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Kadamay chides officials for telling lies about hungry protesters

The Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay) chided government officials for telling lies about the violent dispersal of protesting and hungry residents of Sitio San Roque in Barangay Bagong Pag-Asa in Quezon City Tuesday morning, April 1.

The urban poor group slammed interior and local government undersecretary Jonathan Malaya for alleging that Kadamay instigated the protest action along Epifanio delos Santos Avenue when the protesters were in fact members of a different group called the Sandigan ng Maralitang Nagkakaisa (SaMaNa).

“Saan naman galing ang impormasyon ni Malaya? Napakabilis naman niyang magimbento ng kuwento,” Kadamay chairperson Gloria Arellano said in a statement. (Where did Malaya get his information? He is so quick in inventing stories.)

Kadamay said Malaya accused the group of “fooling the residents to merely dramatize issues and make the government look bad as part of Leftist propaganda.”

But Arellano said Malaya’s allegation is false and is an attempt to misdirect the issue of hunger among urban poor communities during the government’s enhanced community quarantine order due to the corona virus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.

“Ang usapin dito, kagutuman at panganib sa kalusugan ng mahihirap habang abusado ang sundalo, pulis at emergency powers ni Duterte, kaya inaresto sila at di tinulungan,” Arellano said. (The issue here is hunger and the danger to people’s health, while the military, police and President Rodrigo Duterte’s emergency powers are abusive. That is why the victims were arrested, instead of being helped.)

Arellano also rebuked Philippine National Police (PNP) deputy chief Guillermo Eleazar who hinted at the possibility that the action was spurred by Kadamay members from Pandi, Bulacan “looking to incite chaos.”

“Paano naman makakarating ng Quezon City ang mga taga Bulacan sa ganitong panahon?” Arellano asked. (How can those from Bulacan reach Quezon City at this time?)

Kadamay said Tuesday’s protest action was a spontaneous act by hungry residents demanding food and social services promised by President Duterte when he ordered the lockdown last March 15.

The urban poor group said that mass arrests and the gross lack of social services has been the defining feature of how the administration has handled the COVID 19 pandemic. 

As of March 30, the PNP has tallied around 17,000 arrests while only 3,000 Filipinos have been tested for the virus. 

“Simula pa lamang ng pandemic, dahas, aksyong military at tila martial law na ang naging tugon ng administrasyong Duterte. Hindi nakakagulat kung bakit biglaang kumikilos ang tao pagkat hindi na nila matiis ang gutom na hindi pinapansin ng mga nasa Malacañang,” Arellano said. (Since the pandemic start, violence, militarism and virtual martial law characterized the Duterte administration’s actions. We are not surprised that spontaneous actions are being held by hungry residents who are being ignored by the Palace.) 

Arellano also stressed that the Duterte government should stop delaying and immediately release the social assistance it promised to low income families who are subjected to risks posed by the virus. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Police arrest hungry protesters in Quezon City

Twenty-one protesting and hungry Quezon City residents were arrested Tuesday morning, April 1, the incident earning swift condemnation from the urban poor group Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay).

Residents of Sitio San Roque, Barangay Bagong Pag-Asa, reportedly members of the group Sandigan ng Maralitang Nagkakaisa (SaMaNa) held a protest action along Epifanio delos Santos Avenue and were violently dispersed by the Quezon City Police Department.

Although not affliated with their group, Kadamay said the SaMaNa protesters were calling for food and social services amid the corona virus disease (Covid-19) lockdown imposed on the whole Luzon island by the Rodrigo Duterte government.

Kadamay said the protesters have yet to be given food and other aid promised by the government in imposing the lockdown since March 15.

In a DZRH report, the arresting officers were heard to have repeatedly accused the protesters of being “hard-headed” for refusing to stay indoors.

Kadamay however clarified the residents’ protest action was a spontaneous demonstration “rooted in the growing discontent, hunger and frustration at the lack of aid from government.”

