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Military operations hamper release of NPA POWs

Plans for the release of 15 New People’s Army (NPA) prisoners of war (POW) are being hampered by continuous Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), the National Democratic Front of the Philippines-North East Mindanao (NDFP-NEMR) said.

In a statement, NDFP-NEMR said that the NPA’s Front 21B and 21C are preparing to release the two soldiers of the 3rd Special Forces Battalion of the Philippine Army and the 13 Civilian Active Auxiliary (CAA) troopers.

“The plan however, is hampered by the continuous military operations launched by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the utter disregard of AFP officials and the Government of the Philippines (GRP) for the welfare of their troops captured by the NPA,” NDFP-NEMR spokesperson Maria Malaya said.

The first of the 15 POW was captured in an ambush by the NPA against the CAA under the command of the 29th IBPA last November 29 in Remedios T. Romualdez town, Agusan del Norte.

The other 14 POWs were captured in a raid by the revolutionary guerrillas against the AFP detachment in Brgy. New Tubigon, Sibagat, Agusan del Sur last December 19.

The NPA raid was made without a shot fired, prompting Defense secretary Delfin Lorenzana to say suspect some paramilitary troopers may have colluded with the guerrillas.

“Baka itong CAFGU (Civilian Auxiliary Force Geographical Unit) na may kamag-anak na NPA ang naging conduit para makapasok sila, para hindi mapagsuspetsahan,” Lorenzana last December 20 said.

In reaction to the incidents, the AFP has launched “unrelenting” military operations in different areas of the region that lasted for  25 days, Malaya said.

“The Philippine Air Force launch indiscriminate bombings and strafing and threaten miners, farmers and Lumad earning a living in the said areas,” Malaya added.

Earlier, the Communist Party of the Philippines said POWs are being treated humanely in accordance with the International Humanitarian Law.

The CPP in a December 20 statement also said they planned to release the POWs in time for Christmas but were prevented from carrying out the plan due to the government’s refusal to reciprocate the NPA’s unilateral ceasefire declarations during Christmas and New Year.

Instead, Malaya said the AFP launched unrelenting military operations that only earned six counter attacks from the NPA.

The AFP incurred several casualties from the NPA’s use of command-detonated explosives, Malaya claimed.

NDFP-NEMR called on the families and relatives of the POWs as well as peace advocates to call on President Rodrigo Duterte to suspend military operations to hasten the release of the captured government troopers.

The group also challenged the AFP as well as the Philippine National Police to suspend military and police operations to ensure the safe release of their comrades. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

‘Futile canard’: Media group denounces red-tagging

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) is thinking of taking legal actions against continued efforts to link the media group with the communist revolutionary movement it sees as part of an orchestrated effort to intimidate it into silence.

NUJP officers found themselves answering requests for interviews today from community news outfits around the country soliciting reactions to charges by someone identified only as “Ka Ernesto,” who claimed to be a former member and supposedly “admitted” that the organization had links to Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Ma. Sison.

The group said that when asked where the story originated from, they invariably pointed to banner stories carried by a number of little-known Manila-based tabloids – Police Files Tonite, Bagong Bomba and Saksi Mata ng Katotohanan – all of which carried the exact same headline: “NUJP pinamumunuan ng CPP-NPA-NDF” (NUJP headed by CPP-NPA-NDF), the latter initials referring to the New People’s Army and the National Democratic Front.

Today’s front page of the tabloid Bagong Bomba.

This is the second time in just a few weeks the NUJP has been linked to the revolutionary movement since a certain Mario Ludades, claiming to be one of the founders of the CPP, accused the media group of being a “legal front” of the underground movement in stories run by several outfits on December 26, incidentally the 50th anniversary of the CPP.

“It is hilarious that they keep repeating these charges since the NUJP’s membership represents a broad spectrum of creeds and political beliefs bound by a common dedication to defending and expanding the bounds of freedom of the press and of expression,” the group’s national directorate said in a statement today.

NUJP officers said they were initially tempted to ignore the “fantastic” and “hilarious” account of “Ka Ernesto” but for the fact that it exposes their members and other colleagues to potential danger from those who might readily believe the “canard”.

