85th IBPA suffers casualties in Lopez ambush–NPA

The New People’s Army (NPA) in Quezon said it ambushed troopers of the Philippine Army’s 85th Infantry Battalion in Barangay Cogorin Ibaba, Lopez, Quezon Monday night.

The NPA’s Apolonio Mendoza Command (NPA-AMC) said it ambushed 10 government soldiers on board a truck as well as their reinforcements in two separate fire fights.

While not giving an exact number, the guerrillas said they have confirmed casualties on the state forces while suffering no casualties of their own in the clashes that lasted about 20 minutes.

“The tactical offensive was part of the NPA’s defense of farmers’ communities under the red territory of the revolutionary movement,” the rebels said in Filipino.

“While the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) has opened a new window for the resumption of peace negotiations, its military continues to attack farmers communities, forcing the NPA to launch a counter attack,” NPA-AMC spokesperson Cleo del Mundo added.

Del Mundo said military operations terrorize civilians in the area that disobeys President Rodrigo Duterte’s pronouncements for the creation of an enabling environment before the resumption for formal negotiations between the GRP and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).

“In the past week alone, five barangays in three towns [in Bondoc Peninsula] have been militarized by at least a company-sized contingent of soldiers,” del Mundo said.

The rebel spokesperson said Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) soldiers have descended on Barangays San Francisco B, San Miguel Dao, Veronica and Jongo in Lopez town, Cauayan in Gumaca town, and Bulagsong in Catanauan town.

Del Mundo explained that the farmers could no longer tend to their coconut farms and their farm animals since the AFP launched their military operations last week.

“The residents are also terrorized by the soldiers’ fake census that have resulted in fake surrender ceremonies in the past, as what happened in Barangay Jongo last February where 11 farmers who were paraded before Duterte in Malacañang came from,” del Mundo said.

The AFP website has no statement on the reported clash.

The NPA attack happened less than two weeks before both the NDFP and the GRP are supposed to jointly declare a “stand down” order for both the NPA on one hand and the AFP and the Philippine National Police on the other as a goodwill measure for the resumption of formal peace negotiations in Oslo, Norway.

The NDFP and the GRP are expected to approve an interim peace agreement that would include a coordinated unilateral ceasefire, a general amnesty declaration for about 520 NDFP-listed political prisoners and agrarian reform and rural development as well as national industrialization and economic development agreements at the end of the month.

The parties said the social and economic reform agreements are meant to address the root causes of the armed conflict between NDFP forces and the GRP. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Mindanaoans lead condemnation of Martial Law on its 1st anniversary

In the first anniversary of the declaration of Martial Law in Mindanao, various minority groups gathered at Mendiola to denounce the effectiveness of it in bringing peace in Mindanao.

Pointing its negative effects to the people, Mindanaons led in condemning martial rule in the island, adding the military uses it to further oppress marginalized groups like the Bangsamoro and the Lumad.

Forum: A Year After Duterte’s Declaration of Martial Law in Mindanao

Progressive groups and sectoral organizations held a forum at the University of the Philippines on the anniversary of Rodrigo Duterte’s imposition of martial law in Mindanao.

Bangsamoro groups condemned the continuing imposition of martial law in the entire island of Mindanao, saying military rule is making it harder for the people to live normally.

Groups launch Movement Against Tyranny

Various groups and personalities launched the Movement Against Tyranny in Quezon City today “to unite all freedom-loving Filippines against tyranny and build a broad front to counter the increasing fascism and militarist rule of the (Rodrigo) Duterte government.”

The group approved the manifesto “Stop the Killings, Stand Against Tyranny” that accuses Duterte of unleashing police and police-backed death squads blamed for the the “brutal and murderous war on drugs” that has victimized thousands of mostly poor, small-time drug users and pushers.

Warning the Duterte government is fast unfolding into another despotic regime, the group calls on the public “to take a stand, speak out and act” against the extrajudicial killings and other “blatant acts of tyranny.”

