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Media group slams ‘boorish’ Calida’s harassment of ABS-CBN reporter

A media group slammed Solicitor General Jose Calida for harassing ABS-CBN reporter and fellow lawyer Mike Navallo Monday morning.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) said Calida clearly overstepped the bounds of his office when he turned personal against Navallo who was covering the official’s filing of a quo warranto petition asking the Supreme Court to nullify the franchise of ABS-CBN and its subsidiary, ABS-CBN Convergence.

While refusing requests by reporters for an interview, Calida singled out Navallo for confrontation.

“Lagi mo akong binabanatan ha. Lawyer ka rin pala,” Calida reportedly told Navallo. (You always criticize me, huh. I heard you are a lawyer like me.)

Navallo replied, “I am just doing my job, sir.”

Calida, however, added: “Mag-practice ka na lang. Magkita tayo sa court.” (Why don’t you just practice law? See you in court.”

The NUJP said Calida was being boorish, “a classic example of a government factotum who mistakes his position of authority as a license to throw his weight around.”

The media group said the top government lawyer’s behavior mirrors his principal, President Rodrigo Durerte.

Calida’s quo warranto petition before the High Court came after Duterte repeatedly and publicly threatened to block ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal the NUJP and other media organizations said are direct attacks on press freedom and freedom of expression. # (Raymund B. villanueva)

Quo warranto petition attacks press freedom–NUJP

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) condemned the government’s filing of a petition seeking to nullify the franchise of ABS-CBN before the Supreme Court on Monday morning, February 10.

In a statement hours after Solicitor General Jose Calida filed the quo warranto petition at the Supreme Court, the NUJP said the move proves the Rodrigo Duterte government is hell-bent on using all its powers to shut down the broadcast network.

The NUJP said the administration’s move also risks the trampling on Congress’ authority to legislate franchises.

ABS-CBN itself broke the story on Calida’s filing, reporting the petition also targets ABS-CBN Convergence Inc., a subsidiary of one of the country’s top two networks.

Reports said that the petition accuses the respondent companies’ “unlawfully exercising their legislative franchises under Republic Acts 7966 and 8332.”

 “We want to put an end to what we discovered to be highly abusive practices of ABS-CBN benefitting a greedy few at the expense of millions of its loyal subscribers. These practices have gone unnoticed or were disregarded for years,” Calida said.

The NUJP, however, said Calida’s petition complies with President’s desire to block the companies’ franchise renewal now pending in Congress.

Duterte himself personally and repeatedly vowed to block ABS-CBN’s franchise.

“ABS-CBN, you’re a mouthpiece of… Your franchise will expire next year. If you are expecting it to be renewed, I’m sorry. I will see to it that you’re out,” Duterte said in a mix of Filipino and English last December 3.

Duterte accused ABS-CBN of not airing his paid advertisements in the last presidential campaigns that he won.

“We must not allow the vindictiveness of one man, no matter how powerful, to run roughshod over the Constitutionally-guaranteed freedoms of the press and of expression, and the people’s right to know,” the NUJP said.

The media group challenged Congress and the Supreme Court to be independent and refuse to be “at the beck and call of their co-equal Executive branch.

The group also called on Filipino journalists to close ranks around their beleaguered ABS-CBN colleagues and the Filipino people to resist what it calls an attack to democracy.

“We call on all Filipinos who cherish democracy to stand up and defend press freedom because this freedom belongs to you,” NUJP said.

“This is not just about ABS-CBN. This is not just about Philippine media. This is all about whether anyone can or should deprive you, the Filipino people, of your right to know,” the group added.

NUJP is organizing another protest action at the Boy Scout’s Monument in Quezon City at five o’clock this afternoon as a reaction to the filing of the petition.

It had organized four successive Friday night protests and petition signing activities at the monument and around the ABS-CBN compound in Quezon City while its chapters conducted similar activities nationwide.

It also launched an online petition for the renewal of ABS-CBN’s franchise that has so far gathered more than 170 signatures.

