added.

Earlier, NDF-Panay and the Cordillera People’s Democratic Front issued statements rejecting localized peace talks between local revolutionary groups and the GRP.

Duterte’s “localized peace talks” dovetail with such corruption-riddled programs as the “balik-baril program,” the Comprehensive Local Integration Program and the recent surrender campaign, the CPP pointed out.

“Only local government officials and military field officers are happy with the ‘localized peace talks’, a money-making racket with hundreds of million of funds that will surely end up in their pockets,” the CPP in a statement Friday (June 13) said.

The underground party accused AFP field officers of being overzealous in their effort to conjure the illusion of “mass surrenderees” where hundreds of local residents are being rounded up in AFP-occupied villages and later misrepresented before the public as “surrenderees”.

“They have overdone their surrender campaign as they have declared close to 8,000 surrendered since January, after having claimed earlier this year that there are only 3,000 NPA members,” the CPP said.

The group added AFP’s are being funded directly by Malacañan.

“The Party declares that the [NPA] and all revolutionary forces are united under the Party’s central leadership and unequivocably support the Negotiating Panel of the NDFP in its representation of all revolutionary forces in negotiations with the GRP,” it said.

“Surely, this pretend ‘localized’ peace talks will not involve even a single genuine revolutionary force. Duterte will certainly be negotiating only with its own shadow,” the CPP said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Lorenzana, Año and Roque sounding death knell on talks—Agcaoili

Verbal attacks by government officials against Professor Jose Maria Sison is sounding like the death knell on the peace talks under the Rodrigo Duterte regime, National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) chief negotiator Fidel Agcaoili said.

Agcaoili said that the orchestrated tirades against Sison by Defense secretary Delfin Lorenzana, acting Interior and Local Government secretary Eduardo Año and presidential spokesperson Harry Roque are purely lies and attacks by “peace spoilers.”

Lorenzana, Año and Roque have repeatedly blamed Sison for the impasse on the peace negotiations between the NDFP and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines after the prospective fifth round of formal talks has been cancelled for the fifth time last month.

“Let us not be lulled or hoodwinked by Sison’s glib tongue about reforms. They will institute reforms all right, but along communist lines when they have finally won,” Lorenzana said in a recent statement.

“In fact, they don’t even have to win because their socialistic CASER (Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms) , which they are trying to ram down our throats, will ensure that they will have a foothold in governance,” he added.

Año also accused Sison of being out of touch with what is happening in the Philippines while Roque in turn said the Communist Party of the Philippines founder is “arrogant”.

Agcaoili, however, said the GRP officials are falsely blaming the wrong person for the impasse, adding it is Duterte who should be blamed for the problems faced by the negotiations.

“Lorenzana, Año and Roque must have been in another planet when GRP President Duterte issued Proclamation 360 terminating the peace talks. That proclamation has never been rescinded impliedly or otherwise,” Agcaoili said.

“In fact Duterte postponed the mutually agreed upon date for resumption of the formal talks on June 28-30, 2018, in Oslo, Norway, which would have been the occasion to remove the impediments put up by the GRP to move the peace negotiations forward,” he added.

‘Not even original’

Agcaoili also clarified it was the government that suggested a coalition government with the NDFP.

“For the record, the NDFP has never put forward any demand for a coalition government. This has been clarified several times by Prof. Jose Maria Sison to the GRP and the Third Party Facilitator, the Royal Norwegian Government, since October 2017,” he said.

Agcaoili said it was during the time of former President Benigno Aquino when former GRP chief negotiator Alex Padilla under orders by then Presidential Peace Adviser Teresita Deles who raised the spectre of a coalition government.

Agcaoili added that it was also with the Aquino administration that the NDFP draft of CASER was originally described as “socialist”.

“So, an allegedly anti-Aquino regime has adopted the false narrative of its arch enemy to waylay the peace talks,” Agcaoili said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Friends and comrades pay tribute to Jose Luneta

Friends and comrades of Jose “Ka Pepe” Luneta held a tribute to the departed revolutionary at the College of Science Auditorium last June 30.

Luneta, past leader of the Communist Party of the Philippines, died in Germany last month due to a lingering illness.

