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KMP: Gov’t anti-insurgency drive targets farmers, people’s organizations

The Rodrigo Duterte government targets and forces farmers to pose as surrenderers and be counted as trophies in its anti-insurgency campaign, an investigation by a farmers’ group revealed.

The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) said a nationwide profiling campaign is ongoing against farmers, many of whom are later listed and presented as surrendered New People’s Army (NPA) members or supporters by the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC). 

The KMP said the attacks on the peasant sector was affirmed by its series of online fact-finding activities with campaign group Tanggol Magsasaka on farmers, leaders, and other residents in 11 provinces nationwide from July to August.

More than 70 victims gave their testimonies and affidavits on over a hundred cases of human rights abuses perpetrated by state forces, KMP said.

The groups’ first ever online fact-finding activity was aimed to “expose the Duterte regime’s dirty and brutal war targeting farmers, to silence their collective struggle for land, economic reforms, and social justice. “

The fact-finding mission was held just as President Duterte bragged in his last State of the Nation Address last July 26 that about 17,000 NPA members have already surrendered to government forces.

“More than 17,000 former communist rebels have surrendered to the government. They have returned to the fold of the law and are happily reintegrating to the community,” Duterte said.

The President added his administration’s projects such as farm-to-market roads, livelihood, education and sanitation were able to destroy 15 NPA fronts, which he did not identify.

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) however laughed at the President’s claim, pointing out past military claims the NPA has no more than 4,000 fighters left.

“”Fifteen guerrilla fronts dismantled? Dream on, Duterte. Si Gen. Hermogenes Esperon ng NTF-ELCAC nagsabi, mahigit daw 4,000 noong June ang NPA mula 3,700 noong December,” CPP information officer Marco Valbuena said.

Civilians

The KMP said many of those claimed by NTF-ELCAC’s to be surrenderers were civilians, including farmers, farm workers, peasant leaders, rural women and youth, and fisher folk.

“[T]he majority of these so-called surrenderers are civilians — ordinary farmers who were either coerced, forced, or duped into ‘surrendering’ to the government,” the KMP said.

The group said that based on initial findings of its online investigation, red-tagging, threat, harassment, and intimidation are the most common forms of abuse by state forces.

Other instances of abuses include:

* Home and farm “intimidation visits” by police, military, and intelligence agents;

* “Forced presentation” of peasant leaders, farmers, and civilians to village authorities and Philippine Army camps to have their names “cleared”; and

* Forced attendance in village meetings organized by the military to be “lectured” on counterinsurgency. 

KMP said that individuals targeted for forced surrender were intimidated to sign document denouncing local organization and the CPP-NPA-NDFP alleged as “Communist Terrorist Groups.”  

The group’s accusations mirror the December 2019 Philippine Army admission it manipulated a photo to show a group of so-called NPA surrenderers in Masbate province.

The Philippine Army photo it released to the media that it also later admitted was manipulated.

Automatic NPA supporters

The KMP revealed government forces automatically accuse local peasant organizations and associations supporters of the NPA or have links and relations to the CPP, NPA and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP). 

“Farmers and rural populations in localities are often red-tagged as members of the so-called Milisyang Bayan and Sangay ng Partido sa Lokalidad. Legitimate peasant organizations engaged in farm campaigns, campaigns for land reform, against land-grabbing, against high land rent, and other forms of feudal exploitation are always and automatically red-tagged and vilified by state forces,” KMP said.

The group added its affiliates as well as those of other peasant organizations have been red-tagged, including Danggayan, Dagami, Kaguimungan, UMA-Isabela, AMIHAN-Ambi, PIGLAS and CLAIM in Quezon, AMB in Bulacan, KMB, BCPAI, and LAMBAT in Bicol, and local organizations of farmers in Cavite, Camarines Sur, Albay, Iloilo, and Capiz. 

“In the course of the comprehensive and sustained forced surrender campaigns, state forces, and authorities use varied forms ranging from persuasion, deception, fraud, subterfuge, suppression, coercion, and outright use of force and violence,” the KMP said.

It added the government’s counter-insurgency campaign takes full advantage to enforce more restrictions in peasant communities, making peasant communities and villages virtual military garrisons. 

The group said its fact-finding mission will continue in the coming weeks to further probe the situation in other regions and provinces. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

ITANONG MO KAY PROF: Duterte, ICC, NTF-ELCAC, SONA at Eleksyong 2022

Panayam ng Kodao Productions, sa pamamagitan ni Prof. Sarah Raymundo, kay Prof. Jose Maria Sison hinggil sa mga isyu ukol kay Pangulong Duterte, International Criminal Court (ICC), National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), State of the Nation Address (SONA), at Eleksyong 2022.

ITANONG MO KAY PROF

Duterte, ICC, NTF-ELCAC, SONA at Eleksyong 2022

July 12, 2021

Prof Sarah: Isang maganda at mapagpalayang araw sa lahat ng ating tagapakinig. Nagbabalik ang Itanong Mo Kay Prof!

Usap-usapan ang pagtakbo muli ni Duterte sa pusisyong Vice-President sa halalan 2022. Si Sara Duterte naman ang Presidente sa tambalang ito. Simula nang sumingaw ang ganitong usapan, napakaraming mamamayan ang nagugulat, nababahala, nagagalit, at marami-rami na rin ang mga kritiko mula sa oposisyon, kilusang progresibo, samahan ng mga abogado, periodista, educador, taong-simbahan at kabataan ang nagpahayag ng kritikal na suri rito.

Sabi nga ng mga kritiko, kapit-tuko si Duterte sa kapangyarihang ginamit lang naman niya para sa korapsyon, karahasan at sukdulang pagpapahamak sa ekonomiya at mamamayan sa gitna ng pandemya.

Makakasama natin muli si Professor Jose Maria Sison, Chairperson Emeritus ng ILPS at Chief Political Consultant ng NDF upang mapagusapan at masuri ang usaping ito at iba pang kaugnay na usapin katulad ng imbestigasyon ng International Criminal Court kay Duterte, ang Peace Talks at CASER, at ilan sa mga sikat na personahe na tatakbo bilang presidente sa 2022. Maalab na pagbati, Prof. Sison!