NUJP is joined by other media and rights organizations such as the Altermidya Network, the College Editors’ Guild of the Philippines, the ABS-CBN Rank and File Employees Union, Defend Jobs Philippines, Kilusang Mayo Uno, and others. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Journalist, human rights defenders arrested in Tacloban early morning raids

[UPDATED]

A journalist and four other human rights defenders were arrested in Tacloban City early Friday morning, February 7, raising cries of condemnation from media and human rights organizations.

Eastern Vista reporter and Aksyon Radyo – Tacloban DYVL 819 kHz broadcaster Frenchie Mae Cumpio was arrested at the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP) staff house in Barangay Calanipawan in Tacloban City along with RMP staff Mariell Domanquill.

Guns were planted in their rooms, human rights group Karapatan said.

The RMP is the mission partner of the Association of Major Religious Superiors of the Roman Catholic Church in the Philippines.

Cumpio acts as Eastern Vista executive director, Altermidya correspondent in Tacloban City and an active member of the Philippine chapter of the International Association of Women in Radio and Television.

She co-hosts the long-running weekly DYVL radio show Lingganay Han Kamotuoran produced by the Promotion of Church People’s Response in Eastern Visayas.

Simultaneous with the raid on the RMP house, the police led by a certain Lt. Col. Pedere raided the Katungod Sinirangang Bisayas office where Karapatan National Council member for Eastern Visayas Alexander Philip Abinguna, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) -Tacloban’s Mira Legion and People’s Surge spokesperson Marissa Calbajao were arrested.

The Katungod office in Fatima Village, Bañezville, Brgy. 77, Tacloban City is shared with Bayan and peasant organization Sagupa.

Calbajao’s one-year old baby was also taken to the police station. Her organization, People’s Surge, is a Leyte and Samar-based organization advocating for genuine rehabilitation for Supertyphoon Yolanda victims.

The five are being charged with illegal possession of firearms and are detained at the Palo Philippine National Police (PNP) office, Altermidya said.

Media groups up in arms

“We condemn the Leyte police and state forces for this latest attack on Eastern Vista, our fellow community journalist Cumpio, and against people’s groups in Leyte. We demand their immediate and safe release, and call on the public to denounce this latest attempt to silence and intimidate independent media and human rights defenders,” Altermidya said in its alert.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) also condemned the police for its arrest of Cumpio and demanded her immediate release.

“We offer our full support to Cumpio and our colleagues in Eastern Vista and Lingganay han Kamatuoran and call on the community of independent Filipino journalists to close ranks with us,” the NUJP said in a statement.

Before her arrest, Cumpio had been the subject of continued harassment and intimidation by men and at least one woman believed to be state security agents who had been tailing her around since September last year.

In the most recent incident on January 31, an unidentified man described by witnesses as tall and sporting a military-style haircut, visited the Eastern Vista office bearing a flower bouquet and showing a photo of Cumpio as he asked residents for her whereabouts.

On December 13, Cumpio reported that motorcycle-riding men she believed with military were tailing her around Tacloban City.

The arrest of Cumpio is reminiscent of that of Anne Krueger of the Negros-based alternative media outfit Paghimud-os, who was among the more than 50 persons arrested in simultaneous raids by the military and police on the offices of legal organizations long accused by the government of being “fronts” of the communist rebel movement, the NUJP said.

Krueger had been temporarily released after posting bail on similar illegal possession of firearms, ammunition, and explosives.

Cumpio’s arrest is clearly part of government’s crackdown against not only these supposed communist fronts but all critical media, the NUJP said.

Since last year, the government has no longer bothered to hide the fact that the critical media have been included in their list of “enemies of the state,” the NUJP added.

“The arrests of Cumpio and, before her, Krueger, the red-tagging of the NUJP and other press freedom groups and advocates, the continued attempts to shut down Rappler, ABS-CBN and the Philippine Daily Inquirer, are all part of this government’s efforts to silence the free exchange of ideas and co-opt media into mouthing only what it allows,” the NUJP said.

“Let us thwart this government’s attempts to muzzle freedom of the press and expression, without which democracy cannot survive. Let us send out the message that we are free not because anyone allows us to be but because we insist on being free,” the media group added.

