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CPP: All 19 in ATC list ‘courageous, honorable revolutionaries’

The persons recently designated by the Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC) as terrorists are either poor or have chosen to be poor because of their desire to serve the people, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) said.

In a reaction to the ATC’s designation of 19 of its alleged top leaders as terrorists, the CPP said all those listed are honorable revolutionaries who have served the cause of the Filipino people for national and social liberation all their lives.

“Throughout the past decades, they have courageously stood side by side with the people and struggled against dictators and tyrants. They all have sacrificed personal ambition and selfish interests,” CPP chief information officer Marco Valbuena said in a statement Friday.

Valbuena said those named are now in their sixties and seventies and three of them are in jail even as they are well-known National Democratic Front of the Philippines Negotiating Panel (NDFP) consultants who attended peace negotiations with the Rodrigo Duterte government here and abroad.

The three are Vicente Ladlad, Rey Claro Casambre and Adelberto Silva who have been separately arrested after Duterte cancelled formal peace negotiations and were uniformly charged with the non-bailable offense of illegal possession of firearms and explosives.

“Unlike Duterte, these revolutionaries have only the clothes on their back to count as their wealth. They do not accumulate money from the government nor fleece the people with taxes,” Valbuena said.

The CPP spokesperson added the 19 revolutionaries do not hide money in China or elsewhere and have repeatedly proven themselves to be true to the “people’s cause”.

Aside from Ladlad, Casambre and Silva, the ATC designated NDFP chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison, New People’s Army (NPA) National Operations Command spokesperson Jorge Madlos, NDFP Negotiating Panel interim chairperson Julietta de Lima, NDFP Negotiating Panel Member Benito Tiamzon and NDFP peace consultants Alan Jazmines, Wilma Tiamzon, Ma. Concepcion Araneta-Bocala, Tirso Alcantara, Pedro Codaste, and Loida Magpatoc as so-called terrorists under the controversial Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020.

The list also includes alleged CPP officials Abdias Gaudiana, Dionesio Micabato, Myrna Sularte, Tomas Dominado and Menandro Villanueva.

All 19, except for Sison and Araneta-Bocala, are from lower middle class or poor origins.

Sison was born of a landed and politically-influential family in Ilocos Sur while Araneta-Bocala was of the landlord class in Panay Island.

Both said they rid themselves of their respective families’ economic interests when they joined the revolutionary movement in their youth.

While the 19’s terrorist-designation needs a court order to become official, however, government agencies may freeze their bank accounts and other assets.

Appeal to BSP

Ladlad’s wife Fides Lim said her husband’s only bank account may be frozen by the ATC terrorist listing.

“Vic is a poor man. The only huge deposit or entire property under his name is the compensation he received from the Human Rights Victims’ Claims Board in May 2018,” Lim said Friday, May 14.

Lim said Ladlad’s bank account with the government-controlled Land Bank includes the reparation for his sufferings as a political prisoner during martial law and for the disappearance of his first wife Leticia Pascual Ladlad in November 1975.

Ladlad wants to use his money for the treatment of his various illnesses such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease as well as food support in jail, replacement of his hearing aid reportedly stolen when he was arrested and to extend assistance to his mother who died last December while he was already in jail, Lim said.

Lim, also political detainee support group Kapatid spokesperson, revealed that the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas and its governor Benjamin Diokno may move to freeze Ladlad’s bank account.

“I came from the Land Bank this morning (Friday) and I know what you are up to as the designated chair of the Anti-Money Laundering Act in relation to implementing orders from the Anti-Terrorism Council regarding my husband,” Lim said.

“This is blood money. Don’t be complicit in the McCarthy witchhunting spree of the Anti-Terrorism Council. Only Vic has the right to his compensation claim,” she added.

Lim reminded Diokno that the arresting team pilfered his Land Bank ATM card and used it to steal money when Ladlad was arrested on November 8, 2018.

Lim said she filed a complaint with the Land Bank and it took over a year before she was able to recover what was stolen.

“I will safeguard every centavo of Vic’s deposit in the Land Bank. To BSP Gov. Benjamin Diokno: This is blood money. Don’t be complicit in the McCarthy witchhunting spree of the Anti-Terrorism Council. Only Vic has the right to his compensation claim,” Lim said.

‘Unconstitutional’

Ladlad protested his inclusion in the ATC terror list as a gross violation of his right to due process.

In a statement, Ladlad said he was never informed by the ATV that he has been charged as a “terrorist” and was never given the opportunity to refute the charge.

“I firmly state that I am not a terrorist. It is the Anti-Terrorism Act in its too vague definition of terrorism and its expansive list of “acts of terrorism” that enabled the authorities to easily brand my political

Baylosis for his part said he vehemently decry and object to the ATC resolution designating alleged CPP Central Committee members as so-called terrorists.

