Military ‘sorry’ for false list of dead or captured NPA

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (UP) apologized for its false list of University of the Philippines (UP) students who died or were captured as New People’s Army (NPA) rebels.

In a statement, the AFP said it sincerely apologizes to those “inadvertently affected by inconsistencies” in the list published on its Facebook account.

The AFP said its Civil-Military Operations Office is already conducting an internal investigation, adding it will hold to account those responsible.

The AFP apology,

The list had gone viral despite being deleted shortly after publication.

Among those listed as dead or captured NPA rebels are prominent UP alumni, including former government officials.

Former Congressman and Integrated Bar of the Philippines president Roan Libarios, former Government of the Republic of the Philippines Negotiating Panel chairperson and Philippine Health Insurance Corporation president Atty. Alexander Padilla, former Deparment of Environment and Natural Resources executive Elmer Mercado, and stage and film director Behn Cervantes who died of natural causes in August 2013 were among those listed.

False list

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) condemned the inclusion of at least two journalists in the list.

The NUJP said the listing of Agence France Presse bureau chief for Singapore and Malaysia Roberto “Bobby” Coloma and business and economic journalist Roel Landingin was “malicious red-tagging” by the military.

“It is appalling how the military office tasked with communicating with the citizenry has shamelessly resorted to such blatant falsehood to push the narrative of UP as the supposed ‘breeding ground’ of enemies of the state,” the NUJP said.

“We would normally dismiss this canard as laughably stupid. However, putting the people it names in mortal danger is no laughing matter at all. Especially since AFP units are known to spread disinformation such as this through their own social media accounts,” the media group added.

Schools reject Parlade’s allegation

In a related development, the Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU), De La Salle University (DLSU), University of Santo Tomas (UST), and the Far Eastern University (FEU) protested their inclusion in another list as recruitment havens for the NPA.

In a repeat of his allegations in 2018, National Task Force to End Local Communist and Armed Conflict spokesperson Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade said the NPA recruits new members from 18 Philippine colleges and universities.

ADMU President Roberto Yap, DLSU President Raymundo Suplido, FEU President Michael Alba and UST Vice Rector Isaias Tiongco jointly rejected Paralde’s statement against their schools.

The officials said their universities “seek to direct our students to engage in acts that contribute to the strengthening of social cohesion, defend the country’s democratic institutions, and promote nation-building.”

Parlade’s claims are “really getting old” and that the accusations were irresponsibly “cast without proof,” the school officials said.

Parlade’s statement and the AFP list followed defense secretary’s Delfin Lorenzana’s unilateral abrogation last week of the UP-Department of National Defense Agreement of 1989 requiring the AFP to seek permission before conducting operations in campus.

The move earned widespread condemnation from UP alumni and civil society groups. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

CPP orders Xmas truce; Panelo says Malacañan to follow suit

SAN VICENTE, Palawan–The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) declared a unilateral ceasefire Sunday, December 22, ahead of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines’ (GRP) reciprocal declaration Malacañan Palace said is forthcoming.

In its order, the CPP asked all commands and units of the New People’s Army (NPA) and people’s militias to implement a nationwide ceasefire that will take effect from December 23 to January 7.

The CPP said the ceasefire order shall take effect upon the issuance of the corresponding and reciprocal ceasefire declarations from the GRP in the form of suspension of military and police operations.

In response, presidential spokesperson and chief legal counsel Salvador Panelo said in a statement that GRP President Rodrigo Duterte has directed the declaration of a unilateral nationwide ceasefire effective on the said dates.

The President has instructed the Department of National Defense and the Department of Interior and Local Government, as well as the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police to issue Manila’s official ceasefire declaration, Panelo’s statement reads.

In its order, the CPP said the reciprocal and unilateral ceasefires aim to generate a positive atmosphere conducive to the holding of informal talks preparatory to the formal meeting to resume the peace negotiations between the GRP and the NDFP.

Formal peace negotiations between the two parties stalled in 2017 after the GRP sent its negotiators home just as an interim peace agreement was about to be signed.

The GRP for its part said the confidence-building measures reflects Duterte’s commitment to the possible resumption of the peace talks.

Panelo’s statement also announced that Duterte ordered the reconstitution of the GRP Negotiating Panel, naming executive secretary Salvador Medialdea as among its members. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

NDFP to ‘peace spoiler’ Lorenzana: Explain your failures instead

It is Delfin Lorenzana who should explain where the Department of National Defense (DND) budget goes, the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) Negotiating Panel said in response to the defense secretary’s allegation Thursday the NPA collects P1.2 billion in “revolutionary taxes” in Eastern Mindanao alone.

NDFP chief negotiator Fidel Agcaoili said while all taxes collected by the NPA are spent for services to the people and the communities, the DND and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) budgets only go to corruption and used to kill civilians.

“Without confirming his allegation, what is Lorenzana complaining about? What about the P137.2B 2017 budget of the DND, where did the monies go? To line the pockets of the generals, military commanders and senior officials of the DND and AFP and towards the acquisition of military equipment used to kill civilians, bombard communities, destroying crops and houses and laying waste to Marawi, close schools and day care centers in Lumad communities, threaten and harass the people, etc?” Agcaoili asked.

“Yet, the AFP is unable to perform its principal duty of protecting and defending the national sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Philippines against foreign aggression in the West Philippine Sea, including the Tubbataha reef,” Agcaoili added.

Lorenzana alleged Thursday at a forum in Makati City the NPA rakes in at least a billion pesos in so-called extortion activities in Eastern Mindanao that affects the course of doing business.

“The amount of money that the CPP (Communist Party of the Philippines) and the NPA are collecting from Eastern Mindanao alone is P1.2 billion a year,” Lorenzana told the Management Association of the Philippines.

Lorenzana also admitted he was the one who convinced President Rodrigo Duterte to stop peace negotiations with the NDFP.

Peace spoilers

Agcaoili said he is not surprised with Lorenzana’s admission.

“Since the time of (the late dictator Ferdinand) Marcos, the AFP has not gone back to the barracks, unable to accept the most basic of democratic principles – civilian supremacy over the military – and always threatening coups once the soldiers don’t get their way and terrorizing the people with guns and equipments that are paid for the taxpayers,” Agcaoili said.

“It is, in the words of President Duterte, a staunchly pro-American institution, unwilling to accept changes and reforms in Philippine society – the peace spoilers,” he added. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

NDFP negotiators to leave for Europe for back-channel talks with the GRP

NATIONAL Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) Negotiating Panel member Benito Tiamzon and consultants Wilma Austria Tiamzon and Vicente Ladlad will soon leave for Europe to participate in the ongoing backchannel talks with the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP).

In a speech at the National Defense College earlier today, Department of National Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana also announced Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza has left for Europe last night to lead the GRP delegation in the talks for the possible resumption of formal peace negotiations between the parties. Read more

Peace spoilers won the day–Agcaoili

PEACE spoilers won the day, the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) chief peace negotiator said of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines’ (GRP) “cancellation” of the formal peace talks and termination of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) today.

Fidel Agcaoili blamed “spoilers in the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, Department of National Defense, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the neoliberal globalization members in the cabinet” for the collapse of their once promising peace talks with the Duterte government. Read more