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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)

Reds assure safe passage of anti-Covid vaccines into guerilla zones

The New People’s Army (NPA) will ensure unimpeded passage of anti-coronavirus vaccines in its guerilla base and zones, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) announced.

CPP information officer Marco Valbuena said the NPA will ensure that transportation of vaccines will be provided a humanitarian corridor into areas under the control and influence of the guerrilla army.

The CPP statement is in response to President Rodrigo Duterte’s appeal Monday night to allow COVID-19 vaccines to be transported “freely and safely” in far-flung areas once they become available.

“The [CPP] must guarantee that the vaccines, in the course of their being transported to areas where there are no city health officers and medical persons…please leave the medicines alone,” Duterte said.

“I am asking you now to observe that rule because that is for the Filipino people…Kindly observe the rules of humanity,” Duterte added.

“It is a matter of principle for the NPA to respect all humanitarian undertakings that benefit the masses,” the CPP replied.

The CPP however suggested that the transportation, distribution and inoculation drive of Covid-19 vaccines especially in the interior areas be handled by the International Committee of the Red Cross, the Philippine Red Cross and other civilian humanitarian agencies.

The CPP said personnel of said agencies are properly trained and have the facilities to undertake such missions.

“Non-Red cross vehicles that will be used as Covid-19 vaccine transporters must be clearly and properly marked with a red cross over [a] white background,” the group said.

The CPP also strongly suggested that the vaccines not be transported in military vehicles, especially those which are not properly marked and carrying armed soldiers.

“Over the past year, the AFP has been carrying out combat and psywar (psychological warfare) operations behind the veil of implementing Covid-19 restrictions,” Valbuena explained.

Using the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to transport and handle vaccines will not encourage people to be vaccinated especially in many areas in the countryside where people are traumatized by military garrisoning of their communities and helicopter gunships firing missiles, he added.

The CPP complained that peasant civilians are worried that the AFP might use the vaccination drive for counterinsurgency and demand “surrender” before vaccine.

The Manila government said that the first batch of anti-Covid19 vaccines may arrive next week and the first inoculations may start within February. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

‘Isiwalat ang modus operandi ng pekeng pagpapasuko ng PNP’

“Ipinapanawagan ng KMU na ilantad at labanan ng mga manggagawa ang ganitong aktibidad ng rehimeng Duterte at mga ahenteng militar at intelligence nito laban sa kilusang-paggawa. Nananawagan kami sa lahat ng biktima ng ganitong atake na ilahad ang kanilang mga kwento at isiwalat ang modus operandi ng pekeng pagpapasuko ng PNP.” Elmer Labog, Tagapangulo, Kilusang Mayo Uno

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)

Joma: Partisan deployment order not from me

National Democratic Front of the Philippines chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison denies the order to form and deploy New People’s Army (NPA) urban partisan units came from him.

Asked to react to the Philippine National Police’s (PNP) announcement it is looking at possible charges against him, Sison said the new allegations that he ordered the deployment is a “pure concoction of the butcher (PNP chief Debold) Sinas and his fascist superiors.”

Sison said he is not in any position to give any special order to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) or the NPA to deploy partisans.

Sison said he was among the guests in a recent international webinar on human rights violations of the Rodrigo Duterte government when other speakers and inquirers from the audience brought up the issue of the possible revival of the NPA’s armed city partisan units.

He said he merely acknowledged the fact that there had been such a strong public clamor since 2016 when the mass murder of suspected street-level users of illegal drugs had been perpetrated by the police.

“Although I acknowledged the public clamor during the webinar, I was careful to state that it is the Central Committee of the CPP that decides such questions concerning the nationwide revival of the armed city partisans,” Sison said.

“[A]nd I referred to the publications of the CPP and the statements of Marco Valbuena, CPP spokesman, that the CPP is really concerned about the brutal extrajudical killings being done by the military and police under the direction of the chief butcher Duterte,” he explained.

Standing order?

Sinas announced Monday that the PNP is looking at filing a complaint against Sison after alleging the partisan unit deployment is a standing order from him.