“In my case, the latest ATC order disregards an earlier preceding Manila RTC (Regional Trial Court) decision in the third quarter of 2018 that I was not one of the ‘terrorists’ named in the first GRP proscription suit against the CPP-NPA,” Baylosis said.

Baylosis added that he was also freed from detention in early 2019 based on two Quezon City RTCs final ruling on “false, fabricated non-bailable” charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosive.

Casambre’s family said his inclusion in the list is a desperate move by the government and itself “terroristic” attack.

“Rey Casambre is a teacher and scientist, not a criminal. He is a peace activist, not a terrorist,” his family said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

CHR, Red Cross asked to ensure safety of jailed peace consultants in ATC list

The Commission on Human Rights and the International Committee of the Red Cross had been asked to regularly check on the condition of three political prisoners designated by a government task force as alleged terrorists.

In a statement, political detainee support group Kapatid spokesperson Fides Lim asked the two agencies to ensure the safety of her husband Vicente Ladlad and fellow National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace consultants Rey Claro Casambre and Adelberto Silva.

“I have reason to fear for their lives because seven consultants of the (NDFP) have already been murdered within the last two years,” Lim said.

Lim’s appeal was in reaction to a resolution released Thursday, May 13, by the Anti-Terrorism Council designating 19 individuals as alleged members of the Communist Party of the Philippine Central Committee and as so-called terrorists.

Aside from Ladlad, Casambre and Silva, the list includes NDFP chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison, New People’s Army National Operations Command spokesperson Jorge Madlos, NDFP Negotiating Panel interim chairperson Julietta de Lima, NDFP Negotiating Panel Member Benito Tiamzon and NDFP peace consultants Alan Jazmines, Wilma Tiamzon, Ma. Concepcion Araneta-Bocala, Tirso Alcantara, Pedro Codaste, and Loida Magpatoc.

The list also includes alleged CPP officials Abdias Gaudiana, Dionesio Micabato, Myrna Sularte, Tomas Dominado and Menandro Villanueva.

Five of the NDFP peace consultants killed in the last two years referred to by Lim include Randy Malayao, Randall Echanis, Julius Giron, Eugenia Magpantay, and Agaton Topacio.

Lim said the ATC listing is being used to persecute individuals and maliciously jumping the gun on the ongoing Supreme Court deliberations on the constitutionality of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020.

The ATC’s designation needs a court order to become official.

‘Treacherous’

The CPP for its part denounced the ATC list as arbitrary, dismissing it a mere recycled record of unsubstantiated allegations from so-called military intelligence.

“The arbitrary naming of known peace consultants and revolutionaries underscore why the Anti-Terror Law and the ATC itself are illegitimate and should be repudiated. It was done in complete contempt of judicially recognized due process,” the CPP said.

“It is a veritable slap on face of the justices of the Supreme Court who have yet to complete hearings over questions of the constitutionality of the Anti-Terror Law,” the group added.

The CPP also said the ATC list is an act of treachery against the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and the peace process.

“This act of the ATC is (GRP President Rodrigo) Duterte getting back at the NDFP for not bowing to his wishes for the revolutionary forces to surrender their principles to his fascist tyranny,” the CPP said.

Human rights group Karapatan also said the ATC designation of NDFP peace panel members and consultants as alleged terrorists is “red-tagging in its most blatant and most dangerous.”

The designation is “brazenly arbitrary that it violates basic principles of due process — and whose consequences have proven to be deadly,” the group said.

Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay asked the Supreme Court to act with urgency on their petitions to declare the terror law unconstitutional or at least issue a temporary restraining order against the law.

“[T]he Duterte administration is wasting no time using this draconian piece of legislation to heighten the crackdown on dissent and reign of terror. We call on the public to continue asserting the calls to junk the terror law and resist Duterte’s tyranny and dictatorship,” Palabay said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Laborer rebuffs PNP’s order to spy on KMU; reveals assassination plot vs NDFP consultants

A construction worker said police intelligence operatives tried recruiting him to spy on labor federation Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) and help in the planned abduction and assassination of remaining National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace consultants.

The laborer however rejected the offer and reported the incident to his former KMU colleagues.

James (an alias), a construction laborer and a former KMU driver, said two men who identified themselves as Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group members allegedly tried to intimidate and bribe him agree to be a police spy on KMU.

In a press conference, James said he was fetched by barangay security personnel (tanod) and was taken to Barangay Banaba Hall in San Mateo, Rizal last Friday, March 19, on the pretense he needed to secure a permit for a construction project.

The victim was working at a renovation project at KMU secretary for human rights Eleanor de Guzman’s house at the time of the incident.

At the barangay hall, he was isolated in a room with the two police personnel who ordered him to return as KMU staff driver and spy for the police.