Prof Sison: Maalab na makabayan pagbati sa iyo Prof. Sarah Raymundo at sa lahat ng ating tagapakinig.

Mga Tanong

  1. Prof Sison, ano po ang masasabi ninyo sa pagtakbo raw ni Pangulong Duterte sa 2022 eleksyon bilang vice president? At may nauulinigan din na tatakbong presidente naman si Sara Duterte. Ano ang inyong opinion sa bagay na ito?

JMS: Garapal na kasakiman ng iisang pamilya na kandidatong presidente at bise president sina Sara Duterte at Rodrigo Duterte. Nais nilang magpanatili ng dinastiya. Dating pamantayan na sa isang partido ang nagtatambal na kandidato para sa tungkuling presidente at bise presidente ay galing sa magkaibang rehiyon. Ang dalawang sakim na Duterte ay galing sa iisang pamilya. Pambihira talaga. Naiilang pati ang mga alyado nila. Sabi nila political incest.

  • Hindi pa klaro kung sino sino nga ba ang tatakbong presidente sa 2022. Pero may nakapagsabi na tatakbo daw si Senator Manny Paquiao at Manila Mayor Isko Moreno. Ano ang inyong masasabi hinggil dito, Prof Sison? Sa tingin niyo ba may pag-asa ang mamamayan sa dalawang ito?

JMS: Malalakas ang dalawang posibleng kandidato na binanggit mo, sina Manila Mayor Isko Moreno at Senator Manny Pacquiao. Malayong matitinong lider ang dalawang ito kaysa sa mga Duterte.  Maasahan sila ng mga mamamayan. Mas malaki rin ang following nila kung ihambing sa following ng mga Duterte.  Imbento lamang ng mga bayarang poll survey firm at troll army ang umano’y mataas na popularity rating ng mga Duterte.

Dahil sa napakaraming krimen na gawa ni Duterte laban sa sambayanang Pilipino, kaunti  na lang ang sumusunod kay Digong Duterte. Itinuturing siyang traidor at bentador ng West Philipine Sea sa Tsina, berdugo at mamatay-tao, mandarambong at manggagantso. Pero kontrolado niya ang Comelec at bilangan ng boto sa halalan ng 2022.

  • Ang International Criminal Court (ICC) ay handa ng mag-imbestiga sa Pilipinas hinggil sa mga kinakaharap na kaso ng paglabag sa karapatang tao ni Duterte sa mamamayan. Inisnab ito ni Duterte. Sinasabing hindi naman na tayo kasapi ng ICC kaya walang dapat harapin sa kanila. Ano ang inyong paliwanag sa bagay na ito Prof Sison?

JMS: Maliwanag sa Tratado ng Roma na nagbuo ng International Criminal Court na saklaw pa rin nito ang mga krimeng gawa ni Duterte habang myembro pa ang Pilipinas sa tratado kahit na umalis pa ang Pilipinas sa tratado.  Isa pa, kahit na maging presidente ang anak niya at siya ay maging bise presidente at haharangin nila ang warrant of arrest, puedeng lagyan na ng ICC ng emcumbrance ang mga bank account at investments ni Duterte sa abroad para managot sa mga damage claims ng mga biktima.

Kung maging presidente at bise ang dalawang Duterte sa pamamagitan ng pandaraya tulad ng ginawa sa midterm elections noong 2019, tiyak na magkakagulo sa Pilipinas at  mapapatalsik sila mula sa kapangyarihan tulad ni Marcos noong 1986. Kung mapipigil nila ang posibilidad na ito, lulubha ang krisis sa ekonomiya at pulitika ng naghaharing sistema at lalagablab ang armadong rebolusyon ng sambayanang Pilipino hanggang maibagsak ang mga Duterte. Puede pang habulin si Duterte ng people’s court ng kilusang rebolusyonaryo kung mailagan nya ang ICC at justice system ng reaksyonaryong gobyerno.

  • Ang National Task Force – End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF ELCAC) ang nagpapatupad ng Executive Order 70. Grabe ang ginagawa nilang red tagging sa mga indibidwal at organisasyon. Kayo Prof Sison ay kasama rin sa nilalagyan ng sungay ng mga ito at ikinakalat inyong larawan hindi lamang sa Kamaynilaan kundi maging sa mga probinsya. Ano po ang inyong masasabi sa kanila?

JMS: Mga militarista at pasista, mga mamatay tao at mga magnanakaw ang nasa National Task Force-ELCAC.  Sila ang mga tunay na terorista.  Nagrered-tagging sila sa mga indibidwal at organisasyon na pumupuna at sumasalungat sa mga krimen ng rehimeng Duterte. Pagkatapos pinapatay at inaagawan ng ari-arian ang mga biktima ng red-tagging. 

Antemano bilyun-bilyung piso ang pondo ng task force. Pinagnanakawan ito ni Duterte at mga heneral niya sa ngalan ng surveillance, intelligence, psywar, arrest, combat operations at pakunwaring community development. Walang auditing. Yong red-tagging at murder operations ng task force ay para takutin ang masa, kontrolin ang takbo at resulta ng halalang 2022 at mangurakot ng pondo ng bayan.

  • Marami po ang nananawagan na buwagin ang NTF-ELCAC at ibaling na lamang ang bilyon bilyong pondo nito sa ayuda sa mamamayan. Sa kasalukuyan Prof Sison ay lugmok pa rin sa kahirapan ang marami nating kababayan. Marami ang walang trabaho, nawalan ng trabaho, nabawasan ang kita at nabaon sa utang. Ano ang inyong paliwanag sa bagay na ito, Prof Sison?

JMS: Dapat buwagin ang NTF-ELCAC at ibaling  ang bilyun-bilyong pondo nito sa ayuda sa mamamayan. Makatarungan na gamitin ang pondong ito para makaahon ang marami nating kababayan mula sa kahirapan na bunga ng krisis sa ekonomiya at pandemya.

