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GRP agents arrest NDFP peace consultant Renante Gamara

A National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace consultant was arrested by combined police, military and intelligence agents Wednesday night two days after President Rodrigo Duterte dissolved his government’s negotiating panel with the Left.

Renante Gamara, NDFP peace consultant for the National Capital Region, was arrested by the Regional Special Operations Unit of the National Capital Region Police Office-Philippine National Police, Philippine Army and intelligence agents last night and was first brought to Camp General Pantaleon Garcia in Imus, Cavite.

An alert from peasant group Kasama-Timog Katagalugan said Gamara and his captors arrived at the camp at around 10:30 in the evening but left at about 11:06 in the evening.

The group said they have yet to know where Gamara was arrested.

Human rights workers who reportedly tried to check on Gamara were refused entry to the camp and were forced to keep vigil outside the gates throughout last night.

Their pictures were also reportedly taken by police officers.

This morning, a source close to Gamara’s family told Kodao that the peace consultant is currently detained at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City.

Gamara was among the NDFP peace consultant released in August 2016 to participate in formal peace negotiations in Europe.

Gamara’s re-arrest brings to four the number of NDFP peace consultants behind bars.

Adelberto Silva, Vicente Ladlad and Rey Claro Casambre were arrested in succession late last year after repeated attempts to revive the stalled peace talks between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the NDFP failed.

Rafael Baylosis was first arrested in January 2018 but was eventually released last January 18 after the Quezon City Regional Trial Court threw out trumped-up charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives against him.

Twelve days later, NDFP peace consultant Randy Felix Malayao was killed inside a bus in Aritao, Nueva Vizcaya last January 30.

Last Monday, March 18, Duterte dissolved the GRP Negotiating Panel and fired all its members.

In a statement Wednesday, new Presidential peace adviser Carlito Galvez Jr. said the GRP has suspended the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) that should provide immunity to peace negotiators from arrest and harassment.

The NDFP for its part has repeatedly said that the JASIG remains in place until a month after both parties have mutually and formally agreed to finally end the peace process in accordance with agreed-upon procedures.  # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Duterte dissolves GRP peace panel; NDFP not surprised

President Rodrigo Duterte dissolved the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) Negotiating Panel with the Left led by Department of Labor and Employment secretary Silvestre H. Bello III.

Along with Bello, panel members Hernani Braganza, Atty. Angela Librado-Trinidad, Atty. Rene Sarmiento and Atty. Antonio Arellano were terminated as of Monday, March 18.

In a statement, Presidential peace adviser Carlito Galvez Jr. said their termination will pave the way for the creation of a new panel that will focus on the so-called localized peace engagements.

“The discontinuance of the services of the members of the GRP panel is in line with the termination of peace talks with the [National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP)],” Galvez said.

Galvez added they will reconstitute the panel that will implement the government’s whole-of-nation approach.

He said that Duterte has also ordered the review of past agreements with the NDFP.

During the National Peace and Order Council meeting four days earlier in Davao City, Duterte announced he will reconstitute the panel.

“I will reconstitute the panel. This time, it will have a military and police component. And civilians, mga professor,” Duterte said last March 14.

Duterte has ordered the termination of the negotiations through Proclamation 360 in November 2017.

‘Anticipated move’

NDFP chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison said they have anticipated the GRP’s move as Duterte has no interest in the peace negotiations.

“He has always schemed to use the armed conflict as an excuse for carrying out martial law nationwide and for railroading charter change to a bogus kind of federalism in order to realize and impose fascist dictatorship on the Filipino people,” Sison said.

Sison said the Duterte regime has completely ignored the consistent NDFP policy of openness to peace negotiations “because of his obsession to establish a fascist dictatorship and his pipe dream of destroying the people’s revolutionary movement by military means.”

Sison added it is totally Duterte’s responsibility that he gives no choice to the people’s revolutionary movement but to single-mindedly wage and intensify all forms of struggle.

NDFP chief negotiator Fidel Agcaoili for his part said it is Duterte’s prerogative to choose his negotiators.

