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Joma, peace advocates: ATC move vs. NDFP ‘diabolical’, to worsen armed conflict

National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison described their group’s designation as “terrorist” by the Rodrigo Duterte government as “diabolical”, aimed at not just further closing every possibility of resuming peace negotiations but to kill more of their consultants and resource persons.

READ: GRP designates NDFP as ‘terrorist organization’

Reacting to the Anti-Terrorism Council’s (ATC) June 23 resolution designating the NDFP as a terrorist organization, Sison said the government clearly intends to:

  • Close further every possibility of resuming the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations at least for the duration that Duterte is in power,
  • Harass, silence, arrest or even kill the NDFP consultants and resource persons and others involved in the peace negotiations and target even the broad range of peace advocates, critics and oppositionists,
  • Allow Duterte to control and rig the 2022 elections, stay in power together with (Davao City Mayor) Sara and prevent his (Duterte’s) arrest for crimes against humanity on the prospective warrant that may be issued by the International Criminal Court, and
  • Pave a wider path for the Duterte regime to declare martial law and impose a fascist dictatorship on the people either before the anticipated 2022 elections or after this is rigged in order to preempt the 1986 type of people’s uprising.

“The diabolical purpose of the Duterte regime in designating the NDFP as terrorist cannot be understated because this has been preceded by the murder of NDFP consultants committed so flagrantly by Duterte death squads,” Sison said.

In its Resolution No. 21 (2021) issued last June 23, the Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC) designated the NDFP as a terrorist organization/association, saying the group is “an integral and inseparable part of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New People’s Army (NPA).”

Sison cited the murder of Randy Malayao, Randall Echanis, couple Agaton Topacio and Eugenia Magpantay, couple Antonio Cabanatan and Florenda Yap, Reynaldo Bocala and Rustico Tan as proof the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) is into killing NDFP consultants.

The victims were killed after Duterte ordered the GRP Negotiating Panel to walk away from the peace negotiations in mid-2017.

Sison also cited the arrest of NDFP consultants Adelberto Silva, Rey Casambre, Vicente Ladlad, Renante Gamara, Ferdinand Castillo  and others who have been arrested and imprisoned on so-called trumped up charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives.

He added that the designation is “at war” with basic principles of international humanitarian law on the legitimate status, rights and character of national liberation movements such as those by the NDFP.

‘War hawks to blame’

A group of peace advocates blames so-called war hawks in the ATC for NDFP’s designation as terrorist.

The group Pilgrims for Peace (PfP) said GRP’s move bodes ill for human rights, democracy and the quest for peace under the Duterte administration.

“The war hawks are hell-bent on killing peace negotiations and instead pursuing all-out war in the government counterinsurgency program as well as casting a wide net of suppression against all opposition and dissent through state terror as embodied in the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020,” the group in a statement said.

PfP said the designation can only intensify the “nefarious red-baiting/ terrorist-tagging by the National Task Force-End Local Communist Armed Conflict, with dire implications on and further deterioration of the human rights situation and constriction of democratic space in the country.”

The group added the designation directly contravenes a basic tenet of peace advocacy: addressing the roots of the armed conflict through earnest peace negotiations.

“[B]y designating those who have stepped forward to engage in peace negotiations as ‘terrorist,’ the Duterte administration is blatantly acting against the principle and practice of peace building,” PfP said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

GRP designates NDFP as ‘terrorist organization’

The Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) has added the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) to its list of terrorist organizations, dashing what remains of hopes for the resumption of formal peace negotiations between the parties.

In its Resolution No. 21 (2021) issued last June 23, the Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC) has designated the NDFP as a terrorist organization/association, saying the group is “an integral and inseparable part of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New People’s Army (NPA).”

The designation was signed by ATC chairperson and executive secretary Salvador Medialdea and council vice-chairperson and national security adviser Hermogenes Esperon.

“[The] NDFP is organized, controlled, acting on behalf of or at the direction of, and operated by the (CPP), a designated terrorist organization, association and/or group of persons under ATC Resolution No. 12 (2020),” the ATC said.

The Council said the NDFP is the last of three major components, along with the CPP and the NPA, that provides support to the armed and organizational expansion of the Communist movement in the country.

Founded in April 1973, the NDFP describes itself as “[A] revolutionary united front organization of the Filipino people fighting for national freedom and for the democratic rights of the people.

“The NDFP seeks to develop and coordinate all progressive classes, sectors and forces in the Filipino people’s struggle to end the rule of US imperialism and its local allies of big landlords and compradors, and attain national and social liberation,” its website says.

Aside from the CPP and the NPA, the NDFP has at least 15 other “revolutionary allied organizations” and is present in 70 out of the country’s 81 provinces.