Makipagtulungan kang maayos, pagkatapos naman ay peace-peace tayo. ‘Yang pagtatrabaho mo, kayang-kaya naming ibigay ang pangangailangan mo, basta bumalik ka lang sa Balai para mag-spy,” the alleged police officers told James. (You cooperate properly, and then there would be peace between us. We will give you what you need as long as you return to Balai to spy for us.)

Balai is KMU’s national headquarters formally known as Balai Obrero (Workers’ House).

The unnamed officers told James they are particularly interested with de Guzman and her father, NDFP peace consultant Rafael Baylosis.

Assassination of peace consultants

The police told James they intend to abduct and assassinate all remaining NDFP peace consultants.

“Matagal na naming kayong minamanmanan, buti nga kami ang kausap niyo kasi may isang unit naming ang dudukot sa inyo,” James quoted the officers as saying. (We have you under surveillance for a long time. You should be grateful it is us who are talking to you because we have one unit tasked to abduct all of you.)

“Uubusin daw nila ang mga consultant,” he added. (They said they will finish off all consultants.)

James said the two officers took photos of him and demanded to reveal his phone number.

He also noticed at least eight other men on board motorcycles and heavily-tinted cars who followed him to his next destination. All vehicles did not have license plates, he added.

De Guzman and KMU national chairperson Elmer Labog said they condemn the police’s “criminal act” as direct and dangerous attacks against labor unionists and other human rights defenders.

The KMU said they are reporting the incident to the Commission on Human Rights to ask for an investigation.

Labog also called on the Supreme Court, the Department of Labor and Employment and the Department of Justice to use their powers to put a stop to the killings and unjust arrests of workers and human rights defenders. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Communist leader and wife executed; corpses left in military safe house—CPP

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) abducted, tortured and killed a retired top Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) leader and his wife, the underground group said.

In a belated announcement, CPP information officer Marco Valbuena said the corpses of Antonio Cabanatan, 74, and Florenda Yap, 65, were left in a military safe house in Oton, Iloilo on December 26 last year, the revolutionary group’s 52nd founding anniversary.

The elderly couple were abducted around October 2020, secretly detained, tortured and killed by strangulation, Valbuena said.

Cabanatan, known as Manlimbasog (To Strive) by his comrades, was a member of the CPP Central Committee, served as secretary of its Mindanao Commission and member of its Political Bureau and Executive Committee until his reported retirement due to health problems in 2017.

The entire (CPP) and all revolutionary forces are seething with rage over the incident, Valbuena said.

“We hold the AFP, the Philippine National Police, the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict and other armed agents of the US-Duterte regime responsible for this brutal crime,” he said.

The CPP spokesperson explained that difficulties in lines of communication and vicious military operations by the government belated their confirmation of of the victims’ identities.

Valbuena said that the dimunitive and hunchbacked Cabanatan and Yap, known in the underground movement as Comrade Osang, have already retired from active duties in the Party.

“We cannot begin to imagine the cruelty of the psychological and physical torture that they were made to undergo before they were brutally killed,” he said.

Valbuena added that the couple’s assassination followed the successive brutal murders of Ka Nars (Julius Giron), Ka Fiel (Eugenia Magpantay), Ka Boy (Agaton Topacio) and Ka Randall Echanis in 2020 by Duterte’s blood-thirsty murderers.

NDFP Negotiating Panel peace consultant Randy Malayao was also assassinated in January 2019.

Valbuena said Cabanatan was among the first generation of Filipino communists who helped plant the seeds of the armed revolution across the country.

“He was among the vanguard of the expansion of the New People’s Army in the Visayas and Mindanao,” Valbuena said.

The AFP has yet to reply to the CPP’s allegations. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

DILG, NTF-ELCAC afraid of peace, NDFP consultant says

A National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace consultant condemned “militarists” in the Rodrigo Duterte administration for opposing the possible resumption of formal peace negotiations between the Left and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP).

NDFP consultant Rafael Baylosis in a statement Friday said those opposing attempts to resume the negotiations are afraid that the peace talks would eventually lead to a genuine just and lasting peace in the Philippines.

“This is because they are afraid it might lead to certain agreements for reforms such as the free redistribution of land to peasants and national industrialization,” Baylosis said.

“They also do not want the possible grant of general amnesty to the CPP-NPA and release of political prisoners,” he added.

‘No more talks’

In a strongly worded statement last February 21, the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTC-ALCEC) denied the possibility of the peace negotiations being resumed in the last 16 months of the Rodrigo Duterte government.

“There will be no resumption of peace talks with the NDFP now or ever in as far as the Duterte Administration is concerned,” it said.

The task force said peace negotiations with the Left had always been a mistake, accusing the NDFP and its allied organizations, the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army, of having been insincere from the start.

The Department of Interior of Local Government (DILG) in a statement Wednesday, February 24, said it supports the NTF-ELCAC declaration.