Lantad ang katotohanan na marami ang walang trabaho, nawalan ng trabaho, nabawasan ang kita, nabaon sa utang at hindi makaagapay sa implasyon o pagtaas ng presyo ng mga batayang pangangailangan sa pagkain at iba pa. Sukdulang lumala at lumaganap ang kahirapan sa Pilipinas dahil sa patakarang neoliberal, korapsyon, militarisasyon at pagiging pabaya ni Duterte sa pandemya.

  • Malapit na ang State of the Nation Address o SONA ni Pangulong Duterte. Ito na po ang huling taon ng kanyang administrasyon. Sa limang taong nakalipas, may ilang natutuwa sa kanyang pamumuno pero mas marami ang nagagalit at humihingi ng hustisya sa maraming paglabag sa karapatang-tao, kawalan at kapos na ayuda sa panahon ng pandemya, kawalan ng subsidyo para sa mga magsasaka, kawalan ng hanapbuhay sa maraming kababayan at marami pang KAWALAN. Ano ang inyong masasabi sa nakalipas na limang taon ni Duterte, Prof Sison?

JMS: Sa pagiging presidente, maraming malalaking krimen na ginawa ni Duterte bilang traidor, tirano, mamamatay-tao, mandarambong at manggagantso.

a. Traidor siya at papet ng dalawang imperyalistang kapangyarihan. Hinahayaan niya ang US sa pagiging dominante pa rin sa ekonomiya, pulitika, militar at kultura sa Pilipinas dahil nagbibigay ng armas na panupil sa mga mamamayan. Bentador siya ng West Philippine Sea sa Tsina at kasabwat siya ng mga kriminal na Tsinong sindikato sa pagpuslit at pagkalat ng illegal na droga.

b. Nagkunwari si Duterte na laban siya sa illegal drugs at nag-utos sa pagpaslang ng higit sa 33,000 drug suspects. Pero ginawa niya itong paraan para maging supremo ng mga drug lord, kumita ng malaki, manakot sa publiko at gawing  kriminal, korap at pribadong utusan  ang mga pulis.

k. Nagkunwari rin siyang Kaliwa at sosyalista at nangakong palayain ang lahat ng bilanggong pulitikal, magkaroon ng seryosong peace negotiations at sumunod sa people’s agenda. Pero hindi nagtagal lumitaw ang pakana niyang sirain ang peace negotiations para magpataw ng terorismo ng estado sa sambayanang Pilipino at magpanatili ng sarili sa kapangyarihan. Pananagutan ni Duterte ang pagpaslang ng maraming tao sa ngalan ng “counter-insurgency” o kontra-rebolusyon.

d. Isa pang dahilan kung bakit  sinira ng Duterte ang peace negotiations. Marahas na tutol siya sa tunay ng reporma sa lupa at pambansang industrialisasyon. Nang malapit nang malubos ang borador ng Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms, nagpahiwatig na ayaw na niyang matuloy ang peace negotiations. Pusakal na burukrata kapitalista si Duterte at aso siya talaga ng mga imperyalista,malalaking komprador at asendero.

e. Nangako si Duterte na puksain  ang korupsyon sa gobyerno. Lumitaw na siya pala ang pinakagarapal na mandarambong sa pondo ng bayan. At pinalaya pa niya ang mga alyado niyang mandarambong tulad nina Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, mga Marcos, mga Estrada, Enrile, Revilla  at iba pa at pinawalang-saysay ang mga kaso laban sa kanila. Mga kasuklam-suklam na  mga burukrata kapitalista sila lahat.

g. Nangako ng subsidyo sa mga magsasaka. Hindi niya tinupad ito at hinahayaan niyang binabarat  ng mga komersyante ang lokal  produkto sa agricultura at pinaluwagan niya ang pag-angkat ng bigas at asukal. Sinira ni Duterte ang kasarinlan ng Pilipinas sa pagkain.

h. Nangako na itigil niya  ang endo. Hindi niya tinupad ito. Pinipigil pa niya ang pagtaas ng minimum wage samantalang walang tigil ang pagtaas ng presyo ng mga batayang kalakal dahil sa TRAIN law at malaking pagbagsak ng ekonomya sa nakaraang dalawang taon. Dahil sa implasyon at bangkarote ang gobyerno muhing-muhi ang mga mamamayan kay Duterte.

i. Hinayaan ni Duterte na kumalat ang Covid-19 sa Pilipinas sa palagay na kikita siya sa mga Chinese casino at 500,000 na Chinese tourist.  Pagkatapos nangako ng mass testing, libreng panggagamot at ayuda sa mga tao. Hindi tinupad ang pangako at ibinulsa niya ang bilyun-bilyon na inilaan para sa ayuda at pagbili ng bakuna at PPE para sa mga front liner.

l. Dati nang pinalulundag ni Duterte ang utang ng Pilipinas dahil sa korupsyon at military overspending. Sabi pa niyang hindi mapigil ang korupsyon at ipinagmamalaki pa na pinalalamon niya ng pera ang mga heneral. Palaki nang palaki ang depisit sa badyet ng gobyerno at sa foreign trade. Magmula 2016, pinalundag ni Duterte ang utang ng Pilipinas mula 5.9 trillion pesos hanggang 10.9 trillion pesos. Sa huling taon, pinalundag niya ng 2 trillion persos ang utang sa ngalan ng pandemya.

m. Pananagutan ni Duterte ang malubhang krisis ngayon ng naghaharing sistema sa ekonomiya at sa pulitika. Makapal pa ang mukha niyang tumindig  na magiging tunay na kapangyarihan sa likuran ni Sara bilang papet niya. Parang hindi niya alam na sa susunod na taon lalong lulubha pa ang krisis at lalong babalikwas ang masang Pilipino.

  • Meron po ba kayong gustong iwan sa ating mga tagapakinig, Prof Sison.

JMS: Dapat ilantad at kondenahin ang mga mga krimen ni Duterte. Dapat tayong magalit sa mga krimen na ito at sa tiyak na gagawin niyang  pandaraya sa darating na eleksyon para manatili sa kapangyarihan at mahadlangan ang warrant of arrest mula sa International Criminal Court.

