Retired NDFP consultant ‘abducted’ in Parañaque

A “retired” National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace consultant was “abducted” with four others in Parañaque City, human rights group Karapatan’s Southern Tagalog office reported.

In an alert, Karapatan-Southern Tagalog said retired NDFP peace consultant Ernesto Lorenzo, along with Maria Fe Serrano, their driver Andrei Medina, their aide Plinky Longhas and another unidentified person, were “abducted” by the police while queuing up for COVID-19 vaccines at the Nayong Pilipino mega-vaccination site.

Ernesto Lorenzo attending a rally by Filipino migrant workers in Rome, Italy during a break in the third formal round of peace negotiations between the GRP and the NDFP in January 2017. (Photo by Jola Diones-Mamangun/Kodao)

Lorenzo, the group said, is a Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) protected peace negotiator with identification number 978299 under the assumed name of Lean Martinez.

The JASIG, signed by the NDFP and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) in February 24, 1995, supposedly guarantees that negotiators, personnel and consultants of both the NDFP and the Manila government are immune against reprisals, including surveillance and arrests.

Lorenzo was consultant for Southern Tagalog and attended formal peace negotiations between the NDFP and the Rodrigo Duterte GRP up to January 2017.

He was a member of the NDFP Negotiating Panel’s Reciprocal Working Group on End of Hostilities and Disposition of Forces.

Lorenzo was earlier arrested in July 2015 on charges of destructive arson but was released along with several other jailed NDFP consultants to participate in formal negotiations in Europe.

President Duterte terminated negotiations with the NDFP in 2017 and has since repeatedly vowed to arrest all NDFP consultants who were released for the talks.

Serrano is the widow of former NDFP peace consultant for Mindoro Eduardo Serrano who died in prison in January 2016.

Karapatan-Southern Tagalog said the five’s whereabouts are unknown as of the issuance of its alert.

Davao consultant ‘tortured and murdered’

Meanwhile, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) complained that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) tortured and subsequently murdered NDFP peace consultant for Southern Mindanao Ezequiel Daguman.

CPP chief information officer Marco Valbuena said Daguman was the 20th known revolutionary and peace consultant murdered by the GRP under Duterte.

Valbuena, in an April 2 statement, said Daguman was killed while in the custody of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) after he was abducted last March 7 in New Corella, Davao del Norte.

The AFP announced on March 28 that Daguman was killed in a supposed encounter on March 27 in Maragusan, Davao de Oro.

The CPP said that Daguman was assigned as the peace consultant representing the provinces of Davao del Norte and Davao de Oro whose JASIG identification was signed by the Manila government and the NDFP in 1995.

Valbuena added that Daguman’s death in the hands of government soldiers is proof that he “remained true to the revolutionary cause.”

“The AFP has repeatedly used fake encounters to justify and cover-up the most atrocious crimes against non-combatants and civilians,” Valbuena said, pointing to how NPA spokesperson Jorge Madlos and national commander Menandro Villanueva were also killed by military forces after being arrested.

Both Madlos and Villanueva were reportedly seeking medical care at the time the AFP claimed they died in firefights with government soldiers.

Valbuena added that NDFP peace consultant Edwin Alcid, together with two others, remains at the hands of the AFP and his whereabouts are still unknown since his arrest last March 7 in Barangay San Jose, Catubig, Northern Samar.

“We will hold the officers of the AFP directly responsible for any harm that may befall Alcid and his companions,” Valbuena said.

Valbuena also revealed that they have received information that NDFP peace consultant Esteban Manuel is being kept in solitary confinement in a military camp in Samar after his arrest last February. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

CPP confirms death of NPA national commander

Joma Sison says Villanueva was captured, tortured and executed

[UPDATED] The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) confirmed the death of New People’s Army’s (NPA) national commander Menandro Villanueva but said he and one other were captured alive last Christmas eve and later summarily executed by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

CPP founding chairperson Jose Maria Sison in his tribute said Villanueva and one Sandra Reyes were captured alive last December 24-25 but were later declared killed in separate incidents.

“But Ka [Comrade] Sandra (Reyes) would be reported to the press by the reactionary military as killed in action on December 25,” Sison, quoting a report from the CPPs Mindanao Commission, said.

“On January 5, 2020, the reactionary military one-sidedly fired several rounds of Howitzer artillery at Libodon, Mabini and despite no encounter with the NPA subsequently claimed on January 6 that Ka Menandro had been killed in action in the non-encounter of January 5, 2022,” he said.

“Obviously, he was tortured for at least ten days before he was murdered,” Sison added.

Sison’s statement countered the announcement by the Eastern Mindanao Command (EastMinCom) of the AFP on Friday that Villanueva was killed in an encounter with government troops.

EastMinCom commander Lt. Gen. Greg Almerol in a statement said Villanueva was one of the founding members of the NPA in Mindanao during the 1970s.

Almerol said that Villanueva became a member of the Kabataang Makabayan as an Ateneo de Manila University student who went underground when Martial Law was declared.

“Villanueva was the longest-serving secretary of the NPA’s Southern Mindanao Regional Committee (SMRC) and currently the secretary of Komisyong Mindanao (KOMMID), commanding officer of the NPA’s National Operations Command (NOC) and member of the POLITBURO (political bureau) of the (CPP),” the military added.

AFP target

Known in the underground revolutionary movement as Ka (Comrade) Bok, Ka Jude and Ka Gipo, Villanueva was around 70 years old at the time of his death, the CPP said.

The CPP said Villanueva had been a long-standing AFP target because he successfully led the Party and its armed revolution in Southern Mindanao from one level to another.

“It is a testament to the strength, resilience, and guerrilla discipline of the NPA, and extensive and deep support of the broad masses for the people’s army that it took the enemy more than a decade—spending billions of pesos in relentless military operations, aerial bombings, artillery shelling, occupation of communities, and terrorizing the peasants and Lumad masses—before it could finally vanquish Ka Bok,” the CPP said.

“His death is mourned by the Party, the NPA and all revolutionary forces, and by the broad masses of workers and peasants, especially the downtrodden people in the hinterlands of the Davao provinces, whom he dearly served over the past several decades,” the CPP added.

The group acknowledged that Villanueva’s death is “a big loss.”

“But this setback is only temporary and will be surmounted in due time. A number of Party cadres and NPA commanders, veterans in people’s war, as well as young leaders trained by Ka Bok and steeled in military and political work, are primed to take his place and perform his duties,” the CPP said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)