“With at least 12 colleagues slain under the watch of a president who has actually justified the murder of journalists… and openly and constantly curses and threatens media, we are taking this matter very, very seriously,” the group said.

Today’s front page of the tabloid Saksi.

Duterte’s attacks

Early in his term, President Rodrigo Duterte said in a speech before reporters in his hometown Davao City that media killings are justified.

“Just because you’re a journalist you are not exempted from assassination, if you’re a son of a bitch?” Duterte said.

Duterte never let up against media outfits he perceives to be overly critical of his presidency, even threatening to block media group ABS-CBN’s petition to have its broadcast franchise renewed with the House of Representatives.

In December 2017, Duterte said he would only be willing to compromise with ABS-CBN if the network helps promote his campaign to shift to a federal form of government.

“Kung magtulong kayo diyan sa federal system campaign at gawain ninyong slogan also for the unity and to preserve this republic, makipag-areglo ako,” he said.

He repeatedly threatened the Philippine Daily Inquirer and its owners’ business interests.

Following a tirade against Rappler, the Securities and Exchange Commission cancelled the outfit’s license while prosecutors filed tax evasion charges against its chief executive officer Maria Ressa.

Individual journalists accused of being overly critical against Duterte’s bloody drug war were also threatened and harassed by social media groups and online trolls supportive of Duterte.

Recently, websites of alternative media groups were also digitally attacked they said may be part of the crackdown against so-called communist fronts.

“It does not take genius to figure out who is behind this determined, if futile, effort to cow us. But we tell you now and will tell you again, do your worst, you will fail,” the NUJP vowed.

‘Enemies of press freedom’

The NUJP also condemned the three tabloids who published the “canard”.

“It is unfortunate that there exist within the profession unscrupulous scum who allow themselves to be used by these cowardly enemies of press freedom even if it endangers colleagues,” the NUJP said, obviously referring to the three tabloids.

“But we will let them be. Their venality shames them enough,” the NUJP said.

The group warned, however, that it will hound those who are behind the red-tagging campaign and make them pay should its members are harmed. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

NDFP to work for Duterte’s ouster–Joma

While it is still open to peace talks should the Manila government decide to resume the cancelled negotiations, the main task of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) is to work for Rodrigo Duterte’s ouster, Prof. Jose Maria Sison said.

In a statement, Sison said the NDFP is authorized to be open to peace negotiations with either the current government or its replacement, but “its principal work now is to work for the ouster of the Duterte regime” and help bring an end to the country’s worsening social, economic and political crises.

Sison warned that the Duterte government is on track to only aggravate the socio-economic and political crises in the country by imposing heavier taxes and causing high inflation while surely failing to curb government corruption in 2019.

“Within the year, the Duterte regime will further inflict grave social and economic suffering on the people and unleash mass murder and other human rights violations in a futile attempt to destroy the armed revolutionary movement and intimidate the people,” he said.

“The state terrorism will victimize not only the toiling masses of the people but also the middle social strata and even those in the upper classes who do not belong to the small and narrow ruling clique of Duterte,” Sison added.

Sison also warned of the possibility of a “no-election” scenario in May 2019 should Duterte decide to impose “a fascist dictatorship ala Marcos by using de facto or proclaimed martial law nationwide” and the railroading of charter change for a bogus kind of federalism.

If such a scenario happens, Duterte is capable of centralizing power in his hands and would handpick his regional and provincial agents among the local dynasties and warlords, Sison predicted.

Not peace, but surrender

Personalities close to Duterte said the resumption of peace negotiations with the NDFP is still possible.

In a press briefing at Malacañ last Thursday (December 27), government chief negotiator and labor secretary Silvestre Bello III said it is still “possible” to go back to the peace table with the NDFP.

“Anything is possible. The President’s commitment to our country is inclusive and lasting peace for our country. If it means resuming the peace negotiations, why not?” Bello said.

Bello, however, admitted that the government has shifted towards its so-called “local peace talks.”

