“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
Bayan Muna Representative Eufemia Cullamat paid tribute to her fallen daughter she described as a martyr for the Lumad’s struggle for self determination and justice.
In a statement, the grieving mother also slammed the Philippine Army for desecrating the remains of 22-year old Jevilyn by taking photos of the New People’s Army medic like a war trophy.
“I love my child who loved the people. I am proud of her. She was a hero of the Lumad and all of the people,” Cullamat said in Filipino.
As a mother, Cullamat said she is heartbroken at the news that Jevelyn perished in a raid by government troopers in Marihatag, Surigao del Sur last Saturday, November 28.
“I strongly condemn the disrespectful acts on the remains of my daughter. She is not a trophy to be used in the military’s propaganda. You did not only disrespect the dead, you also offended my grieving family,” she said.
In subsequently deleted posts, the Philippine Army posted photos of its raiding team delightfully posing before the younger Cullamat’s remains, along with seized guns and paraphernalia.
Violation of the rules of war
International Association of Democratic Lawyers interim president and National Union of People’s Lawyers president Edre Olalia said the government soldiers violated international rules, domestic laws and bilateral agreements on the conduct of war.
In a legal opinion, Olalia cited Article 16 of the 1949 Geneva Convention prescribing protection of corpses against ill treatment.
Article 34 (1) of the 1977 Additional Protocol I on International Armed Conflicts also orders that remains of persons who have died from hostilities shall be respected, he said.
The human rights lawyer also cited Article 4 of the 1977 Additional Protocol II on Non-International Armed Conflicts that prohibits “outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment” of all persons who do not take a direct part or who have ceased to take part in hostilities, as was in Jevilyn’s case who already died when the Philippine Army’s trophy photographs were taken and distributed.
Offenses upon the personal dignity of fallen parties constitute a war crime in both international and non-international armed conflicts according to the 1998 Statute of the International Criminal Court, Olalia said as well.
The lawyer said government troops are mandated to observe international instruments on the conduct of was as Republic Act 9851 penalizes crimes against international humanitarian law, genocide and other crimes against humanity.
Olalia also reminded the government of Article 3 of the 1998 of its Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines prohibiting “at any time and in any place” the desecration of the remains of those who have died in the course of the armed conflict and to prevent despoliation and mutilation and to dispose of them with respect.
“On top of these commands under international humanitarian law, at core is basic human decency, respect and civility that is at issue here,” Olalia said.
“There are universal laws that civilized people observe even if, because, or in spite of armed hostilities,” the human rights lawyer added.
‘Victim of state terrorism’
Cullamat said Jevilyn’s decision to join the armed struggle stemmed from the abuses the Lumad suffer at the hands of the government’s armed forces as well as the indigenous peoples’ extreme poverty.
“She saw with her own two eyes how our leader Dionel Campos, Datu Bello Sinzo, and Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development, Inc executive director Emerito Samarca were massacred in Lianga, Surigao del Sur on September 1, 2015,” the elder Cullamat said.
She said Jevilyn was a kind child who they raised to become nationalistic, brave, principled and with a mind of her own.
“Every Lumad child is raised to become worthy and useful to the community,” Cullamat added.
The Makabayan Bloc member said that Jevilyn’s sacrifice of her life for the people and defense of their ancestral land is worthwhile, “whatever the vultures who surrounded my daughter’s remains say.”
“It is a great honor for me to have a child who became a warrior and martyr…I am undoubtedly proud of Jevilyn because she fought against an unjust system, for us Lumad,” she said.
“No mother would renounce a child who set aside her personal interests to offer her life for the people and for the defense of our ancestral land,” Cullamat added. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)
The Rodrigo Duterte government’s all-out offensive against National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace consultants is not sparing even those who have already chosen to live above ground.
In a curious turn of events, the police arrested peace negotiator Alfredo Mapano who newspaper reports describe is an “ex- NDFP consultant” and who currently works as a government employee.
Mapano, known in Northern Mindanao as the legendary New People’s Army leader “Ka Paris”, was arrested by the Bayugan City (Agusan del Sur) police while at work in Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental last Friday, November 27.
Bayugan is 200 kilometers away from Tagoloan and under a different Philippine National Police (PNP) Regional Command.