“The [DILG] fully supports the position of the [NTF-ELCAC] opposing any move for the resumption of the failed peace talks with the CPP-NPA-NDF,” DILG officer-in-charge Usec. Bernardo C. Florece, Jr.
said.

Florece added that back channel efforts to resume peace negotiations with the NDFP are futile.

‘Their statements run counter to declarations by Duterte’s emissaries with the NDFP however.

Norway pushes for resumption

Labor secretary and former Government of the Philippines chief negotiator Silvestre Bello III revealed in a two-day online forum last week he and former Pangasinan Rep. Hernani Braganza were supposed to travel to The Netherlands last December to meet with the NDFP.

The trip did not push however as new coronavirus cases spiked in Europe since November.

Bello also revealed the Royal Norwegian Government, Third Party Facilitator to the GRP-NDFP Peace Process, had been working on back channel talks to resume the stalled formal negotiations.

He added that Duterte is again “very much inclined” to revive the negotiations the President scuttled in June 2017.

NDFP Negotiating Panel interim chairperson Juliet de Lima for her part said the planned back-channel talks would resume discussions on an interim peace agreement (IPA) that includes agreements on social and economic reforms.

IPA discussions shall also include possible coordinated unilateral ceasefire declarations as well as modes for their implementation, de Lima said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

NDFP reminds the military: “We are not subjects to GRP’s authority”

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) Negotiating Panel said it considers it absurd that a “mere government agency,” the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), has filed complaints against its allied organizations before another government agency.

NDFP Negotiating Panel interim chairperson Julieta de Lima said it is absurd and preposterous the AFP filed complaints against the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New People’s Army (NPA) with the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) as if the revolutionary organizations have become “subject to the authority of the GRP (Government of the Republic of the Philippines) and its agencies.”

De Lima said both the CPP and the NPA belong to the NDFP and the revolutionary movement’s “People’s Democratic Government,” and not to the GRP.

“It is completely stupid and unacceptable for the AFP as mere agency of the GRP to consider the CPP and NPA as mere subjects to the authority of the GRP,” she said.

De Lima pointed out that the CPP and the NPA, as well as 16 other NDFP allied organizations, are at war with the GRP.

“The fact is that there is a civil war between the co-belligerents: the GRP and its agencies on one side; and the People’s Democratic Government, the NDFP, CPP, NPA, other revolutionary forces and the entire Filipino people on the other side,” de Lima said.

Conduct of war

The CHR meanwhile urged both the government and the rebels to respect international humanitarian law (IHL) in the conduct of war as it acknowledged receipt of the cases filed by the AFP on the alleged attacks against civilian properties by the CPP and the NPA since 2010.

“In looking into these cases, the CHR asserts its independent, impartial position in investigating human rights violations, including those committed in the context of armed conflicts. We equally assert our jurisdiction over these cases. International humanitarian law (IHL) covers both State and non-State actors alike,” CHR spokesperson Jacqueline Ann de Guia said.

The CHR said civilians must be protected from atrocities under the IHL

“While CHR stands firm for the liberty of people to believe in specific ideologies, ones freedom to act on these beliefs should be guided by what is lawful and respectful of the rights of others,” de Guia said.

The CHR spokesperson noted that the CPP in a statement has admitted that civilian properties were destroyed or damaged by NPA in the course of several operations.

“[T]he CPP claims that those who have suffered damages were compensated,” de Guia said.

‘The proper venue’

De Lima however said the CHR is not the venue for the filing of such complaints against the NPA as an agreement has been signed between the GRP and the NDFP for exactly such a mechanism.

The GRP and the NDFP signed the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) on March 16, 1998 in The Hague, The Netherlands establishing a Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC) to receive and investigate reports of human rights and IHL violations by either party.

De Lima reminded the AFP that if it wants to file complaints against the CPP and NPA, the most appropriate thing it can do is to ask GRP President Rodrigo Duterte as GRP principal to file through his representative complaints against the underground groups to the NDFP Section of the JMC.

“Unlike the GRP under the Duterte regime which engages in fascist crimes of state terrorism, the NDFP strictly adheres directly to the international law on human rights and humanitarian conduct in war as well as through the provisions of CARHRIHL,” de Lima said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Church leaders express alarm at ‘reign of unpeace’ during Advent

Church leaders expressed alarm and concern at the deteriorating prospects for peace as shown by the Rodrigo Duterte government’s demonization of human rights.

In a pastoral statement, the Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform (PEPP) said that while the Advent season has arrived, “unpeace” reigns as the Rodrigo Duterte government continues to consider human rights as a barrier to peace and order.

“This is evident in the arrests of a journalist and six union organizers on the day when the whole world was commemorating the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” the church leaders said.

Several activists have also been arrested or killed in the past few months while numerous lives continue to be claimed under the campaign against illegal drugs, they added.