The urban poor group urged that instead of responding with violence and arrests, the government should solve grave deficiencies in handling the crisis it says affect the poor as the most vulnerable sector in the country.

“Instead of listening to pleas about the lack of services, the poor are being subjected to violence and arrest. We should instead ask, why is there no help being given to the poor?” Kadamay chairperson Gloria Arellano said.

Arellano said such protest actions are bound to happen if the government insists on a militarist response to the pandemic instead of focusing on social services.

She stressed that it is the primary task of the national government to address the urgent need for food, sanitation, medical services and other basic needs during the pandemic, adding that the Duterte administration continues to pass on the burden to many ill equipped local government units while avoiding outlining a concrete plan apart from the lockdown.

Kadamay said it will do everything it can to help in the negotiations for the release of the arrested.

The group also revealed it is operating community kitchens and relief operations in several poor communities in and outside Metro Manila, adding however that these activities are limited in scope.

Kadamay said it remains the responsibility of the government to address the needs of the people during the emergency. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

CPP accuses gov’t of violating own ceasefire order in Rizal clash

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) accused the Rodrigo Duterte government of violating its own unilateral ceasefire declaration following an encounter between the Philippine Army (PA) and the New People’s Army (NPA) in Rodriguez, Rizal last March 28, Saturday.

CPP chief information officer Marco Valbuena said in a statement issued today, March 30, that based on Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) reports themselves, the armed clash broke out when 80th Infantry Battalion troops of the PA’s 2nd Infantry Division carried out patrol operations.

An AFP conflict alert report was sent to Kodao by CPP founding chairperson Jose Maria Sison, purported to be obtained by the National Democratic Front of the Philippines from sources within the military proving it was the aggressor in the incident in Barangay Puray of the said town.

The report said that a team led by one Staff Sargeant Angot conducted community defense patrol at the vicinity of Sitio Malasya Uyungan where they encountered around 30 NPA fighters at around three o’clock in the afternoon.

The report said the clash lasted for about 40 minutes that resulted in the killing of a government trooper and the wounding of two others.

The killed soldier was a corporal while the two injured were a sergeant and a private.

The report claimed one rebel fighter was killed and that the government soldiers recovered an M16 rifle, a rifle grenade, a jungle pack with personal belongings, two empty bandoliers, a NPA flag, documents, medical paraphernalia, and water gallons.

The report added that the team recommended to “move forces to block the possible withdrawal routes of the rebels.”

The unit also requested an helicopter for an immediate evacuation of the casualties.

In a statement, the AFP’s Public Affairs Office said the soldiers were in the vicinity to conduct “community work,” contrary to what the report indicated that its unit conducted the patrol “acting on the information from concerned citizens.”

The NPA for its part did not confirm that it suffered a casualty in its statement.

Valbuena however said the AFP’s claim that the concerned NPA unit was planning an attack was baseless.

He said all NPA units will continue to uphold the CPP’s ceasefire declaration “in order to give full play to efforts to extend public health service to the people amid the Covid-19 (corona virus disease) pandemic.”

The CPP’s Central Committee declared a unilateral ceasefire declaration last March 24 in response to United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres’ appeal that all warring parties temporarily lay down their arms to focus on the global fight against Covid-19. It is effective until April 15 when the government’s own truce order expires.

The Duterte government declared its unilateral ceasefire order last March 18 effective 00:00 hour of March 19 to 24:00 hours of April 15.

Valbuena clarified that the NPA will not mount armed actions against government military, police, paramilitary and other armed agents but will remain alert against offensive actions launched by AFP units.

“The Party assures AFP soldiers that they will not be attacked during the ceasefire period especially if they are conducting public health activities in relation to efforts to contain the spread of Covid-19,” Valbuena said.

The CPP spokesperson urged AFP units to concentrate on Covid-19 operations and refrain from conducting anti-NPA patrol operations which may result in armed contact with nearby NPA units.