A participant in at least three Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP)-NDFP formal peace negotiations from August 2016 in Oslo, Norway to January 2017 in Rome, Italy, Mapano is currently an employee of the government-owned Phividec Industrial Authority.
The former Red commander reportedly “surrendered” to President Duterte after Rome, brokered by former cabinet secretary Leoncio Evasco Jr. who also recommended his employment as Phividec corporate social responsibility officer and, later, as security officer.
Mapano was allowed to post bail in August 2016 to participate in the first round of formal peace negotiations between the GRP and the NDFP.
Previously, he had been in jail for seven years for various crimes he allegedly committed as NPA leader.
A Kodao source said that Mapano had been “roaming around freely” in Northern Mindanao since his supposed surrender and living a “normal” life.
Mapano’s re-arrest surprised everyone, including Mapano’s wife, employer and local police chief, Alternative news outfit Davao Today (DT) reported.
Wife Chona told DT she is concerned if her husband is indeed under the custody of the Bayugan police.
“Our family is trying to locate him and ensure that he is safe…[The arrest] was unexpected. He is now living a normal life,” Chona said.
DT also reported that Talogoan police chief Captain Mark Dungca said the arresting team only informed him that they will be serving an arrest warrant but did not specify who.
Mapano was arrested two days after his 67th birthday.
Mapano’s arrest followed the “mafia-style executions” of fellow NDFP peace consultants Eugenia Magpantay and Agaton Topacio in the early hours of November 25 in Angono, Rizal and the conviction by the Quezon City Regional Trial Court for kidnapping and serious illegal detention of NDFP Negotiating Panel member Benito Tiamzon and peace consultant Wilma Austria, also last November 27.
Earlier this year, NDFP peace consultants Julius Giron and Randall Echanis were brutally killed in Baguio City and Quezon City, respectively.
In January 2019, NDFP peace consultant Randy Malayao was killed in his sleep while on board a bus in Nueva Vizcaya.
A number of other NDFP consultants have been arrested since formal peace negotiations between the NDFP and the GRP broke down in November 2017, all on allegations of possession of firearms and explosives.
The NDFP also reported that some of its peace consultants are missing, abducted by suspected government agents. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)
Two more National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace consultants died in a pre-dawn police raid last Wednesday, November 25, in Angono, Rizal.
In what the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) said was a “mafia-style execution,” a composite police team killed elderly couple Eugenia Magpantay and Agaton Topacio, former members of its Central Committee.
Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) director, Major Gen. Joel Napoleon M. Coronel, said a raiding team composed of CIDG Regional Field Unit 4-A, Rizal Provincial Police Office and the Angono Municipal Police Station personnel was about to serve search and arrest warrants against the victims when fired upon.
The police said the 3:30 am incident became an “encounter” that resulted in the death of the 69-year old victims.
The PNP also said a Colt M-16 automatic rifle, a caliber .45 Rock Island pistol, a caliber .45 Federal pistol, two MK2 grenades, various gun magazines and several bullets were “recovered” from the sexagenarian couple.
The CPP however said the incident was simply a “cold-blooded murder” similar to the treacherous early morning killings of NDFP peace consultants Julius Giron in Baguio City and Randall Echanis in Quezon City earlier this year as well as Randy Malayao’s execution in Nueva Vizcaya province last year.
“We reject the claims of the police that the couple resisted arrest and were killed in a firefight. In their physical state, the couple would not have been able to manage the sheer number of weapons said to be found in the scene, much less put up a rigorous gun battle,” CPP spokesperson Marco Valbuena said in a statement.
Valbuena said Magpantay suffered from diabetes and severe arthritis and have in fact “recently retired from active service in the revolutionary movement due to infirmities of old age.”
The CPP spokesperson said the raid was carried out when the elderly couple were “surely fast asleep.”
Valbuena said the “police liquidation” of the couple is the most recent in the string of killings and legal persecution against peace consultants of the NDFP in violation of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees.
“We hold Duterte, his National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict and PNP Chief Debold Sinas as the masterminds behind the killing of Magpantay and Topacio,” Valbuena said.
