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Groups condemn red-tagging of 2 CDO journalists

Media groups condemned the worsening attacks against the press in the Philippines following the death threat against Mindanao Gold Star Daily associate editor Leonardo Vicente Corrales, who is also alleged to have a P1 million bounty on his head.

In a press conference, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) raised concerns over the red-tagging of Corrales, along with veteran journalist Froilan Gallardo of MindaNews.

On August 27, Corrales received flyers sent via courier service alleging that both him and Gallardo are members of the Communist Party of the Philippines and New People’s Army.

The courier packet, sent on August 24, identified the sender as Danilo Tirso Mantangan of Sitio Camansi, Lagonglong, Misamis Oriental with mobile phone number 09091020123.

“It’s an attempt to brand journalists as combatant parties of the conflict, instead of journalists and civilians,” NUJP Western Mindanao safety officer JB Deveza said.

Deveza pointed out that the flyers also attacked the credibility of the journalists by describing them as “biased” and “supporters of terrorist organizations.”

“We expect that this is not going away soon,” Deveza said, explaining the need “to express our outrage and for the state to do something about it.”

“It does not only endanger the life of our colleagues but also depriving the community of fair and unbiased reporting,” he added.

Conflict journalists

Gallardo, who has covered the various conflicts of Mindanao for since the 1980s, said he was included in the ongoing red-tagging of journalists, lawyers, church workers and activists for having recently interviewed the New People’s Army about a raid they carried out in August.

“We cannot just write the government’s side, but also the rebels’,” Gallardo said.

“If they think that by doing this they would kill the idea of journalism, they thought wrong”

Gallardo said journalists are duty-bound to get the side of rebels in the many conflicts in Mindanao as they are expected to interview government armed forces as well.

“We fail to get both sides of the story, then we are no good as journalists,” Gallardo explained.

Predicate to ‘terrorism’

Former NUJP chair Inday Espina-Varona said journalists do not work in a vacuum and called the attacks part of a national government policy stemming from President Rodrigo Duterte’s vow to “crush Asia’s longest running communist insurgency.”

“Actually, he (Duterte) had given himself his own deadline of June 2019, so there is a sense of urgency now,” she said, adding that the red-tagging on Gallardo and Corrales are connected and appeared to be in line with government’s efforts to amend the Human Security Act.

Among others, this could lead to the classification of journalists’ interviews of persons or groups tagged as terrorist as “an accessory to crime and to terrorism.”

“There is a strong attempt from government officials to not allow this (interviews with rebels) anymore because it is deemed to be giving succor to their enemies,” Varona said.

“The government’s view is: if you don’t want to be red-tagged then you need to condemn certain parties, which is not what a journalist does,” she added.

Making journalists vulnerable

Varona said the sedition charges filed against opposition figures, which stemmed from a bogus ouster matrix Malacañan Palace itself released, makes journalists vulnerable as it opens the possibility of their inclusion in the case.

“There’s a lot of institutional repression, but it’s not just enough to say ‘let’s wait for a law or a campaign’ because these attacks are not a joke and should be taken very seriously. They should be laid at the feet of a government that consistently failed to recognize these threats,” she said.

Jonathan de Santos, NUJP National Capital Region chair stressed that journalists are civilians and should not be labelled as belonging to any side in the conflict for simply doing their jobs. He added that if this can happen to journalists, it could happen to anyone.

Ms. Azenath Formoso of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) read spokesperson, Atty. Jacqueline Ann C. de Guia, CHR spokesperson, calling attacks on journalists attacks on people’s right to the truth and to be fully informed.

The CHR It also echoed calls for security forces in Cagayan de Oro and Northern Mindanao to investigate the red-tagging and ensure the safety of targeted individuals.

The College Editors’ Guild of the Philippines (CEGP), meanwhile, said the attacks against Corrales and Gallardo extend to the ranks of the campus press.

“Military intelligence agents infiltrate campuses all over the country and take pictures of student publication offices,” CEGP national secretariat member Trixia Amboy said during the press conference.

In a statement, the Philippine Press Institute (PPI) for its part called the red-tagging of Corrales and Gallardo “baseless and irresponsible.”
This does not only endanger the profession and render chilling effect but also put the lives of those red-tagged and their families at risk,” PPI said.