“At this time, the Filipino people need all the help they can get to surmount the threat of Covid-19,” he said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

NPA defeating Duterte’s all-out war, CPP says of guerrilla army’s 51st anniversary

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) reported numerous New People’s Army (NPA) victories despite massive military and psychological warfare operations unleashed by the Rodrigo Duterte government throughout 2019.

In a statement marking the guerrilla army’s 51st founding anniversary today, March 29, the CPP said the NPA continues to operate in more than 110 guerrilla fronts in 73 of 81 provinces across the country with “several thousand guerrilla fighters…armed with high-powered weapons and small firearms seized from the enemy, security forces and other sources.”

Belittling the results of the government’s National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) launched in 2018, the CPP Central Committee in its annual statement marking the NPA’s founding anniversary said Duterte and his military officers have failed in their declarations of crushing the guerrilla army.

“[F]irst by end of 2018, then by end of 2019, and later before Duterte’s term ends in 2022. Almost daily, AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) commanders make false public announcements claiming NPA ‘surrenderees,’ typically recycling old firearms in their armory and presenting these as surrendered weapons,” the CPP said.

The underground party cited the manipulated photograph claiming to be that of “surrenderees” in Masbate province late last year as proof of AFP’s lies.

The group also chided Duterte for predicting NPA will be defeated “sooner” as the AFP announced having destroyed or weakened 15 NPA guerrilla fronts.

“All these are empty boasts as the NPA continue to strengthen and wage revolutionary armed struggle alongside the democratic mass struggles of the Filipino people to end the reign of terror of the US-Duterte regime,” the CPP’s statement, released Saturday, March 28, said.

Image from CPP Founding Chairperson Jose Maria Sison’s post.

‘Two battalions killed’

The CPP said units of the guerrilla army operate under 14 regional operations command, which in turn are under the National Operations Command (NOC) of the NPA.

The NPA builds company-sized regional and sub-regional vertical forces, as well as company-sized guerrilla fronts with six to nine platoons, one-third of which are concentrated and two-thirds spread to cover the breadth of guerrilla front territories, the CPP said.

The CPP said that based on NOC reports, the NPA mounted at least 710 military actions of varying scale in 2019 that killed at least 651 government troops and wounded more than 465 others.

The number of killed and wounded is the equivalent of around 30 platoons or two battalions of its enemy troops, the group said.

‘NTF-ELCAC failing’

The CPP said the Duterte government’s NTF-ELCAC mounted all-out military offensives nationwide and formed nine new AFP battalions and deployed these primarily against the NPA.

The AFP is being assisted by the United States military in establishing and training new combat units such as the Light Reaction Regiment, the 1st Brigade Combat Team and the 2nd Brigade Combat Team which are all based in Fort Magsaysay, where the US maintains facilities under the EDCA (Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement), the CPP revealed.

In all, the AFP has 140 maneuver battalions, of which, 35 are deployed in Luzon; 19 in the Visayas; and 83 in Mindanao (19 battalions in Moro areas, and 64 in NPA areas), the group added.

“Thus, close to 85% or 118 battalions are deployed against the NPA,” it said.

The group said that close to 55% of AFP units deployed against the NPA are in Mindanao, mainly in the eastern regions. Combined AFP and PNP troop deployment is highest in Southern Mindanao, followed by Southern Tagalog, Eastern Visayas, North Central Mindanao, Far South Mindanao and Negros.

“The aim of the AFP is to concentrate one battalion of troops for every NPA guerrilla front, in the vain hope of crushing the NPA through intelligence, psywar (psychological warfare) and combat operations, it said.

Despite the additional units, the AFP’s forces are spread thinly, the CPP said, adding that at the national level, there are regions where government troops could not deploy a full battalion against every NPA guerrilla front.

On the ground, AFP combat battalions cannot saturate the territory and population of a guerrilla front, where there are widely spread revolutionary mass organizations, militia units and organs of political power which actively carry out mass campaigns and struggles, leaving large areas open for NPA units to maneuver, recruit, and strengthen themselves, the CPP revealed.