Agcaoili, however, expressed his wish that new GRP negotiators are committed to addressing the roots of the armed conflict.

“The GRP should be wise enough to choose those who are willing or committed to address the roots of the armed conflict in order to attain a just and lasting peace as Sec. Bello has shown in the long years that he has been a consultant, member and then chairperson of the GRP panel since 1994,” Agcaoli said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Groups vow to seek justice for Malayao’s assassination

Friends of National Democratic Front of the Philippines peace consultant Randy Felix Malayao gathered earlier today to commemorate the 40th day since his assasination and to commit to pursuing justice for the slain activist.

 “We take this occasion to once again look at the profound loss we suffer and to commit ourselves in seeking justice for his death,” the groups said in a statement marking the 40th day since Malayao’s murder, a widespread practice among Filipino Christians.

In a brief program, the groups, including representatives from Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN)-allied organizations and Beta Sigma Fraternity, discussed updates on investigations being conducted on Malayao’s murder.

BAYAN chairperson Carol Araullo presented highlights of a preliminary investigation conducted by the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) in Cagayan Valley recommending  than an “impartial and thorough probe must proceed.”

“The initial findings obtained by the family show that the CHR does not accept claims that Randy’s death was part of an internal [Communist] Party purge carried out by the New People’s Army,” the groups said.

“The initial findings point out that Randy has ‘no known enemy or personal grudge to any other plain civilian/s except for the military intelligence who usually monitor his activities,’” they added.

The CHR report also says Malayao’s killing appears to have been carried out by “experts” and may be related to his work as peace consultant of the NDF, the groups revealed.

They also condemned the Philippine National Police (PNP)  in Region II for seeking “to tarnish Randy’s memory with vile and unsupported accusations.”

“The PNP in Region II rushed to cast aspersions against the victim even before a proper investigation has been conducted,” they said.

Friends also announced that at least three publications are being produced to honor Malayao they said are hoped to be in circulation before the victim’s 50th birth anniversary in August.

“The Justice for Randy Campaign is duly formed and ready to work just as hard as our friend, colleague and brother for justice,” they said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Rotary peace award honors Rey Claro Casambre and Randy Felix Malayao

The Rotary Club of Fort Bonifacio Global City honored two National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) consultants with peace awards for their dedication and contributions to bringing about just and lasting peace in the country in a ceremony at the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay City last February 27.

Relatives of detained NDFP consultant Rey Claro Casambre and slain consultant Randy Felix Malayao received the Akap Tanggol Kapayaan and Akap Bayani ng Kapayapaan awards respectively.

Raul Francia, President of the Rotary Club-Fort Bonifacio Global City said that Casambre and Malayao were recognized for their contribution in helping build bridges for peace.

They are advocates and peace warriors in their respective fields, Francia added.

Other awardees included Sowing The Seeds of Peace convenor and Archbishop Fernando Capalla, Mohager Iqbal of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, former OPAPP Secretary Jesus Dureza and government chief negotiator Silvestre Bello III. (Video by Joseph Cuevas/ Kodao)

Accusing lawyers as communists sets them up to be killed—Agcaoili

Accusing progressive lawyers of being under the direct control of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) is setting them up to be killed, National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) Negotiating Panel chairperson Fidel Agcaoili said.

Reacting to a February 27 Philippine News Agency (PNA) report that he has the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) directly under his command, Agcaoili said the accusation by the so-called “No to Communist Terrorist Group Coalition” has a more sinister objective.

“[The accusation] is meant to smear any organization or individual to set them up for the kill, as has been shown in many cases in the past such as those of NDFP consultant Randy Malayao and NUPL lawyer Benjamin Ramos,” Agcaoili said in a statement.

In a PNA report, the coalition accused Agcaoili of using the NUPL to lawyer for accused communists facing legal complaints so that “top-level” rebels are shielded.

“Agcaoili handles the legal affairs of the [communists] and he has the NUPL directly under his command,” the group alleged.

The Left’s chief negotiator, however, denied the allegations, adding the PNA report was also mistaken in saying he is a lawyer.