‘Decades of service’
Valbuena said the CPP pays tribute to Magpantay and Topacio “for their decades of service to the revolutionary cause and service to the oppressed and exploited masses.”
Aside from their stint as CPP Central Committee members, Magpantay was also a former member of the CPP Political Bureau, Valbuena said.
Police reports also identified Magpantay as a former Central Luzon Regional Party Group secretary.
Magpantay and Topacio were first arrested and detained at the Bicutan detention facility under President Ferdinand Marcos’ Martial Law between 1977 and 1979.
Since their release, the couple had been the subject of intense manhunt by the police who even mistakenly arrested one Lourdes Quioc and one Reynaldo Ingal in October 1, 2014.
Quioc and Ingal were released after spending 17 months in jail. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)
The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) Negotiating Panel protests a government court’s conviction of two of its senior peace negotiators as “baseless” and “an act of persecution.”
Reacting to Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 26’s conviction of NDFP peace panel member Benito Tiamzon and consultant Wilma Austria of kidnapping with serious illegal detention, the NDFP said the decision violated the 1956 Hernandez Political Doctrine.
“This doctrine mandates that all alleged acts in pursuit of one’s political beliefs are absorbed, subsumed or integrated in one political crime of rebellion and cannot be mutated into several common crimes as what they were convicted of,” the NDFP said.
The group added that even if both Tiamzon and Austria, alleged leaders of the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army (NPA), had a hand in the capture of then Philippine Army Lt. and now retired Brigadier General Abraham Claro Casis, the act was “legitimate in the laws of war.”
The court should have considered Casis as among “persons deprived of their liberty for reasons related to the armed conflict” or “prisoners of war” in accordance with the 1949 Geneva Conventions and their 1977 Protocols, the NDFP said.
In his decision, Judge Alfonso Ruiz II said he gave “full faith and credit” to Casis’ testimony that, while detained, he saw Tiamzon and Austria in meetings with the NPA.
Casis said they were on their way to Manila on June 1, 1988 when captured by the NPA at the border of Tiaong and Candelaria towns in Quezon Province.
They were released after two months of captivity on August 12 of that year by the late NPA spokesperson Gregorio “Ka Roger” Rosal.
The NDFP however questions the credibility of Casis’ testimony as recalled “with unbelievable magical throwback powers.”
It said the incident happened “a good three decades ago in a case long archived and dismissed against many other accused but just recently politically excavated by the militarist hawks of the (Rodrigo) Duterte regime.”
The NDFP said it found unbelievable that the lone witness “can vividly remember minute details, names, faces, places and events that happened in 1988.”
The group also said the court’s decision suffered from “sweeping and conclusory inferences of conspiracy by mere alleged presence” of the accused.
The NDFP said the Tiamzons were also denied due process because of their involuntary inability to personally present their own defense “due to the real and imminent threat on their lives conducted under the baton of no less the GRP Principal, President Rodrigo Duterte.”
It said that as publicly-known NDFP peace negotiators, the Tiamzons should be immune from surveillance, harassment, search, arrest, detention, prosecution and interrogation or any other similar punitive actions under the subsisting 1995 GRP-NDFP Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG).
The group said the JASIG remains effective and demandable despite its questionable termination by the GRP and regardless of the status of the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations.
“And this is precisely the raison d’ etre for it (reason for being), i.e. to encourage participation by ensuring subsequent protection,” the NDFP said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)
By Joseph Cuevas
Peace advocates held a media briefing last Wednesday, November 11, to condemn red and terror-tagging activities they say undermine efforts to resume peace negotiations between the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP).
The group Pilgrims for Peace pointed out that if the GRP still wants to resume negotiations with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and New People’s Army (NPA), it should stop calling the underground groups as terrorists.
It also pointed out that the NDFP is not classified as a terrorist organization even in the government’s own official pronouncements.
The advocates are dismayed that “war and terror-mongering are rearing their ugly heads once again, as a dominant trend in the current conduct by the GRP.”
Fr. Christopher Ablon of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente described the red-tagging activities of government agencies such as the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine National Police and some officials of the government as a “work of evil” that directly hurts peace efforts.
Ablon cited that six out of seven victims of extra-judicial killings of church workers and peace advocates red-tagged.