“We urge the government to hold accountable the perpetrators of such false, malicious and dangerous propaganda,” PPI added. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

CDO journalists, priest, lawyers red-tagged anew; bounty on journalist ‘first-ever’

Two journalists in Mindanao were again red-tagged, one threatened with death with a P1 million bounty on his head.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) said Leonardo Vicente “Cong” Corrales, associate editor of the Mindanao Gold Star Daily, was again named in a new anonymous red-tagging material, along with respected veteran journalist Froilan Gallardo of Mindanews and several other Cagayan de Oro personalities and organizations.

“On Wednesday, August 28, we were informed that new anonymous red tagging material against several personalities in Cagayan de Oro, similar to the earlier flyers and banners, had been received, this time from a courier service, by Iglesia Filipina Independiente priest Fr. Rolando Abejo and a city hall employee who had also been red tagged earlier,” the NUJP said in a statement.

Part of the red-tagging material targeting Corrales.

Corrales had repeatedly been included in red-tagging materials distributed around Cagayan de Oro this year, accusing the former NUJP director of membership or links to the communist armed movement.

The red-tagging also previously included his wife and son.

A flyer from a “Black Mamba,” purportedly of the “MAT-NMR Press Club Chapter,” claims there is a P1 million bounty for the death of Cong.

The alleged bounty on Corrales may be the first on a journalist, NUJP sources said.

The courier packet that contained the flyer targeting Corrales identified the sender as Danilo Tirso Mantangan of Sitio Camansi, Lagonglong, Misamis Oriental with mobile phone number 09091020123.

The packet received by a Cagayan de Oro City Hall employee Evelyn Naguio, who was earlier red-tagged herself, on August 28.

The flyer intended for Fr. Abejo also included a list of organizations and personalities supposedly linked to the rebels. Gallardo was included in this list.

The materials received by Fr. Abejo also named human rights lawyer Beverly Musni and her daughter and colleague Czarina.

Asked by the NUJP what he could have done to earn so much hatred as to seek his death, Cong said the only reason he knows is a column he wrote on the treatment Higaonon evacuees from Sitio Camansi, Barangay Banglay in Lagonglong town, Misamis Oriental had received when they descended on Cagayan de Oro to seek help from the provincial government.

Gallardo for his part said he might have been targeted because he had recently interviewed the New People’s Army on a raid in which they seized a number of weapons from security guards of Minergy Power Corporation.

“But whatever they may have done, there is nothing that justifies such harassment and vilification and, in the case of Cong, an actual death threat,” the NUJP said.

“It is not as if our colleagues have not alerted and sought the help of local officials and the local security community,” the group added.

In July, representatives of the Cagayan de Oro Chapter of the NUJP, the Cagayan de Oro Press Club and church organizations held a dialogue with local government officials to stop the red-tagging of personalities and organizations in the city.

No concrete action has yet materialized as a result of the dialogue.

“We hold that the reason the red tagging, particularly of Cong, has worsened to actually turn potentially deadly is because of the apparent lack of interest of local government and security units to protect those so threatened and to go after and prosecute those responsible for this clearly dangerous vilification,” the NUJP statement said.

The NUJP demanded that authorities and security forces in Cagayan de Oro and Northern Mindanao ensure the safety of other journalists who find themselves in danger because of red tagging.

“We urge our colleagues in Cagayan de Oro and Northern Mindanao to close ranks and join us demand from your local government and security officials the protection you are entitled to,” the NUJP said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Lumad leader, mother of seven, killed in Bukidnon

By Davao Today

DAVAO CITY, Philippines — A Lumad woman leader is the 14th victim of extrajudicial killings against indigenous peoples defender in the province of Bukidnon.

The Kalumbay Regional Lumad Organization reported that Bai Leah Tumbalang, 45, a Tigwahanon leader from San Fernando town of Bukidnon, was gunned down last Friday, Aug. 23 in Valencia City by riding in tandem gunmen suspected to be military agents.

According to the report, a witness claimed that two men riding a motorcycle was seen tailing the victim before she was shot in her forehead, causing her immediate death.

Kalumbay identified Tumbalang, mother of seven, as an active member of Kaugalingong Sistema Igpapasindog Tu Lumadnong Ogpaan (KASILO), a local Lumad and peasant organization in Bukidnon. She is also an organizer of Bayan Muna.

