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Petition amendment proves terrorist proscription vs CPP-NPA arbitrary–lawyer

The Rodrigo Duterte government’s amendment to its petition to proscribe revolutionary groups as terrorists is proof that it has a weak case against the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New People’s Army (NPA), a human rights lawyer said.

In a statement, National Union of People’s Lawyer president Edre Olalia said the government’s original petition filed in February 2018 is weak and is merely a move to railroad the legal process.

“[The] amended petition by the government to proscribe the CPP-NPA is proof that the original one was sloppy, shotgun and arbitrary against hundreds of individuals and was designed to harass and threaten them,” Olalia said.

Last January 3, the Department of Justice (DOJ) filed the amended petition before Branch 19 of the Regional Trial Court in Manila.

Six hundred individuals listed as “terrorists” in the original petition have been taken off  but retained CPP founding chairperson Jose Maria Sison; NPA national operations command spokesperson Jorge Madlos; NPA’s Melito Glor Command spokesperson Jaime Padilla, National Democratic Front of the Philippines-Negros spokesperson Francisco Fernandez; alleged CPP-Visayas deputy secretary Cleofe Lagtapon; alleged CPP Mindanao Commission secretary Antonio Cabanatan; alleged NPA-Mindanao leader; and alleged NPA-Mindanao operations chief Myrna Sularte.

The amended petition no longer includes United Nations Environment Programme 2018 Champion of the Earth awardee Joan Carling and five Baguio activists like Jeanette Ribaya-Cawiding.

Cawiding, former chair of the Tongtongan ti Umili and coordinator of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT), said the new petition removes them from immediate danger posed by being labelled as terrorists, but said government spying on non-government organizations remains as a threat to free speech and human rights.

“This is a partial victory, but we cannot let our guard down,” Cawiding said.

She points to the latest red-tagging of ACT and harassment of teachers who are ACT members as proof that the threat against activists and government critics will continue.

“Harassment has been continuous against progressive organizations, like ACT, the delisting of the individuals named in the DOJ proscription does not guarantee the protection of our rights and our safety because the Philippine National Police and Malacañang are justifying their witch hunt in the context of [Duterte’s] Executive Order 70,” Cawiding said.

EO 70, signed last December, directs the creation of a national task force headed by the President and vice-chaired by the National Security Adviser to end local communist armed conflict and pushed for localized peace talks.

The court earlier directed the DOJ to remove the names of Vicky Tauli-Corpuz, UN Special Rapporteur for Indigenous Peoples Concerns and former Baguio councilor Jose Molintas.

Molintas was also a former member of the UN Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP).

Corpuz, Carling, Longid and Molintas are former leaders of the militant Cordillera People’s Alliance (CPA), which Cariño helped establish as an indigenous peoples’ rights group that opposed the Marcos regime.

Current CPA chair Windell Bolinget said strong protests pushed the DOJ to amend its proscription petition.

But he said the threat does not end.

“They wanted the proscription of the CPP and NPA as terrorists by focusing on few names. Once they are proscribed as terrorists, people they suspect, vilify and attack as fronts and supporters will be linked and later considered terrorists. This is the danger,” Bolinget said.

Still dangerous

Olalia said that even with the amendment, the petition remains dangerous to those earlier named.

“[The] present petition remains to be without legal and factual basis and repackaged the old one in order to railroad the legal process. This will in turn violate a slew of individual and collective rights not only for those who remain in the list but many others who are maliciously identified, associated, suspected or labelled,” Olalia said.

IFI Bishop Vermilon Tagalog, chair of the regional coordinating committee of the Ilocos Network for the Environment welcomed the amended DOJ petition but said “the removal of names does not guarantee their safety”.

“The mere existence of the DOJ petition remains a clear threat especially with the insistent communist-tagging of Duterte’s administration of activists and progressive organizations,” Tagalog added.

Tagalog said that the Human Security Act of 2007, the DOJ’s basis for the filing of the proscription petition is not just directed against “terrorists” but also to critics of the government.

“We call on all environmental defenders to remain vigilant and steadfast in the fight against efforts of the administration to impose its tyrannical rule and clamped-down on our democratic rights.” #(Raymund B. Villanueva/ Kodao and Kimberlie Olmaya Ngabit-Quitasol/Northern Dispatch)

NDFP waiting for GRP offer to reopen talks, Joma says

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) would be willing to explore whatever offer the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) would be making to reopen the stalled peace talks, Jose Maria Sison said.