Since 1992, the NDFP has been holding peace talks with the GRP to “address the roots of the armed conflict.”

After two years of fruitful negotiations across four formal rounds in three countries in Europe from 2016 to 2017, President Duterte walked away from the process and has since designated the CPP and NPA as so-called terrorists.

Observers said NDFP’s exclusion from GRP’s list of terrorist organizations provides hope that it is still open to resuming negotiations with the underground group.

NDFP officials have yet to respond to requests for comment on this development. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

CPP slams CHR for ‘echoing AFP lies’ on landmines

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) challenged the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) to cite International Humanitarian Law (IHL) principles the New People’s Army (NPA) allegedly violated in its ambush of government soldiers in Jipapad, Eastern Samar last July 7.

In a statement Tuesday, CPP public information officer Marco Valbuena demanded that CHR deputy spokesperson Marc Louis Siapno specify which IHL provision the NPA failed to observe in the military action that killed three government troopers and wounded six others.

Valbuena also strongly reacted to Siapno’s allegation that the NPA indiscriminately used improvised explosive devices (IED) during the incident.

“By condemning wholesale the use of landmines, the CHR mouthpiece is not helping educate the public with regard the Ottawa Treaty. He should understand that the treaty specifically bans the use of landmines that are ‘designed to be exploded by the presence, proximity or contact of a person’ and does not prohibit the use of command-detonated landmines,” Valbuena said.

Valbuena added: “Is the CHR spokesperson aware that the armed forces of Canada (where Ottawa is located) itself possesses and uses command-detonated landmines (similar to that of the NPA) which it says are not covered by the landmine treaty?”

In a statement Friday, Siapno alleged the NPA indiscriminately used IEDs, including landmines, that “fail in distinguishing between civilians and combatants and protect especially civilians and communities from the ill effects of armed conflict, which violates the spirit of IHL.”

Siapno also urged the government “to pursue the perpetrators…in keeping with the rule of law,” adding the five-decade CPP-led revolution is “senseless violence.”

‘Misleading’

Valbuena however said he is not surprised with CHR’s bias.

“In the first place, the CHR is an agency of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP). At every opportunity, it denounces the NPA and echoes the lies of the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines),” he said.

Valbuena cited the article “CHR, gov’t close ranks vs. NPA” published Monday by the Philippine News Agency he described as a “trash news website.”

The article quoted Philippine Army 8th Infantry Division commander Maj. Gen. Pio Diñoso saying the government troopers were unarmed when ambushed.

“The spot report of the AFP itself said that the ‘firefight lasted for about 20 minutes,” although the NPA report said the battle lasted only for 5 minutes,” Valbuena countered.

He added the NPA seized a Gloc-made pistol as well as a .45 caliber and a .9mm pistol of unknown makes from the soldiers. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Joma looks past the ‘treacherous’ Duterte for peace talks resumption

National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison looks past the Rodrigo Duterte administration for the possible resumption of the stalled peace negotiations between the Left and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP).

In a statement, Sison said it is “utterly perverse” of the Duterte regime to expect that the Communists can be convinced back into peace negotiations after the murder of NDFP consultants and attempts by GRP officials and agencies to paint him as a “terrorist”.

“I assure these fascists (in the GRP) that the CPP, NPA and NDFP have enough brains to think that even peace negotiations in a foreign neutral venue have become too risky and costly for the NDFP after the murder of so many NDFP peace consultants,” Sison said.

Randy Felix Malayao, Randall Echanis, Julius Giron, ederly couple Agaton Topacio and Eugenia Magpantay, couple Antonio Cabanatan and Florenda Yap, and Reynaldo Bocala were all brutally killed after Duterte terminated the peace negotiations in 2017.

He added that here is a need for certain new guarantees to ensure the safety and immunity of NDFP negotiators, consultants and staff if ever peace negotiations would be held in cooperation with an administration, “which is not as treacherous and murderous as the Duterte regime.”

All-out war

In his statement, Sison confirmed observations that Duterte made a total turnaround on the peace negotiations in the second half of 2017.

In a statement, Sison said that after the Manila government aborted the fifth round of formal talks in May 2017 it became increasingly clear that Duterte had a change of position and attitude.

“He was no longer interested in peace negotiations with the NDFP and was single-mindedly for an all-out war against the CPP and NPA to comply with [then United States of America President Donald] Trump’s order and to aim for fascist dictatorship,” Sison said.

Duterte issued Proclamation 360 terminating the peace negotiations on November 23, 2017 and Proclamation 374 designating the CPP and NPA as “terrorist” organizations on December 5, 2017.