Gestapo-like raids

Karapatan said the raids, conducted between 1:00am to 2:30am, were “Gestapo-like” as the activists were sleeping when the police forcibly entered the Katungod-Bayan-Sagupa offices.  

“They were brought out of their rooms and minutes after, at least two guns, 1 machine gun and materials for an improvised explosive device were planted in the rooms,” Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay said in a statement.

As in the case with the RMP staff house raid, the warrants were only shown to those arrested after they were accosted, Palabay added.

“Today’s arrests and raids should enrage should who stand for civil liberties and human rights, social justice and lasting peace in the country. We are calling on all advocates and communities to defend the rights of defenders against these attacks by the Duterte administration,” Palabay said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Organizations submit human rights reports to United Nations

Human rights organizations, churches and sectoral organizations announced their submission of written reports to United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights (UNCHR) Michelle Bachelet in Geneva, Switzerland Friday, January 31, detailing various forms of violations by the Rodrigo Duterte government.

At least sixteen organizations under the Ecumenical Voice for Human Rights and Peace in the Philippines (EcuVoice) also urged the United Nations Human Rights Committee to pass a resolution to investigate further the killings and threats of activists, churchpeople, teachers, indigenous peoples, lawyers, the political opposition, journalists, environment defenders and other sectors.

The submissions is in accordance the Iceland-led resolution on the Philippines adopted by the UN Human Rights Council in July 2019.

In a press conference in Quezon City, EcuVoice convenor Edita Burgos said that the reports they submitted depict the worsening human rights crisis besetting the Filipino people.

“The extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, arbitrary or illegal arrests and detention and other civil and political rights violations exacerbate the landlessness, lack of job security, and gross inequalities faced by poor Filipinos. Such is the situation under the administration of President Duterte,” Burgos said.

The EcuVoice network mobilised for the submission of reports of the National Council of Churches of the Philippines, National Union of People’s Lawyers, Karapatan, Rise Up for Life and for Rights, Save Our Schools Movement, Kalipunan ng Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas, Kusog sa Katawhang Lumad sa Mindanao (KALUMARAN), Cordillera People’s Alliance (CPA), Cordillera Human Rights Alliance (CHRA), Philippine Task Force for Indigenous Peoples (TFIP), SANDUGO Kilusan ng mga Moro at Katutubong Mamamayan para sa Sariling Pagpapasya (Movement of Moro and Indigenous Peoples for Self-determination), Makabayan, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, Kalikasan People’s Network, Alliance of Concerned Teachers, National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, Migrante, Kilusang Mayo Uno, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan and Ibon Foundation.

EcuVoice members also provided key inputs in the submissions by the International Association of Democratic Lawyers, World Council of Churches of the Philippines, the Center for Human Rights of the City University of New York and International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines.

Several of the submissions outlined socio-economic and political situations of the Filipino people they say are marked by intensified poverty, violations on security of employment, high prices of basic commodities and services, and the continuing plunder of land and resources including that of ancestral domains in their submissions.

Organizations also focused on the Duterte government’s “war on drugs,” as well as “further shrinking of civil and democratic spaces,” including violations on the right to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and to form and join associations.

“The Duterte administration’s anti-narcotics campaign, its counter-insurgency program through Oplan Kapanatagan and its ‘whole of nation attacks’ under Executive Order No. 70, and its rampage against critics and political dissenters have immensely contributed to the hyper state of impunity,” Burgos said.

EcuVoice said that this year, aside from this process at the UN HRC, the Duterte administration is set to be reviewed before the treaty body UN Human Rights Committee.

The Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court is likewise set to release results of its preliminary examination on complaints regarding crimes against humanity, the group said.

“We reiterate our call to the international community to help us make the Duterte administration accountable for its rights violations,” Burgos said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

The PCOO’s disinformation must be stopped

by IBON Media

The Duterte administration’s persistent red-baiting of IBON and other groups instead of addressing the issues raised is an affront to the public. The public deserves the truth and to be informed about the issues that matter to them the most. Instead, the government is red-baiting critical voices to silence opposition and to hide the real situation of the country.