Gawin ng sambayanang Pilipino at mga makabayan at demokratikong pwersa ang lahat na magagawa para labanan at gapiin ang lahat ng pakana at kilos ng pangkating Duterte para manlinlang at manakot sa masa at manatili sa kapangyarihan.

Pag-isipan na rin kung ano ang dapat nating gawin sa 2022 at sa anim na taon na susunod sa halalan, para sa pagsusulong ng pakikibaka para sa pambansang kalayaan at demokrasya. Mabuhay ang sambayanang Pilipino!

Prof Sison: Maraming salamat at paalam  sa inyo Sarah at sa lahat ng ating  tagapakinig.

Prof Sarah: Extro. Maraming-maraming salamat Prof. Sison para sa malaman at komprehensibong pagtalakay sa mga kasalanan sa mamamayan ni Duterte sa nakaraang limang taon. Nilinaw ni Prof Sison na walang silbi ang  pagtakbo ni Duterte, gayundin ng kanyang anak na si Sara Duterte, kundi ang matakasan ang mga kaso at krimen na patuloy na namemerwisyo sa mga mamamayan. Kaalinsabay ng pagnanais ng mga Duterte na paghariin ang impunity o ang kawalan ng pananagutan at kaparusahan para sa mga makapangyarihang gumagawa ng krimen laban sa mamamayan ay ang patuloy na pagkamal ng kita są pusisyon sa gubyerno.

Sinumang kumalaban sa kapangyarihan ni Duterte ay nararapat lamang na tahasang kondenahin at umagapay sa malawak na kilusan ng mamamayan na nagsasabing, Wakasan Na ang tiraniya sa bansa. Parusahan ang presidenteng kapit-tuko sa kapangyarihan.

Muling sumasainyo, ito po si  Sarah Raymundo, guro ng Unibersidad ng Pilipinas at aktibista ng Bagong Alyansang Makabayan. Tandaan po natin Ang pagpili ng maka-mamamayan at makabayang mga kandidato na matapang na tutunggali sa tiraniya ay nararapat lang sabayan ng bawat mamamayan ng pakikipagkaisa sa pagbubuo at pagpapalakas ng malawak na kilusang masana nagsasabing “Duterte, wakasan na!”

End

Massacre victims possibly raped, tortured

Twelve year old Angel Rivas and her 21-year old lesbian sister Lenie may have been raped and tortured by the soldiers who killed them last Tuesday, June 15, an indigenous people’s advocacy group said.

Way too many bullets were also fired on Angel’s face, making her unrecognizable despite stitches that now hold her shattered head together.

An aunt (name withheld for security reasons) also told Save Our Schools Network the Angel’s genitals were defiled.

Gibastos gyud ang iyang lawas, gi-rape, gihilabtan, guba kaayo ang atubangan,” the relative said. (They defiled her body, she was raped, her genitals torn apart.)

In February 2018, President Rodrigo Duterte ordered government soldiers to fire guns at suspected rebels’ vaginas, adding, “If there is no vagina, it (the women) would be useless.”

“Tell the soldiers. ‘There’s a new order coming from the mayor. We won’t kill you. We will just shoot your vagina,’” Duterte said from the presidential palace.

Devastated family

The sisters,along with cousin Willy Rodriguez, were killed in the second massacre in Lianga, Surigao del Sur since September 1, 2015.

The 3rd Special Forces Battalion of the Philippine Army told the victims’ relatives they were pursuing New People’s Army guerrillas when a fire fight ensued that had the three killed as hapless bystanders.

The claim however contradicted statements made from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) general headquarters and by the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) that the three were NPA fighters who first fired at them that resulted in a 10-minute fire fight.

Both also alleged Angel was a NPA child warrior.

But the victims’ relatives said the young Lumad-Manobo farmers and three other kin simply took a break from harvesting abaca hemp at their farm and went to Lianga town proper to buy rice.

They came across the soldiers who, without warning, opened fire at them. The three were killed while the other three were able to run away.

The victim’s families were only made aware of the incident at around 10 o’clock Tuesday evening after soldiers presented to them the lifeless body of Angel, wrapped in plastic and packaging tape.

Lenie and Willy’s bodies were later found in a separate location.

When the Rivas family were able to uncover Angel’s body at a funeral home Wednesday morning, they were shocked at the gruesome state of body and her once pretty face that was already full of crude stitches.

From pictures sent to journalists by the SOS Network, Angel’s face now looks like a grotesque mask that is mangled and askew beyond recognition. Her right eye lid is also missing, revealing an empty socket were her eye used to be.

Her aunt told SOS that Angel and Lenie’s father was devastated.


Lenie’s body was also full of stitches while Willy’s had fractures in his limbs wrapped with packaging tape, suggesting that he might have been tortured or had bones broken after being shot.

The soldiers also reportedly tried to stop the families from taking photographs of the bodies.

SOS said a certain Colonel Aranas offered to pay all funeral expenses but was rejected by the relatives.

Angel was an honor student of the Tribal Filipino School in Surigao Sur (TRIFPSS) who transferred to the Department of Education Alternative Learning System during the pandemic. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Latest Lianga massacre was 25th under Duterte, Karapatan reports

The deaths of three Lumad-Manobo in Lianga, Surigao del Sur last Tuesday, June 15, is the 25th massacre of civilians in the Rodrigo Duterte government’s counter-insurgency campaign, a human rights group reported.

Karapatan Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights said the Lianga Massacre on June 15 was the second since 2015 and “a testimony of the [Duterte] regime’s hideous legacy of killings” that continues up to its last year in power.

“We condemn in the strongest terms this latest massacre in Lianga and ask with much rage, ‘How many more will Duterte’s state forces kill and kill?’” Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay said.

Karapatan’s Caraga regional chapter said in an urgent alert last Wednesday that troops belonging to the 3rd Special Forces Battalion (SFB) of the Philippine Army fired upon a group of six farmers, killing three while the three others ran for safety.  

Killed were farmers Willy Rodriguez, Lenie Rivas and Angel Rivas in Sitio Panukmoan, Brgy. Diatagon, Lianga, Surigao del Sur.