The termination wasted significant progress made in the negotiations and in the drafting of the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms in the previous four rounds of formal talks from August 2016 to April 2017, Sison rued.

Sison said the Manila government’s turnaround came after Duterte failed to lure his former professor to return to the Philippines and instead allowed the Europe-held peace negotiations to produce beneficial agreements such as free land distribution to poor farmers.

Sison said Duterte used the excuse that the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founding chairperson has no control or influence over the Party and the New People’s Army (NPA) to push for so-called localized negotiations.

Sison said Duterte and the military are absolutely correct in saying the neither the NDFP Negotiating Panel and its chief political consultant have the power to issue orders to the CPP and the NPA whose leading formations are all in the Philippines.

“Duterte and his running dogs are therefore mendacious and malicious in taking the position and attitude and ranting that I make decisions and give orders to the CPP and NPA and that I am a “terrorist” who should be deported by the Dutch government to the Philippines for punishment by the Duterte regime under its draconian law of state terrorism,” he said.

Sison also scored repeated pro-GRP pickets staged in front of the Dutch Embassy in Makati City calling for his deportation to the Philippines.

The pickets have also demanded that the peace negotiations be held in the Philippines under the auspices of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process.

“I wish to point out that Duterte and his fellow butchers are not only criminally brutal but also utterly stupid. They conveniently forget that I am a recognized political refugee under the absolute protection of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights and the principle of nonrefoulement in the Refugee Convention,” he said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Itanong Mo Kay Prof: Masbate Incident at CARHRIHL

Panayam kay Prof. Jose Maria Sison ng Kodao Productions, sa pamamagitan ni Prof. Sarah Raymundo, hinggil sa insidente sa Masbate at ang bisa ng CARHRIHL.

IMKP: MASBATE INCIDENT AT CARHRIHL
June 22, 2021

Sarah: Magandang araw sa lahat ng ating mga tagapakinig, nagbabalik ang Itanong Mo Kay Prof, kasama natin ang Chair Emeritus ng International League of Peoples’ Struggle at NDFP Chief Political Consultant na si Prop. Jose Maria Sison. Magandang araw, Prof Sison, at maraming salamat sa pagkakataong makapanayam kayong muli para sa isang napakahalagang usapin na may kinalaman sa kondukta ng pakikibakang armado ng rebolusyonaryong hukbo sa Pilipinas ang NPA, paritukular ang nangyari sa Masbate.

JMS: Maalab na makabayang pagbati sa iyo Prop. Raymundo, sa Kodao at sa lahat ng ating tagapakinig.

Sarah: Sa ngalan ng Itanong Mo Kay Prof, nagpapaabot po ako ng taos-pusong pakikiramay sa pamilya ng mga nasawi nating kababayan at nakikiisa po ang aming programa sa pakikidalamhati sa ating mga kababayan sa trahedyang ito.

Sa panayam na ito, sisikapin nating makuha ang suri at ilang resolusyon ng NDFP batay sa mga naaangkop na mga dokumentong may lokal at internasyonal na saklaw na nakatuon sa mga sirkumstansya ng gerang sibil są mga bansang tulad ng Pilipinas kung saan may pwersang nagsusulong ng rebolusyonaryong pakikibaka para sa pambansang paglaya.

Halina at alamin natin ang kahalagahan ng Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC), ang Comprehensive Agreement on Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CAHRIHL), ang The Hague Declaration, at ng Ottawa Treaty. At kung bakit Usaping Kapayapaan ang pinanawagan ng mga taong-simbahan at iba pang grupo na nagtatanggol sa karapatang pantao, matapos maisapubliko ng insidente na hindi naman itinanggi kundi agad namang inako ng CPP-NPA. Bilang founding Chair ng CPP, ano kaya ang pagtingin ni Prop. Sison sa isyung ito?


Mga Tanong:

1. Ano ang masasabi nyo Prof Sison sa nangyari sa Masbate na kung saan ay may dalawang sibilyan na namatay dahil sa land mines na ginawa ng mga NPA? Meron na po bang resulta ang imbistigasyon ng CPP/NPA/NDF hinggil dito?

JMS: Isang trahedya na mga sibilyang magpinsan ng pamilyang  Absalon ay nasawi at isa pa ay  nasugatan dahil sa pagkakamaling pinasabog sa kanila ang command-detonated land mines.

Anuman ang klase ng sandata ay maling gamitin laban sa mga sibilyan. Ito ay mahigpit ng patakaran ng CPP, NPA, NDFP at rebolusyonaryong gobyerno ng bayan.