“When AFP brigades or divisions mount focused military operations in one or several guerrilla fronts in border areas, it combines several battalions pulled-out temporarily from their assigned areas of operation, giving the NPA units in other areas leeway to conduct political and military work,” the CPP said.

The CPP said that Duterte’s all-out war tactic against the NPA and its perceived supporters generates armed resistance.

“In putting down the people’s resistance with armed force, he is actually inciting the people to fight back. Like Marcos before, Duterte has become the Number 1 recruiter of the New People’s Army,” the group said.

Part of the NPA’s First Pulang Bagani Battalion in formation in Davao City in 2017. (R. Villanueva/Kodao)

NPA’s response to Covid-19

Marking the NPA’s 51st founding anniversary amid unilateral ceasefire declarations by both the CPP and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the underground party said it is mobilizing its forces in a public health campaign to prevent the spread of the disease and help treat those infected by the virus.

“The Party has directed the NPA, especially its medical units, to carry out a public health campaign together in coordination with village health committees to help prevent the spread of the disease, give special attention to the elderly and pregnant women, help care those who have been infected and promote personal hygiene and community sanitation,” the CPP statement reads.

It also directed its members in the cities to carry out similar mass campaigns, while raising demands for mass testing and other public health measures.

“Beyond the field of public health, the Filipino people must also take action in the arena of political struggle. It is as important to resist the militarist restrictions imposed by the Duterte regime, and raise their call for the ouster of Duterte to make him answer for his criminal sabotage of the public health care system,” it said.

The CPP said the NPA had been conducting such social services to poor Filipinos, earning them the monicker “the people’s army.”

“Its fighters are well known for being courageous and self-sacrificing. They are ever-ready to learn from the people their needs and demands and perform the most difficult and dangerous tasks in serving the people. They are also recognized by the masses as their defenders, cooperators, teachers, doctors, as well singers and artists, always attending to the people’s well-being and needs,” it said.

The CPP said the people always approach the NPA to seek advice or assistance whenever they demand redress from an injustice done, or seek intercession to iron out small conflicts in the communities.

‘Strengthening the NPA’

The CPP directed the NPA to further strengthen itself in order to “frustrate the government’s strategic plan of crushing the armed revolution, and to advance the people’s war in an all-sided manner.”

The group said it directed all its branches to make plans to help strengthen the guerrilla army by recommending its members and activists to join the NPA.

“There must be an active campaign of recruitment of young intellectuals and workers to join the NPA,” it said.

The CPP also directed the NPA to further intensify its tactical offensive operations through a combination of counter-encirclement and counter-offensives of large-scale military and police combat operations as well as raids against “soft-targets” such as military and paramilitary detachments and security forces.

It also ordered “more numerous and extensive harassments, interdictions, arrests, partisan, demolition and sapper operations and other armed actions.”

The CPP said that under its leadership, the NPA is expected to achieve more victories in its armed resistance and achievement of national and social liberation of Filipinos.

“The Filipino people look forward to celebrating more victories of the NPA in the coming years,” the CPP said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Ang lockdown at ang Barangay Pinyahan

Ikinwento ng ilang mga residente ng Brgy. Pinyahan, Quezon City ang kanilang sitwasyon ngayong may lockdown sa buong Metro Manila.

Ang tatlo sa kanila ay solo parent, dalawa rito ang manggagawa. Habang ang dalawa naman ay parehong may sakit. Hiling nila na tulungan ang lahat ng Pilipino sa ganitong sitwasyon.

Marso 26, 2020

Bidyo nila Jola Diones-Mamangun, Arrem Alcaraz, Jo Maline Mamangun, Sanafe Marcelo, at Reggie Mamangun

Music Info: AShamaluev

Music – Nostalgy. Music Link: https://youtu.be/_DA0mdtL-jI

Groups hold noise barrage calling for mass virus testing

by Sanafe Marcelo

Various organizations held noise barrages in several communities around Metro Manila Thursday, March 26, demanding free mass testing for health workers and patients with corona virus disease (COVID-19) symptoms.

