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Rep. Cullamat pays tribute to martyred daughter; condemns desecration of remains by gov’t soldiers

Bayan Muna Representative Eufemia Cullamat paid tribute to her fallen daughter she described as a martyr for the Lumad’s struggle for self determination and justice.

In a statement, the grieving mother also slammed the Philippine Army for desecrating the remains of 22-year old Jevilyn by taking photos of the New People’s Army medic like a war trophy.

“I love my child who loved the people. I am proud of her. She was a hero of the Lumad and all of the people,” Cullamat said in Filipino.

As a mother, Cullamat said she is heartbroken at the news that Jevelyn perished in a raid by government troopers in Marihatag, Surigao del Sur last Saturday, November 28.

“I strongly condemn the disrespectful acts on the remains of my daughter. She is not a trophy to be used in the military’s propaganda. You did not only disrespect the dead, you also offended my grieving family,” she said.

In subsequently deleted posts, the Philippine Army posted photos of its raiding team delightfully posing before the younger Cullamat’s remains, along with seized guns and paraphernalia.

Violation of the rules of war

International Association of Democratic Lawyers interim president and National Union of People’s Lawyers president Edre Olalia said the government soldiers violated international rules, domestic laws and bilateral agreements on the conduct of war.

In a legal opinion, Olalia cited Article 16 of the 1949 Geneva Convention prescribing protection of corpses against ill treatment.

Article 34 (1) of the 1977 Additional Protocol I on International Armed Conflicts also orders that remains of persons who have died from hostilities shall be respected, he said.

The human rights lawyer also cited Article 4 of the 1977 Additional Protocol II on Non-International Armed Conflicts that prohibits “outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment” of all persons who do not take a direct part or who have ceased to take part in hostilities, as was in Jevilyn’s case who already died when the Philippine Army’s trophy photographs were taken and distributed.

Offenses upon the personal dignity of fallen parties constitute a war crime in both international and non-international armed conflicts according to the 1998 Statute of the International Criminal Court, Olalia said as well.

The lawyer said government troops are mandated to observe international instruments on the conduct of was as Republic Act 9851 penalizes crimes against international humanitarian law, genocide and other crimes against humanity.

Olalia also reminded the government of Article 3 of the 1998 of its Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines prohibiting “at any time and in any place” the desecration of the remains of those who have died in the course of the armed conflict and to prevent despoliation and mutilation and to dispose of them with respect.

“On top of these commands under international humanitarian law, at core is basic human decency, respect and civility that is at issue here,” Olalia said.
“There are universal laws that civilized people observe even if, because, or in spite of armed hostilities,” the human rights lawyer added.
Jevilyn Cullamat (supplied photo)

‘Victim of state terrorism’

Cullamat said Jevilyn’s decision to join the armed struggle stemmed from the abuses the Lumad suffer at the hands of the government’s armed forces as well as the indigenous peoples’ extreme poverty.

“She saw with her own two eyes how our leader Dionel Campos, Datu Bello Sinzo, and Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development, Inc executive director Emerito Samarca were massacred in Lianga, Surigao del Sur on September 1, 2015,” the elder Cullamat said.

She said Jevilyn was a kind child who they raised to become nationalistic, brave, principled and with a mind of her own.

“Every Lumad child is raised to become worthy and useful to the community,” Cullamat added.

The Makabayan Bloc member said that Jevilyn’s sacrifice of her life for the people and defense of their ancestral land is worthwhile, “whatever the vultures who surrounded my daughter’s remains say.”

“It is a great honor for me to have a child who became a warrior and martyr…I am undoubtedly proud of Jevilyn because she fought against an unjust system, for us Lumad,” she said.

“No mother would renounce a child who set aside her personal interests to offer her life for the people and for the defense of our ancestral land,” Cullamat added. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

PNP arrests ‘ex-NDFP consultant’ and gov’t employee Mapano

The Rodrigo Duterte government’s all-out offensive against National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace consultants is not sparing even those who have already chosen to live above ground.

In a curious turn of events, the police arrested peace negotiator Alfredo Mapano who newspaper reports describe is an “ex- NDFP consultant” and who currently works as a government employee.