Sinas said he already spoke with PNP legal officers for the possible filing of a complaint against Sison.

“We are looking at its possible effect, if his statement can be used against him for any criminal case. I have already talked to some of our legal officers to ask if there is a case for threat, whatsoever, that could be filed over his pronouncements,” Sinas, in Filipino, told a press briefing.

“Once our legal team determines the case that could be filed, then we will file the case in court,” the police chief added.

Old order

A review of the CPP’s 41st anniversary statement however showed that its plan to revive its urban partisan units was announced as early as December 26, 2009.

“We must have a plan to increase the number of Red commanders and fighters, units of the NPA and guerrilla fronts from around 120 to 180 in order to cover the rural congressional districts and gain the ability to deploy armed city partisan units in the urban congressional districts,” part of the statement said.

“The NPA can take the initiative of developing armed city partisan warfare and launching special operations against enemy facilities and anti-people enterprises in order to force the enemy forces to go on guard duty and put more of its troops on the defensive,” it added.

The CPP said the NPA in urban areas must target for arrest and trial violators of human rights and international humanitarian law. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

NDFP reveals CPP-NPA urged to form partisan teams ‘to fight gov’t abuses’

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) revealed that the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New People’s Army (CPP) are being urged to create armed urban partisan teams in response to widespread abuses by State security forces.

The NDFP International Information office said that in an online forum on the 52nd anniversary  of the Communist Party in the Philippines (CPP) in Europe last December 26, participants renewed calls for “punitive justice” by NPA partisans against abusive policemen and government soldiers.

Attended by civilians as well as local and foreign supporters of the underground Communist movement, the forum featured calls to fight “fascist attacks” against unarmed activists and civilians in urban areas by suspected State-sponsored death squads.

The calls came hours before mother and son Sonya and Frank Anthony Gregorio were buried at Paniqui, Tarlac after their cold-blooded murder by Police Senior Staff Sergeant Jonel Nuezca that was caught on camera.

The twin murders reignited complaints of massive human rights violations committed by government security forces that groups say have been consistently encouraged by President Rodrigo Duterte.

‘Up to the CPP’

Forum panelist and NDFP chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison acknowledged that calls to create NPA partisan units are widespread and that conditions are ripe for the return of armed partisans to counter the assassinations and impunity by the Manila government.

The CPP founder said he based his observation on the 52nd anniversary statement of the CPP and reports published in the Party’s website.

Sison said there are enough bases for small teams “to conduct armed partisan operations in the cities to mete out revolutionary justice against Duterte’s terrorist forces based in the urban areas.”

He, however, emphasized that the matter is up to the CPP leadership to undertake. “Experience will be the best teacher on how to do it,” he said.

Sison also stressed there is no need for the underground revolutionary movement to shift to “urban insurrectionism” to deal a fatal blow to the Duterte’s regime at the moment.

He encouraged the strengthening and expanding of existing guerrilla fronts to prepare the NPA into achieving an equal balance of forces with the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police.

Sison said that based on CPP reports, the NPA is currently is far stronger than that in 1986 which was only about six thousand regulars.

The rise of younger under 30s red commanders would usher in more daring offensives, he said.

The NPA’s Alex Boncayao Brigade undertook partisan operations from the mid-1980s to the early 1990s.

The CPP leadership dissolved the partisan teams after internal investigations revealed that some Party leaders have abused the practice.

The CPP then undertook a “Second Great Rectification Movement” that expelled several high-ranking leaders from the organization.  # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

CPP claims NPA builds new guerilla fronts despite AFP’s all-out war

The Communist Party (CPP) said the New People’s Army (NPA) has in fact grown in strength despite the Manila government’s all-out war operations against the underground revolutionary groups.

In a statement issued last Christmas Day on the Party’s 52nd founding anniversary, the CPP said the NPA has built new guerrilla fronts and expanded old guerrilla fronts in several regions despite the large-scale and sustained military operations mounted by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) the past year.

According to CPP’s Central Committee (CC), NPA units are expanding to new territories and recovering old areas as well as forming new guerrilla fronts.