All members of the Lumad-Manobo tribe, they were residents of Sitio Manluy-a, Brgy. Diatagon.

Angel Rivas, 12 years old, was a Grade 6 student of the Lumad school Tribal Filipino Program of Surigao del Sur (TRIFPSS) while her sister Lenie and cousin Willy Rodriguez were members of Lumad organization Malahutayong Pakigbisog alang sa Sumusunod (MAPASU).

The soldiers brought the lifeless bodies of the three to their brigade headquarters in St. Christine, Lianga and presented the victims as New People’s Army (NPA) members.

Spokespersons of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict were also quick to allege Angel was an NPA “child soldier” killed in a firefight with the government soldiers.

Relatives of the victims however belied the government’s claim and said the victims were simply on their way to Lianga town proper to buy rice after harvesting abaca hemp at their farm.

They even sought permission from a nearby military encampment to visit their abaca farm Tuesday morning, the relatives said.

The military troops of the 3rd SFB led by Captain Aranas and the 48th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army have been encamping in the community of Manluy-a for several months and had established a military detachment in a civilian community called Kilometer 18.

The relatives also bewailed the state of the cadavers when fetched from the funeral parlor, saying Angel’s face is unrecognizable from its numerous bullet wounds.

The cadavers were also haphazardly wrapped in plastic and packaging tape, they added.

“The perpetrators are mad killers, with clearly no respect to life and rights. They look at the Lumad people like hunted prey, lying to their teeth and falsely tagging the victims as members of the New People’s Army (NPA),” Palabay fumed.

June 15’s incident is the second massacre in Barangay Diatagon since Lumad-Manobo leaders Dionel Campos and Datu Juvello Sinzo of MAPASU and Emerito Samarca, executive director of the Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development (Alcadev), were killed by Magahat-Bagani paramilitary men on September 1, 2015.

The paramilitaries were then under the command of the 36th and 75th infantry battalions of the Philippine Army who were also nearby when the first massacre happened.

The earlier massacre set off evacuations from Lumad communities, with 3,000 individuals seeking refuge in Tandag City that lasted months.

No charges were filed against the perpetrators of the first Lianga Massacre, which coincidentally happened on the last year of the previous Benigno Aquino government.

‘Mass killing’

Karapatan said 121 civilians, mostly farmers and indigenous peoples, have been killed in 25 massacres in the five years of the Duterte government:

  1. Sumilao, Bukidnon;
  2. Palayan, Nueva Ecija;
  3. Masbate City, Masbate;
  4. Cawayan, Masbate;
  5. Mobo, Masbate;
  6. Mandaon, Masbate
  7. San Nicolas, Pangasinan;
  8. Silay, Negros Occidental
  9. Gubat, Sorsogon;
  10. Bulan towns, Sorsogon;
  11. Lake Sebu, South Cotabato;
  12. Polomolok, South Cotabato;
  13. Siaton, Negros Oriental;
  14. Bato, Camarines Sur;
  15. Ragay, Camarines Sur;
  16. Matalam, Cotabato;
  17. Antique;
  18. Patikul, Sulu;
  19. Baguio City;
  20. Polomok, South Cotabato;
  21. Kabacan, North Cotabato;
  22. Baras, Rizal;
  23. Capiz;
  24. Sta. Rosa, Laguna; and
  25. Lianga, Surigao del Sur.

“These killings should be met with all the strongest condemnation possible from different sectors. Justice for Angel Rivas, Willy Rodriguez, and Lenie Rivas!” Palabay said.

Meanwhile, indigenous peoples’ rights advocates held an indignation rally in front of the Commission on Human Rights in Quezon City on Thursday evening, June 17, to condemn the latest massacre.# (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Out of order

Cartoon by Crisby Delgado, PUP/Kodao

At last week’s hearing by the House of Representatives hearing on the raid conducted by the police and the social work department on the Bakwit School at the University of San Carlos in Cebu City last February, Presidential Communications Operations Office undersecretary and National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict co-spokesperson Lorraine Badoy showed ignorance of parliamentary procedures and attempted to interrogate other resource persons. She was promptly told that she told that she could not ask questions as she is not a member of Congress. #

CPP: Murderers of NDFP consultants must be punished

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) condemned what it called the coordinated murder of two National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) consultants in the Visayas Friday night.

In a statement, CPP information officer Marco Valbuena blamed the Rodrigo Duterte government, particularly the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), for the killing of what it described as senior NDFP consultants.

“The (CPP) condemns in the strongest terms the (PNP) and the (AFP) for the coordinated killings last night of National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace consultants for the Visayas region,” Valbuena said.

Reynaldo Bocala, a known CPP and New People’s Army leader in Panay Island, and companion Willy Arguelles were killed in Iloilo City by the police while former Roman Catholic Priest and NDFP-Cebu negotiator Rustico Tan was killed in his sleep in Camotes Island, Cebu Province.

Valbuena said the killing of Bocala and Arguelles in Barangay Balabag, Pavia, Iloilo City was a “[t]okhang-style liquidation operation purportedly to serve warrants of arrests.”

The CPP said Bocala and Arguelles were unarmed when the police-military raid happened.

The PNP’s Criminal Investigation and Detection Group however said both victims put up a fight as the operatives were serving four warrants of arrest against Bocala for alleged murder.

The police issued the same claims in the killing of other NDFP consultants Julius Giron in Benguet Province, couple Eugenia Magpantay and Agaton Topacio in Rizal Province as well as other suspected elderly and sick New People’s Army fighters throughout the country.

All the killings happened either at night or before dawn.

The killings and arrests of NDFP consultants as well as suspected CPP and NPA members went into overdrive after Duterte cancelled peace negotiations with the underground Left in mid-2017.

“Stories by police and military officials of firearms recovered from the scene are all made-up to make the crime a legitimate police and military operation. This modus operandi, used against the wave of drug killings since 2016, is now being used by the military and police in the series of killings against activists and revolutionaries,” Valbuena said.

The killing of Tan is similar to the assassination of NDFP consultant Randy Felix Malayao who was also asleep when killed by two bullets on his head in Nueva Vizcaya.