Ilang residente ng Brgy. Holy Spirit, Quezon City

In Barangay Holy Spirit in Quezon City, Gabriela Women’s Party member Tess Arboleda said their noise barrage inside their homes and through social media are in support of calls for mass testing of so-called frontliners in the fight against the pandemic.

The activity also demanded food and financial assistance to poor families and workers who could no longer work because of the government-imposed lockdown.

Arboleda added that the poor are already worried because their resources and savings are fast running out two weeks into the island-wide lockdown.

Alliance of Concerned Teachers Philippines also participated in the noise barrage and in the “Tiktok” online dance challenge to call for more government support.

The teachers also called for “emergency assistance, not emergency power.”

Congress has passed bills granting President Rodrigo Duterte so-called emergency powers to realign funds to address the pandemic, among other special powers.

Members of Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (COURAGE), Bayan Muna, and Sama-samang Artista para sa Kilusang Agraryo (SAKA) also participated in the noise barrage. #

Kalampag sa gobyerno ng mga taga-Brgy. Holy Spirit, Quezon City

Naglunsad ng noise barrage ang isang komunidad sa Brgy. Holy Spirit sa Quezon City bilang pakikiisa sa sabayang protesta na “Kalampagin ang Gobyerno”, Marso 25, 2020.

Panawagan nila ang agarang ayuda para sa mga nasalanta ng pandemya na CoViD-19 at pagsasagawa ng sistematiko, libre at malaganap na mass testing.

Tinututulan din nila ang emergency powers na ibigay ng Kongreso kamakailan para kay Pangulo Duterte na anila ay sobra-sobra na at tanging aksyong medikal ang solusyon laban sa CoViD-19.

Bidyo nila Jola Diones-Mamangun, Jek Alcaraz at Joseph Cuevas/Kodao

Pimentel’s caper and this administration’s true legacy

A senator of the Republic is currently reaping the whirlwind after announcing he learned he is positive of the corona virus disease (Covid-19) while accompanying his wife to a hospital delivery room. The Makati Medical Center is livid with Senator Koko Pimentel for what it described as a breach of Covid-19 home quarantine protocols. Pimentel is also being pilloried online, and understandably so.

Pimentel’s ill advised caper followed widespread denunciation of reports that senators, other high government officials and their families pressure the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine to have their test kits processed ahead of everybody else’s, including those who display symptoms of the dreaded disease. Resentment is strong among the people who are being forced to observe the lockdown imposed by President Rodrigo Duterte despite the lack of a logical plan on how the lockdown should be implemented, save for the deployment of police and military personnel with assault rifles on checkpoints throughout Luzon island.

Pimentel’s gambol is not helping the government convince it is doing a good job in containing the spread of the virus. Aside from the utter lack of mass testing to pinpoint where the virus is spreading the fastest, what Pimentel and fellow senators Francis Tolentino, Imee Marcos, and others have demonstrated is their utter disregard for the people, particularly the poor, sick, elderly, and the frontline health workers who need to be tested first with the limited kits that are available.

This has led the people (at least those who have internet connections at home) to launch trending tweet campaigns that demand accountability, such that even this government’s well-oiled troll armies could no longer cover up. President Duterte’s obvious absence isn’t helping his spin doctors any. If he does go on television (often at ungodly hours of the evening) he could only manage rambling speeches that help very little in calming the nerves of an already nervous populace.

The populace’s nervousness is understandable. In communities, the people are afraid whether they would be able to feed themselves or whether there are still food items to be bought until the month-long lockdown ends. The fact that they are also humiliated—such as in Parañaque where those suspected of violating the so-called community quarantine are tortured by being forced to sit under the heat of the unrelenting sun or are harshly and publicly berated—contribute to the growing resentment.