The statement was signed by Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro Bishop Emeritus and PEPP co-chairperson Antonio Ledesma; Bishop and PEPP co-chairperson Rex B. Reye; Bishop and National Council of Churches in the Philippines general secretary Reuel Norman Marigza; Sr. Mary John Mananzan, OSB of the Association of Major Religious Superiors of the Philippines; Justice, Peace and Reconciliation Commission executive director Reverend Dr. Aldrin Penamora; and PEPP head of secretariat Bishop Emeritus Deogracias Iniguez Jr.

The church leaders pointed out that the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) had been relentless in its malicious red-tagging of organizations and individuals critical of the government, including churches and church personalities, by falsely accusing them of being linked to terrorism.

They blamed the harmful rhetoric coming from President Duterte himself.

“This is in sharp contrast with the advent period a year ago when back channel negotiations between the government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) resulted in a Christmas ceasefire which redounded to a hopeful atmosphere for peace,” the pastoral statement said.

No ceasefire

President Duterte announced last December 7 that there will no longer be ceasefire declarations nor peace negotiations with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), New People’s Army and the NDFP as long as he is president.

His announcement followed the repeated and public announcements by the Armed Forces of the Philippines that it will never recommend the declaration of ceasefire with the Communist groups.

The CPP in turn announced Wednesday, December 16, it is impossible for them to issue the traditional  ceasefire declaration over Christmas and New Year while government troops terrorize civilian communities and conduct intense military operations against their revolutionary forces.

The CPP ordered the NPA to actively defend civilians and their ranks from AFP military operations throughout the holiday season as well as urge its members to secretly observe its 52nd founding anniversary on December 26.

‘Silence guns during season of hope’

While calling on both parties to “silence the guns during this season of hope,” the PEPP pointed out that the Duterte government’s rejection of the results of the back channel talks during this COVID-19 pandemic is what brought about the state of unpeace.

“[It] unilaterally stopped the peace negotiations, and proceeded to heighten its war against the NDFP, the New People’s Army (NPA), and the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), and its so-called ‘legal fronts’, the group said.

“Since then, three NDFP consultants – Randal Echanis and Eugenia Magpantay and Agaton Topacio — were killed, while many others like Rey Claro Casambre of the Philippine Peace Center remain in jail. Even former NDFP Consultant Alfredo Mapano, who was already working for the government, was re-arrested,” it added.

The PEPP pointed out that the government is set for an all-out war in 2021 with the passage of the Anti-Terrorism Act while substantial funds were also designated for its counter-insurgency program with P19-billion set aside for the NTF-ELCAC.

The PEPP however said such policies will only further fan the flames of the armed conflict.

“This drive to annihilate the CPP-NPA-NDF without seriously addressing the long-standing issues of poverty, landlessness and inequality in the country, will not bring about a just and enduring peace,” the church leaders said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Alvin Luque’s journey to immortality

By Raymund B. Villanueva

Alvin Luque’s story was of a red-tagged activist who chose to fight back by joining an armed group to carry on a commitment to serve the people. He eventually perished in a hail of bullets in the dead of night last December 10, International Human Rights Day while on his sickbed. In his death, however, he gained immortality in the eyes of many.

His old friends say they had no inkling of what Alvin would someday become, a prominent Communist guerrilla who drove the military to countless operations to capture and kill one of loudest voices of the New People’s Army (NPA).

‘The student politician with a Brit accent’

Alvin was born of a well off family in Cotabato City who sent a precocious son to the best private schools in the island—a privilege he paid back by being a good student.

Fr. Eliseo Mercado, OMI, former president of Notre Dame University of Cotabato (NDUC), in a radio address said Alvin was among the brightest in his class, a scholar throughout elementary and high school. Among the thousands who had once been students of the school, he clearly remembers Alvin and felt compelled to talk about him on the day his former ward was killed by the military.

It was not only the priest that remembers Alvin as a child. A schoolmate recalled Alvin was a cheerful and friendly child. He greeted and waved at everyone around the campus. “’Alvin The Good Politician’ ang tawag ko sa kanya pag nakikita na namin siya ng mga klasmeyt ko. Solved na ang Algebra problem ko dahil nakakagaan ng pakiramdam ‘pag nakikita namin siya,” Mohida Sali wrote of her old schoolmate.

A classmate who declined to be named said Alvin was a competitive rival for top class honors. He delighted in debating in English to prove who was best. But his desire to be top did not deter from his being a good friend, his classmate said. “Oftentimes we watched Betamax movies at their house, which only a few families could afford in the 80s,” the classmate said. His nickname was Bimbo, “cute, fat, fair-skinned and chinito,” the classmate added. Alvin was also active in religious clubs and school politics. His father was a manager of a big business while his mother was a teacher at NDUC’s girls’ school.

Bai Ka Uy, an artist friend, said Alvin captained their high school’s debate team, one who spoke with a British accent.