Masterminded by Duterte

Valbuena said the CPP holds Duterte and the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) as masterminds of the killings of Bocala, Arguelles and Tan.

The massacre of the three was coordinated at a high level with the aim of driving terror into the hearts of the people and their revolutionary forces, Valbuena said.

The CPP spokesperson said the Duterte government perpetrates coordinated killings by the AFP and the PNP against NDFP peace consultants and suspected leaders of the Party and NPA.

“They are being summarily executed in line with Duterte’s the ‘take no prisoners’ fascist policy in the vain hope of making the people and their revolutionary forces surrender to his terrorist regime,” Valbuena said.

“It is an outrage that the fascists are targetting NDFP peace consultants who are in their senior years. Bocala was 75 years old, while Fr. Tan was 80,” he added.

Valbuena said the NPA must do its utmost to punish the perpetrators of the murders, “[i]n line with the (CPP’s) directives.” # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

‘Tama na ang pambabarat sa mamamayan’

“Tama na ang pambabarat sa mamamayan, habang laging buhos ang pondo sa militar at sa mga gyera ni Duterte. Unahin ang serbisyo gaya ng edukasyon, hindi pasismo sa pangunguna ng NTF-ELCAC. Unahin ang ayuda, hindi CHA-CHA. Ito ang giit ng mga guro at ng mamamayan, at ‘yan ang dapat tugunan ng gobyerno.”Raymond Basilio, Secretary General, Alliance of Concerned Teachers

‘Big liar’: Joma belies Esperon’s claim he ordered the killing of NTF-ELCAC spokespersons

National Democratic Front of the Philippines chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison belied allegations by national security adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. he issued an order to kill counter-insurgency task force spokespersons.

“Esperon is a big liar in claiming that I have released an order to kill the so-called talking heads of NTF-ELCAC (National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict) and other officials of the security sector of the Duterte regime,” Sison said in a statement Saturday, May 22.

Esperon on Friday alleged the military stopped the plot after a so-called joint police and military operation killed three alleged New People’s Army (NPA) fighters in Sta. Rosa, Laguna last week.

News reports said those killed were identified as Rommel Rizza alias “Jomar/Bernie,” the alleged commanding officer of the NPA’s Regional Special Operations Group in Southern Tagalog; “Ka Blue/Billy,” a medic and supply officer; and “Ka Dean,” the group’s intelligence officer.

“One of their missions is to hit NTF-ELCAC talking heads. However, they were pre-empted,” Esperson, task force vice chairperson, said.

Sison however said Esperon’s claim is “pure concoction” as he is not in any position to issue such an order to any organ, unit or individual in the Communist Party of the Philippines and the NPA.

“Whoever is the current CPP chairman cannot issue an order, like the tyrant (Philippine President Rodrigo) Duterte, without collective decision-making,” Sison explained.

Sison, a 35-year political refugee in The Netherlands, said he is proud to carry the historic title of CPP founding chairperson but has not personally participated in any collective decision-making by the party’s central committee since his arrest in 1977.

Sison said Esperon is obviously covering up two obvious instances of extrajudicial killings (one in Baras, Rizal and now Sta. Rosa City, Laguna) by referring to his name and linking them to the three victims of the Sta. Rosa operations without offering any evidence.

Assassination plot

Instead, Sison said he has more evidence that his life is again under threat from Philippine government agents who are plotting to assassinate him in The Netherlands since last year.

He said no less than the Dutch police have called his attention to the current threat since March 2020.

“An informant has also come forward last year to report that there is such a plot to assassinate me. Since then, I have taken all necessary precautions,” Sison said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Putting Back the “Community” in Community Pantry

By L. S. Mendizabal

On the seventh day since the first community pantry on Maginhawa St., Quezon City was erected, one of its initiators, Ana Patricia Non, took a break but did not rest. The 26-year-old small entrepreneur, “Patreng” to many, gave a press conference via Facebook Live, explaining why she and her fellow organizers ceased operations temporarily: They did not feel safe after the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict accused her of being a “communist,” a brand the Duterte administration has proclaimed to be synonymous with “criminal,” “terrorist,” “a menace to society.”

“People are grateful because the community pantry revived their spirits to help one another in times of crisis . . . But even that had to stop. It hurts that we were forced to close even for just a day. Think of how many families, how many meals the community pantry would have provided,” Patreng said in Filipino, her voice cracking, barely able to hold back tears. “We had to stop for the time being to ensure our safety and to clear the allegations.”

On the same day, Metro Manila Eastern Police District set up its own community pantry with rice, canned goods, face masks and face shields. Also stacked are copies of the Gideon Bible and the police journal magazine replete with red-tagging propaganda because, y’know, “Communism is bad.” Throughout the Duterte regime alone, PNP is notorious for tens of thousands of extrajudicial killings in the war against drugs and anti-terror campaign. From accessorizing dead bodies with pieces of cardboard that said, “Pusher ako, huwag tularan (I am a drug pusher, do not emulate)” to giving away food and bibles under cardboard signs stating a rather interesting iteration of the Maginhawa Community Pantry slogan,

“Magbigay nang naaayon sa kakayahan, dumampot ayon sa inyong pangangailangan (Give what you can, seize what you need)”—their altruism is of the violent kind.

Ana Patricia Non (Photo from Altermidya)

Death, hunger, gloom and doom

Since the novel coronavirus claimed its first victim in the Philippines when the government failed to promptly close our borders, there’s been no mass testing or contact tracing. Hospitals are full. Frontliners are grossly underpaid, overworked and dying. COVID funds amounting to a trillion pesos have yet to be felt by 18 million beneficiaries still waiting for a second cash dole-out.

Unemployment is at an all-time record high. According to IBON Foundation, the total number of unemployed and underemployed soared to a staggering 12 million in February 2021. With the absence of food subsidy and the disruption of food systems, the poor are the hardest hit by draconian lockdowns, or this administration’s single palpable response to the pandemic. Minimum wage earners must go out to work or find work every day, risking COVID exposure. Staying home is a luxury the poor simply can’t afford. To them, dying from hunger is a more immediate concern than dying from the virus.