IBON Research Head Rosario Guzman and Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Undersecretary Lorraine Badoy were recently guests on One News’ ‘The Chiefs’ to discuss the administration’s Duterte Legacy campaign. IBON presented data questioning the accomplishments claimed by the PCOO. Instead of addressing the PCOO’s apparent disinformation, Usec. Badoy responded by linking IBON to the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front of the Philippines (CPP-NPA-NDFP). She pressed the point and only relented when the hosts reminded her to stay on topic.

Usec. Badoy’s behavior is symptomatic of the administration’s wholesale attacks on independent groups. It is being done to hide the worsening economic situation, prevent the radical reforms needed to develop the country, and promote its self-serving agenda. Under the pretext of ending the armed Communist rebellion, the Duterte administration cast its net wide and is attacking every group that is critical of its anti-people economic policies and authoritarianism.

The Duterte administration has been most systematic and vicious in attacking those it sees as the greatest threats to its oppressive rule. The government vilifies, harasses, fabricates charges against, and illegally arrests critics and opposition. Human rights defenders have already been violently attacked and even killed under this administration. Usec. Badoy mentioned on the show that she is part of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC). Since its creation in 2018, the NTF-ELCAC and its security apparatus has been implicated in the surge in human rights violations in the country.

President Duterte with PCOO secretary Martin Andanar and Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo. (Malacañan photo)

The PCOO is at the forefront of the government’s disinformation campaign to deceive and manipulate the public. For this, its budget has been increased substantially to Php1.7 billion in 2020 from an average of Php1.1 billion under the previous Aquino administration. The 55% larger budget of the PCOO is only going to promote falsehoods on an even wider scale.

IBON has been explaining economic issues to the public for 41 years. The Duterte administration is attacking IBON because we advocate an economy that upholds the people’s interests most of all. As with activists and other groups, we are undeterred and will continue to support the efforts of the people’s movement to reclaim the economy from the elites that have taken it over.

We will also be taking measures to show that we do not condone the people’s money being used for a self-serving political agenda. The PCOO, including USec. Badoy, is just among many who need to be put in their place. #

(Kodao publishes IBON articles as part of a content-sharing agreement.)

Real Duterte Legacy: Three years of slow growth sign of failing gov’t econ policies

by IBON Media

Research group IBON said that the economy is on its third year of slowing growth under the Duterte administration, and the slowest in eight years. This shows that government’s market-oriented policies are failing and its claimed economic gains are myths, said the group.

The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported 5.9% annual growth in gross domestic product (GDP) for 2019, missing government’s revised target of 6-7% growth for the year. Government attributed this to the delayed 2019 budget and election ban on infrastructure in the first half of 2019 and slowing agriculture due to weather-related factors like El Niño.

IBON countered government’s claim that the budget delay and ban on infrastructure pulled back growth last year, noting that the economy was already slowing prior to this. From 6.9% in 2016, the country’s growth in GDP slowed to 6.7% in 2017 and 6.2% in 2018. The 5.9% in 2019 marks the third year of economic slowdown under the Duterte administration. This is also the slowest growth in eight years or since the 3.7% in 2011, the group said.

IBON said that the economic slowdown is really due to the lack of strong foundation in agriculture and Filipino industry – made worse by government’s faulty market-oriented policies.

Growth in the agriculture sector dropped from 4% in 2017 to 0.9% in 2018, then slightly increased to 1.5% in 2019, the group said. Yet government continues its neglect and low prioritization of agriculture as reflected in the national budget. Agriculture’s share in the 2020 budget is just 3.5% – the lowest since 2004 at 3.3 percent.

Meanwhile, growth in manufacturing drastically declined from 8.4% in 2017 to 4.9% in 2018 and just 3.8% in 2019. The group said this is because domestic consumption and exports have weakened amid a protracted crisis and increasing protectionism in the global economy. Manufacturing is low value-added and overly dependent on foreign capital and technology, and produces for the world market.