Not terrorist organizations
Atty. Edre Olalia, legal consultant of the NDFP, said that red-tagging and vilification violates the presumption of innocence and human rights of target, especially the right to association.
The practice of red-tagging, especially by the state forces and the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, has no other real purpose but to silence dissent and criticism and repress opposition and counter-narratives against government policies and actions, Olalia explained.
“Red-tagging together with the draconian measures like the newly signed Anti-Terrorism Law turn the state forces and machinery against such unarmed civilians and groups who are exercising their basic rights and fundamental freedoms in a democratic society,” Olalia said.
Olalia pointed-out that the CPP-NPA-NDF possesses a level of legitimacy while their armed resistance abide by standards set by the United Nations resolutions and conventions.
“The CPP and NPA have not been listed as a terrorist organizations by the United Nations and the NDFP has never been [listed as] a terrorist organizations in any country,” Olalia added.
Olalia said that red-tagging conditions the mind of the public to eventually designate legal organizations and individuals as terrorists by the Anti-Terrorism Council.
NDFP peace consultant and long-time activist Rafael Baylosis stressed that CPP-NPA-NDF must not be called terrorist organizations but entities fighting for national liberation and democracy for the people.
Baylosis said that peace negotiations must be resumed and the Duterte government should rescind its terrorist proclamation of the CPP and the NPA.
He also called on the government to respect previous agreements signed by both parties.
Baylosis recalled the cancelled fifth round of peace talks last 2018 that was set to sign the Interim Peace Agreement that included the common draft on social and economic reforms, the coordinated and unilateral ceasefire, and release of all political prisoners thru general amnesty.
Pilgrims for Peace encouraged the GRP to consider resuming the peace talks anew in order to address the root cause of armed conflict through peace negotiations. #
The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) said it plans to engage in discussions with Vice President Leni Robredo for the resumption of its peace negotiations with the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP).
Recently-appointed NDFP Negotiating Panel interim chairperson Julie de Lima said the Left should “engage the (GRP’s) constitutional successor to press for the resumption of the peace negotiation as a rallying point in the effort to oust [GRP President Rodrigo] Duterte,” the Communist Party of the Philippines’ Ang Bayan reported.
“[T]he NDFP, including its panel, should hold discussions with opposition parties, in particular, the Liberal Party,” de Lima told the underground newsletter.
She added that prospects for resuming the peace negotiations after Duterte, whether he is ousted or he finishes his term, “are possible and desirable.”
De Lima pointed out the peace negotiations can immediately resume on the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER) once Duterte is out of office.
Duterte cancelled the peace negotiations in July 2017 as both the GRP and NDFP were ready to finalize important agreements under the CASER.
Prior to her new appointment, de Lima is a long-time NDFP Negotiating Panel member and head of its Reciprocal Working Committee on Social and Economic Reforms.
CASER to combat COVID-19
The CASER, de Lima said, has relevant provisions on confronting the issue of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The draft agreement has a whole article consisting of seven sections which are devoted to the discussion of the people’s right to health. This includes the establishment of a universal public health system that provides free, comprehensive and quality health services for all,” de Lima explained.
The CASER provides immediate and adequate financial, material, moral and psychosocial support, ensuring disaster preparedness and respons, and holding criminally and civilly liable corrupt and grossly negligent officials, she added.
“The NDFP and GRP can elaborate on the issue based on a summing up of experience and learning lessons from both sides as well as from the positive and negative practices of foreign countries and international agencies in responding and confronting this particular pandemic as well as other pandemics.”
Robredo has yet to respond to Kodao’s request for a reply to de Lima’s statement. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)
Edberto Malvar Villegas, retired University of the Philippines-Manila and De La Salle University professor, book author and Marxist political economist died Monday night, September 7, after suffering a massive stroke last Friday.
Villegas, 80, died at the Makati Medical Center at 9:56pm, sources informed Kodao.
A founding member of the Kabataang Makabayan in November 1964, Villegas was a two-year political detainee under Ferdinand Marcos’ martial law and suffered intense physical and psychological torture along with his late wife Lilia.
He was chairperson of the University of the Philippines (UP) Political-Economy Department for several years and was a board member of research group IBON Foundation at the time of his death.