Academics of the Philippine Sociological Society in a study on the community pantry initiative claim that Filipinos have also been experiencing feelings of “gloom and doom.” WHO says that isolation, bereavement, fear and loss of income during the pandemic have been detrimental to individual mental health. Constant news of human rights violations may cause gloom and doom as well, for how can you sleep soundly at night knowing a 12-year-old boy just died after barangay tanods chased him when he was “caught playing outside?”

Omega Avenue community pantry. (Photo by Roberto de Castro)

A social phenomenon bred by state abandonment

On April 14, Patreng and her little bamboo trolley of free vegetables with a signboard bearing the words, “Magbigay ayon sa kakayahan, kumuha batay sa pangangailangan (Give what you can, take what you need),” first stood on a street corner in the city with the most COVID cases and deaths in the country. Small vendors and tricycle drivers nearby have since helped Patreng repack and distribute goods as well as facilitate the daily queue of neighbors they’ve invited themselves. And just like that, a movement was born.

Within three days, PSS identified 44 community pantries nationwide with majority in NCR. As of this writing, there are 500 from as far up north as Cagayan all the way south to “DDS Country,” Davao City. PSS in its initial analysis of the community pantry calls it an “emergent agency”—an independent initiative taken by stakeholders to effect changes on their situation. Emergent collective behaviors rise when preexisting structures fail to meet people’s demands. Notably, a good chunk of the community pantries that swiftly followed Maginhawa’s example are of organized masses from marginalized sectors who initiated community kitchens and collective gardening since the first enhanced community quarantine. PSS notes that these earlier emergent agencies didn’t quite capture the people’s imagination the way community pantries have.

Although they’re not the cure to end food insecurity, the viral spread of community pantries is but a symptom of the true state of the nation: Like Patreng, Filipinos are “tired of complaining and fed up with government inaction.”

Fish on their way from Laguna de Bai to community pantries in Quezon City. (Pamalakaya photo)

Half a piece of ginger, cups of taho and a tale of two oranges

Community pantries have been practiced in the US and other parts of the world. When COVID hit Thailand, locals installed cupboards filled with food, medicines and other necessities in public spaces in Bangkok to help one another. Called “happiness-sharing pantries,” they spread all over the country, reaching a total of 1 400 by the end of 2020. As lockdown restrictions were lifted in Thailand and stores reopened, the pantries were later abandoned.

In the Philippines, community pantries show no signs of slowing down as Duterte stays in power, hoarding public funds for his election war chest. (The original Maginhawa Community Pantry announced Monday night it will cease to be a distribution center starting today, Tuesday, April 27. It will instead be a donation center from which nearby community pantries shall be replesnished.—Ed. ) A viral element of the phenomenon is its slogan which people have adopted and translated into many different languages and dialects, my favorite being LGBTQ+ organization Bahaghari’s “Gumib luv offering ayern sa kerichinabels, gumeching vatai sa needine lustre.” More than just a catchphrase, Filipinos from all walks of life have been unified by the idea and practice of a mutual aid grounded on giving what they can and taking only what they need.

In contrast to donation drives where the same prepacked goods are given to households without taking into account household size, you have the freedom to get what your family specifically needs from a community pantry regardless of what you donate. How much one takes / gives is a non-issue. In a Bulatlat article, University of the Philippines Professor Sarah Raymundo says that community pantries defy the capitalist market because they highlight products’ utility (use value) over their monetary worth (exchange value).

This encourages people to prioritize the needs of others over their own. For instance, a resident in a resettlement area in San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan only needed a small slice of ginger, so she broke one into two pieces “para makakuha rin ang iba (so others may have as well).” In Kawit, Cavite, a taho vendor gave out free cups of his own product by a small roadside table. Inspiring passersby, they bought more cups of taho for his little pantry. Patreng also shared in the press conference how an old beggar picked up two oranges. When he was told to get more, he said two were enough to get him by for the day.

The community pantry is a utopian space where the destitute and benevolent converge, often one and the same. More than bayanihan and volunteerism, it advocates collectivism. This boggles the minds of the rich because they only understand an individualist way of life, not unlike that of a barangay captain in Los Baños, Laguna who threw a fit, accusing organizers of profiting off their pantry. His angry constituents later exposed him on social media for using personal connections to get vaccinated ahead of frontliners.

The Maginhawa Community Pantry. (Photo by Roberto de Castro)

“Communist Pantry,” “just bayanihan” and other anti-people takes

Once the community pantry became a phenomenon, anyone who knows this administration damn well would’ve seen red-tagging from a mile away. Historically, emergent agencies or relief efforts that expose government incompetence are met with hostility. Last year alone, cops destroyed Sitio San Roque’s community kitchen and apprehended youth volunteers distributing food packs to impoverished communities in QC, Malate, Marikina, Bulacan, etc. Armed men killed activist Jory Porquia while conducting relief operations in Iloilo City.

According to UP Prof. Danilo Arao in an online forum on journalism ethics and community pantries, red-baiting is the “highest form of fake news” because it endangers lives. It is the state’s go-to tactic in discrediting and demonizing personalities and organizations so that hurting them is justified. Another objective of red-tagging, Arao explained, is to challenge its target/s to denounce Communist links. Sounds familiar? Mainstream media, GMA Network being the biggest offender of late, has become nothing more than a mouthpiece of a regime that persecutes people like Patreng whose only fault is facilitating change.

Neoliberalism has so deprived us of basic social services and turned everything into a capitalist commodity that Filipinos sharing goods among themselves has become quite the spectacle. That said, what really frightens the state is not its “phenomenal” or “bayanihan” aspect, or Patreng’s political affiliations. The community pantry is not just a place of sharing and caring but sharing and caring between the middle and lower social classes with similar traumas caused by the pandemic and exacerbated by state inutility and terrorism. Some might’ve lost jobs, others loved ones, most of them hope. Now, they find solace and strength in being able to not only take but give, whether it’s 50 kilos of fish from small fisherfolk alliance PAMALAKAYA; sacks of sweet potatoes from a farmer in Paniqui, Tarlac; or three packs of noodles from the kind balut vendor at Maginhawa. The community pantry feeds people for a day but empowers them for much longer as they continue to struggle in a society that takes jobs, loved ones and children’s lives, and thrives on widespread hunger, doom and gloom.