IBON said that instead, government has relied on temporary external factors to drive growth, but these are weakening. For instance, overseas remittances are growing at a slower rate, decreasing from 5% in 2016 to 4.3% in 2017 and 3.1% in 2018. This rose to 4.6% in the first ten months of 2019 but is not likely to surpass the 2016 growth rate. Growth in exports are also falling from 19.7% to 13.4% in 2018 and just 3.2% in 2019.

The consumer spending and real estate booms that for a time fueled growth are also losing steam. Household consumption registered 7.1% growth in 2016 but dropped to 5.9% in 2017, 5.6% in 2018 and slightly grew to 5.8% in 2019. Real, estate, renting and business activities decreased from 8.9% growth in 2016 to 7.4% in 2017, 4.8% in 2018, and further fell to 3.7% in 2019.

IBON said that government has been attempting to boost a lackluster economy through more government spending and its infrastructure program. But this was not enough to stimulate growth. For instance, construction drastically fell from 14.9% growth in 2018 to just 7.7% in 2019.

IBON said that the country’s economic situation will worsen as long as government pushes policies that favor big business interests. It should admit its failure and take on real reforms needed to strengthen and develop agriculture and domestic industries and turn around the country’s flagging economy, the group said. #

(Kodao re-posts IBON reports as part of a content-sharing agreement.)

Amid Taal disaster, ‘Duterte Legacy’ disinformation campaign launched

by IBON Media

Research group IBON hit Malacañang’s launching of the ‘Duterte Legacy’ campaign while relief operations are still ongoing for tens of thousands of families displaced by the present eruption of Taal volcano. The campaign is not just rife with disinformation, said the group, but also insensitive politicking for the still distant 2022 elections.

Organized by the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO), the Duterte Legacy Campaign was launched by Malacañang at the Philippine International Convention Center barely a week after Taal volcano erupted. Cabinet officials showcased the Duterte administration’s accomplishments in three “key pillars”: peace and order, infrastructure development, and poverty alleviation.

IBON executive director Sonny Africa criticized the launch for its insensitivity. “The government pleaded lack of relief funds and asked the public for support,” Africa said, “but here comes the PCOO using its bloated propaganda budget for presidential self-promotion conspicuously in anticipation of the 2022 elections.” The PCOO budget which averaged Php1.1 billion a year in 2011-2016 has greatly increased under the Duterte administration to Php1.7 billion for 2020.

Africa said that the PCOO campaign is only the latest disinformation effort of the administration. “The Duterte Legacy Campaign is deceiving the public about the real state of the economy with its selective and misleading presentation of figures.”

The PCOO claims 4.2 million jobs generated through ‘Build, Build, Build’ to hype its impact. Africa said this is an exaggeration though and points out, for instance, that this is even more than the 4.15 million total employed in the construction sector in 2019 reported by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA). There is so much double-counting that the number is virtually made up, he stressed.

The 4.5% unemployment rate is meanwhile disingenuous because the figure is only for the October 2019 labor force survey round. The PCOO would be more honest, he said, if they cited the higher 5.1% unemployment rate for the whole year which is already available from the PSA. Africa also said that the supposed 5.9 million Filipinos being lifted from poverty is only because a very low and unrealistic poverty line of Php71 was used to compute this.

IBON pointed out that the Philippine economy is in worse shape because of the unreformed neoliberal policies of the Duterte administration. The group noted that: growth has been slowing since the start of the administration to just 5.8% in the first three quarters of 2019; agriculture grew weakly at just 1.5% and manufacturing slowed to 3.7%. The group also cited government debt bloating to Php7.9 trillion; regressive tax reforms eating away at the incomes of the poorest 60% of the population; high real unemployment at 4.7 million; and more than 12 million families trying to survive on Php132 or less per person per day. #

(This article is being reprinted by Kodao as part of a content-sharing agreement with IBON.)

Real Duterte Legacy: Agri crisis belies admin claims of econ success

by IBON Media

Research group IBON said that the crisis in Philippine agriculture due to government negligence contradicts claimed economic achievements under the Duterte Legacy Campaign. The group said that the administration’s neglect and prioritization of local and foreign big business interests is worsening an already weak and struggling sector.

