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Randy Malayao led singing of this Ilocano revolutionary song

After the first round of formal peace negotiations between the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and the Duterte government in Oslo, Norway in August 2016, the NDFP organized a solidarity event in its base in Utrecht, The Netherlands.

It was attended by the NDFP consultants, mostly newly-freed, the Filipino expats from all over Europe, the media and a representative from the government peace panel.

In this video, Malayao, killed January 30, 2019, led the singing of a revolutionary Ilocano song, along with fellow consultants Randall Echanis and Kennedy Bangibang.

Para sa kalayaan ng mga bilanggong politikal

Before attendees of the Free Rey Casambre Campaign at the University of the Philippines last Saturday, Public Interest Law Center managing counsel Rachel Pastores said the judges and prosecutors who handle the cases of incarcerated National Democratic Front of the Philippines peace consultants must be encouraged to do what is right. (Image by Carlo Francisco/Kodao)

Military operations hamper release of NPA POWs

Plans for the release of 15 New People’s Army (NPA) prisoners of war (POW) are being hampered by continuous Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), the National Democratic Front of the Philippines-North East Mindanao (NDFP-NEMR) said.

In a statement, NDFP-NEMR said that the NPA’s Front 21B and 21C are preparing to release the two soldiers of the 3rd Special Forces Battalion of the Philippine Army and the 13 Civilian Active Auxiliary (CAA) troopers.

“The plan however, is hampered by the continuous military operations launched by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the utter disregard of AFP officials and the Government of the Philippines (GRP) for the welfare of their troops captured by the NPA,” NDFP-NEMR spokesperson Maria Malaya said.

The first of the 15 POW was captured in an ambush by the NPA against the CAA under the command of the 29th IBPA last November 29 in Remedios T. Romualdez town, Agusan del Norte.

The other 14 POWs were captured in a raid by the revolutionary guerrillas against the AFP detachment in Brgy. New Tubigon, Sibagat, Agusan del Sur last December 19.

The NPA raid was made without a shot fired, prompting Defense secretary Delfin Lorenzana to say suspect some paramilitary troopers may have colluded with the guerrillas.

“Baka itong CAFGU (Civilian Auxiliary Force Geographical Unit) na may kamag-anak na NPA ang naging conduit para makapasok sila, para hindi mapagsuspetsahan,” Lorenzana last December 20 said.

In reaction to the incidents, the AFP has launched “unrelenting” military operations in different areas of the region that lasted for  25 days, Malaya said.

“The Philippine Air Force launch indiscriminate bombings and strafing and threaten miners, farmers and Lumad earning a living in the said areas,” Malaya added.

Earlier, the Communist Party of the Philippines said POWs are being treated humanely in accordance with the International Humanitarian Law.

The CPP in a December 20 statement also said they planned to release the POWs in time for Christmas but were prevented from carrying out the plan due to the government’s refusal to reciprocate the NPA’s unilateral ceasefire declarations during Christmas and New Year.

Instead, Malaya said the AFP launched unrelenting military operations that only earned six counter attacks from the NPA.

The AFP incurred several casualties from the NPA’s use of command-detonated explosives, Malaya claimed.

NDFP-NEMR called on the families and relatives of the POWs as well as peace advocates to call on President Rodrigo Duterte to suspend military operations to hasten the release of the captured government troopers.

The group also challenged the AFP as well as the Philippine National Police to suspend military and police operations to ensure the safe release of their comrades. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Court clears NDFP peace consultant Rafael Baylosis and companion

By Joseph Cuevas

The Regional Trial Court Branch 100 in Quezon City dismissed the cases of illegal possession of firearms and explosives against National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace consultant Rafael Baylosis and companion Guillermo Roque.

In a 27-page decision last January 15, Judge Editha Miña-Aguba pointed out the illegality of the police surveillance and arrest.

The judge said evidence must be believable and must come from a credible witness, something the charges against Baylosis and Roque failed to show.

According to Public Interest Law Center (PILC) lawyers, the arrest against Baylosis and Roque January last year was illegal because the police insisted that the accused were roaming through Manila and Quezon City with guns tucked in their waists and toted around a bag of red rice with a grenade inside.