MAT is the broadest alliance of groups yet that opposes Duterte’s war on drug, which include religious and political leaders, human rights organizations, activists, academics, lawyers, journalists and many others.

Lumad children vow to continue education despite threat by Duterte to bomb their schools

Hundreds of Lumad including students are in Metro Manila to attend the State of the Nation Address protests this month. While here, President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to bomb their schools, accusing these to be teaching Communism to indigenous children.

Watch the response of the Lumad children. Read more

OPINION: How Duterte misjudges the Left

President Rodrigo Duterte sprung another surprise tonight by addressing the protest rally outside the House of Representatives after delivering his second State of the Nation Address. It turned out though he too would be surprised by his unprecedented move.

Fresh from delivering a speech in front of an overwhelmingly servile audience, Duterte should have known the leftist protesters would be an entirely different crowd altogether. The protesters he made to wait under pouring rain are tens of thousands of victims of his government’s failed promises and are not the crowd to applaud his rambling speeches and his crude brand of levity.  Furthermore, he should not have expected them to remain silent while he spoke.

Even before he could really launch into his speech, the president was met with chants—something he did not expect to hear, nor want to, for sure. “No to martial law! No to martial law!” the crowd shouted. Duterte reverted to his customary mode and told his audience to shut up and just listen. “Huwag muna! Patapusin mo muna ako diyan!” he said with a dismissive wave of his hand.

The president reminded the drenched crowd he still has leftists in his cabinet.  He said he is only trying to make everyone happy, that he means to spend billions for poor people and agrarian reform would happen given time. He said he does not own government and that he only receives his salary for all that he does.

But those are the words the protesters did not want to hear. They wanted categorical statements on their most pressing problems. “Manggagawang kontraktwal, gawing regular!” the workers shouted. “Militar sa kanayunan, palayasin!” bellowed the Lumad in front of the stage.

It is hard to guess what Duterte was thinking at that point, but he clearly did not like the people telling him what they demand of their president. “E kung ganyan ang turing niyo sa akin, parang kalaban, wala na. ‘Wag na tayong mag-usap!” he said. “Pati ako, gusto niyong patayin…Pag-uwi ko galing Marawi, ambush-in niyo ako,” he added.

There was a brief moment when Duterte lifted the crowd’s spirits up. “Ang relasyon ko sa Left, ok pa,” he said. Inexplicably, he immediately turned it into a threat that definitely did not help any. “Huwag niyong sirain kasi magkasamaan tayo ng loob. Damay ako, damay kayo,” he said.

The crowd responded with another chant of “Peace talks, ituloy!” to which Duterte typically responded, “Hanap kayong maganda diyan, iharap sa akin.” He then again said, “In-ambush niyo ako!” referring to the Arakan, North Cotabato incident last week. It was the first time anyone has heard he was there.

It was clear at this time the protesters wanted a dialogue with Duterte and they did not want to listen to more of what they have already heard him say in his SONA. He should have taken the cue when the crowd affirmatively answered him when he asked if he should release all political prisoners. “Oo!” the crowd roared, but Duterte missed it.

It was immediately after this exchange that Duterte let out what he really wanted to say to the Left. “Kailangan tahimik (kayo). Mag-respetuhan tayo. Huwag niyo akong i-ambush,” he said. Coupled with his earlier statement that the Left should give him time, he really wanted their silence while he focuses on what he says must be done first. The President did not appear before the protesters to listen; he was there to issue an order.

For someone who claims to be a leftist himself and for someone who never tires of reminding the Left of his ties with their comrades in his home region, it was hard to believe he now misjudges them badly. The Left has never made secret its opposition to martial law, the militarization of the countryside, environmental plunder, contractualization of labor, human rights violations and other social ills left unresolved by the Duterte administration. To ask them to be silent, even for just a period of time, is asking for them to be complicit. It is something no one could ever imagine they would, because they never had.