No New People’s Army (NPA) unit has yet come forward to agree to the government’s revived proposal.

Former special assistant to the President, Christopher “Bong” Go also appealed to the NDFP not to close the door to the resumption of the negotiations.

“I call on the NPA to trust President Duterte. There is no other leader like him who will sincerely talk peace with you,” Go told reporters in San Andres town, Quezon province last December 17.


Duterte, however, recently ordered the Armed Forces of the Philippines to destroy the Communist movement in the Philippines as evidenced by his refusal to reciprocate the NPAs unilateral ceasefire declarations in time for Christmas, the new year, and the Communist Party of the Philippines’ (CPP) 50th founding anniversary celebrations.

Five tasks in 2019

“Duterte is not interested in serious peace negotiations to address the roots of the armed conflict and make comprehensive agreements on social, economic and political reforms in order to lay the basis for a just and lasting peace,” Sison said.

“What he wants is the impossible, which is the surrender of the revolutionary movement of the people,” he added.

Sison said that in view of Duterte’s anti-people governance and anti-peace stance, the people expect five things from the revolutionary movement:

  1. The CPP will perform its overall leading role in the people’s democratic revolution, “promptly, correctly and clearly”;
  2. The NPA will intensify its tactical offensives to defeat the campaign of the enemy to destroy it while carrying out agrarian revolution and mass work;
  3. The various types of mass organizations will be expanded as the source of strength of the CPP, NPA and the people’s democratic government;
  4. The people’s democratic government will be strengthened to take charge of administration and programs for the benefit of the people, such as land reform, public education, production, health and sanitation, cultural work, defense, arbitration and people’s court, environmental protection and disaster relief; and

The NDFP will further strengthen itself and cooperate with all possible allies in the broad united front in order to isolate and oust the Duterte regime from power. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

NPA in Bicol celebrates CPP’s 50th anniversary

The Romulo Jallores Command of the New People’s Army invited journalists of select local and international media groups to a press conference in a guerilla camp deep in the Bicol Region.

The event was part of the nationwide celebration of the 50th anniversary of the reestablishment of the Communist Party of the Philippines.

GRP ceasefire chief’s resignation result of frustration with Duterte, military—Sison

The resignation of the head of the ceasefire committee of the government negotiating panel with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) exposes how President Rodrigo Duterte and the military have made the peace talks impossible, Prof. Jose Maria Sison said.

Responding to Francisco “Pancho” Lara’s announcement of his resignation as chairperson of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) Negotiating Panel ceasefire committee, Sison said he thinks Lara “got fed up” with Duterte and the military.

“I think that Pancho got fed up with Durterte and the military when Duterte practically waste-basketed the draft agreements that had resulted from the hard work in backchannel talks by teams of the GRP and NDFP negotiating panels from March to June 2018,” Sison told Kodao.

The GRP and NDFP peace talks were supposed to resume last June after Duterte terminated the negotiations with his issuance of Proclamation 360 in November 2017 and his subsequent declaration of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New People’s Army (NPA) as so-called terrorist organizations in December.

Both parties were ready to formally sign an interim peace agreement in June, a package that included a stand down agreement between the NPA and the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police; Guidelines and Procedures towards an Interim Peace Agreement and the Resumption of Talks and its attached timetable; the Initialed Interim Peace Agreement; and the NDFP Proposed Draft of the Amnesty Proclamation which was given to the GRP and the Third Party Facilitator.

In an interview with ABS-CBN News Friday, Lara said additional preconditions for the resumption of formal negotiations have “torpedoed” certain aspects of the peace talks.

He revealed that localized peace talks and the demand for Sison’s return to the Philippines were additions to the original agenda that included a ceasefire agreement with the NDFP while negotiations are being held.

“I think those additional issues torpedoed the discussions of a ceasefire and the other reforms because, then, the bar had been raised higher,” Lara said.

Lara surmised that his replacement may be someone more trusted by Duterte and the military or the military would like to take on the issue of ceasefire with the NDFP themselves.