IBON said signs of this agriculture crisis include slowing sectoral growth; shrinking share in gross domestic product; rising import dependence; increasing trade deficit; significant job losses; and widespread rural poverty.

The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported a minimal 0.4% growth in agriculture in the fourth quarter of 2019. Under the administration, year-on-year growth trend in agriculture has been declining. From a contraction of 1.2% in 2016, agriculture bounced back with a 4% growth in 2017. But this was short-lived when growth fell to 0.9% in 2018 with a slight increase to 1.5% in 2019, noted the group.

IBON said that agriculture’s share in gross domestic product (GDP) has been declining from 8.8% in 2016 to 8.5% in 2017, 8.1% in 2018, and 7.8% in 2019. This is a far cry from its over 40% share in the economy in the 1960s.

While the country has been increasingly dependent on food and agricultural imports in the past couple of decades, this has further heightened under the Duterte administration, the group said. For instance, the country’s consumption of garlic imports was only 1.1% in 1990, but this surged to 91% in 2018.  Rice import dependency ratio (IDR) meanwhile decreased from 9% in 1990 to 5% in 2016. But this grew to 13.8% in 2018 and could worsen with the increase in rice imports due to the Rice Liberalization Law.

IBON noted that as much as 1.4 million jobs were lost in agriculture, with employment falling from 11.1 million in 2016 to 9.7 million in 2019. This translates to an average annual job loss of 455,000 in this period.

Another indicator of agriculture in crisis is widespread rural poverty, said IBON. Poverty incidence among farmers (34.3%) and fisherfolk (34%) is higher than the national average (21.6%), according to latest available figures. However, IBON estimates that at least 90% of farmers and fisherfolk are impoverished, if based on more reasonable standards of poverty measurement.

IBON said that despite its worsening state, the agriculture sector remains low priority for the administration. The 3.5% share of agriculture in the 2020 budget is the lowest since 2004 at 3.3 percent. The group also noted that annual average share of agriculture in the national budget from 2017 to 2020 was just 3.6% – the lowest since the Ramos administration (3.5%).

IBON said that agriculture, hand in hand with domestic manufacturing, is an important productive sector that, if supported and strengthened towards public interest, could help boost and sustain genuine development and job creation. The administration’s continued neglect of the sector and advancement of harmful pro-big business policies that are destroying local production and farmers’ livelihoods only shows how fake the Duterte Legacy really is, the group said. #

Joma: Militarists making talks resumption impossible

National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison condemned recent statements made by the government’s top security officials, accusing them of trying to prevent the resumption of formal peace negotiations.

In a reaction to statements by presidential peace adviser Carlito Galvez, national security adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) deputy chief of staff for civil-military operations Major General Antonio Parlade, Jr., Sison said President Rodrigo Duterte has allowed his highest military officials to oppose the resumption of the talks.

“Despite the over-all nationwide success of the reciprocal unilateral ceasefire agreement which occurred from December 23, 2019 to January 7, 2020, the Duterte regime has issued public statements that continue to terminate and prevent peace negotiations and render impossible the resumption of these between the duly-authorized panels of the GRP and NDFP,” Sison said in a statement Saturday, January 11.

Sison said that Duterte’s highest military subordinates, including interior and local government secretary Eduardo Año, national defense secretary Delfin Lorenzana and new AFP chief of staff Filemon Santos Jr., made utterances that they oppose peace and prefer to wage all-out war against the Filipino people instead. 

“[T]hey would rather continue the militarization and fascisation of the government and society under Executive Order No. 70,” he said.

Sison said the officials, all retired and active military generals, believe that peace negotiations are not needed because they are already in the process of destroying the New People’s Army (NPA) before 2022. 

“They boast that they are open only to surrender negotiations in a Philippine venue under their control. They claim to be satisfied with the psywar (psychological warfare) campaign of fake surrenders, fake encounters and persona non grata declarations,” Sison said.

Anti-talks pronouncements

Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) chairperson Carlito Galvez dismissed last Friday further negotiations on social and economic reforms with the NDFP, likening the prospective approval of the main agenda of the peace talks to an act of “treason”.