Baylosis’s defense poked holes into their story, pointing out not only lapses but grievous procedural mistakes, and thus exposed concerted, malicious efforts to fabricate the charges, the defense lawyers said.

PILC added that the dismissal of Baylosis case proved not only his innocence but exposes the police illegal actions, undue surveillance, illegal arrest, planting of evidences and filling of trumped up charges against peace consultants and political activists.

NDFP chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison said he is glad about the development.

“Mabuting nadismiss ang charges of illegal gun possesion sa kaso ni Raffy dahil napatunayan na planted ang evidence,” Sison told Kodao.

“Dapat ganoon din ang mangyari sa kaso nina Vic Ladlad, Rey Casambre at iba pang plinantahan ng mga baril at explosive,” Sison added.

Lengua De Guzman, daughter of Baylosis and convenor of Free Raffy Baylosis Committee, said they are looking to file counter charges against the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group of the Philippine National Police and the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines as well as all other participants in the fabrication of criminal charges.

The dismissal followed Judge Aguba’s decision granting the demurer to evidence last June 2018 in favor of another peace consultant Ruben Saluta and his companions who were charged with illegal possession of firearms and explosives, citing the broken chain of custody and inconsistency of witnesses’ testimonies against Saluta and company.

In November 2015, Judge Aguba also acquitted NDF consultant Eduardo Serrano in a multiple murder case for the failure of prosecution to identify him as “Rogelio Villanueva”.

Serrano, who was imprisoned for 11 years, died in detention last January 2016 due to cardiac arrest.

Baylosis was the first peace consultant arrested last January 2018 after President Duterte unilaterally terminated the peace negotiations and made a crackdown against peace consultants.

Adelberto Silva, Vicente Ladlad and Rey Claro Casambrewere arrested in October, November and December 2018, respectively. #

Joma: It’s Duterte regime that may not survive by 2022, not the NPA

The Rodrigo Duterte government should concentrate on surviving the next three years rather than be preoccupied in trying to wiping out the New People’s Army (NPA) by 2022, National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison said.

Even with a reset deadline, government military and police forces will surely fail in destroying the revolutionary army, Sison in a statement said, adding it is Duterte who may already be out of office by 2022.

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founding chairperson explained the military and the police cannot accomplish in three years what they failed to accomplish in 50 years.

“The scheme will surely fail from day to day, week to week, month to month and from year to year as the NPA will intensify tactical offensives and mass work,” Sison said,

 Instead, Duterte himself will have difficulty surviving politically, he added.

“These are lameduck years for him, during which infighting among his followers will be debilitating and challenges will rise from within the ruling system as well as from the revolutionary forces,” Sison said.

Department of National Defense secretary Delfin Lorenzana told reporters Tuesday the government hopes to wipe out the communist guerrillas in three years.

 ‘Pipe dream’

In the press briefing, Lorenzana admitted that defeating the communists could not be accomplished within the year, as earlier predicted by Duterte.

In September, President Duterte’s said the government would win the war against the NPA by the second quarter of 2019.

Former Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff and now Presidential peace adviser Antonio Galvez in November echoed Duterte’s statement that the military will eliminate the NPA by next year.

Lorenzana, however, said the prediction is a tall order even with increased military operations nationwide.

“We cannot do it this year because it is a huge problem. If you will recall, this insurgency has been going on for the past 50 years already and we cannot end it in one year,” Lorenzana said.

“Maybe, our target now should be in the remaining three years of President Duterte’s term. We can probably accomplish that,” he added.

‘Wasted years’

Sison said Duterte should be blamed for wasting opportunities to sign peace agreements with the NDFP aimed at addressing the root causes of the armed conflict.

Duterte cancelled the peace talks with the NDFP in November 2017 and moved to have CPP and the NPA declared as “terrorist organizations.”

“Were the Duterte regime willing to engage sincerely and seriously in peace negotiations with the NDFP to address the roots of the armed conflict and make agreements on social, economic and political reforms, a just peace could be attained in less time than three years and at far less cost in contrast to the enemy’s futile military campaigns that are costly in terms of blood and public money,” Sison said.