Gumawa na ng kagyat na pagsisiyasat ang partikular na kommand ng NPA sa Masbate na may kinalaman sa partikular na yunit at ilang indibidwal na may pananagutan sa malungkot na pangyayari. Tinanggap ng naturang komand na may pagkakamali.

 Pero gusto pa rin ng pinakamataas na organo ng NDFP na may mas malalim pang imbestigasyon para magkaroon ng batayan para litisin ang mga akusado sa court martial ng NPA o sa hukumang bayan ng rebolusyonaryong gobyerno ng bayan.

2. Maaari nyo po bang maipaliwanag Prof Sison kung meron po bang nilabag ang mga NPA sa land mines na kanilang isinagawa sa Masbate? Ano po ba ang implikasyon nito sa International Humanitarian Law?

JMS: Walang nilabag ng kabuaan ng NPA. Ang lumabag ay partikular na yunit ng NPA o iilang indibidwal na nagpaputok ng land mines. Ang mismong command-detonated land mines ay hindi ipinagbabawal ng Ottawa Treaty. Pero krimen o kamalian ang paggamit ng anumang sandata laban sa mga inosenteng sibilyan.

Sabi ng binanggit kong Masbate command ng NPA na command-detonated na land mines ang ginamit. Sa tamang paggamit ng ganitong land mines sa armadong kaaway ng NPA, hindi ipinagbabawal ng Ottawa Treaty at ng International Humanitarian Law.

Ang maliwanag na ipinagbabawal ng Ottawa Treaty ay yong land mines na sumasabog dahil sa presensya, presyur o kontak ng biktima. Ipinagbabawal ito dahil sa indiscriminate ang nabibiktima.

Sang-ayon at sumusunod ang CPP, NPA, NDFP at rebolusyonayong gobyerno ng bayan sa Ottawa Treaty. Patakaran ng buong kilusang rebolusyonaryo na bawal ang land mines na hindi command-detonated.

3. Hinggil po sa land mines, Prof Sison, maaari nyo po bang maibahagi ano po bang klase ng land mines ang tinatanggap sa International Humanitarian Law (IHL) sa mga lugar na may gera. Pinahihintulutan po ba talaga sa IHL ang pagtatanim ng bomba?

JMS: Sa International Humanitarian Law, ang Ottawa Treaty ang pinaka- partikular na instrumentong legal na nagsasabi kung anong klaseng land mines ang ipinagbabawal.

Ipinagbabawal nang kategorikal at pauli-ulit sa tratadong ito na bawal ang land mines na puputok dahil lamang sa presenya, presyur o kontak ng kahit sinong tao, inosenteng sibilyan o armadong kaaway ng NPA sa kasalukuyang gera sibil sa Pilipinas. Hindi ipinagbabawal ang command-detonated land mines.

4. Ano po ang inyong masasabi sa kahilingan ng gubyerno sa pamamagitan ni DILG Sec Eduardo Año na isurender sa kanila ang mga NPA na nagkasala sa naganap na pagsabog sa Masbate?

JMS: Alinsunod sa International Humanitarian Law at Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law, ang NDFP ang may hurisdiksyon sa anumang paratang laban sa NPA at mga yunit nito at ang GRP naman ang may hurisdiksyon sa mga paratang laban sa AFP, PNP, paramilitar at mga yunit nito.

Ang NDFP at GRP ay mga co-belligerents sa isang gera sibil o armed conflict na saklaw ng Geneva Conventions. Hindi pwedeng utusan ng GRP ang NDFP na isurender sa GRP ang yunit ng NPA na gumawa ng pagkakamali sa Masbate.

Ang GRP ay hindi rin puedeng utusan ng NDFP na isurender sa kanya ang mga akusado sa higit ng 6000 paratang laban sa AFP at PNP na sometido sa Joint Monitoring Committee sa ilalim ng CARHRIHL.

Hindi ring pwedeng utusan ng NDFP ang GRP na isurender sa NDFP ang mga armadong tauhan ng GRP na pumaslang ng napakaraming NDFP peace consultant. Tinutukoy ang pagpaslang kina Randy Felix Malayao, Randall Echanis, Julius Giron, mag-asawang Cabanatan, mag-asawang Topacio, Reynaldo Bocala at iba pa.

May kanya-kanyang sistema ng gobyerno at batas ang GRP at NDFP. Sira-ulo ang mga opisyal at ahensya ng reaksyonaryong gobyerno na gustong magmando sa NDFP na isuko sa GRP ang mga akusado sa insidente ng command-detonated land mines sa Masbate.