He also served as secretary general of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers from 1996 to 2001.
Villegas was a doctor in public administration.
A political economy expert, Villegas was a long-time National Democratic Front of the Philippines Negotiating Panel resource person on social and economic reforms.
He authored several books on economy and imperialism, including Studies in Philippine Political Economy; Global Finance Capital and the Philippine Financial System; Political Economy of Philippine Labor Laws; Japanese Capital and Investments in Southeast Asia; A Guide to Karl Marx’s Das Kapital; Oil Imperialism in the Philippines; Japanese Capitalism and the Asian Development Bank; Global Finance Capital and the Philippine Financial System as well as many pamphlets and essays.
Villegas’ political economy books are required reading for national democratic activists.
Villegas authored the novel Sebyo and Barikada: Maikling Kuwento ng mga Pilipino. He also wrote poetry.
He edited the historical book Gen. Malvar and the Philippine Revolution, authored by Doroteo Abaya and Bernard Karganilla and published in 1998.
Villegas was a grandson of General Miguel Malvar who served as interim President of the First Philippine Republic after Emilio Aguinaldo was captured by the Americans in Palanan, Isabela in 1901.
Villegas is survived by his two children, Karl and Iona, and grandchild Miguel as well as brothers Jose and Bernardo.
Abaya said Villegas will be interned at the family mausoleum in Sto. Tomas, Batangas on September 11. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)
Nagbigay-pugay ang mga kaanak, kaibigan, at mga progresibong grupo sa martir ng sambayanan at mahusay na lider na si Randall ‘Ka Randy’ Echanis mula sa pinagburulan nito hanggang sa kaniyang huling hantungan sa Loyola Memorial Park sa Marikina noong Agosto 17.
Si Echanis ay isang National Democratic Front of the Philippines peace consultant, tagapangulo ng Anakpawis at pangalawang pangkalahatang kalihim ng Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas. Brutal na pinaslang siya sa kanyang tinitirhang bahay sa Quezon City noong Agosto 10. Nagtamo ng maraming saksak, tama ng baril at bakas ng tortyur ang katawan ni Echanis. Kasama rin sa napaslang ang isang lalaking nagngangalang Louie Tagapia.
Hustisya ang panawagan ng mga naulila ni Echanis.
The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) has assigned Juliet de Lima as interim chairperson of its Negotiating Panel following the death of former chief negotiator Fidel Agcaoili last month.
NDFP chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison told Kodao that de Lima is the most senior and most available among the members of the Left’s peace panel.
Sison added that de Lima, his wife, is also the “most secure for relating to the third party facilitator with matters pertaining to the NDFP section of the Joint Secretariat and Joint Monitoring Committee of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL).”
Established in June 2004, the Joint Secretariat is tasked, among others, to receive and investigate complaints of human rights violations.
The Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) has refused to hold offices in the Joint Secretariat’s Cubao, Quezon City headquarters for several years already, however.
Signed by both parties in March 1998, the CARHRIHL is the first of four substantive agenda on the peace talks based on The 1992 GRP-NDFP Hague Joint Declaration.
The three other substantive agenda are social and economic reforms, political and constitutional reforms, and the cessation of hostilities and disposition of forces.
The Royal Norwegian Government has been the third party facilitator of the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations since 2002.
The NDFP Negotiating Panel includes Coni Ledesma, Asterio Palima and Benito Tiamzon.
It has been engaged in on-off peace negotiations with the Philippine government since 1986 after the downfall of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
‘No rush to appoint replacements’
Sison also told Kodao in an online interview that there is no rush to appoint replacements to Agcaoili and NDFP Negotiating Panel Reciprocal Working Committee vice chairperson Randall Echanis who has brutally murdered last August 10.
Sison said that the lack of peace negotiations while Duterte is in power is temporary and will not last long.
“The National Council of the NDFP has enough time to complete the NDFP Negotiating Panel with the replacements of Ka Fidel and Ka Randy and revitalizing the working committees before peace negotiations will probably resume after (GRP President Rodrigo) Duterte is gone,” Sison said.
Duterte shall end his six-year term in June 2022.
“The broad united front against Duterte expects that his successor will opt for peace negotiations,” he added. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)