“For the record, I am not a lawyer, never had the ambition to be one despite coming from a family of lawyers. So I have nothing to do with the [NUPL], though some of its members happen to be legal consultants of the NDFP Negotiating Panel even before the organization was founded, as well as legal counsels of detained NDFP consultants and political prisoners,” Agcaoili said.

“Such happenstance does not make NUPL a so-called front of the [CPP] nor are the concerned lawyers as members of the Party,” he added, challenging his accusers of proving their accusations.

“In accordance with due process, it is for any court of law, be it revolutionary or reactionary, to determine the truth of such allegations through competent and admissible evidence and not through manufactured witnesses or planted evidence like what is brazenly happening now,” Agcaoili said.

Agcaoili in turn accused the coalition of being part of “the GRP security cluster [that] are having a heyday in engaging in a wild frenzy of anti-communist witch hunting against legal democratic organizations, individuals and the parliamentary opposition.”

“They have even become bold enough to disrespect and challenge the pronouncements of their commander-in-chief. But I leave it up to them to sort out their differences,” Agcaoili said, referring to a recent pronouncement by Government of the Republic of the Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte that he may be allowed back into the country. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

International club honors NDFP’s Randy Malayao and Rey Casambre with peace awards

Rotary International honored two National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) consultants—one recently martyred, the other in jail—with peace awards in a ceremony at the Philippine International Convention Center Wednesday, February 27.

Felix Randy Malayao, brutally shot to death while asleep inside a bus in Nueva Vizcaya last January 30, and Rey Claro Casambre, arrested while on his way home by police and military agents last December 7,  were given Ang Kapayapaan (Akap) Awards by the club’s International District 3830 based in Fort Bonifacio Global City.

The district’s Akap Awards is given to individuals and groups for their distinct contribution in advancing the cause of peace, the club said.

Rotary International’s Ang Kapayapaan Awards poster.

“This is specifically intended to pay tribute to the advocates of the resolution of the homegrown armed conflict on our soil,” Rotary Club District 3830 president Raul M. Francia said in a letter to Malayao’s family.

The awards is one of Rotary International’s many ways to inspire others to be of greater service to humanity and give modest share to the arduous task of bringing about sustainable peace, he added.  

As NDFP consultants, Malayao and Casambre were NDFP’s most active advocates, attending numerous peace forums in the Philippines and abroad.

Both attended formal peace negotiations in Europe since August 2016 as well as working group meetings in the Philippines.

Relatives of Randy Malayao receive the award in his behalf. (Photo by Joseph Cuevas/Kodao)

The two awardees participated in the crafting of land reform and rural development as well as national industrialization and economic development agreements with the government peace panel.

But Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) President Rodrigo Duterte issued Proclamation No. 360 in November 2017 terminating peace negotiations with the NDFP.

In a bid to restart negotiations, the NDFP and GRP negotiating panels jointly crafted a stand down agreement in June 2018 as well as guidelines and procedures of an interim peace agreement and a draft amnesty proclamation for hundreds of political prisoners.

Duterte again cancelled the negotiations after, however, forcing most other NDFP peace consultants to take safety precautions, preventing them from carrying duties related to the peace negotiations.

NDFP consultants Adelberto Silva and Vicente Ladlad were arrested by government forces in October and November 2018 respectively.

Another consultant, Rafael Baylosis was arrested in January 2018 but was released earlier this year after the Quezon City Regional Trial Court dismissed charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives against him.

Only Malayao and Casambre remained available for numerous speaking engagements mostly organized by church groups and schools until the latter’s arrest and the former’s assassination.

Rey Casambre’s daughter and sister receive the award in his behalf. (Photo by Joseph Cuevas/Kodao)

Last week, Duterte again hinted he is open to restarting the peace negotiations.

Rotary’s other Akap awardees included Government of the Republic of the Philippines chief negotiator Silvestre H. Bello III, resigned Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza, Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s Mohagher Igbal and former Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines and Davao Archbishop Emeritus Fernando Capalla. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

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. #