5. Ang Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law o mas kilala sa tawag na CARHRIHL ay isang kasunduan na pinirmahan ng gubyerno ng Pilipinas at ng National Democratic Front of the Philippines noong 1998. Ayon sa AFP hindi na ito epektibo dahil wala ng negosasyon sa pagitan ng GRP at NDFP, at matagal na ring nilusaw ang Joint Monitoring Committee o JMC. Ano po amg inyong opinyon hinggil dito Prof Sison? May halaga pa po ba ang CARHRIHL sa panahon ngayon?

JMS: Umiiral pa ang CARHRIHIL dahil sa maraming probisyon nito ay hango sa international law sa human rights at humanitarian conduct at nasa balangkas ng international law na tinanggap ng GRP Constitution. Umiiral at bukas din ang opisina ng NDFP-nominated section ng JMC sa Cubao at kinikilala at sinusuportahan pa ng Royal Norwegian Government.

Totoo na ang GRP ay nagsara ng kanyang opisina sa JMC. Pero hindi ibig sabihin nito na malayang gumawa ng mga krimen ang GRP sa mga pwersa at tauhan ng NDFP. Hindi rin ibig sabihin na  nawalan na  ng hurisdiksyon ng NDFP sa mga pwersang nasa panig niya.

Subukan ng GRP na magpadala ng arresting yunit nila sa erya ng NPA sa Masbate at tingnan natin kung ano ang mangyayari. Kung gawin ng GRP ang panghihimasok, hwag magulat kung lalabanan sila ng NPA.

6. Sa panghuli, Prof Sison, ano po ang inyong panawagan sa ating mga kababayan?

JMS: Hanggang ngayon ipinagmamatigas at ipinagmamalaki ni Duterte na tinapos at pinatay na niya ang peace negotiations at gusto niya ang gera total at pakana niyang idahilan ang armadong rebolusyon para magpataw ng pasistang diktadura sa Pilipinas.

Napakalimitado na ang panahon na umasa ang sinuman na magbabago ang patakaran ni Duterte. Nasa huling taon na ang halimaw sa kanyang legal term of office.

Mas mabuting palakasin ang kilusan ng mga mamamayan para patalsikin sa poder ang traidor, berdugo, mandaranbong at maggagantsong rehimen ni Dutere at makipagsundo sa oposisyon na itaguyod ang patakaran na buksan muli ang peace negotiations ng GRP at NDFP para lutasin ang mga problema na ugat ng gera sibil.

Magkakaroon ang makatarungan at matibay na kapayapaan kung may peace negotiations muli at gumawa ng mga komprehensibong kasunduan tungkol sa mga batayang repormang sosyal, ekonomiko at pulitikal sa balangkas ng The Hague Joint Declaration ng GRP at NDFP.

JMS: Sa pagtatapos ng ating panayam, nagpapasalamat ako kay Prop. Raymundo, sa Kodao at sa lahat ng ating tagapakinig.

Sarah: Maraming-maraming salamat po Prof. Sison para sa isang malaman at ubod ng linaw na pagpapaliwanag. Ang mga nabanggit na mga ahensya at pinagkaisahang dokumento na tunog-teknikal sa una, ngayon ay may malinaw nang hugis kaugnay ng trahedya sa Masbate at gayon na rin sa kabuuang kondukta ng armadong tunggalian sa pagitan ng GRP at CPP-NPA.

Itanggi man ng gobyernong Duterte, maging ng mga anti-komunista at iba pang mga grupo na nananawagan ng maka-isang panig na resolusyon sa trahedyang ito, hindi na maikakaila ang bisa ng mga tratado o treaty at dokumentong sumasaklaw sa kondukta ng armadong tunggalian.

Walang silbing i-etsa pwera sa diskusyon ang dual state power sa bansa, o ang realidad na may dalawang gobyerno sa Pilipinas na sangkot sa isang armadong tunggalian. Hindi ito tungkol durugan o paggapi na solusyon ni Duterte. Walang kahihinatnan ang ganyang pusisyon dahil matagal nang nalikha ang mga opsiyal at lehitimong mekanismo para resolbahin ang mga usaping dulot ng tunggaliang ito. Ang mga mekanismong ito ay hindi pumapabor sa isang panig, kundi mga mekanismong nagbubukas upang talakayin, sawatahin, resolbahan ng dalawang panig ang mga umano’y abuso ng bawat panig, mga panukala ng bawat panig upang matugunan ang ugat ng armadong tunggalian. Sa puntong ito ng armadong tunggalian sa pagitan ng GRP at CPP-NPA walang ibang mekanismo ang maaaring makatugon dito kundi ang Usapang Pangkapayapaan o Peace Talks.