Mapano, known in Northern Mindanao as the legendary New People’s Army leader “Ka Paris”, was arrested by the Bayugan City (Agusan del Sur) police while at work in Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental last Friday, November 27.

Bayugan is 200 kilometers away from Tagoloan and under a different Philippine National Police (PNP) Regional Command.

A participant in at least three Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP)-NDFP formal peace negotiations from August 2016 in Oslo, Norway to January 2017 in Rome, Italy, Mapano is currently an employee of the government-owned Phividec Industrial Authority.

The former Red commander reportedly “surrendered” to President Duterte after Rome, brokered by former cabinet secretary Leoncio Evasco Jr. who also recommended his employment as Phividec corporate social responsibility officer and, later, as security officer.

Mapano was allowed to post bail in August 2016 to participate in the first round of formal peace negotiations between the GRP and the NDFP.

Previously, he had been in jail for seven years for various crimes he allegedly committed as NPA leader.

A Kodao source said that Mapano had been “roaming around freely” in Northern Mindanao since his supposed surrender and living a “normal” life.

Surprised

Mapano’s re-arrest surprised everyone, including Mapano’s wife, employer and local police chief, Alternative news outfit Davao Today (DT) reported.

Wife Chona told DT  she is concerned if her husband is indeed under the custody of the Bayugan police.

“Our family is trying to locate him and ensure that he is safe…[The arrest] was unexpected. He is now living a normal life,” Chona said.

DT also reported that Talogoan police chief Captain Mark Dungca said the arresting team only informed him that they will be serving an arrest warrant but did not specify who.

Mapano was arrested two days after his 67th birthday.

Killings, convictions

Mapano’s arrest followed the “mafia-style executions” of fellow NDFP peace consultants Eugenia Magpantay and Agaton Topacio in the early hours of November 25 in Angono, Rizal and the conviction by the Quezon City Regional Trial Court for kidnapping and serious illegal detention of NDFP Negotiating Panel member Benito Tiamzon and peace consultant Wilma Austria, also last November 27.

Earlier this year, NDFP peace consultants Julius Giron and Randall Echanis were brutally killed in Baguio City and Quezon City, respectively.

In January 2019, NDFP peace consultant Randy Malayao was killed in his sleep while on board a bus in Nueva Vizcaya.

A number of other NDFP consultants have been arrested since formal peace negotiations between the NDFP and the GRP broke down in November 2017, all on allegations of possession of firearms and explosives.

The NDFP also reported that some of its peace consultants are missing, abducted by suspected government agents. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

NDFP protests gov’t court’s conviction of Tiamzon and Austria

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) Negotiating Panel protests a government court’s conviction of two of its senior peace negotiators as “baseless” and “an act of persecution.”

Reacting to Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 26’s conviction of NDFP peace panel member Benito Tiamzon and consultant Wilma Austria of kidnapping with serious illegal detention, the NDFP said the decision violated the 1956 Hernandez Political Doctrine.

“This doctrine mandates that all alleged acts in pursuit of one’s political beliefs are absorbed, subsumed or integrated in one political crime of rebellion and cannot be mutated into several common crimes as what they were convicted of,” the NDFP said.

The group added that even if both Tiamzon and Austria, alleged leaders of the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army (NPA), had a hand in the capture of then Philippine Army Lt. and now retired Brigadier General Abraham Claro Casis, the act was “legitimate in the laws of war.”

The court should have considered Casis as among “persons deprived of their liberty for reasons related to the armed conflict” or “prisoners of war” in accordance with the 1949 Geneva Conventions and their 1977 Protocols, the NDFP said.

1988 capture

In his decision, Judge Alfonso Ruiz II said he gave “full faith and credit” to Casis’ testimony that, while detained, he saw Tiamzon and Austria in meetings with the NPA.

Casis said they were on their way to Manila on June 1, 1988 when captured by the NPA at the border of Tiaong and Candelaria towns in Quezon Province.

They were released after two months of captivity on August 12 of that year by the late NPA spokesperson Gregorio “Ka Roger” Rosal.