Tumbalang was reported to have received a death threats prior to her death.

Since 2011, Tumbalang and other KASILO members have been receiving threats to their lives as they lead the opposition against the deployment of paramilitary groups believed to be backed by mining interest in their communities.

Former KASILO secretary general Jimmy Liguyon was shot to death in that year by suspected paramilitary members after defending the ancestral domain from an expansion of a plantation project.

Kalumbay condemned the death of Tumbalang, whom they said is the 14th victim of summary killings of rights advocates in the province this year alone.

On August 12, Jeffrey Bayot, a KASILO member was also gunned down by motorcycle-riding men.

Four days before Bayot’s death, similar shooting incident also happened on August 9, killing another member of the group, Alex Lacay. #(davaotoday.com)

4 Mindanao artists seek deeper roots in national art scene

Mindanao-based artists aim to gain greater foothold in the national art scene with a second exhibit at Gallery 9 of the SM Megamall on August 15 to 19.

Entitled “Punla” (seedling), artists Victor Espinosa, Pinx Gaspe, Jag Bueno and Kublai Millan headline the exhibit, the second in a series of shows that follows the first called “Sibol” (sprout) last May.

The four artists from Davao have different backgrounds and use different media. 

‘Bong’ Espinosa is a seasoned painter whose rich oil and acrylic murals and painting have graced exhibits abroad. Considered a seasoned veteran who has mounted solo exhibitions from Davao, Metro Manila and USA since 2006, Espinosa won the Asian Artists scholarship grant at the Vermont Studio Center in 2008.  In 2010, he sustained Private Artist Residency Program in New Jersey through fund raising events. An architecture graduate of University of Mindanao, Bong has art in his genes with his father as his mentor. Eventually, he developed his own style in mixed media, notable for spontaneous bursts of embossed colors and strokes, harmonious with Mindanao’s diverse colors and groups. 

Come-backing sculptor Gaspe uses recycled sawdust and styrofoam. He has been in the art scene in Davao for decades and was mentored by internationally renowned Davao artist Bert Monterona who exposed him to social relevant art. This influence led Pinx to be the first artist to exhibit works on HIV-AIDS awareness for Davao in the early 1990s, and carried this on as a member of the Lakbay Diwa group which figured in local exhibits for environment and indigenous peoples’ advocacies.  Seeing art as an expensive medium, Pinx incorporated innovation and resourcefulness by using recycled materials in his backyard. In creating sawdust and styropor, he uses adhesives to produce a durable finish for his latest works.  His sculptures of the Lumad and Moro are imbibed with socially relevant themes of heritage, farm life, environmentalism and the pains of war.

Gaspe’s “Mga Mukha”

Newcomer Bueno is fast becoming known for his bas relief sculptures and portraits. He hones his skills from woodcraft figurines and evolved into making life-sized mixed media sculptures depicting Mindanao social realities.  Bueno has since focused in making bas relief sculptures and portraits of the Mindanao common folk. He credits his background in Assumption High School of Davao for his early exposure to  the lives of the rural and urban poor areas, who are the subject of his bas relief portraits marked with color and expressive lines in the faces of farmers, workers, Lumad and Moro people.  He is one of rising artists in the Davao art scene after joining group exhibits in the past years.

Bueno’s “Bas Relief”

Leading the group is internationally renowned sculptor Millan who is noted for his “Risen Christ” at the Tagum City Cathedral, the “Kampilan” honoring Sultan Kudarat and the Durian Monument at the Davao International Airport. A graduate of UP Fine Arts, he first broke in the art scene by converting his family’s hotel Ponce Suites into his art museum with mixed media works from art, photography to sculpture.  He said he has found art and immersion in indigenous communities as a way of connecting to the roots of Mindanao and wants to share this to the world.

“Punla” the exhibit finds the artists seeking new grounds by planting their raw vibrant Mindanao art of rich colors, textures and stark realities into the minds of the Manila art scene. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Army holds, harasses Lumad protesters in Surigao Sur

Nearly 200 Lumad are being held by the Philippine Army in Surigao del Sur to prevent them from participating in a rally on the occassion of President Rodrigo Duterte’s fourth State of the Nation Address (SONA) in Tandag City today, human rights group Karapatan said in an alert.