Another friend, Amirah Ali Lidasan, surmised that Alvin cultivated his British accent because of his fondness for New Wave music pioneered by English bands in the 1980s. But his absolute favorite artists in his younger days were Rick Astley and Spandau Ballet. The latter’s song “Gold” was Alvin’s karaoke standard, Lidasan revealed. “But he came from a family of Cotabato city educators who probably had the bigger influence in his mastery of the English language,” Lidasan added.

“When he enrolled at the Ateneo de Davao University for an English degree, he was teased for his accent,” Uy recalled.

At the Ateneo, Alvin could not help but shine. As he did in elementary and high school, he dove into campus politics and was department representative to the student council.  Thus began his student activism and his first brushes with the pointed end of the State’s stick.

Uy recalled: “We were restless and full of hope. The country has just been released from the grasp of one demon to another [In 1986]. All 36 of us marching for students’ rights and [against] oil price hikes when we were halted by three police vehicles, [the police] fired shots. Napagkamalan ka pang pari , which saved you from getting floored. A small price to pay for believing that the Filipino youth deserves…better education.”

Uy said the arrested students, including Alvin, were asked to strip for a search and slept in a dirty cell the night of their arrest. “There was drama all around. But we ate barbeque courtesy of our current president (then Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte) who ordered bunches of chicken bbq from Delongtes which was just nearby. This president has gone a long way too, and by all signs has done his own personal [180 degree turnaround],” Uy continued.

In his senior year, Alvin was persuaded to have a go at the top post but lost. He however took his student leadership to the national level and got elected as National Union of Students of the Philippines vice president for Mindanao in the early 1990s.

After college, Alvin became an English teacher at the Assumption School of Davao. But the calling to serve the poor was too strong for Alvin to ignore.

A young Alvin Luque in Davao City. (Supplied photo)

His generation’s best

Alvin became a workers’ organizer while teaching at the exclusive girl’s school in the late 1990s.  

“He lived and fought with the workers. During his stint in the legal mass movement, Alvin showed resoluteness, courage, perseverance, and humility. He had a deep sense of sympathy for the oppressed even though he came from a middle class family,” the Kilusang Mayo Uno-Southern Mindanao Region (KMU-SMR) said in its tribute.

“To many who knew and worked with him, he was fun to be with and loved to exchange ideas with his colleagues. He was brilliant and expressive, and he devoted his talents to advancing the struggles of ordinary people,” the group added.

Former KMU-SMR comrade Omar Bantayan said Alvin became a real activist when he began to identify himself with the marginalized.

“[He] came from a pretty affluent background — eating veggies back then was even a struggle for him,” Bantayan said.

Uy echoed this, revealing that Alvin did not like fish in broth, a staple in Central and Southern Philippines. “Naka-simangot ‘yun, pero ngingiti agad at kakain din naman,” Uy said.

Alvin put his public speaking skills to full use as an activist-leader. “[His] command of linguistics shamed the average politician. The podiums and lecterns [he] stood behind were so honored when [he] delivered [his] fiery speeches,” Bantayan wrote. Alvin also penned the best prose and poetry Bantayan said he ever laid eyes on.

Alvin Luque leading a rally in Davao City. (Davao Today file photo)

It was after his KMU stint and he became Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-Southern Mindanao Region (Bayan-SMR) secretary general that Alvin became a problem for the oppressive State.

Red-tagging victim

Alvin was a tireless and creative Bayan-SMR secretary general, Uy recalled, adding that he always asked that cultural presentations be regular parts of rallies he organized and led. His stint as leading regional activist coincided with the successful campaign to oust the Joseph Estrada government.

Alvin’s success as leader went beyond activists’ circles. In the 2001 national and local elections, then re-electionist Duterte included him in his slate for the city council. He narrowly lost, however.

After the elections, the military stepped up its red-tagging of Alvin. In July 2002, the 73rd Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army accused him and other activists of being NPA members. Like what it does today with many activists, the military presented so-called witnesses with fantastic stories of Alvin giving large amounts and mobile phones to NPA guerillas. One military witness also alleged it was Alvin who ordered the burning of a bus, a farm and a government office.

To counter the rebellion charge against Alvin, his lawyers submitted to the Court a photograph showing him and other Assumption faculty members attending a junior-senior prom. The photo was taken at the time he was allegedly at an NPA camp in Davao City’s remote Barangay Marilog on the second week of February 1999.

In another affidavit, Bishop Felixberto Calang of the Philippine Independent Church (PIC) said he saw Luque at the PIC’s Davao City compound along Torres Street practically every night that week. Alvin helped in the preparations for the centennial celebration of the establishment of the Union Obrera Democratica Filipina, the country’s first real labor federation established in 1902.

“It would be physically impossible then for Alvin Luque to have gone to Marilog in the second week of February 1999 and stay there for a week as alleged,” Calang said.