A visibly disappointed Duterte abruptly ended his speech and left the stage in a huff. But he must know, his appearance and speech has left the crowd even more disappointed. “Bakit pa siya pumunta?” was a question many asked as they ended the SONA protest made bizarre by a guest who invited himself. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)


Rights violations victims ask Duterte, ‘Where is change?’

Human rights violations remain rampant during Duterte’s first year in office, people’s rights alliance Karapatan said in a press briefing last July 14 in Quezon City.

Two mothers of drug war victims–Djastin Lopez, 25, and Emer Soriano, 16–Michelle Campos, daughter of slain lumad leader Dionel Campos, and Rodolofo Tagalog Sr., father of peasant killed in Masbate, gave testimonies in the said forum.

Leon Dulce of the environment network Kalikasan presented the Global Witness Report finding the Philippines as the deadliest in Asia for environment and land defenders.

Read more

Lakbayan ng Visayas decries militarization and continuing lack of rehabilitation

Survivors of suptertyphoon Yolanda from Eastern Visayas traveled to Manila to decry the lack of genuine rehabilitation three years after the disaster.

Participants of the Lakbayan ng Visayas said they came to remind President Rodrigo Duterte of his campaign promise to help the survivors, which seems to have been forgotten.

Instead, they now suffer militarization as Armed Forces of the Philippines units are being deployed in their communities, the protesters said. Read more

Yolanda survivors call out Duterte in Mendiola rally

Supertyphoon Yolanda survivors from Eastern Visayas trooped to Mendiola last November 28 to challenge President Rodrigo Duterte to make good on his promise of change.

The Lakbayan ng Visayas (Caravan of the Visayas) arrived in Metro Manila in several buses demanding justice for the previous administration’s failure to provide them relief since 2013.

“Eastern Visayas should have been rehabilitated properly right after what was called the ‘strongest typhoon in history.’ But after three years, we continue to suffer the poverty and hunger due to the governments’ criminal neglect,” People’s Surge chairperson Dr. Efleda Bauista said.

“We are not only here to call for justice for the victims of supertyphoon Yolanda, but also to demand that president Duterte fulfill his promise to help us,” Bautista said.

“They say that poverty has gone down in Eastern Visayas, when the truth is the exact opposite,” Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-Eastern Visayas secretary-general Rey Peralta for his part said.

“Even today, the farmers from the region remain unable to put food on the table and send their children to school because there are still no decent jobs to be found in Eastern Visayas,” Peralta added.


The caravan also called for an end to militarization in the region, citing the military’s gross disrespect of the ongoing respective ceasefire declarations by the Duterte government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.

“Eastern Visayans, already victimized by the typhoon and corruption, consistently get harrassed by the military,” Anakbayan chairperson Vencer Crisostomo said.

“The military in the region even go as far as saying that the ceasefire is only for the NPA, and not them. They refuse to leave the communities and continue to rob and harrass them,” Crisostomo added.

Marcos burial

In Mendiola, the caravan participants condemned the burial of Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.

“The unrepentant Marcoses do not deserve any ounce of rehabilitation. Instead, it is the people of Eastern Visayas who rightly deserve it,” Bautista said.

They further encouraged people to support the upcoming Lakbayan and the people of the Visayas in their struggle.

“We endured the hardships of leaving our families and journeying to Metro Manila to make our demands heard. We hope the people would listen,” Peralta said.

“Before we leave the capital, we expect the Duterte government to provide us with a concrete answer to our problems,” Peralta added.

The caravan participants are staying at the Mabini Campus of the Polytechnic University of the Philippines in Sta. Mesa where are staying for the duration of the Lakbayan. # (Abril Layad B. Ayroso)


Lakbayan 2016 challenge Duterte to end militarization and US intervention

CONVENORS of the Lakbayan ng Pambansang Minorya (Lakbayan) challenged president Rodrigo Duterte’s administration to continue to take action against militarization and United States intervention at a press conference at University of the Philippines-Diliman last October 10. Read more