In a statement, Sison said he sees a silver lining in GRP President Rodrigo Duterte’s recent statement that he would be willing to go back to peace negotiations on the premise that the revolutionary movement could tone down its offensives against the military and police.

“There is some silver lining in [Duterte’s] statement that he is willing to engage in peace negotiations. In this regard, the NDFP is open to exploring whatever opening the GRP is willing to offer,” Sison said.

Sison explained that if peace negotiations between the GRP and the NDFP resume and reach a point where substantial agreements are made, ceasefire can be agreed upon by the negotiating parties.

‘We can talk’

In his recent speech in Masbate Province, Duterte said his government and the revolutionary movement can talk if the New People’s Army (NPA) would lessen its attacks against government troops.

“But if they can tone down, no ambush, no killing of my policemen and my military, we can talk,” Duterte said.

Otherwise, Duterte said that he will allow the purchase of individual firearms, including mayors, to protect them from NPA attacks.

Duterte said local politicians “feel naked” without firearms.

Duterte repeated his statement Thursday in a speech at the turnover of housing units to several soldiers and police personnel in San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan Thursday.

“Give me another reason to talk to you again and I will be there,” Duterte said.

‘Agreements more plausible’

Sison advised Duterte to resume peace talks instead of arming civilians, saying a peace agreement is more plausible and less costly than for the government than to keep trying to destroy revolutionary forces.

Sison said the President still has time if he chooses a political agreement rather than an all-out war.

“In the next three years, it is possible for the GRP and NDFP to make a peace agreement if the Duterte regime is serious and sincere about negotiating and ending its all-out war against the revolutionary forces and the people,” Sison said.

“It is even more plausible and less costly for a peace agreement to be made by the two parties than for the GRP to seek in vain the destruction of the revolutionary forces in the next three years,” Sison said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

‘Futile canard’: Media group denounces red-tagging

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) is thinking of taking legal actions against continued efforts to link the media group with the communist revolutionary movement it sees as part of an orchestrated effort to intimidate it into silence.

NUJP officers found themselves answering requests for interviews today from community news outfits around the country soliciting reactions to charges by someone identified only as “Ka Ernesto,” who claimed to be a former member and supposedly “admitted” that the organization had links to Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Ma. Sison.

The group said that when asked where the story originated from, they invariably pointed to banner stories carried by a number of little-known Manila-based tabloids – Police Files Tonite, Bagong Bomba and Saksi Mata ng Katotohanan – all of which carried the exact same headline: “NUJP pinamumunuan ng CPP-NPA-NDF” (NUJP headed by CPP-NPA-NDF), the latter initials referring to the New People’s Army and the National Democratic Front.

Today’s front page of the tabloid Bagong Bomba.

This is the second time in just a few weeks the NUJP has been linked to the revolutionary movement since a certain Mario Ludades, claiming to be one of the founders of the CPP, accused the media group of being a “legal front” of the underground movement in stories run by several outfits on December 26, incidentally the 50th anniversary of the CPP.

“It is hilarious that they keep repeating these charges since the NUJP’s membership represents a broad spectrum of creeds and political beliefs bound by a common dedication to defending and expanding the bounds of freedom of the press and of expression,” the group’s national directorate said in a statement today.

NUJP officers said they were initially tempted to ignore the “fantastic” and “hilarious” account of “Ka Ernesto” but for the fact that it exposes their members and other colleagues to potential danger from those who might readily believe the “canard”.

“With at least 12 colleagues slain under the watch of a president who has actually justified the murder of journalists… and openly and constantly curses and threatens media, we are taking this matter very, very seriously,” the group said.

Today’s front page of the tabloid Saksi.

Duterte’s attacks

Early in his term, President Rodrigo Duterte said in a speech before reporters in his hometown Davao City that media killings are justified.

“Just because you’re a journalist you are not exempted from assassination, if you’re a son of a bitch?” Duterte said.

Duterte never let up against media outfits he perceives to be overly critical of his presidency, even threatening to block media group ABS-CBN’s petition to have its broadcast franchise renewed with the House of Representatives.

In December 2017, Duterte said he would only be willing to compromise with ABS-CBN if the network helps promote his campaign to shift to a federal form of government.