Hanggang sa muli, ito po si Sarah Raymundo, guro ng Unibersidad ng Pilipinas at aktibista ng Bagong Alyansang Makabayan. Ibayong pag-iingat at pakikibaka laban sa tiraniya.

-End-

Bicol NDF says Masbate ‘clash’ another police canard

The group said the three massacre victims were civilians and not communist guerrillas.

The National Democratic Front in the Bicol Region (NDF-Bikol) denied a clash happened between the New People’s Army (NPA) and government forces in Masbate last June 8 that the Philippine National Police (PNP) claimed resulted in the death of three communist guerrillas.

The three victims were civilians who were abducted and later killed by troops of the 2nd Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army (PA) and the provincial police, NDF-Bikol spokesperson Ma. Roja Banua said in statements.

In a June 9 statement, Banua said the government troops indiscriminately fired their guns from four to eight o’clock Tuesday morning and abducted farmers Ramon ‘Boy’ Valenzuela Brioso of Sitio Mabuaya, Matiporon, Milagros; Antonio ‘Tony’ Polegrantes of Barangay Hermosa, Cawayan; and Ailyn ‘Eket’ Bulalacao Gracio of Sitio Bantolinao, Barangay Amutag, Aroroy.

Brioso, 58 years old, was chief cowboy of 7R Ranch while Polegrantes was barangay Hermosa chief tanod, Banua said in another statement today.

PNP-Bicol claimed the three were NPA guerrillas who were part of the group behind the bomb blast that killed footballer Keith Absalon and his cousin Nolven on June 6 in Masbate City.

Bicol regional police spokesperson Maj. Maria Luisa Calubaquib claimed a firefight happened between 30 suspected NPA fighters and a PNP-PA composite team in Barangay Anas, Masbate City at 5:30 a.m. last Tuesday.

The government troopers were reportedly serving an arrest warrant to murder suspect Arnold Rosero the police said may be the leader of the group who detonated the bomb that killed the Absalons.

The police added that the bodies of three dead were found at the clash site after the 15-minute firefight.

The PA for its part claimed guns, ammunition and bomb parts were found near the clash site.

Philippine Army 9th Infantry Division public affairs chief Capt. John Paul Belleza claimed government soldiers found 14 M16 rifles, an M653 rifle, an M14 rifle, bullets, tents and bomb parts in a nipa hut at the boundary of barangays Anas and Bolo.

Banua however denied a clash happened between the NPA’s Jose Rapsing Command and the government troops last Tuesday.

“The police must be drunk from gunpowder-induced illusions when it claimed they confiscated 17 firearms, command-detonated explosives and other war materiel from a made-up clash,” Banua said.

The NDF spokesperson also revealed that the Masbate Provincial Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (PTF-ELCAC) had already repeatedly announced Rosero killed in various clashes in the past years.

The latest claim by the local police was issued to please newly-appointed PNP chief Guillermo Eleazar, Banua said.

“In their haste to take advantage of the NPA’s humble admission of its mistake (in the Absalons’ deaths), they are telling a multitude of lies that are easily disproven. They will also personally benefit from the reward monies they are sure to claim from the national TF-ELCAC,” Banua added.

NDF-Bikol challenged investigating groups to look into how the government’s anti-communist task force is taking advantage of the Absalon family’s grief as well as the death of the three “farmer-civilians.” # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

NDFP: AFP blurs distinction between banned and allowable landmines

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) cautioned against claims the New People’s Army (NPA) uses landmines that are banned by the Ottawa Convention as claimed by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

In a statement, the NDFP National Executive Committee belied claims by various military spokespersons that the NPA uses landmines that are banned by the 1997 Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines.

“There are the tendentious, misinformed and even maliciously distorted claims of the GRP (Government of the Republic of the Philippines) and other entities on the issue of the legitimacy and acceptability of the use of certain types of landmines in warfare in the context of the present armed conflict and in accordance with an accurate reading of international humanitarian law and instruments on the matter,” the NDFP said.

The group said the NPA only uses command-detonated landmines that require a person to be present, observing the landmine emplacement and manually detonating it, usually electrically, upon the approach of a moving target close to the emplacement.

Command-detonated landmines are different from the indiscriminate type of landmines that are triggered by weight, pressure, or tripping of a wire.

“It is the position of the NDFP that the use of land mines and IEDs (improvised explosive devices) – particularly and most especially those that are command-detonated anti-personnel and anti-vehicle types or contact-detonated anti-vehicle types—are legitimate tools of warfare, it said.

The AFP however only generically describes the explosion reported to have killed footballer Keith Absolon and cousin Nolven last June 6 in Masbate City as “anti-personnel mines.”