In a news article published by his office, Galvez said the Filipino people do not need the Comprehensive Agreement on Social (and) Economic Reforms (CASER) and Interim Peace Agreement (IPC) that are the proposed bases for the resumption of formal negotiations between the NDFP and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP).

Galvez described the CASER as an “irrelevant proposition and simply a copycat of the programs of the CPP-NPA-NDF (Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-NDFP) as outlined in the plagiarized content of Jose Maria Sison’s publication Philippine Society and Revolution.”

He said that adopting the CASER and the IPC could be likened to committing treason since the communists will implement these programs based on their constitution while the government needs to change its charter to apply the reforms.

“CASER is based on an obsolete framework and is no longer relevant since it is largely based on the pre-industrialization and pre-globalization era. It is a formula for the surrender of the national government’s integrity as well as the state’s sovereignty,” he said.

Galvez said the NDFP draft of the CASER has several questionable provisions, including financing national industrialization from confiscated and expropriated assets of “foreign monopoly capitalists, big compradors and bureaucrat capitalists.”

He said the language in which the provision has been framed may “cast a dark cloud over the nation’s economy” and could lead to “the weakening and eventual decline of the country’s economic standing in global markets.” 

He also said it is worrisome that the proposed CASER orders the demobilization of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the establishment of a coalition government with the communist group by setting up “programs for the People’s Democratic Government.”

“CASER is a product of a secret backchannel maneuver by the communist insurgents. There was zero consultation with the government’s economic team, security forces, local agencies, and local government units, and most importantly, the Filipino people,” Galvez alleged.

Esperon Jr. for his part expressed opposition to the planned revival of peace talks with the NDFP last Tuesday, accusing the CASER of reflecting the NDFP’s “duplicitous character and self-interest.” 

Like Galvez, Esperon said the proposed CASER “do not directly reflect the best interest of the nation,” but that of the communist rebels.

“After presenting the objectionable provisions of their proposed CASER, would it be beneficial to the nation that we engage the (communists) in another round of peace talks?” Esperon asked, adding the government is instead pursuing local peace talks.

Last Christmas Day, Parlade also accused the communists of duplicity, particularly CPP founding chairperson Sison and members within the churches.

Parlade said Christmas and its Christian ideals are incompatible with the mindset of communists, accusing them of following the likes of Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin he said were members of a satanic cult.

‘What progress?’

Sison, however, challenged the generals’ claims of economic progress in the Philippines that make economic, social and political reforms through peace negotiations irrelevant.

“The Filipino people are supposed to be already living in an industrialized paradise without social injustices, massive unemployment, low incomes and rampant poverty. The Duterte regime is supposed to be solving all problems and rendering unnecessary peace negotiations,” Sison mocked.

By allowing the officials to openly defy efforts to resume peace negotiations, the Duterte regime is practically telling the Filipino people that peace negotiations are impossible until 2022, he said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

NDFP names 5 Cabinet officials as worst peace talks foes

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) accused high-ranking government and military officials of opposing efforts to revive peace negotiations and launching actions that violated the recently concluded ceasefire agreement between the Communist Party of the Philippines and the Manila government.

NDFP chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison named Duterte’s national security adviser Hermogenes Esperon, national defense secretary Delfin Lorenzana, interior and local government secretary Eduardo Año, presidential adviser on the peace process chairperson Carlito Galvez and new Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff Felimon Santos of opposing efforts to revive the peace process.

“Either Duterte has been pretending to be for peace negotiations all along or he fails as commander-in-chief to put in line his military subordinates for the resumption of the peace negotiations,” Sison said.

Sison said Duterte’s five subordinates made the following declarations to disobey the President’s public declarations on his desire to resume peace negotiations with the NDFP:

1. They can destroy the CPP and NPA before the end of the Duterte regime despite the failure of all previous regimes to destroy the people’s revolutionary movement and the repeated failure of the current Duterte regime to comply with its deadlines for destroying said movement.

2. They oppose peace negotiations in a neutral venue abroad but favor negotiations for the surrender of the CPP, the NPA and entire revolutionary movement in a Philippine venue under the control and manipulation of the regime and its armed minions.