NDFP could no longer negotiate with Duterte regime—Sison

National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison said they could no longer negotiate with a government headed by President Rodrigo Duterte.

In his strongest statement condemning Duterte’s repeated cancellation of formal talks yet, Sison said the Filipino people, especially the oppressed and exploited, cannot expect any benefit from negotiating with Duterte’s government, adding the president has broken so many promises related to the peace process.

“It is relatively easier and more productive for the NDFP to participate in the Oust-Duterte movement and to prepare for peace negotiations with the prospective administration that replaces the Duterte regime,” Sison said Thursday (June 28).

Sison said the Duterte regime is on record as having terminated the peace talks so many times that it is indubitably responsible for the termination of peace negotiations.

“It is therefore just for the revolutionary forces and the people to wage people´s war for national liberation and democracy,” Sison said.

Sison added that it would be well and good if Duterte withdraws finally from the peace negotiations with the NDFP.

But, in so doing, Duterte would deprive himself of the opportunity of creating false illusions that he is for peace, Sison said.

“He stands isolated and ripe for ouster by the broad united front of patriotic and democratic forces,” Sison said.

Duterte’s many lies

In a two part statement, Sison mentioned several promises broken by Duterte, including an unsolicited declaration on May 16, 2016 to amnesty and release all political prisoners.

Duterte only released 19 NDFP peace consultants in August 2016 to allow them to participate in the talks while about 520 NDFP-listed others remain in various detention facilities nationwide.

Duterte has also terminated the peace negotiations with the NDFP three times since May 2017, even fouling up every attempt to resume formal talks through back channel efforts, Sison said.

After terminating the peace negotiations for the third time in November and December 2017, Duterte issued Proclamation 360 to terminate the peace negotiations and Proclamation 374 to designate the CPP and NPA as terrorist organizations.

The Department of Justice subsequently filed a case before the Manila regional trial court (RTC) to seek the proscription of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), the New People’s Army (NPA) and 600 individuals as terrorists.

“These are definitely obstacles to the resumption of peace negotiations with Duterte regime,” Sison said.

“Warm and cordial” start

NDFP’s negotiations with the Duterte government started well with the first two formal rounds of talks in Oslo, Norway described as “warm and cordial.”

Things turned sour, however, when a Philippine Army unit attacked an NPA camp in Arakan, North Cotabato in January 2017, killing an NPA fighter.

The attack came while the third round of formal talks just approved free land distribution as the centerpiece of a prospective agrarian reform and rural development agreement.

The five-month ceasefire in effect at the time, the longest between the NPA and the Armed Forces of the Philippines, was subsequently cancelled by both parties.

The fourth round of formal talks in Noordwijk, The Netherlands in April 2017 was very nearly cancelled due to the insistence of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) negotiating panel to negotiate a bilateral ceasefire agreement before further negotiations on social and economic reforms can proceed.

GRP negotiators explained that a bilateral ceasefire agreement are goodwill measures that would provide a conducive atmosphere for the continuation of formal talks.

No fifth round of formal talks has yet pushed through despite the arrival of GRP negotiators in Noordwijk in May and  November 2017.

“The aforesaid actions of Duterte would have been enough bases for the NDFP to conclude that he is not at all interested in peace negotiations,” Sison said.

The CPP founder said the NDFP persevered and worked out a number of agreements with GRP representatives in back channel talks from March to June 2018, due in great part to the demands of peace advocates to remain on the negotiating table.

“The most important of these would have constituted the Interim Peace Agreement at the resumption of formal talks in Oslo from June 28 to 30,” Sison said.

The real reasons

Sison said the AFP and PNP’s wish to carry out to the end of 2018 their campaign plan to supposedly to finish off the NPA as well as to change the venue of peace talks to Manila are the real reasons why Duterte has canceled the resumption of peace talks in Oslo.

The change of venue is so that Duterte and the military can put the NDFP under their control, surveillance duress and manipulation, Sison said.

He said Ðuterte pretends to review in three months the entire process and all agreements in the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations since 1992.

“By all indications, he will try to change the entire peace process and waste previous agreements. At any rate, he will try to impose on the NDFP changes that the NDFP will certainly reject,” he explained. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)