“The problem with the Duterte regime is that it thinks peace negotiations are merely for the surrender and pacification of the revolutionary forces and that the sincerity of the NDFP is merely the willingness to surrender to the unjust ruling system of big compradors, landlords and corrupt bureaucrats like Duterte,” he added. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Duterte again says he is open to talks with NDFP

Despite his repeated orders to wipe out the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), President Rodrigo Duterte said he is still open to reviving peace negotiations with the Left.

Duterte again changed tone and told Cabinet members and other officials in Bicol Friday some communication lines are still open for the revival of peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).

Duterte said he cannot afford to completely close communication lines with the Left.

“I’d like you to know we are keeping the fire burning and hindi pwedeng sarahan. You cannot afford to lose all channels of communication. Mag-iwan ka talaga maski maliit,” he said.

Duterte’s latest turnaround came after the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its founding chairman Jose Maria Sison announced that the revolutionary movement will prioritize his ouster starting this year.

An increasingly quarrelsome Duterte repeatedly cancelled formal rounds of peace negotiations with the NDFP since middle of 2017 despite successful efforts by both the NDFP and government peace panels to forge social and economic reform as well as ceasefire agreements.

He issued Proclamation No. 360 on November 23, 2017 terminating the peace negotiations and followed it up with Proclamation No. 374 on December 5, 2017 designating the CPP and the New People’s Army (NPA) as ¨terrorist¨ organizations.

Sison said the two proclamations are aimed at putting up permanent walls against peace negotiations.

Two key Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) peace negotiators have since resigned.

Presidential peace adviser Jesus Dureza resigned for “failing to curb corruption” at the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process while GRP ceasefire committee chairperson Francisco Lara left over “additional preconditions” for the resumption of formal negotiations that “torpedoed” certain aspects of the peace talks.

Meanwhile, the NDFP has consistently said it is open to any sincere peace negotiations, even with the “tyrant” Duterte.

Welcome Duterte statement

NDFP chief political consultant Sison said he welcomes Duterte’s latest turnaround.

“Enemies need peace negotiations before they can become friends or partners for the sake of the Filipino people who desire social, economic and political reforms as basis for a just and lasting peace,” Sison said in a statement issued a few hours after Duterte’s statement.

“I welcome the statement of Duterte that he is still open to peace negotiations even as there is still an exchange of hostile words in the mass media and exchange of bullets in the battlefield,” he said.

Sison explained it is the consistent policy of the NDFP to be open to peace negotiations with the Duterte regime despite their determination to seek the ouster of his regime.

“It is for the benefit of the people that the peace negotiations resume and stop the Duterte regime from proclaiming martial law nationwide, from calling off or rigging the May 2019 elections and from pursuing the scheme to impose a fascist dictatorship on the Filipino people via charter change for a bogus kind of federalism,” Sison said.

Sison added the NDFP presumes that, when peace negotiations resume, the way is open to the forging of agreements on social, economic and political reforms “desired and needed by the people.” # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

GRP ceasefire chief’s resignation result of frustration with Duterte, military—Sison

The resignation of the head of the ceasefire committee of the government negotiating panel with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) exposes how President Rodrigo Duterte and the military have made the peace talks impossible, Prof. Jose Maria Sison said.

Responding to Francisco “Pancho” Lara’s announcement of his resignation as chairperson of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) Negotiating Panel ceasefire committee, Sison said he thinks Lara “got fed up” with Duterte and the military.

“I think that Pancho got fed up with Durterte and the military when Duterte practically waste-basketed the draft agreements that had resulted from the hard work in backchannel talks by teams of the GRP and NDFP negotiating panels from March to June 2018,” Sison told Kodao.

The GRP and NDFP peace talks were supposed to resume last June after Duterte terminated the negotiations with his issuance of Proclamation 360 in November 2017 and his subsequent declaration of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New People’s Army (NPA) as so-called terrorist organizations in December.

Both parties were ready to formally sign an interim peace agreement in June, a package that included a stand down agreement between the NPA and the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police; Guidelines and Procedures towards an Interim Peace Agreement and the Resumption of Talks and its attached timetable; the Initialed Interim Peace Agreement; and the NDFP Proposed Draft of the Amnesty Proclamation which was given to the GRP and the Third Party Facilitator.