I was in Switzerland and The Netherlands when the Covid-19 pandemic shifted to the region as its new epi-center earlier this month. Countries were also closing their borders and lockdowns were imposed one after the other. But there are no checkpoints in communities and the police do not carry assault rifles to terrorize the people into staying indoors. Only food stores and pharmacies are allowed to remain open but, pretty much, the governments rely on their citizens to comply with self-quarantine requests without unnecessary force. When I arrived back here, all I saw is the overwhelming exercise of state power through the police and the military. Even those who need to be at work because they are real frontliners in the fight against the virus are finding it hard to do their jobs because of the overly-strict and illogical edict of banning all forms of transport.

The Covid-19 crisis is the Duterte government’s Mamasapano and Hello, Garci crises of the past two administrations. If it slides through this one, it would only be through the heroism of the frontliners (doctors, nurses, hospitals, relief and emergency workers, and others) who battle through despite lack of supplies, absence of clear directions and plans, and even through thick-headedness and cheekiness of the likes of Pimentel. How this administration runs around like a headless chicken, albeit full-battle geared, in one of the country’s direst moments is turning out to be its true legacy to the people. #

CPP orders nationwide ceasefire in response to UN’s appeal

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) issued a unilateral nationwide ceasefire order to all commands and units of the New People’s Army (NPA) as well as the people’s militias Tuesday night, March 24.

The order, published on the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) website, says the ceasefire will take effect from 00:00 of Thursday, March 26 and ends on 23:59 of April 15.

The CPP said the order is upon the recommendation of the NDFP Negotiating Panel by way of direct response to the call of United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres for a global ceasefire between warring parties for the common purpose of fighting the corona virus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.

“As advised by the NDFP Chief Political Consultant [Jose Maria Sison] and relayed by the NDFP Negotiating Panel to the NDFP National Council, the broad masses of the people themselves need to refrain from launching tactical offensives to gain more time and opportunity to fight the Covid-19 pandemic and to look after the health and over-all welfare of the people in both urban and rural areas,” the order reads.

The underground party said the purpose of its unilateral ceasefire is to ensure and facilitate necessary, unhampered and immediate medical, health and economic assistance, support and movement of the people brought about by the exigencies of the current Covid-19 worldwide pandemic.

“This ceasefire is also a gesture towards national unity and based on humanitarian principles in the context of the serious public emergency to ensure the health, safety and welfare of all, the CPP said.

“This ceasefire order shall take effect immediately and is not dependent on the issuance of the Suspension of Military Operations (SOMO) and Suspension of Police Operations (SOPO) issued or to be issued by the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP),” the CPP said.

Not a reciprocal truce order

Earlier today, NDFP Negotiating Panel chairperson Fidel Agcaoili formally recommended to the NDFP National Council the declaration of a ceasefire, clarifying however that their truce order is not reciprocal to the GRP ceasefire declaration effective March 19 to April 15.

“As in the past, the [Rodrigo] Duterte government cannot be trusted in any mutual or unilateral ceasefire agreements, as the bombings of communities, harassment, abductions and killings perpetrated by its armed forces continue unabated. Thus, even while respecting and following the unilateral ceasefire order, the New People’s Army and the people’s militia must be alert and act in self-defense against any offensive by hostile forces,” Agcaoili said.

Agcaoili’s recommendation followed Sison’s advise that the NDFP Negotiating Panel may ask its principal, the NDFP National Council, to heed Guterres’ call for a global ceasefire.

Malacañan Palace for its part welcomed Sison’s advise for the NDFP forces to observe its own unilateral ceasefire amid the pandemic.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Sison’s advise is “a positive development.”

“It is about time they join the collective efforts of the nation to fight the spread of the coronavirus,” Panelo told reporters.

The CPP however said that long before the GRP’s quarantine declarations and “repressive measures”, NDFP forces have been informing, training and mobilizing the people on how to fight the pandemic.

‘Active defense’

In its ceasefire declaration, the CPP ordered all NPA units and people’s militias to cease and desist from carrying out offensive military operations against the armed units and personnel of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), the Philippine National Police (PNP) and other paramilitary and armed groups attached to the GRP.