“Kung magtulong kayo diyan sa federal system campaign at gawain ninyong slogan also for the unity and to preserve this republic, makipag-areglo ako,” he said.

He repeatedly threatened the Philippine Daily Inquirer and its owners’ business interests.

Following a tirade against Rappler, the Securities and Exchange Commission cancelled the outfit’s license while prosecutors filed tax evasion charges against its chief executive officer Maria Ressa.

Individual journalists accused of being overly critical against Duterte’s bloody drug war were also threatened and harassed by social media groups and online trolls supportive of Duterte.

Recently, websites of alternative media groups were also digitally attacked they said may be part of the crackdown against so-called communist fronts.

“It does not take genius to figure out who is behind this determined, if futile, effort to cow us. But we tell you now and will tell you again, do your worst, you will fail,” the NUJP vowed.

‘Enemies of press freedom’

The NUJP also condemned the three tabloids who published the “canard”.

“It is unfortunate that there exist within the profession unscrupulous scum who allow themselves to be used by these cowardly enemies of press freedom even if it endangers colleagues,” the NUJP said, obviously referring to the three tabloids.

“But we will let them be. Their venality shames them enough,” the NUJP said.

The group warned, however, that it will hound those who are behind the red-tagging campaign and make them pay should its members are harmed. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

NDFP to work for Duterte’s ouster–Joma

While it is still open to peace talks should the Manila government decide to resume the cancelled negotiations, the main task of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) is to work for Rodrigo Duterte’s ouster, Prof. Jose Maria Sison said.

In a statement, Sison said the NDFP is authorized to be open to peace negotiations with either the current government or its replacement, but “its principal work now is to work for the ouster of the Duterte regime” and help bring an end to the country’s worsening social, economic and political crises.

Sison warned that the Duterte government is on track to only aggravate the socio-economic and political crises in the country by imposing heavier taxes and causing high inflation while surely failing to curb government corruption in 2019.

“Within the year, the Duterte regime will further inflict grave social and economic suffering on the people and unleash mass murder and other human rights violations in a futile attempt to destroy the armed revolutionary movement and intimidate the people,” he said.

“The state terrorism will victimize not only the toiling masses of the people but also the middle social strata and even those in the upper classes who do not belong to the small and narrow ruling clique of Duterte,” Sison added.

Sison also warned of the possibility of a “no-election” scenario in May 2019 should Duterte decide to impose “a fascist dictatorship ala Marcos by using de facto or proclaimed martial law nationwide” and the railroading of charter change for a bogus kind of federalism.

If such a scenario happens, Duterte is capable of centralizing power in his hands and would handpick his regional and provincial agents among the local dynasties and warlords, Sison predicted.

Not peace, but surrender

Personalities close to Duterte said the resumption of peace negotiations with the NDFP is still possible.

In a press briefing at Malacañ last Thursday (December 27), government chief negotiator and labor secretary Silvestre Bello III said it is still “possible” to go back to the peace table with the NDFP.

“Anything is possible. The President’s commitment to our country is inclusive and lasting peace for our country. If it means resuming the peace negotiations, why not?” Bello said.

Bello, however, admitted that the government has shifted towards its so-called “local peace talks.”

No New People’s Army (NPA) unit has yet come forward to agree to the government’s revived proposal.

Former special assistant to the President, Christopher “Bong” Go also appealed to the NDFP not to close the door to the resumption of the negotiations.

“I call on the NPA to trust President Duterte. There is no other leader like him who will sincerely talk peace with you,” Go told reporters in San Andres town, Quezon province last December 17.


Duterte, however, recently ordered the Armed Forces of the Philippines to destroy the Communist movement in the Philippines as evidenced by his refusal to reciprocate the NPAs unilateral ceasefire declarations in time for Christmas, the new year, and the Communist Party of the Philippines’ (CPP) 50th founding anniversary celebrations.

Five tasks in 2019

“Duterte is not interested in serious peace negotiations to address the roots of the armed conflict and make comprehensive agreements on social, economic and political reforms in order to lay the basis for a just and lasting peace,” Sison said.

“What he wants is the impossible, which is the surrender of the revolutionary movement of the people,” he added.