In an interview with ABS-CBN News Friday, Lara said additional preconditions for the resumption of formal negotiations have “torpedoed” certain aspects of the peace talks.

He revealed that localized peace talks and the demand for Sison’s return to the Philippines were additions to the original agenda that included a ceasefire agreement with the NDFP while negotiations are being held.

“I think those additional issues torpedoed the discussions of a ceasefire and the other reforms because, then, the bar had been raised higher,” Lara said.

Lara surmised that his replacement may be someone more trusted by Duterte and the military or the military would like to take on the issue of ceasefire with the NDFP themselves.

Duterte has appointed former AFP chief of staff Carlito Galvez after formal Presidential peace adviser Jesus Dureza’s sudden resignation last month due to corruption within the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP).

“I know that based on my discussions with the military that they probably want something else rather than a ceasefire,” Lara told ABS-CBN News.

“I think they want to prosecute the war as it is happening right now,” he said.

Sison seconded Lara’s observation, adding the NDFP learned that Duterte allowed the military officers at the command conference held in Malacañang in June 2018 “to insult the OPAPP and the GRP Negotiating Panel.”

Sison did not give details on how the alleged insult happened.

“I think that Duterte is a captive of his own greed for power and bureaucratic look. He does not want the peace negotiations so that he can scapegoat the CPP, NPA and NDFP as pretext and cause for establishing a full-blown fascist dictatorship through chacha (Charter Change) to a bogus kind of federalism,” Sison said.

The OPAPP website has not published a statement on Lara’s resignation as of this posting. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Casambre arrest proves Duterte ‘cannot be trusted’

The Rodrigo Duterte government is “ludicrous” in arresting and charging yet another National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace consultant with trumped-up murder and attempted murder cases, various groups said.

The arrest of long-time peace consultant and Philippine Peace Center (PPC) executive director Rey Claro Casambre and spouse Patricia Cora in Bacoor, Cavite early Friday morning as well as the Philippine National Police’s (PNP) claim a calibre .45 gun and a grenade were found in the couple’s car drew quick condemnations from activists who said the incident is yet another canard by “peace spoilers.”

Rey and Cora just came from a wake at the University of the Philippines campus in Quezon City when arrested by members of the PNP’s Criminal Investigation and Detection Group.

They were taken to Camp Crame in Quezon City early Friday morning where they were informed of a warrant of arrest against Rey for murder and attempted murder he allegedly committed along with six others in Davao Oriental Province.

The warrant of arrest was issued on November 23 by Judge Emilio Dayanghirang III of Lupon Regional Trial Court Branch 32.

No details of the murder and attempted murder charges have been made public yet.

“As usual, and as predictable as the sun will come out tomorrow, the non-bailable murder charges are trumped-up and sprang out of nowhere. And as tiringly contrived as expected, a roving firearm and a rusty grenade were again routinely planted to make the arrest appear aboveboard for good measure,” NDFP legal consultant Atty. Edre Olalia fumed.

Olalia said nobody would ever believe such false narrative, noting that Casambre is a publicly-known peace consultant who is also covered by the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG).

“As such, [Casambre] should not have been [subjected to surveillance], harassed and arrested for an indubitably manufactured case,” Olalia said.

The lawyer said Rey’s spouse Cora is a translator with the PPC where he is executive director for the longest time

“The arrest of the Casambres, treacherous as it is baseless, once again proves that this government cannot be trusted and that it is the number one violator of the most basic rights especially of those seeking genuine and long-lasting solutions to the problems besetting our people and our country,” Olalia said.

Casambre is the fourth NDFP peace consultant after Rafael Baylosis, Adelberto Silva and Vicente Ladlad arrested after Duterte effectively terminated the once-promising peace negotiations in November 2017.

Baylosis was arrested last January, Silva in October and Ladlad in November and were each charged with illegal possession of firearms and explosives.

All four are elderly and suffering from various ailments.

More condemnations

Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Ysagani Zarate said the Casambres’ arrest is the same modus that the police used in arresting Ladlad, Baylosis and Silva.

“They planted guns and explosives and filed trumped up charges,” the progressive solon said.

Karapatan Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights secretary general Cristina Palabay said only fools would believe the elderly Casambre couple would be carrying weapons inside their vehicle.