Duterte has appointed former AFP chief of staff Carlito Galvez after formal Presidential peace adviser Jesus Dureza’s sudden resignation last month due to corruption within the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP).

“I know that based on my discussions with the military that they probably want something else rather than a ceasefire,” Lara told ABS-CBN News.

“I think they want to prosecute the war as it is happening right now,” he said.

Sison seconded Lara’s observation, adding the NDFP learned that Duterte allowed the military officers at the command conference held in Malacañang in June 2018 “to insult the OPAPP and the GRP Negotiating Panel.”

Sison did not give details on how the alleged insult happened.

“I think that Duterte is a captive of his own greed for power and bureaucratic look. He does not want the peace negotiations so that he can scapegoat the CPP, NPA and NDFP as pretext and cause for establishing a full-blown fascist dictatorship through chacha (Charter Change) to a bogus kind of federalism,” Sison said.

The OPAPP website has not published a statement on Lara’s resignation as of this posting. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

‘What kind of President does the GRP have?’ Joma asks

President Rodrigo Duterte’s revelation it is the military and the police that will give final approval on a final peace agreement with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) is an admission of his incompetence and lack of political will to pursue the peace negotiations, Jose Maria Sison said.

Reacting to Duterte’s speech in Tanza, Cavite Thursday (November 22) that he will seek military and police approval before he signs a peace agreement with the NDFP, Sison wondered why the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) chief executive is afraid of his subordinates.

“He is supposed to be the supreme political leader and commander-in-chief of the GRP. That is an inadmissible excuse for his repeated termination of the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations,” Sison told Kodao.

“Give me the final draft [of a peace agreement]. If I like it, I will pass it on to the military and the police. I will ask [them], ‘Is this alright with you?’” Duterte said Thursday.

Kasi, kung ‘di naman tanggap ng militar at pulis, I coup d’etat ka naman. Anak ng jueteng!” he explained. (Because, the military and the police will only launch a coup d’etat against me if they are against it. Son of a b****!)

Sison said Duterte is simply joking, stupid or crazy if he thinks the NDFP will agree to submit a draft peace agreement only to be subjected to a final approval by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP).

“He pretends not to know that there is a negotiating process or he is so drugged by fentanyl that he does not really know it,” Sison said.

Fentanyl is a powerful anti-pain drug banned in many countries that Duterte admits he is taking.

Sison reminded Duterte that before the President  terminated the peace negotiations in November last year, both the NDFP and GRP negotiating panels had already made their respective drafts of the comprehensive agreements on social and economic reforms (CASER) and on political and constitutional reforms (CAPCR) and had made substantial progress in reconciling their drafts of CASER.

“Duterte seems to imagine that the NDFP is like China which has enough money to bribe him to let it draft a major document for his consent and approval,” Sison said.

The NDFP’s chief political consultant said that Duterte only further exposes his “inane mind” by admitting that he would still need the ultimate approval of the military and police.

“He acknowledges that he stands in fear of coup d’etat by the military and police and he actually claims that his supposed authority as political leader and commander-in-chief of the GRP and its armed services is inferior to the authority of the military and police,” Sison said.

“What kind of president does the GRP have? A clown, a dolt or a dopehead?” Sison asked.

Sison however said NDFP negotiators will still talk to their GRP counterparts.

“Because of the NDFP’s standing policy to be open to negotiations with the GRP, (NDFP Negotiating Panel chairperson) Fidel Agcaoili will continue to be in touch with his counterpart [Silvestre] Bebot Bello and explore the possibility of resuming the peace negotiations,” Sison said.

“In view of the termination of the peace negotiations and absence of any ceasefire, it is logical for the NPA and other revolutionary forces to do their best in conducting the people’s war while the NDFP focuses on drawing up the draft agreements on social, economic and political reforms to lay the basis for a just and lasting peace,” he added. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

NDFP blames Año’s arrest threat for cancelled trip

YOGJAKARTA, Indonesia—Europe-based National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace negotiators announced they cancelled their planned trip to the Philippines and possible meeting with Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) President Rodrigo Duterte, blaming interior and local government secretary Eduardo Año’s threat to have them arrested.