Sison said that in view of Duterte’s anti-people governance and anti-peace stance, the people expect five things from the revolutionary movement:

  1. The CPP will perform its overall leading role in the people’s democratic revolution, “promptly, correctly and clearly”;
  2. The NPA will intensify its tactical offensives to defeat the campaign of the enemy to destroy it while carrying out agrarian revolution and mass work;
  3. The various types of mass organizations will be expanded as the source of strength of the CPP, NPA and the people’s democratic government;
  4. The people’s democratic government will be strengthened to take charge of administration and programs for the benefit of the people, such as land reform, public education, production, health and sanitation, cultural work, defense, arbitration and people’s court, environmental protection and disaster relief; and

The NDFP will further strengthen itself and cooperate with all possible allies in the broad united front in order to isolate and oust the Duterte regime from power. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

GRP ceasefire chief’s resignation result of frustration with Duterte, military—Sison

The resignation of the head of the ceasefire committee of the government negotiating panel with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) exposes how President Rodrigo Duterte and the military have made the peace talks impossible, Prof. Jose Maria Sison said.

Responding to Francisco “Pancho” Lara’s announcement of his resignation as chairperson of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) Negotiating Panel ceasefire committee, Sison said he thinks Lara “got fed up” with Duterte and the military.

“I think that Pancho got fed up with Durterte and the military when Duterte practically waste-basketed the draft agreements that had resulted from the hard work in backchannel talks by teams of the GRP and NDFP negotiating panels from March to June 2018,” Sison told Kodao.

The GRP and NDFP peace talks were supposed to resume last June after Duterte terminated the negotiations with his issuance of Proclamation 360 in November 2017 and his subsequent declaration of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New People’s Army (NPA) as so-called terrorist organizations in December.

Both parties were ready to formally sign an interim peace agreement in June, a package that included a stand down agreement between the NPA and the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police; Guidelines and Procedures towards an Interim Peace Agreement and the Resumption of Talks and its attached timetable; the Initialed Interim Peace Agreement; and the NDFP Proposed Draft of the Amnesty Proclamation which was given to the GRP and the Third Party Facilitator.

In an interview with ABS-CBN News Friday, Lara said additional preconditions for the resumption of formal negotiations have “torpedoed” certain aspects of the peace talks.

He revealed that localized peace talks and the demand for Sison’s return to the Philippines were additions to the original agenda that included a ceasefire agreement with the NDFP while negotiations are being held.

“I think those additional issues torpedoed the discussions of a ceasefire and the other reforms because, then, the bar had been raised higher,” Lara said.

Lara surmised that his replacement may be someone more trusted by Duterte and the military or the military would like to take on the issue of ceasefire with the NDFP themselves.

Duterte has appointed former AFP chief of staff Carlito Galvez after formal Presidential peace adviser Jesus Dureza’s sudden resignation last month due to corruption within the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP).

“I know that based on my discussions with the military that they probably want something else rather than a ceasefire,” Lara told ABS-CBN News.

“I think they want to prosecute the war as it is happening right now,” he said.

Sison seconded Lara’s observation, adding the NDFP learned that Duterte allowed the military officers at the command conference held in Malacañang in June 2018 “to insult the OPAPP and the GRP Negotiating Panel.”

Sison did not give details on how the alleged insult happened.

“I think that Duterte is a captive of his own greed for power and bureaucratic look. He does not want the peace negotiations so that he can scapegoat the CPP, NPA and NDFP as pretext and cause for establishing a full-blown fascist dictatorship through chacha (Charter Change) to a bogus kind of federalism,” Sison said.

The OPAPP website has not published a statement on Lara’s resignation as of this posting. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Duterte’s counter-insurgency measures will be defeated, Bicol NPA vows

BICOL–The New People’s Army (NPA) in the Bicol region vowed to defeat President Rodrigo Duterte’s latest counter-insurgency orders, saying the new militarist measures are barefaced efforts to extend martial rule and impose “fascist dictatorship” from Mindanao to the rest of the country.

In a press conference days before the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) celebrates its 50th founding anniversary on Wednesday, the Romulo Jallores Command (RJC), the regional formation of the NPA in Bicol, said Duterte has completely set-up his requisites to impose nationwide martial law.

“The people of Bicol condemns Duterte’s Executive Order Number 70 that sets up its so-called National Task Force Against Communist Insurgency and yet another extension of martial law in Mindanao until [the end of] 2019,” Raymond Buenfuerza, RJC spokesperson, said.