“All bear the same signs of fabricated charges,” Palabay said.

Atty. Rachel Pastores, lawyer for the Casambres said the arrest was carried out by “peace spoilers” who betray government’s insincerity in the peace negotiations.

“We now fear for the safety of others involved in the peace talks. Among them, [our] clients Alexander and Winona Birondo who were part of the NDFP delegation and whose cases were recently dismissed by a Quezon City trial court. The Birondo spouse have reported intense surveillance and harassment,” Pastores said.

By harassing and rounding up all peace consultants and unnecessarily demonizing them, the PNP exploits their badges as law enforcers, and aids and abets the scuttling of the peace talks, Pastores said.

Zarate added it is tragic and ironic that Casambre, who is pushing for the resumption of the peace talks and who even attended the Congress hearing for the approval of the resolution for the resumption of the negotiations, is the one behind bars while hawks pushing for war are even promoted by Duterte.

“The Duterte administration is ill-advised if they think that the armed conflict can be solved with this type of modus and a purely military solution without addressing the roots of the armed conflict,” Zarate said.

‘Ludicrous’

The NDFP Negotiating Panel for its part said Casambre’s arrest is unjust and ludicrous that virtually closes the doors to any possibility of resuming the peace negotiations with the Duterte regime.

NDFP’s chief negotiator Fidel Agcaoili said the charges against Casambre related to an incident in Lupon, Davao Oriental on September 13 this year involve others who are currently experiencing “intense harassment and surveillance.”

The others have assisted the NDFP Negotiating Panel in various capacities as resource persons, writers, researchers and staff during the peace negotiations, Agcaoili said.

“To ensure the smooth resumption of the formal peace talks, the detained peace consultants should be released immediately,” he added. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

‘Binabantaan ng pag-aresto’

“Ang NDFP ay ginagawa ang lahat ng paraan para buhayin ang usapang pangkapayapaan. Kahit ang mga peace negotiator ang pumupunta dito, pero sila ay binabantaan pa rin ng pag aresto.”–Renato Reyes Jr, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan secretary general

(Meme by Carlo Francisco)

Military wants to take over OPAPP, Joma says

National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison said the issue of corruption that led to the resignation of Presidential peace adviser Jesus Dureza is a mere pretext in order for President Rodrigo Duterte to close all doors to the peace negotiations.

Asked to comment on Dureza’s resignation, Sison said that Duterte also wants to place the billions of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) and its Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan (PAMANA) program under corrupt politicians and the military.

“The issue of corruption is a mere pretext because the Office of the President is anyway the stinking center of corruption,” Sison told Kodao.

Sison said the “racket” in PAMANA is also in the invention of fake beneficiaries and in favouring some local politicians.

“The military officers and some mayors have become notorious for pocketing privately E-CLIP (Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program) funds for fake surrenderers. Now, they want to take over the PAMANA under OPAPP,” he said.

Dureza resigned as Presidential peace adviser Tuesday (November 27) for failing to curb corruption at the OPAPP after Duterte publicly fired Undersecretary for Support Services Ronald Flores and Assistant Secretary for PAMANA Yeshton Donn Baccay in a speech in Panglao Island, Bohol Monday.

But Sison said the real issue is the military’s desire to control OPAPP to prevent serious  peace negotiations with the NDFP.

This is made clear by Duterte’s announcement of the formation of death squads with the license to kill just anyone who is suspected of being or still becoming NPA.

“Duterte is absolutely crazy in announcing he is forming death squads with the license to kill any istambay (loiterers), any critic, any activist or just anyone whom the death squads suspect or think of becoming or being NPA,” Sison said.

“He wants Oplan Kapayapaan to compete with Oplan Tokhang in murdering thousands of people,” he added.

Sison added that Duterte is obviously becoming desperate because Oplan Kapayapaan has failed to defeat the NPA in the guerrilla fronts.

“Not a single guerrilla front has been destroyed even in Mindanao where he has concentrated 75 of his total of 98 maneuver battalions under conditions of martial law. Duterte has gone out of his mind,” Sison said.

Sison further echoed Caloocan Catholic Bishop Pablo Virgilio David’s observation that the President is mentally sick.

“He needs psychiatric help and should be removed from his position,” Sison said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)