In a statement today, NDFP Negotiating Panel chairperson Fidel Agcaoili said  he and fellow peace negotiator Coni Ledesma and senior adviser Luis Jalandoni have decided to forego their trip to the Philippines after Año said last November 16 that they will be arrested upon arrival.

“On November 16, DILG Sec. Eduardo Año issued a statement that we would be arrested upon our arrival unless the President says otherwise,” Agcaoili said.

“As a consequence, we decided in the following day to forego with the trip of Mr. Jalandoni and Ms. Ledesma whose names are in the so-called proscription case against the CPP and NPA,” he explained.

Agcaoili also clarified that his name was not included in the 600 persons listed by the Department of Justice in its terrorist proscription case against the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army last January.

He added that as far as he knows, there are no outstanding cases against him in any GRP court that could be a basis for his arrest.

Not ready

Agcaoili said that Duterte announced in Papua New Guinea last Friday while attending a summit of the Association of South East Asian Nations that he is not yet prepared to resume talks with the revolutionary movement.

He also revealed that they have been informed by the GRP last Sunday, November 18, that the appointment with the President had been cancelled and that he would only be meeting with presidential spokesperson Salvador  Panelo and presidential peace adviser Jesus Dureza.

“[S]uch a meeting might not prove useful without a new perspective. As a consequence, we decided that I also forego with my trip scheduled for that evening for security consideration,” Agcaoili said.

He said that a meeting with Duterte had been scheduled on November 23 while they are in Manila, “considering that more than three months have passed since the GRP postponed the scheduled resumption of formal talks in Oslo, Norway, on June 28, 2018.”

Earlier, Duterte disclosed he is thinking about resuming the peace talks and has consulted the military about the matter.

“I will not keep it a secret. I do not want (it to be) confidential. They will come here. They want to talk to me. Their problem is they might be arrested,” Duterte said.

Other cancelled meetings

Because of the cancellation, Agcaoili said they failed to attend a meeting with the new Royal Norwegian Ambassador to the Philippines scheduled yesterday.

The Royal Norwegian Government is the Third Party Facilitator to the NDFP-GRP peace process.

Agcaoili earlier said their trip was primarily in connection with his and Ledesma’s work as members of the NDFP section in the Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC) of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law.

The JMS’ office is in Cubao, Quezon City. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

NDFP-Negros identifies Sagay massacre gunmen

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) in Negros Island identified four suspects in the massacre of nine farmers in Sagay City last October 20.

In a statement, NDFP-Negros spokesperson Frank Fernandez said the killers behind the massacre were Vito Lotrago, Eduardo Linugon, Rexi Robles and a certain Rako, former members of the Revolutionary Proletarian Army (RPA) and active members of the Special Civilian Active Auxiliary (SCAA).

Fernandez said the Roselyn Pelle Command of the New People’s Army (NPA)-Northern Negros Front conducted an exhaustive investigation into the incident and identified the four as the perpetrators.

The NDFP official said the gunmen are under the employ of local politicians, such as the Marañons, specifically Negros Occidental governor Alfredo Jr. and Sagay City mayor Alfredo III.

“It is common knowledge that for decades the Marañon family and their kin (the Tolentinos, Sumbincos, Lumaynos, Zarosas, Javelosas, Jaojocos and Cuevas) have maintained and expanded their land holdings in Sagay City and neighboring towns and cities using violence and brutality by conniving with the AFP/PNP (Armed Forces of the Philippines/Philippine National Police) and employing armed mercenaries like the RPA and SCAA,” Fernandez said.

“I know for a fact that, for the right price, P2,000 or thereabouts, SCAA elements are willing to kill anyone,” he added.

Fernandez, a former priest, is a long-time leader of the revolutionary groups in the island.

Fernandez said the elder Marañon is the “kingpin of big despotic landlords in the province” who colludes with the AFP [and] PNP and other government agencies to downplay the Sagay massacre.

“Marañon continues his vain attempts to divert the public from the real issues of land monopoly, tyranny and exploitation,” he said.