The military said the NPA is behind a total of 141 incidents of use, stockpiling, transport and production of anti-personnel mines or landmines which have so far caused 224 casualties since 2010.

In its definition of landmines, the Ottawa Convention said that anti-personnel mines are those designed to be exploded by the presence, proximity or contact of a person and that will incapacitate, injure or kill one or more persons.

“Mines designed to be detonated by the presence, proximity or contact of a vehicle as opposed to a person, that are equipped with anti-handling devices, are not considered anti-personnel mines as a result of being so equipped,” it added.

The NDFP said that the Ottawa Convention only bans the use of anti-personnel mines that are detonated by proximity to or contact of a person.

“It neither prohibits the use of command-detonated anti-personnel mines nor both target-detonated and command-detonated anti-tank/vehicle mines,” the NDFP said.

The NPA’s landmines are known to target military and police vehicles bearing government forces.

The NDFP bewailed that their enemies are using the deaths of the Absalons to blur distinctions between banned and allowable landmines.

“This present incident and many others in the past are unfortunately being manipulated to blur the distinction between the allowable command-detonated anti-personnel mines, target/contact-detonated as well as command-detonated anti-tank/vehicle mines, on the one hand, and the generally disfavored target/contact-detonated anti-personnel mines, on the other hand,” it said.

It earlier cautioned the public from immediate condemnation of the NPA pending the result of a thoroughgoing investigation the Communist Party of the Philippines promised to conduct on the incident.

“There should be no rush to judgment, presumption or insinuation to the effect that the entire revolutionary movement and entire revolutionary forces are guilty of a criminal offense, negligence or error for which certain individuals may be liable on the basis of a full and complete investigation,” it said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

CPP admits responsibility over death of athlete, cousin

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) admitted a New People’s Army (NPA) unit was responsible for the death of two civilians in Masbate City on June 6.

In a statement, CPP information officer Marco Valbuena said the Party and the NPA express deep remorse for the death of cousins Keith and Nolven Absalon as well as injury to Nolven’s son Crisbin Daniel.

The victims died in a bomb blast early Sunday morning in what Valbuena said was the result of errors in a military action mounted by an NPA unit in Barangay Anas in the said city.

The victims were reportedly cycling when hit by the explosion set off by NPA members.

Keith was 21 while Nolven was 40 years old.

“The entire Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and New People’s Army (NPA) express their deep remorse over the untimely and unnecessary deaths of cousins Keith and Nolven Absalon and injury to others,” Valbuena said.

“The entire CPP and NPA take full responsibility for the tragedy. There is no justification for the aggravation this has caused the Absalon family,” he added.

Keith was University Athletics Association of the Philippines Season 78 juniors football most valuable player and a member of the Far Eastern University seniors football team. He also played for the Malaya Football Club and the Philippine under-19 football team in 2018.

“Our hearts are broken as we bid farewell to a brilliant player of #MalayaFC and FEU men’s football team,” Malaya FC said in a tweet on the loss of one of its players.   

Valbuena said the CPP hopes the Absalon family, relatives and friends as well as the entire people can accept their “profoundest apologies and self-criticism.”

He added that they are willing to extend any appropriate form of indemnification to the family.

Valbuena said the incident should not have happened as the NPA is always reminded to give the highest priority to the protection of civilian lives and property.

“The lessons that will be drawn should guide the NPA to avoid such unfortunate incidents in the future and strengthen its resolve to serve and defend the people,” Valbuena said.

The NPA and the CPP are known to admit offensive actions they undertake against government military and police forces.

The Commission on Human Rights earlier condemned the death of the Absalons as it announced an ongoing investigation on the incident. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

CPP: Murderers of NDFP consultants must be punished

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) condemned what it called the coordinated murder of two National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) consultants in the Visayas Friday night.

In a statement, CPP information officer Marco Valbuena blamed the Rodrigo Duterte government, particularly the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), for the killing of what it described as senior NDFP consultants.

“The (CPP) condemns in the strongest terms the (PNP) and the (AFP) for the coordinated killings last night of National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace consultants for the Visayas region,” Valbuena said.

Reynaldo Bocala, a known CPP and New People’s Army leader in Panay Island, and companion Willy Arguelles were killed in Iloilo City by the police while former Roman Catholic Priest and NDFP-Cebu negotiator Rustico Tan was killed in his sleep in Camotes Island, Cebu Province.

Valbuena said the killing of Bocala and Arguelles in Barangay Balabag, Pavia, Iloilo City was a “[t]okhang-style liquidation operation purportedly to serve warrants of arrests.”

The CPP said Bocala and Arguelles were unarmed when the police-military raid happened.