3. They can stage fake localized peace talks despite the glaring fact that all organs of the CPP and commands of the NPA at all levels have publicly rejected and condemned such fakery.

4. They are happy with and enjoy the escalating conditions of oppression and exploitation under the semicolonial and semifeudal ruling system of big compradors, landlords and corrupt bureaucrats who are servile to the imperialist powers, their banks and monopoly firms.

5. They shun social, economic and political reforms to realize full independence, democracy, social justice and all-round development and they are most vehemently against genuine land reform and national industrialization.

“[T]he Filipino people should not be surprised if the GRP-NDFP will not be resumed in the twilight years of the Duterte regime,” Sison said.

Sison said that even before the end of the reciprocal unilateral ceasefire agreement last January 7, Duterte’s military and police subordinates “have been calling for war and blood and have been making offensive deployments against the Filipino people and revolutionary forces throughout the archipelago.”

The NDFP in Negros island, one of three rebel strongholds Duterte ordered to be flooded with military forces last year, reported “unabated military operations” during the two-week holiday truce.

Military movements

In a statement Wednesday, January 8, a day after the ceasefire agreement concluded, Ka Bayani Obrero, NDF-Negros spokesperson, said they received the following reports of AFP combat operations throughout the island from the Apolinario Gatmaitan Command of the New People’s Army (AGC-NPA):

1. December 24, 2019 – 1 military truck full of 62nd Infantry Battalion (IB) troops descended on Brgy. Mansablay, Isabela, Negros Occidental; 

2. December 27, 2019 – 21 soldiers of the 62nd IB descended on Sitio Kuyawyaw, Brgy. Inolingan, Moises Padilla, Negros Occidental; 

3. December 27, 2019 – 21 soldiers of the 62nd IB descended on Sitios Oway-oway and Binataan, Brgy. Quinten Remo, Moises Padilla, Negros Occidental; 

4. December 27, 2019 – 30 soldiers of the 62nd IB descended on Sitio Tibobong, Brgy. Quinten Remo, Moises Padilla, Negros Occidental; 

5. December 28, 2019 – 33 soldiers of the 62nd IB descended on Sitio Tiyos, Brgy. Quinten Remo, Moises Padilla, Negros Occidental; 

6. December 30, 2019 – Undetermined number of 62nd IB soldiers descended on Sitio Saisi, Brgy. Tan-awan, Himamaylan City, Negros Occidental; 

7. December 31, 2019 – 62nd IB soldiers also descended on Sitio Bayi, Sitio Cande-is and Sitio Ulitaw, Brgy. Buenavista, Himamaylan City, Negros Occidental; 

8. December 31, 2019 – 20 soldiers of the 79th IB led by a certain Maj. Tupaz descended on Sitio Tanquinto and Hacienda Amparo, Brgy. Mabini, Escalante City, Negros Occidental; 

9. January 1-3, 2020 – 62nd IB soldiers descended on Sitio Pisok, Brgy. Buenavista, Himamaylan City, Negros Occidental; 

10. January 3, 2020 – 14 soldiers of the 79th IB descended on Sitio Brodjen, Brgy. Malasibog, Escalante City, Negros Occidental, and;

11. January 6, 2020 – 40 soldiers of the 79th IB descended on Brgy. Paitan, Escalante City, Negros Occidental.

The NDF-Negros also reported troop movements and operations by the 11th IB under the 302nd Brigade and the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Brgy. Talalac in Sta. Catalina and other municipalities in the Third Congressional District of Negros Oriental.

 “[These] manifest the dubious sincerity of the Duterte regime regarding peace talks resumptions,” Obrero said.

Obrero said the AFP and the PNP implemented combat operations in peasant communities in the mountainous areas “to persistently spread terror, threats, and harm on the Negrosanons.” 

“This simply shows that Duterte has no control over his bloodthirsty and warmongering dogs in the military and police,” AGC-NPA spokesperson Ka Juanito Magbanua said.

Magbanua said all NPA guerrilla fronts in Negros successfully celebrated the CPP’s 51st founding anniversary last December 26. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)