The Marañons and the PNP have yet to reply to Fernandez’s statement.

Earlier, the local police filed multiple murder charges against two National Federation of Sugar Workers officials, alleging Rene Manlangit and Rogelio Arquillo recruited the victims into their organization and later killed them as part of the destabilization plot to oust President Rodrigo Duterte.

Fernandez said the police “script” stinks of deceit and ill motives that is “evidently demented.” # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

NPA on the Sagay massacre: RPA, AFP and landlords did it

The New People’s Army (NPA) in Negros Island said the culprits in the massacre of nine farmers in Sagay City Saturday evening are “mercenaries” calling themselves the Revolutionary Proletarian Army (RPA) under the command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ (AFP) Special Civilian Active Auxiliary (SCAA) unit stationed in Hacienda Mirasol, Brgy. Baterya, some 2 kilometers from the massacre site.

The Apolinario Gatmaitan Command of the NPA said the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the AFP should  stop its “series of heinous lies” as they only exonerate the landlords and their goons who are behind the massacre.

The NPA said the RPA is a renegade band led by Stephen Paduano alias Lualhati Carapali and other “opportunist traitors” who broke away from the NPA during the 1990s.

“The RPA has since operated simultaneously as armed goons of Negros landlords and politicians and auxiliary force of the AFP,” the group, through its local spokesperson Juanito Magbanua, said.

Hacienda Nene (also known as Hacienda Barbara), the site of the massacre where nine farm workers, including two minors, were killed is part of the vast landholdings under the control of the family of incumbent Negros Occidental Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr, and his son, Alfredo Marañon III, incumbent mayor of Sagay City, the NPA said.

Its landlords and leaseholders, the Tolentinos and Sumbincos, are related to the Marañons who control Sagay City for many decades, the Communist guerillas added.

“For many decades, Sagay has been Marañon territory. They have used the RPA and SCAA to terrorize and murder defenseless farmers who stand against their despotic reign,” Magbanua said in a statement, adding the Marañons’ offer of a P500,000-reward for the culprits’s identification is “an outrageously barefaced ploy to cover up their tracks.”

The NPA also scored Police Regional Office-6 Director Chief Supt. John Bulalacao, Negros Occidental Provincial Police Office (NOcPPO) director SSupt. Rodolfo Castil and AFP Spokesperson Edgar Arevalo for what they call obvious attempts to gloss over state culpability.

The massacre was immediately downplayed by Castil as a “selective shooting” incident, pointing to some planted evidence of empty shells from a .38 caliber revolver and live shotgun ammunition to insinuate that an exchange of fire between perpetrators and victims transpired.

In Manila, police director general Oscar Albayalde and newly-appointed presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo echoed the police and military line the NPAs killed the victims.

“This shameless victim-blaming echoes the lies that the military and police fed the public to absolve themselves of the 2004 massacre of farm workers in Hacienda Luisita, Tarlac, the biggest sugarcane estate in the country,” the NPA said.

‘Spreading disinformation’

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) in Negros Island also belied government accusations it was the NPA who attacked the farmers’ campout and pointed to the RPA as the culprits.

In  a statement, NDFP Negros Island spokesperson Frank Fernandez said the people of Negros know very well that the Sagay Massacre was “perpetrated by hired guns, armed by local landlords and emboldened by the climate of impunity and Duterte’s own pronouncements to stifle dissent and kill.”

Fernandez said the public must not be misled into believing that the RPA and the NPA are one and the same.

“The pseudo-revolutionary RPA is now actively integrated as auxiliary force of the AFP since their supposed ‘surrender’ and ‘peace pact’ with the government. The RPA is nothing but a horde of bandits serving as private army to big landlords such as Eduardo ‘Danding’ Cojuangco Jr and the Marañon ruling dynasty who have lorded over Sagay City and the whole province of Negros Occidental for generations,” Fernandez said.

The former Catholic priest also condemned the police and the military for spreading disinformation, planting incriminating evidence against the victims and ridiculing their call for genuine land reform.