The NDFP however questions the credibility of Casis’ testimony as recalled “with unbelievable magical throwback powers.”

It said the incident happened “a good three decades ago in a case long archived and dismissed against many other accused but just recently politically excavated by the militarist hawks of the (Rodrigo) Duterte regime.”

The NDFP said it found unbelievable that the lone witness “can vividly remember minute details, names, faces, places and events that happened in 1988.”

The group also said the court’s decision suffered from “sweeping and conclusory inferences of conspiracy by mere alleged presence” of the accused.

JASIG-protected

The NDFP said the Tiamzons were also denied due process because of their involuntary inability to personally present their own defense “due to the real and imminent threat on their lives conducted under the baton of no less the GRP Principal, President Rodrigo Duterte.”

It said that as publicly-known NDFP peace negotiators, the Tiamzons should be immune from surveillance, harassment, search, arrest, detention, prosecution and interrogation or any other similar punitive actions under the subsisting 1995 GRP-NDFP Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG).

The group said the JASIG remains effective and demandable despite its questionable termination by the GRP and regardless of the status of the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations.

“And this is precisely the raison d’ etre for it (reason for being), i.e. to encourage participation by ensuring subsequent protection,” the NDFP said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Duterte lies on razor blade killing, NPA in Negros says

The New People’s Army (NPA) in Negros Island denied President Rodrigo Duterte’s accusation it killed a soldier using a disposable razor blade, in turn accusing government troops as “consistent violators” of the rules of war.

“It is not true. The four police officers were fired upon by the NPA and were never tortured,” Juanito Magbanua, spokesperson of the Apolinario Gatmaitan Command of the NPA, told Kodao.

Magbanua was referring to the March 3 ambush of four police officers by the NPA at the boundary of Guihulngan City in Negros Oriental and Isabela town in Negros Occidental that injured four soldiers of the 94th Infantry Battalion (94IB) of the Philippine Army.

But Duterte may have been referring to the killing of a paramilitary trooper and two “military informants” last June 13 in Himamaylan City by a partisan unit of the NPA as punishment for their alleged participation in the implementation of the government’s brutal Oplan Sauron counter-insurgency campaign in the island.

The families of those killed said they were killed with guns.

“That razor incident at hostage-taking never happened,” Magbanua added.

Duterte in his recent report on the government’s coronavirus response Monday night again spent a substantial part of his recorded address verbally attacking the NPA and the Communist Party of the Philippines, accusing them of being the country’s biggest terrorist threat.

The president said the NPA had been attacking police officers escorting relief operations by the government.

“Pati nga ‘yung pulis na kasama ng gubyerno na tutulong sa mga tao, pinatay niyo lahat. Tapos, using a Gillette blade (hand moving across throat). Kaya ako galit sa inyo,” Duterte said.

He added that he had no history of maltreating captured NPA fighters in Mindanao.

“There was never a time that we handled an NPA prisoner sa Mindanao na sinaktan namin. We don’t even allow the mosquitoes to bite them. May warning kami sa mga alimatok pati sa mga…ano ba ng alimatok sa Tagalog? Linta. Leech. Na huwag galawin ang mga NPA na bihag dahil baka tayo ang pagbintangan,” he said.

Magbanua however said it is the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) that consistently violates International Humanitarian Law through strafing of civilian homes, red-tagging of activists, and physical and mental abuse of detainees.

Marco Valbuena, information officer of the Communist Party of the Philippines, also said that Duterte is, in fact, the country’s biggest terrorist, using the AFP and the entire State machinery to unleash “wanton terror” in his government’s drug war, massacres, extrajudicial killings, the bombardment of communities in his nearly four years in power. # (Raymund B. Villanueva) 

CPP denounces military’s detention of Red Cross convoy carrying wounded rebels

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) denounced the detention of an International Committee of the Red Cross convoy in Lianga, Surigao del Sur last Friday, May 29, saying Philippine Army’s action is an affront on international humanitarian law (IHL).

In a statement, the underground group said the 4th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army (IDPA) also subjected the three-vehicle convoy to search and interrogation.