The expansion is in order to avail of wider areas for maneuver as the NPA’s guerrilla forces face the AFP’s large-scale combat and aerial bombing operations, the CPP said.

NPA guerillas in Southern Mindanao Region present arms and sing “The Internationale” in Saturday’s celebration of the CPP’s 52nd founding anniversary. (CPP photo)

The statement did not give specific numbers but cited “outstanding” experiences in guerrilla territory expansion in Southern Tagalog, Bicol, Negros and Eastern Visayas regions that the Rodrigo Duterte government placed under “state of emergency” in 2018 under Memorandum Order 32.

The AFP subsequently deployed large number of troops in these regions, as well as in Northeast Mindanao, North Central Mindanao, Southern Mindanao and Far South Mindanao.

“It (CPP) estimates that there are now close to 150 battalions of enemy maneuver troops deployed against the NPA. Up to 82% of the total enemy forces are concentrated in eight regions,” the statement said.

The group said the AFP also aims to further increase the number of CAFGU paramilitaries to 70,000 by completing the recruitment of 9,000 more, proof that the AFP is far from annihilating the guerrilla army by the end of the Rodrigo Duterte presidency in 2022.

The CPP reported that the steady expansion of the areas of operation of the NPA renders large-scale AFP operations ineffective as the government troops fail to encircle and overpower the smaller NPA units.

It however admitted that some NPA commands have been constricted and overstretched by the AFP’s large-scale operations and aerial bombardment.

The CPP however expects Party leaders to carry out reorganizations of besieged NPA guerrilla fronts, drawing lessons from advanced experiences of commands of regions that effectively combine platoons to meet current AFP tactics.

It also called on the NPA to continue mastering guerrilla tactics of concentration, dispersal and shifting to evade the AFP’s main attacking force.

“[C]ause it to beat the air with large and wasteful operations, and then strike the weaker forces from its flanks,” the CPP said.

Despite the absence of ceasefire declarations by both the government and the CPP, the AFP failed to prevent celebrations of the Party’s 52nd anniversary yesterday, Saturday, December 26, the Party added. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

52nd anniversary celebrations to be held today despite attacks—CPP

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) announced it will celebrate its 52nd founding anniversary today despite all-out attacks by government troopers.

In a Christmas day statement, CPP public information officer Marco Valbuena said “simple but joyous activities” will be held today in both rural and urban areas throughout the country.

“These activities are going to be held clandestinely to evade suppression by the fascist enemy’s military and police forces,” Valbuena said.

He said the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ (AFP) continue to attack peasant communities even during the Christmas and New Year holiday season.

“The AFP has, so far, failed to detect and prevent the gatherings and assemblies which have already been held in some revolutionary areas… In some villages, the masses and local NPA units were able to mount their gatherings right under the nose of the AFP,” Valbuena added.

He said that more activities will also be held in the coming days.

Last December 16, the CPP Central Committee urged party members to celebrate their 52nd anniversary “with secret meetings and assemblies to mark the event wherever and whenever possible.”

The CPP also did not declare a holiday truce with the government following the December 7 announcement by Rodrigo Duterte that he will never again issue a ceasefire order with the CPP and its forces as long as he is president.

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.”

(CPP image)

‘Fight against terror and evil’

The CPP said its celebrations this year shall focus on looking back in the past year, taking stock of the current situation and paying tribute to the heroes and martyrs of the Philippine revolution.

The celebrations shall also “affirm the commitment and determination to serve the people and fight to end the reign of terror and evil of the tyrannical US-Duterte regime.”

“Some of these meetings and gatherings double as education seminars to discuss the Party’s views about the current international and national situation,” the party’s statement added.

In the cities, the CPP said its revolutionary forces are also set to hold clandestine gatherings and assemblies among Party members and the revolutionary masses in their communities and homes.

“As in the rural areas, they can employ various creative methods to avoid enemy detection,” it said.

It also reminded its members it is not far-fetched for Duterte’s anti-communist National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Coflict to carry out another clampdown against the legal democratic forces in the government’s desperation to drown the joyous and militant spirit of the Party’s anniversary celebrations. # (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)