Community pantries as a collective refusal to not starve are a protest whether you like it or not. And it’s disturbing how Malacañang, NTF-ELCAC, some journalists and centrist liberals all sound the same: “It’s just bayanihan and should be free of any politics.” Keep calm and share gulay, they say. A bishop went as far as declaring that these pantries with their signboards will “forever erase the shame” of cardboard justice in the drug war. Great. When they’re not red-baiting whole movements, they’re whitewashing or romanticizing them. Why do we celebrate bayanihan yet balk at the idea of hopeful, empowered masses who feed one another and understand why they starve in the first place?

“Everything is political,” says PAMALAKAYA – Southern Tagalog Spokesperson Ronnel Arambulo. “Widespread hunger is a result of government inadequacy in responding to the health crisis. The national situation should not be seen as a separate picture from community pantries.”

Meanwhile, mayors have expressed support and assured organizers of their safety. A resignation was tendered. Gag orders were issued. These are little victories, indeed, but we must not be complacent. Patreng is right: She may be safe for now but entire communities are not. Believing that community pantries are red-tagged because some have given political meaning to them is only blaming the victim. It says outright, “They deserve to be red-tagged for not submitting to the status quo.” This fascist thinking is harmful to the people.

The Iloilo City mobile community pantry by a local LGBTQIA+ group. (Photo by Irish Granada)

From the masses, to the masses

An organizer posted on FB about buying vegetables from a peasant in Nueva Ecija. Upon knowing they were for a community pantry, she said, “Napanood ko sa TV kanina. Nagugutom ang tao, pinapasara pa nila! Komunista raw. E ano naman? Namimigay lang naman! (I learned about it on TV. People are starving yet the government wants to close them! They call them communists. What about it? They’re only giving out food!)” After donating 200 pesos, she added, “Maganda ‘yang ginagawa ninyo. Pipila kami mamaya pero hindi na gulay ‘yung kukunin namin. Bigas sana (What you’re doing is noble. We’re going to line up at the pantry later but we won’t be getting vegetables. I hope there’s rice).”

It isn’t hard for the poor to understand and embrace the community pantry as their own because they struggle the most and have been quite vocal about their grievances. Instead of calling them “komunista,” “reklamador” or “pasaway,” Patreng listened. If the masses are not afraid to voice out their demands and work towards social change, why should we be? Let’s stop telling them what to do and as them instead what must be done. Let communities lead the way for community pantries. #

References:

Altermidya (2021, April 23). To ask or not to ask: Lessons on red-tagging & community pantry [Video]. Facebook. https://fb.watch/56UyZvIOhF/

Bolledo, J. (2021). “12-year-old boy chased by Pasay tanods loses consciousness, dies”. Rappler. Retrieved from https://www.rappler.com/nation/minor-chased-by-pasay-tanods-loses-consciousness-dies-april-2021

Chatinakrob. T. (2020). “Happiness-sharing Pantries: an effective weapon to ease hunger for the needy during the pandemic in Thailand”. Retrieved from https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/seac/2020/09/16/happiness-sharing-pantries/

Dionisio, J. et al (2021). “Contagion of Mutual Aid in the Philippines: An Initial Analysis of the Viral Community Pantry Initiative as Emergent Agency in Times of Covid-19”. Retrieved from https://philippinesociology.com/contagion-of-mutual-aid-in-the-philippines/

IBON Foundation (2021). “Joblessness worsens in February and will get worse with ECQ”. Retrieved from https://www.ibon.org/joblessness-worsens-in-february-and-will-get-worse-with-ecq-ibon/

Raymundo, S. (2021). “Community Pantry Ph: Hugpungan ng ginhawa at pag-iral ng use value”. Bulatlat. Retrieved from https://www.bulatlat.com/2021/04/22/community-pantry-ph-hugpungan-ng-ginhawa-at-pag-iral-ng-use-value/

Red-tagging halts kindness: Maginhawa community pantry suspends operations

Red-tagging and police harassment has forced the phenomenal Maginhawa Community Pantry to suspend operations, one of its initiators announced late Monday evening.

“Bad news. The #MaginhawaCommunityPantry is temporarily taking a pause for the safety of its volunteers. This is sad as we will not be able to distribute the goods we prepared all day because of the #RedTagging that is happening,” Anna Patricia Non said on her Facebook account.

The Maginhawa Community Pantry that inspired 300 similar initiatives throughout Luzon.

Non said she was sure there would be more poor people who are expected to line up on Tuesday morning but the pantry’s operations would have to wait, more so that other pantries were also having problems with the police.

As of seven o’clock Tuesday morning, intended beneficiaries who started lining up at three o’clock, were walking home to nearby Barangay Krus na Ligas with empty bags.

Non’s community pantry initiative at Barangay Teachers’ Village East spread like wildfire throughout Luzon with at least 300 similar efforts from as far north as Ilagan City in Isabela, as far south as Legazpi City in Albay and as remotely as Odiongan in Romblon.

Other community pantries are also being planned in the Visayas.

Non revealed that three police officers have demanded to be given her phone number and have interrogated her as to her affiliations.

(Screenshot from PA Non’s FB account)

“I am afraid to walk to the community pantry alone at five o’clock in the morning because of the baseless accusations against us,” Non said.

The police have started visiting community pantries in Quezon City and Manila on Monday afternoon, asking its organizers to fill up forms and interrogating the organizers.

(Screenshot from PA Non’s FB account)

Both the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict and the Quezon City Police District of the Philippine National Police also shared a post by the Facebook page called Peace Philippines alleging the community pantries were organized to recruit and gather funds for the communist New People’s Army.

The move earned swift and wide condemnation on social media.

Bayan Muna Representative Ferdinand Gaite also slammed the police’s operations against the pantries, saying these were unnecessarily causing anxiety to the organizers.

“Have you no decency? Why are you intimidating those who only wish to help?” Gaite asked. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)