“The flagging down and inspection of the ICRC convoy, clearly marked with the Red Cross logos, was an unacceptable affront on IHL. As a recognized guardian of IHL, the ICRC medical convoy should have been accorded due respect and allowed to travel unimpeded,” the CPP said.

The CPP said the ICRC convoy was reported to be transporting two wounded fighters identified as Jea Angeles Perez and Noel Dadang it said were both hors de combat. A hors de combat is a person who is no longer participating in hostilities, by choice or circumstance

The group said the convoy was stopped at a checkpoint and were surrounded by the soldiers. It was later “escorted” by military and police vehicles to the Davao Regional Medical Center in Tagum City, Davao del Norte province “with the aim of subjecting the two patients to arrest and detention.”

“The AFP virtually turned the ICRC convoy into a prisoner transport for the AFP in violation of the ICRC’s recognized international role,” the CPP said.

The ICRC, including its vehicles and buildings clearly marked with either the Red Cross or Red Crescent emblems, are declared immune from attack in accordance with the First Geneva Conventions of 1949.

In an Inquirer report, 4th IDPA spokesperson Capt. Al Anthony Pueblas admitted the convoy was “briefly detained” after fetching Perez and Dadang from San Agustin, Surigao del Sur, a known New People’s Army stronghold.

Military and police troopers block ICRC convoy.
(Photo by PNP Surigao del Sur)

Pueblas said the patients were probably wounded in a series of clashes between the NPA and government troops from May 14 to 19.

ICRC communications officer Allison Lopez said the Army and police were informed of the humanitarian evacuation before they transported the two wounded persons.

“This medical evacuation was carried out strictly for humanitarian purposes. As a neutral, impartial and independent humanitarian organization, the ICRC’s mandate is to protect and assist victims of armed conflict. Under the International Humanitarian Law, wounded and sick fighters regardless of which side they are from are entitled to the medical care and treatment required by their condition,” Lopez said.

The CPP said the incident marked a new level of impunity by the military and police, demanding reparation for the incident.

“The Party demands respect for the rights of the detained and calls for their immediate release under IHL,” it said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

NPA Southern Tagalog spokesperson arrested inside hospital

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) in Southern Tagalog announced that Melito Glor Command-New People’s Army spokesperson Jaime Padilla had been arrested by Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and Philippine National Police (PNP) forces at a hospital in Mandaluyong City Monday night, November 25.

In a post on the Communist Party of the Philippines’s official website, Patnubay de Guia, NDFP spokesperson in the region, said Padilla, also known as Ka Diego, was undergoing medical examinations at the Cardinal Santos Medical Center on his heart conditions when arrested.

De Guia said Padilla’s arrest was illegal and violates International Humanitarian Law (IHL).

“Maselan ang kundisyon ni Ka Diego Padilla at kailangan niya ng agarang medikasyon para sa kanyang nararamdamang sakit sa puso,” de Guia said. (Comrade Diego Padilla’s heart condition is serious and he needs immediate medical attention for his ailments.)

The NDFP said it vehemently condemns the arrest as it may further endanger Padilla’s life.

It pointed that that sick persons are given protection under the IHL.

The group demanded Padilla’s release to allow him to continue receiving medical care from doctors of his own choice.

Both the PNP and the AFP are silent on Padilla’s reported arrest. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

NPA ‘strictly abides by rules of war’ – CPP to HRW

By Visayas Today

Communist rebels offered assurances on Thursday, July 30, that their armed units “conscientiously study and abide by the Geneva Conventions and Protocol I,” which govern the conduct of war.

Earlier in the day, Brad Adams, Asia director of Human Rights Watch, acknowledged that responsibility for the string of killings that have claimed at least 20 lives in Negros Oriental over the past two week “remains unclear.”

He nevertheless urged both the government and rebels to “take all necessary measures to end unlawful attacks, either by their forces or armed elements linked to them.”

State security forces and the New People’s Army have blamed each other for the killings.