The PNP’s Criminal Investigation and Detection Group however said both victims put up a fight as the operatives were serving four warrants of arrest against Bocala for alleged murder.

The police issued the same claims in the killing of other NDFP consultants Julius Giron in Benguet Province, couple Eugenia Magpantay and Agaton Topacio in Rizal Province as well as other suspected elderly and sick New People’s Army fighters throughout the country.

All the killings happened either at night or before dawn.

The killings and arrests of NDFP consultants as well as suspected CPP and NPA members went into overdrive after Duterte cancelled peace negotiations with the underground Left in mid-2017.

“Stories by police and military officials of firearms recovered from the scene are all made-up to make the crime a legitimate police and military operation. This modus operandi, used against the wave of drug killings since 2016, is now being used by the military and police in the series of killings against activists and revolutionaries,” Valbuena said.

The killing of Tan is similar to the assassination of NDFP consultant Randy Felix Malayao who was also asleep when killed by two bullets on his head in Nueva Vizcaya.

Masterminded by Duterte

Valbuena said the CPP holds Duterte and the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) as masterminds of the killings of Bocala, Arguelles and Tan.

The massacre of the three was coordinated at a high level with the aim of driving terror into the hearts of the people and their revolutionary forces, Valbuena said.

The CPP spokesperson said the Duterte government perpetrates coordinated killings by the AFP and the PNP against NDFP peace consultants and suspected leaders of the Party and NPA.

“They are being summarily executed in line with Duterte’s the ‘take no prisoners’ fascist policy in the vain hope of making the people and their revolutionary forces surrender to his terrorist regime,” Valbuena said.

“It is an outrage that the fascists are targetting NDFP peace consultants who are in their senior years. Bocala was 75 years old, while Fr. Tan was 80,” he added.

Valbuena said the NPA must do its utmost to punish the perpetrators of the murders, “[i]n line with the (CPP’s) directives.” # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

NPA ambushes gov’t troops in Tumandok Massacre; CPP hails ‘partial justice’

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) hailed as “partial justice” the New People’s Army’s (NPA) ambush of a Philippine Army (PA) unit it said was involved in the massacre of nine Tumandok in Panay Island late last year.

Five soldiers of the 61st Infantry Battalion of the PA were reportedly killed in an ambush by Mt. Napulak Command of the NPA in Sitio Anoy, Barangay Cabalaunan, Miag-ao, Iloilo on May 15 at 10 o’clock AM.

“This is in partial fulfillment of the vow to exact justice for the Tumandok people and other victims of the crimes perpetrated by the 61st IB and other units of the AFP,” CPP chief information officer Marco Valbuena said in a statement.

The CPP earlier called on the NPA to avenge the victims of the massacre that killed nine Tumandok tribes people and arrested several others.

The victims of the Tumandok Massacre opposed the Jalaur Mega Dam Project that threatens to inundate vast areas of their ancestral domain.

READ: Gov’t troops massacre 9 Tumandok in Panay

“It is also a retribution for the killing of peasant leader John Farochilin killed last year by elements of the 61st IB in the same area,” Valbuena added.

The CPP spokesperson said five government troopers were killed in the ambush while five others were wounded.

Valbuena said among the initially wounded was a certain Staff Sgt. Antot who later on died in a local hospital.

In an earlier announcement, however, NPA Panay Regional Operation Command spokesperson Julio Montana said as the number of government troopers killed may be as many as eight.

“Five were killed in the actual firefight while three were wounded who we later learned died in the hospital. The casualties were taken by two helicopters after reinforcements have cleared the area,” Montana said.

“On the part of the NPA, its fighters safely retreated a few minutes after the firefight began,” he added.

NPA fighters in a ceremonial parade. (CPP photo)

PA denies number of casualties

In a local radio interview, however, PA 3rd Infantry Division spokesperson Maj. Cenon Pancito denied the NPA report and said only one government soldier was wounded in what he claimed was an “encounter”.

Capt. Ferdinand De Vera, 61st IB Civil Military Operations Officer, in a press release said the soldier was taken to a hospital in Iloilo city and is in stable condition.

He said the elements of the 61IB responded to the information given by the residents on the presence of “suspicious individuals.”

Col. Joel Benedict Batara, 61st IB commander also denied the incident was an ambush but an encounter that happened when his troops responded to information of NPA presence in the area.

The 61st IBPA is headquartered at Miag-Ao.

Valbuena however chided Batara for denying the PA casualties.

“What kind of arrogant officer is he who cannot give recognition to men who died under his command, Valbuena asked.

The CPP spokesperson said Miag-ao residents posted on their social media accounts that the military was flying helicopters in the area after the firefight, likely to secretly ferry casualties away. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)