The group said 36th Infantry Battalion-Philippine Army soldiers in full battle gear put up a check point at Barangay Gamut, Tago town to prevent the Lumad from attending the local People’s SONA protests Surigao del Sur’s capital city today.

Rico Maca and 36th IBPA soldiers at this morning’s checkpoint. (Karapatan-Caraga photo)

Around 15 soldiers in full battle gear put up the check point and were joined by intelligence officers in civilian clothing and Philippine National Police officers, Karapatan’s Caraga chapter said in its alert.

The soldiers ordered the Lumad to alight from their habal-habal motorcycles and told to assemble on the side of the road from four to eight o’clock this morning, the group said.

Karapatan said the soldiers later called up controversial local Indigenous People Municipal Representative to the National Commission on the Indigenous Peoples Rico Maca who arrived on board a white van after just 30 minutes.

Maca confiscated the Lumad’s identification cards and proceeded to check each from his book of photos of alleged New People’s Army rebels.

“Ah, nakaila ko ani. Mga pulang araw man mo! Mga rebelde mo! Solid na sila didto sa Purok 8 [Tambonon, Bolhoon, San Miguel,” Maca reportedly exclaimed. [A, I know you people. You are “red suns”. You are rebels. You are already solid here in Area 8.)

Maca was alleged to be connected to the paramilitary group led by a Hasmin Acevedo operating in barangays Umalag, Saigao, Caromata in San Miguel town, Surigao del Sur.  He frequently joins patrol missions of the 36th IBPA that harasses Lumad communities in San Miguel.

He was among the three self-declared datus presented by Malacañan Palace to the media last September 2015.

Rico Maca (Second from left), with his fellow Malacañan-declared datus and their handler Arthur Tariman of the National Alliance for Democracy (Third from left). [File photo/R. Villanueva]

Photos and videos of the Lumad were taken and their names were listed in a military logbook, Karapatan said.

Many of the participants are still being held at the checkpoint while their motorcycles have been impounded, the group reported.

Progressive groups all over the country are conducting protest rallies against Duterte today. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

(This is a developing story. Refresh for updates.)

Pagpapasara sa 55 Lumad Schools, binatikos

Sumugod sa opisina ng Department of Education (DepEd) Central Office sa Pasig City noong Hulyo 17 ang mga progresibong grupo para batikusin ang desisyon ng ahensiya sa ginawa nitong suspensyon sa 55 kampus ng Salugpongan Ta’ Tanu Igkanogon Community Learning Schools sa Southern Mindanao.

Ayon sa Save Our Schools (SOS) Network, malinaw na hindi suspensyon ang layunin ng DepEd kundi tuluyang pagpapasara sa mga nasabing eskwelahan.

Mababaw umano ang basehan ni DepEd Secretary Leonor Briones na suspensyon at batay lamang sa salaysay ni National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr.

Dagdag pa ng SOS Network, ginagawang lehitimo lamang ng DepEd ang walang humpay na pag-atake ng AFP sa mga eskwelahan ng Lumad.

Marami na anilang paaralang Lumad ang pwersahang ipinasara ng militar sa mahigit dalawang taon ng martial law sa Mindanao. (Music: News Background Bidyo ni: Joseph Cuevas/ Kodao)

Batas militar sa Mindanao, muling binatikos

Isang Black Friday Protest ang isinagawa ng mga progresibong grupo sa ikalawang taong anibersaryo ng batas militar sa Mindanao noong Mayo 24 sa Mendiola sa Maynila.

Ayon sa kanila, ang patuloy na pag-iral ng batas militar sa Mindanao ay nagdulot ng malaking pinsala sa kabuhayan ng mamamayan.

Nanawagan sila na itigil na ito.

Batay sa tala ng grupong Karapatan, umaabot sa 93 ang kaso ng extra-judicial killings, 35 na torture, 348, 081 bombings sa mga komunidad at 423,538 na forced evacuations sa loob ng dalawang taong pag-iral ng batas militar sa isla.

May kaso naman nang 79 na paaralang Lumad ang pwersahang ipinasara ng mga militar kung saan apektado ang 2,728 na mga mag-aaral at guro batay sa tala ng Save Our Schools network.

Ayon naman sa Moro Christian Peoples Alliance, ang tunay na layunin ng martial law lalo na sa Marawi City ay pagpapasok ng mga malalaking negosyanteng dayuhan tulad ng China at US.