‘Pet parrot’

Meanwhile, NDFP Negotiating Panel chairperson Fidel Agcaoili accused Panelo of not only serving as the spokesman of President Rodrigo Duterte but as national security adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr.’s “pet parrot” as well.

Reacting to Panelo’s claims the nine victims were killed by the NPA to discredit the Duterte government, Agcaoili said Panelo, like Esperon, has no credibility to accuse the revolutionary movement.

“In 2006, Esperon attempted to put one over on UN Special Rapporteur Philip Alston by submitting ‘documentary evidence’ purportedly showing that the Left was responsible for the rampant extrajudicial killings of activists under the Arroyo regime,” Agcaoili recalled.

“Alston dismissed the theory as ‘strikingly unconvincing’ and bearing ‘hallmarks of a fabrication’ which ‘cannot be taken as evidence of anything other than disinformation’,” he added.

“At least Esperon presented some bogus documents to Professor Alston to pass off as proof of his preposterous lies. Parrot Panelo just manages to be preposterous,” Agcaoili said.

‘On the side of the oppressed’

The NPA said the people are aware they are mainly a peasant army waging agrarian revolution to address the fundamental problem of landlessness and various other forms of feudal and semi-feudal exploitation prevailing in the vast Philippine countryside.

“The NPA is the fighting force of the oppressed masses; it does not carry out senseless killings like state troops and its paramilitary forces,” Gatmaitan said.

The NPA added that the massacre of the victims justify the revolution they have been waging for nearly five decades. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

NPA to carry out rescue, relief and rehab after ‘Ompong’

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) announced Saturday, September 15, that New People’s Army (NPA) units are ready to conduct humanitarian activities for victims of Typhoon “Ompong”.

“The NPA and all revolutionary forces in North and Central Luzon, as well as in Metro Manila and the rest of Luzon, are geared to carry out rescue, relief and rehabilitation work for millions of people whose homes and livelihood were ravaged by strong winds and rains brought about by typhoon Ompong,” the CPP said in a statement.

The CPP said that while remaining vigilant over “relentless” offensive operations of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, local NPA commands shall primarily concentrate in civic action amid the disaster in the next few days.

The CPP announcement was issued even as tropical cyclone “Ompong” (International name: Mangkhut) is still barrelling across extreme northern Luzon, packing sustained winds of around 205 kilometers per hours (kph) and gusts of up to 285 kph.

“Ompong” made landfall at 1:40 am at the rice-producing town of Baggao in Cagayan Province and moved west-northwest at a speed of 25 kph after hitting the Sierra Madre mountain range.

Billions of pesos in damages to crops are expected as rice and corn, both major crops  in Cagayan, Isabela, Apayao, Abra and Ilocos Sur, have yet to be harvested before “Ompong” ravaged the area.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council has yet to announce any casualty from the typhoon.

As of 1 pm Saturday, the typhoon has weakened and its center was located off the coast of Laoag City in Ilocos Norte.

The typhoon’s path closely followed the trajectory of Supertyphoon “Lawin” which hit the same area in late 2016, killing eight victims and causing an estimated P60 billion in damages to crops and properties.

Typhoon Ompong’s aftermath in Cabagan, Isabela.

Extending all help

In light of the widespread destruction, the CPP urged the Filipino people and international humanitarian agencies “to unite and extend all possible help to address the welfare of the people. “

“[The CPP] urges all democratic sectors to establish Serve the People brigades to help collect and distribute relief assistance. The broad masses of workers, peasants, minority people, fisherfolk and other basic sectors suffer the most from the damage wrought by typhoon Ompong,” the CPP said.

The revolutionary group added there is urgent need to mobilize peoples and groups to facilitate the entry and equitable distribution of all financial and material assistance.

The CPP warned that rampant corruption and inefficiencies by the government may hijack relief operations, as when Supertyphoons Pablo, Sendong, Yolanda and Lawin devastated large parts of the country in recent years.

The group also urged the Rodrigo Duterte government to implement wage increases, land distribution, cancellation of debt, agricultural subsidies, free irrigation and livelihood assistance and economic relief to help the victims. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)