The NPA accuses government forces of retaliating on civilians suspected of being rebel supporters following the death of four police intelligence officers in an ambush on July 18. The police accuse the rebels of torturing and then executing the four.

Adams reminded both parties that “killing civilians and captured combatants are war crimes.”

Responding to Adams, the CPP said it considered the attention HRW had given to the Negros killings “important” and agreed with his observation that the violence was “linked to the issues of land rights, poverty and injustice.”

It maintained that the four policemen “died in the course of a legitimate act of war” – an NPA ambush – “and were not tortured as falsely claimed by” President Rodrigo Duterte, and stressed that the rebels “do not have a hand in the successive killings of civilians.”

The CPP also said the deaths of seven persons on July 25, the bloodiest day for Negros Oriental, “fall into the pattern of coordinated operations of the police and military.”

Among those killed on that day were sibling educators Arthur and Aldane Bayawa and Buenavista barangay captain Romeo Alipan, who were shot dead in their respective homes in Guihulngan City, and Marlon Ocampo and his year-old son Marjon, who died when gunmen strafed their home in Sta. Catalina town.

“We believe that they are victims of death squads attached to the military and police in Negros island meant to intimidate the people against supporting the armed resistance of the NPA,” the CPP said. “Many of them have been previously publicly tagged as sympathizers of the NPA.” #

CPP: ‘The NPA does not torture its enemies’

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) denied the New People’s Army (NPA) tortured the four police officers killed in Ayungon, Negros Oriental last July 18.

In a statement, the CPP’s Information Bureau said that based on reports of the NPA’s Mt. Cansermon Command that claimed responsibility for the attack, the four armed personnel of the Philippine National Police (PNP) were killed in an ambush.

Those killed were not tortured, contrary to claims made by President Rodrigo Duterte, the CPP said.

“They were armed adversaries of the NPA and died in a legitimate act of war. Duterte and the police are making up stories in a vain attempt to gain public sympathy,” the CPP added.

The group said, the NPA strictly prohibits the use of torture, “[u]nlike the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines] and PNP.”

“The NPA’s rules prohibit even lifting a finger against its captives or prisoners. The policies of the NPA are much unlike Duterte’s cruel war that targets civilians with extreme brutality,” the CPP said.

‘No ordinary ambush’

In a press conference last Friday, Police Regional Office-7 (Central Visayas) director PBGen. Dobeld Sinas said he does not believe the casualties died in an ordinary ambush.

Sinas alleged the four police officers were dragged, hogtied, mauled and even hit with butts of rifles by the NPA.

Sinas identified the fatalities as Corporal Relebert Beronio and Patrolmen Raffy Callao, Patrolman Ruel Cabellon and Patrolman Marquino de Leon.

Based on police reports, the four police officers were on board two motorcycles were waylaid and fired upon by at least 11 unidentified NPA fighters.

They were intelligence personnel of the 704 Mobile Force Company of the Regional Mobile Force Battalion in Central Visayas.

The NPA’s Mt. Cansermon Command (MCC) spokesperson, Dionisio Magbuelas, said the four officers were killed for acting as spies to implement police operations that had led to civilian deaths in Negros Oriental.

“Based on our intelligence report, the four police operatives were gathering information and surveilling the area for another round of Oplan Sauron or Synchronized Enhanced Management of Police Operations where innocent civilians are killed by uniformed personnel in the guise of counter-insurgency efforts,” the NPA said in a statement.

‘Series of successful tactical offensive’

In another statement Thursday, the NPA unit claimed no less than 43 soldiers and police were either killed or injured in three separate offensives it conducted between June 22 and July 18.

Aside from the Ayungon ambush, the MCC also conducted what it called a sniping operation in Sitio Bulo, Brgy. Bantolinao, Manjuyod, Negros Oriental last June 22 that resulted in the death of three soldiers of the 94th Infantry Battalion-Philippine Army (IBPA) and the wounding of 20 others.

Last July 2, the MCC said it foiled a raid attempt by the 11th IBPA in Sitio Small Samac, Brgy. Nalundan, Bindoy, Negros Oriental and launched a counter offensive that killed 10 and wounded six government troopers. 