Still, the military and State did not let up. While dropping charges against Alvin’s co-accused, the rebellion charge against him was ordered all the way from Manila. Soon, even the trumped up charges and threats of arrest did not suffice and Alvin had to take his activism elsewhere in Mindanao and even to Metro Manila.

Alvin Luque as candidate for the Davao City Council, here with the late Bayan Muna Representative Joel Virador. (Supplied photo)

The military’s persecution of Alvin continued to worsen, forcing him to confront his accusers directly and publicly. In a public letter to former Task Force Davao commander Col. Eduardo del Rosario in January 2007, Alvin accused the military and the police of “[using] political killings to silence those critical of [the] government” to win the so-called war against alleged enemies of the State and to win medals.

“The AFP’s Bantay Laya (counterinsurgency program during the Gloria Arroyo government) may have set perhaps the most elaborate and the most expensive military campaign to date, but this has not deterred the people’s will to rid the nation of a Marcos-like regime,” Alvin wrote. “The AFP’s use of the Judiciary circuit to immobilize activist leaders has undermined the Courts. It has turned this institution into an apparatus to carry out the regime’s all-out war, a war that is devoid of any sense of justice,” he added.

To arms

Believing he is about to be summarily killed by the military like many of his fellow activists, Alvin made himself scarce. For nearly three years, people wondered where he had gone. Alvin has in fact sought refuge in the guerrilla zones of the NPA in 2007-2008, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) revealed. In 2009, he made his first public appearance as an NPA guerilla.

At the celebration of the CPP’s anniversary that year, Alvin ended all speculation and spoke before journalists somewhere in Surigao del Sur wearing a CPP shirt and an NPA cap.

“Yes, I have chosen to seek refuge under the revolutionary movement, particularly with the Communist Party of the Philippines, New People’s Army and the National Democratic Front (NDF). This is the most logical choice on my part because these are the very organizations that can guarantee not only my protection from political killings but also, above all, freedom of the people from the oppressive grip of a reactionary fascist state,” he announced in what became the biggest story of the CPP’s anniversary that year.

“I am still breathing and fighting precisely because of this choice. This has been my personal choice. This does not in any way prove that the organizations I was involved with in the legal arena and the revolutionary forces that I have sought refuge in are one and the same,” he added.

He was henceforth known as Ka (Comrade) Joaquin Jacinto.

Ka Joaquin Jacinto, NDF-Mindanao spokesperson, at the CPP’s 48th anniversary celebrations in Paquibato, Davao City, December 26, 2016. (Kilab Multimedia photo)

For a period, Ka Joaquin was assigned to a local unit of the NPA where he deepened his understanding of the situation of the peasant masses and the necessity of waging armed revolution. He is remembered by the masses and the Red fighters for his almost constant jolly mood, the CPP said.

In several CPP anniversary celebrations in the Caraga and Davao regions, Ka Joaquin was the master of ceremonies. He dropped his British-accented English and spoke flawless Cebuano instead. He presided over the biggest CPP celebrations ever, even a peace summit where Duterte’s Cabinet officials attended and where the President allegedly sent roasted calves.

There was something else different with Ka Joaquin. Gone were the chubby and asthmatic Alvin of Catholic schools and urban areas. What people saw was a lean and muscular Ka Joaquin who looked fit enough to be a real guerilla fighter.

In an interview at a Bukidnon camp, Ka Joaquin said it actually took him long to decide whether to join the NPA or not. “Of course, one question was, would I be able to leave my family, friends and all the things I was accustomed to behind for the NPA. That was easily answered by the greater need to survive,” he said. But his real dilemma for was his health and physical state.

“When I climbed to my first NPA camp, I took 10 steps and stopped to rest and catch my breath. How could they think I was NPA before I actually joined?” he exclaimed.

At the NPA camp in 2012, however, Kodao witnessed Ka Joaquin fetching water from a nearby stream without breaking sweat. He easily carried heavy water jugs on both hands while climbing steep inclines. “My asthma seems cured by our long treks and climbs. I am also eating more vegetables and fresh food,” he said.

The CPP said Ka Joaquin had difficulties adjusting physically to the guerrilla movements of the NPA–night trekking, carrying one’s own load and scaling steep mountains. “He would shed weight and eventually find his ‘fighting form,’” it added.

For several years, Ka Joaquin would join Ka Oris (Jorge Madlos, NPA spokesperson) and help in strengthening the work of NDF-Mindanao. He worked closely with the CPP Information Bureau and served as one of the faces of the Philippine revolution, the CPP said.

Recognizing Ka Joaquin’s keen political sense, he was assigned as NDF-Mindanao spokesperson in 2016.

It was the CPP’s 48th anniversary celebrations in Davao City’s Paquibato District in December 26, 2016 that Ka Joaquin led one of his biggest events. A few months later, Duterte turned his back on formal peace negotiations with the NDF and declared both the CPP and the NPA as terrorist organizations.