Matatandaan na noong Mayo 23, 2017 ay idineklara ni Presidente Rodrigo Duterte ang martial law sa Mindanao sa pag-uumpisa ng labanan ng militar at grupong Maute.

Pinalawig ito sa mga sumunod na taon ng mababang kongreso at pinayagan din ng Korte Suprema. (Bidyo ni: Joseph Cuevas/ Kodao)

Si Ate Melod at ang patuloy na pakikibaka ng SUMIFRU workers

Si Ate Melody “Melod” Gumanoy, 43 taong gulang, ay isa sa mahigit 300 manggagawa ng Sumifru, isang Japanese company sa Mindanao na nag-eexport ng mga prutas. Nagtungo sa Maynila ang mga nagwewelgang manggagawa ng Sumifru upang ipanawagan ang pagpapatigil ng kontraktwalisasyon ng kumpanya.

Mahigit 23 taon nang manggagawa si Melod sa Sumifru. Siya rin ang secretary ng Nagkahiusang Mamumuo sa Suyapa Farm (NAMASUFA-NAFLU-KMU). Nagsimulang magwelga ang mga manggagawa sa iba’t ibang planta ng Sumifru noong Oktubre 1, 2018, dahil ito sa pagmamatigas ng management ng kanilang kumpanya na gawin silang regular.

Sa kawalang suporta ng LGU sa kanilang lugar sa Compostela, Compostela Valley at patuloy na pandarahas sa kanila sa ilalim ng batas militar sa Mindanao, sa Maynila na nila ipinagpapatuloy ang kanilang laban. Isa lamang si Ate Melod sa marami pang kababaihang manggagawa na biktima ng hindi patas ang pagtrato, walang sapat na sahod at hanggang ngayon ay kontrakwal pa rin.

Patuloy na ipinaglalaban ng mga manggagawa ng Sumifru ang kanilang karapatan sa sapat na sahod, regularisasyon at pagkakaroon ng sapat at tamang benipisyo para sa mga kababaihan at matatanda. (Bidyo ni: Jo Maline D. Mamangun/ Kodao)

Mindanao Bishops ask Duterte to stop attacks against IFI

The Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI) in Mindanao published an open letter to President Rodrigo Duterte asking him to stop ongoing harassment against their clergy in the island.

Gathering in Cagayan de Oro City last March 25 and 26 for a conferential meeting with the Church’s Supreme Bishop, the Most Reverend Rhee M. Timbang, the 14 IFI bishops they have been attacked through red tagging, vilification, surveillance, harassment and intimidation and worse, killings they suspect are the handiwork of government security forces.

“We saw at the highways and even walls of our churches desecrated with graffiti maligning the IFI and its leaders, Bishop Antonio Ablon of Pagadian and Bishop Felixberto Calang of Cagayan de Oro,” their letter said.

The bishops said the most recent attack against their Church happened last February 22 where leaflets or hit list bearing names of the bishops including that of Fr. Chris Ablon, Fr. Rolando Abejo, Fr. Khen Apus and their friends openly identified these people as members of underground revolutionary groups.

“This baseless and malicious accusation strongly believed to be orchestrated by state forces has openly identified these people as members of the CPP-NPA-NDFP (Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front of the Philippines).

“We as episcopal leaders of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente in Mindanao are very much alarmed that wanton extra judicial killings may fall on our church leaders. God forbid!” they said.

The bishops blame Duterte’s martial law in Mindanao for causing the “evil acts” as well as the refusal of the police to investigate their complaints.

“Worse, illegal arrest and detention, trump up charges and forced NPA surrenderees of peasants and lumad who are partners of our church in our community work and mission are conveniently presented to the public as prima facie evidence of the IFI’s and bishops’ affiliation to the rebel group,” they said.

The church leaders also complained that several active church lay leaders now fear for their lives and security as they are constantly under surveillance and are possible subject to warrantless arrest.

The bishops asked Duterte to end the attacks against peasant and labor leaders, against lumad and their communities, against defenders of lumad schools, lawyers, media and the Church.