“The series of successful tactical offensive was conducted by MCC-NPA to need the call for justice for the victims of extrajudicial killings especially for the innocent victim’s of Oplan Sauron 1 and 2,” Magbuelas said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

‘Shooting of female guerrilla fighter in vagina proves Duterte’s anti-women remarks not joke, sarcasm’

“The military proves that Duterte’s ‘shoot the vagina’ remark is a brutal war policy.”

By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
Bulatlat.com

MANILA — Not too long ago, President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the shooting of female armed guerrilla fighters in their vaginas to render them “useless.” He later defended his remark – one of the many he issued against women – as mere sarcasm.

Not anymore.

Last week, Gabriela Women’s Party deplored the desecration of the remains of an alleged New People’s Army female fighter Cindy Tirado, whose remains were found to be desecrated as her genitals appeared to be shattered by a bullet.

Tirado was among those killed in an alleged military operation led by the 71st Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army on April 15 in Tagum City, Davao del Norte.

Apart from her genitals being shot, the women’s group also noted that her arms were fractured, indicating possible torture.

Tirado’s grieving mother Emma, in an interview with a national daily, noted that her daughter was most probably captured alive and tortured before she was killed.

Rape incidents on the rise

Apart from the “shoot in the vagina” remark, Duterte has not been sitting well among many women’s group due to what they said are anti-women pronouncements.

He has repeatedly “joked” at the expense of women or on the issue of rape.

Such pronouncements, critics said, contribute to the poor regards for women and their rights in the country.

In a report earlier this year, the Center for Women’s Resources said there were 2,962 cases of rape or about 20 incidents per day from January to May 2018 alone.

Among the cities with the highest number of rape incidents in 2018 were Quezon City, Manila, and Davao.

There are also 59 cops implicated in the cases of violence against women from July 2016 to December 2018, the CWR report added.

Independent probe sought

Meanwhile, Gabriela Women’s Party called for an independent probe, saying that this constitutes a war crime and violation of international humanitarian law, adding that those involved must be probed over its apparent excessive use of force and possible sexual violence.

The military, the group added, “proves that Duterte’s ‘shoot the vagina’ remark is a brutal war policy.” #

AFP and PNP lying; Red fighters only use command-detonated explosives—CPDF

By Joseph Gregorio

The Cordillera Peoples Democratic Front (CPDF) accused the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) of lying when they alleged the New People’s Army (NPA) used an unmanned improvised explosive device (IED) in their April 2 clash that killed a policeman and wounded nine others at Cabunagan, Poblacion, Tadian, Mountain Province.

“Accustomed to releasing fake news, it is not farfetched for these spinmasters to concoct a preposterous story to downgrade their defeat. They simply cannot accept that even with their superior manpower and weaponry, they are still defeated by the NPA,” CPDF Spokes person Simon “Ka Filiw” Naogsan said.

Naogsan said the AFP and the PNP vainly conjured a scenario to accuse the NPA of violating the Ottawa Treaty on the employment of unmanned IED that explodes when subjected to pressure or extreme heat.

“The NPA has long adhered to the Ottawa Treaty through banning the use of landmines in its operations and has been employing command-detonated explosives instead,” Naogsan said.

“The AFP and the PNP further show their ignorance as they do not know how to differentiate a command-detonated explosive from an unmanned landmine,” he added.

Government forces, through statements and social media posts, alleged the NPA used unmanned IEDs and landmines in their clash last Tuesday, their third fire fight with the communist guerrillas within a week.

“International humanitarian law and the Geneva Conventions have outlawed the use of landmines in warfare because of the risk of civilian casualties or collateral damage,” Police Regional office Cordillera (PROCor) Chief PBGen Israel Ephraim Dickson said.

But Leonardo Pacsi Command-NPA-Mountain Province spokesperson Magno Udyaw said their troops only used a command detonated device, exploded by an operator upon the order of the unit commander when government soldiers have entered the designated killing zone.

Udyaw clarified that there was no forest fire on the blast site at the time of the clash, adding they are not stupid to start a forest fire that can limit their combat manoeuvres. #