Ka Joaquin Jacinto as master of ceremony at the Peace Summit with NDFP peace negotiators. (Kilab Multimedia photo)

By the military’s own admission, they had launched many combat operations specifically to capture or kill Ka Joaquin.

Hors de combat

He was unarmed and was convalescing when a combined military and police raiding team swooped down at a Tandag City resort at one o’clock in the morning supposedly to serve a warrant of arrest on Ka Joaquin.

“He was detached a few months ago from the main office of the NDF-Mindanao to undergo medical checkups and to recuperate from partial paralysis. A few months ago, he was physically debilitated and could not walk after he underwent intense physical struggles amid heavy enemy operations and counter-guerrilla maneuvers,” the CPP said.

On International Human Rights Day, the red-tagged activist, fierce human rights defender and revolutionary leader lay dead on his sick bed, cut down by the military that had long wanted him gone.

A flood of tributes poured out when news of his death spread.

Ang kanyang buhay, kahit naiiba, ay itinatanyag po natin sapagkat iyon ay isang buhay na pag-aalalay para sa kapwa at para po sa bayan…Maraming kabataan ang mai-inspire sa kanyang buhay, katulad din ng maraming kabataan na nag-aalay ng kanyang panahon, treasure, at time para sa bayan. Kaya po pinagpupugayan po natin si Alvin Luque,” Fr. Mercado said.

“The eloquent chubby young boy from Cotabato city was not only a friend but now my hero,” Uy said.

Bantayan wrote, “[He[ loved purely and [he was] loved back by [his] friends, students, and the peasants and workers he served. Alvin, you will always live in our hearts.”

KMU-SMR exclaimed, “Highest honor to Alvin Luque, a workers’ and peoples’ martyr!”

The CPP and all revolutionary forces pay the highest tribute to Ka Joaquin. Together, let us raise our fists and celebrate his innumerable contributions in serving the oppressed and exploited Filipino masses and their revolutionary cause,” the underground party said.

But Alvin himself had long predicted his death: “I have no regrets with the choice I have made…and I will use this life to make my mark, together with other revolutionaries, in liberating the people from a rotten society. And should I die in the course of this fight, it is one death I know that is well worth bearing.” #

No ceasefire? No surprise—CPP

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) said it is not surprised with President Rodrigo Duterte’s announcement that he will not declare a ceasefire with the New People’s Army this Christmas and new year season.

Responding to Duterte’s late Monday address, the CPP information officer Marco Valbuena said Duterte’s decision “comes as no surprise,” adding the President’s policies had always been shaped by military generals obsessed with prolonging the civil war in the Philippines.

“They [the generals] are addicted to war because of the profits they pocket from it,” Valbuena said in a statement.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said they are not recommending the declaration of the traditional Yuletide season ceasefire with the NPA this year.

Nor would the military recommend that the government declare ceasefires with the NPA ever again, AFP spokesperson Maj. Gen. Edgard Arevalo said.

Duterte said, “There will be no ceasefire ever again under my term ..For all intents and purposes, that ceasefire is dead. That’s gone. That has been long gone.”

Duterte again devoted a part of his address Monday assailing the Communists and vowing to destroy them.

He said that if he compromised with the Communists, the military and the police may assassinate him for being a traitor to the republic.

“I cannot compromise anything in this government. It’s either I will be impeached or the military and the police will shoot me,” Duterte said.

“And if I give you a power to share in the — a power-sharing, that’s a very, very serious thing. You can get assassinated for it,” he added.

‘Who ingratiated himself with whom?’

In a statement, National Democratic Front of the Philippines chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison belied Duterte’s allegation, saying it was Duterte who kept blabbering about joining a coalition government with the CPP.

Sison said it was Duterte who ingratiated himself with the revolutionary movement as a Davao City mayor and when he was seeking the support of the legal democratic forces when he ran for the presidency.

“At no time has the subject of coalition government ever been taken up with Duterte or any of his predecessors as president in the course of the peace negotiations. The people’s revolutionary government based in the countryside can very well exist and develop without him and his likes,” Sison said.

“Duterte is lying about being offered a place in what he imagines as invitation to a coalition government. He could not even qualify as NDFP consultant when he offered himself to become one,” Sison said.

Duterte applied to become an NDFP consultant but was ordered to withdraw by the Benigno Aquino administration’s interior and local government secretary Jesse Robredo. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

‘The police are merely iterating their nanlaban narrative’

“There is simply no way that the elderly couple was even able to put up a resistance, let alone an armed one, against dozens of policemen armed with high-powered guns and artillery. Instead, as the narrative appears before us, the police are merely iterating their ‘nanlaban’ narrative to justify the tokhang-style murder of an elderly and sickly couple.”Atty. VJ Topacio, son of the slain NDFP peace consultants Eugenia Magpantay and Agaton Topacio