“All units of the NPA must be vigilant and be ready to act in self-defense against any tactical offensives or any hostile actions or movements contrary to the ceasefire order launched by any enemy force against the people and revolutionary forces in the guerrilla fronts of the people’s democratic government,” it warned.

The CPP further clarified that “active-defense” operations by the NPA shall be undertaken only in the face of clear and imminent danger and actual armed attack by hostile forces.

“All branches and committees of the CPP, units of the NPA and people’s militias and revolutionary mass organizations should closely monitor any hostile actions being carried out by the armed units and personnel of the GRP or of any act or omission inconsistent with the intent and purpose of this ceasefire. Such information should be reported to the concerned commands of the New People’s Army and leadership of the Communist Party of the Philippines,” it said.

The CPP said that with both the NDFP and the GRP declaring their unilateral ceasefire orders, the situation may potentially contribute “towards a positive atmosphere conducive to the eventual holding of informal talks preparatory to the formal meeting to resume the peace negotiations.”

Backchannel talks between GRP representatives and the NDFP Negotiating Panel have been ongoing since December last year.

The NDFP also urged the GRP to release all political prisoners and a general amnesty be issued “as a matter of justice and necessity.” # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

NDFP may respond to UN appeal for ceasefire, Joma advises

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) Negotiating Panel may recommend for a unilateral ceasefire declaration in response to the United Nation’s (UN) appeal for a global truce during the corona virus disease (Covid-19) pandemic, Jose Maria Sison said.

Sison said he is advising the NDFP peace panel to recommend to its principal, the NDFP National Council, the issuance of a unilateral ceasefire declaration by the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) to the New People’s Army (NPA) in response to UN secretary general Antonio Guterres’ call for a global ceasefire.

“The NDFP and the broad masses of the people themselves need to refrain from launching tactical offensives to gain more time and opportunity to fight the Covid-19 pandemic and to look after the health and over-all welfare of the people in both urban and rural areas,” Sison said.

“The world must know that long before the belated quarantine declarations and repressive measures of the GRP (Government of the Republic of the Philippines), the NDFP and the revolutionary forces have been informing, training and mobilizing the people on how to fight the pandemic,” he added.

Guterres called for an immediate global ceasefire in all corners of the world last Monday, March 23, saying it is time for humankind to put armed conflict on lockdown and focus together “on the true fight of our lives.” 

Guterres asked the warring parties to pull back from hostilities, silence the guns, stop the artillery and end the airstrikes. “This is crucial to help create corridors for life-saving aid, open windows for diplomacy and bring hope to places among the most vulnerable to #COVID19,” he said.

Sison said the UN’s appeal is what the revolutionary forces in the Philippines may respond to, instead of the “bogus unilateral ceasefire declaration of the GRP.”

He warned that reciprocating President Rodrigo Duterte’s ceasefire order may appear as “directly condoning and becoming complicit in the criminal culpabilities of the Duterte regime for allowing the Covid-19 to spread nationwide since January, for making no preparations against the pandemic and for making lockdowns on communities and yet failing to provide mass testing and treatment of the sick, food assistance and compensation for those prevented from work.”

The GRP declared a unilateral ceasefire against the CPP, the NPA, and the NDFP effective 00:00 hour of March 19 to 24:00 hours of April 15, Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo announced Wednesday evening, March 18.

Sison further advised that while the NPA can cease and desist from launching tactical offensives, it must be vigilant and be ready to act in self-defense against any tactical offensive launched by GRP military, police and paramilitary forces against its own guerrilla fronts.

He added that the GRP has persisted in launching tactical offensives and bombing of communities in the countryside as well as campaigns of red tagging, abductions and murder in the urban areas against civilians, justifying NDFP’s desistance from reciprocating Duterte’s ceasefire offer.

NDFP Negotiating Panel chairperson Fidel Agcaoili told Kodao that they shall submit their recommendation to their National Council soon. # (Raymund Villanueva)