The letter was signed by Timbang, Ablon, Calang, Cabadbaran Bishop Delfin Callao Jr., Davao Bishop Denny Dapitan, Libertad Bishop Rudy Juliada, Surigao Bishop Noel Lorente, Dinagat Bishop Mervin Jose Elimanco, Siargao Bishop Romeo Tagud, Koronadal Bishop Redeemer Yañez, Tubod Bishop Raul Amorcillo, Cortez Bishop Julius Dacera, Ozamiz Bishop Carlo Morales, Oroquieta Bishop Victor Batoy, and Malaybalay Bishop Gil Dinapo. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Martial law in Mindanao victimizes more Lumad children—NDFP

President Rodrigo Duterte’s martial law in Mindanao, extended for the second straight year this 2019, continues to wreak havoc in the lives of Lumad children, the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) in Southern Mindanao Region said.

In a statement posted on its website today, the NDFP reported that a platoon of the 88th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army accosted and seized 17-year old Loujean Antian Lumbatan, a Grade 7 student of Sinuda High School, and 10-year old Ara Mystica Antian Pangcat, a Grade 5 student of Cabalansihan Elementary School at Sitio Sanggiapo, Brgy Sinuda, Kitaotao in Bukidnon province at around 11:00 in the morning last February 18.

“For no apparent reason, the two unarmed Lumad minors were arrested and held incommunicado at the unit’s camp in Sitio Sanggiapo between 11:00 in the morning and 11:00 in the evening,” the NDFP said.

Early in the afternoon, the parents and some relatives searched frantically for the missing children and proceeded to confront the soldiers but were turned away by the soldiers who insisted they knew nothing of the children’s whereabouts, the group added.

The girls were released in the afternoon of the next day, February 19, but not after being subjected to harrowing interrogation and were brought to the 88th Infantry Battalion headquarters in Maramag, the NDFP said.

The girls reported that they could hear their parent’s voices outside the camp in Sitio Sanggiapo but were warned by the soldiers not to make any sound.

When confronted why they arrested and detained the two girls, the soldiers reportedly claimed they were only after “the[ir] safety,” the NDFP said. 

The Bukidnon incident followed the January 30 seizure of two toddlers, a one-year old and a two-year old, and their subsequent forced separation from their parents and guardians by AFP and PNP troops following a raid on the office of the Misamis Oriental Peasants Association (MOFA) in Villanueva, Misamis Oriental, the group said.

“In Lumad areas in Compostela Valley, Davao del Norte and elsewhere in the Southern Mindanao, bombings, shelling and indiscriminate firing within populated communities by AFP troops and their paramilitaries Bagani and Alamara have terrorized hundreds of children,” the NDFP said in its statement. 

The NDFP also scored the arrest of three civilians of the 71st IB last February 20 at Sitio Binogsayan, Brgy. Napnapan in Pantukan town.

Eddie Avila, Graciano Embalsado and Pulpy Lariwan were later forced to “surrender” as members of the New People’s Army (NPA), even as local government officials insisted that the three were in fact civilians, Rubi del Mundo, NDFP-SMR spokesperson said.

‘Localized peace talks’

But Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) secretary Eduardo Año said the so-called surrenders are real that stem from the continuing success of localized peace talks between local government officials and the revolutionary groups.

“Dahil sa sipag at pagpupursigi ng ating mga local officials, natanggal na ang kaliskis sa mga mata ng mga dating rebelde at naliwanagan na sila,” Año said in a statement posted on the DILG website today, citing the reported surrender of more than 200 alleged Communist supporters in Negros Island last month.

The DILG secretary claimed the creation of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict by Duterte will also lead to more rebel surrenders because of its focus on localized peace engagements.

Año also said DILG’s Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) has disbursed around P488 million in 2018to aid former rebels and their immediate family members

‘PR stunts’

The NPA’s Southern Mindanao Regional Operations Command, however, dismissed government’s claims, saying so-called peace and development outreach programs by the Duterte administration are mere public relations stunts that are part of its psychological war tactics.

“They are in fact mere PR stunts which hold neither a grain of truth nor reflect the sentiments of thousands of Lumad who continue to be victimized by the US-Duterte regime’s hated martial law,” Rigoberto Sanchez, NPA Southern Mindanao Regional Operations Command spokesperson, said.

Sanchez added it eludes common sense that the Lumad and the peasants should support government troops when it is they who seek to destroy their way of living, sell ancestral land to greedy and exploitative capitalists threaten or kill those who opposes them. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)