Duterte has only shown that his “treacherous populism” has been unmasked in issuing such orders, the group added.

Duterte signed EO 70 last December 4 following his issuance of Memorandum Order 32 last November 22 ordering increased military presence and operations in Bicol, Samar and Negros Island against communist revolutionary groups in the said regions.

Buenfuerza told a select group of journalists in a NPA camp in the region that Duterte’s militarist approach would only encourage Bikolanos to resist.

“The people had long embraced revolutionary armed struggle to fight for their democratic interests that are being denied by the imperialist United States and local ruling elite,” Buenfuerza said.

“Duterte does nothing but inspire the people to topple the rotten and crisis-ridden system that is made worse by both fascist attacks of the regime,” he added.

The RJC said there have been 77 victims of extrajudicial killings in the Bicol region under Duterte, adding the Bicol region has among the most number of victims of the government’s Oplan Tokhang.

In response, Buenferza said the various NPA units under the RJC have carried out nearly 90 tactical offensives in 2018, killing 68 state security forces and wounding 50 others “in response to the “heightening calls for justice.”

In spite of increased and more vicious attacks by the military and police, the NPA has not only successfully defended its fronts in Bicol but has strengthened its more than 110 guerrilla fronts all over the country, Buenfuerza said.

The NPA called on Bicolanos to further resist and defeat Duterte’s EO 70 and martial law in Mindanao.

“Let us be inspired by the 50th anniversary of the CPP to launch intensified people’s struggles as well as tactical offensives of the NPA until the fascist and terrorist US-Duterte regime is completely defeated,” Buenfuerza said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

NDFP blames Año’s arrest threat for cancelled trip

YOGJAKARTA, Indonesia—Europe-based National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace negotiators announced they cancelled their planned trip to the Philippines and possible meeting with Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) President Rodrigo Duterte, blaming interior and local government secretary Eduardo Año’s threat to have them arrested.

In a statement today, NDFP Negotiating Panel chairperson Fidel Agcaoili said  he and fellow peace negotiator Coni Ledesma and senior adviser Luis Jalandoni have decided to forego their trip to the Philippines after Año said last November 16 that they will be arrested upon arrival.

“On November 16, DILG Sec. Eduardo Año issued a statement that we would be arrested upon our arrival unless the President says otherwise,” Agcaoili said.

“As a consequence, we decided in the following day to forego with the trip of Mr. Jalandoni and Ms. Ledesma whose names are in the so-called proscription case against the CPP and NPA,” he explained.

Agcaoili also clarified that his name was not included in the 600 persons listed by the Department of Justice in its terrorist proscription case against the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army last January.

He added that as far as he knows, there are no outstanding cases against him in any GRP court that could be a basis for his arrest.

Not ready

Agcaoili said that Duterte announced in Papua New Guinea last Friday while attending a summit of the Association of South East Asian Nations that he is not yet prepared to resume talks with the revolutionary movement.

He also revealed that they have been informed by the GRP last Sunday, November 18, that the appointment with the President had been cancelled and that he would only be meeting with presidential spokesperson Salvador  Panelo and presidential peace adviser Jesus Dureza.

“[S]uch a meeting might not prove useful without a new perspective. As a consequence, we decided that I also forego with my trip scheduled for that evening for security consideration,” Agcaoili said.

He said that a meeting with Duterte had been scheduled on November 23 while they are in Manila, “considering that more than three months have passed since the GRP postponed the scheduled resumption of formal talks in Oslo, Norway, on June 28, 2018.”

Earlier, Duterte disclosed he is thinking about resuming the peace talks and has consulted the military about the matter.

“I will not keep it a secret. I do not want (it to be) confidential. They will come here. They want to talk to me. Their problem is they might be arrested,” Duterte said.

Other cancelled meetings

Because of the cancellation, Agcaoili said they failed to attend a meeting with the new Royal Norwegian Ambassador to the Philippines scheduled yesterday.

The Royal Norwegian Government is the Third Party Facilitator to the NDFP-GRP peace process.

Agcaoili earlier said their trip was primarily in connection with his and Ledesma’s work as members of the NDFP section in the Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC) of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law.

The JMS’ office is in Cubao, Quezon City. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

‘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)