Bar passer, 4 NPA comrades massacred by AFP—CPP

[CLARIFICATION: Ms Cesista deliberately chose not to take the oath and sign the roll of lawyers after passing the bar examinations last year. Instead, she chose to join the NPA full time. Technically, she was not a lawyer.]

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) accused the Philippine Army of massacre that killed a bar examinations passer and her four New People’s Army (NPA) comrades in Bilar, Bohol last Friday, February 23.

In a statement on its website, the CPP said the 47th Infantry Battalion (47IB) of the Philippine Army and the Bohol Philippine National Police (PNP) captured bar passer Hannah Cesista, Domingo Compoc, Parlio Historia, Marlon Omusura and Alberto Sancho in a house they stayed in Sitio Matin-ao 2, Barangay Campagao Friday morning.

“Contrary to international laws of war, the victims were tortured and killed,” the CPP said.

CPP’s statement was accompanied by a photo of Compoc, alledgedly a top CPP leader in the province, while being held captive by a government soldier.

Compoc, 60, was tortured in front of residents despite suffering from arthritis. He was hacked at his neck and torso, the CPP said.

The group added that according to a witness, young lady lawyer Cesista was ordered to crawl on mud before being executed.

Authorities said the five were killed in a three-hour gun battle that also killed a Police Corporal Gilbert Amper.

The CPP however insisted the NPA fighters were captured alive and publicly executed to intimidate the residents from supporting the guerrilla army.

The residents were also ordered to leave after the crime, the group further revealed.

It added that the so-called scene-of-the-crime report by the police is an attempt at whitewashing the massacre, also citing the statements given by the PNP over local radio stations that the victims put up a fight while being served a warrant of arrest.

“The 47th IB and the Bohol PNP, the AFP and the PNP leadership, as well as (President Ferdinand) Marcos himself are liable for this war crime and must be prosecuted and punished,” CPP chief information officer Marco Valbuena said.

Tribute to a martyred lawyer

Meanwhile, revolutionary youth group Kabataang Makabayan (KM) paid tribute to fellow youth Cesista.

In a statement Saturday, the group said it salutes Cesista and her four other comrades who shall serve as “fuel to the revolutionary flame in our hearts that can never be extinguished until the national democratic aspirations they offered their lives for are achieved.”

“We particularly raise our fists to our fellow youth, Hannah Jay “Ka Maya” Cesista, whose revolutionary martyrdom serves as inspiration in expressing our militancy through joining the ranks of the NP,” KM said.

“Her pursuit of championing human rights took her to the difficult path of armed struggle after witnessing state fascism and terrorism and, by extension reactionary law, as but utilities of the ruling class to exploit and oppress the people,” it added.

KM said Cesiste offered her expertise and intellect to strengthen the revolutionary ranks of the NPA in Bohol.

“Ka Maya’s life was far from wasted. In fact, she has proven, along with the thousands of martyred Red fighters, that the revolution continues through the ceaseless flow of new blood from the youth who are radicalized in the cities and the countryside, eager for genuine national democracy and lasting peace,” KM said.

Who was Atty. Cesista?

The slain NPA fighter was a graduate of the Political Science Department of the University of the Philippines-Cebu, trained in different theories that shaped her worldviews and analysis, a Kodao source wrote.

Cesista was a member of various campus organizations, including Youth For Christ-UP Cebu Chapter, Cebu Students for Justice and Peace, and Kabataan Partylist-UP Cebu.

She integrated into the different sectors in Central Visayas where she was further exposed to worsening conditions and plights of the basic sectors, the source said.

Cesista then proceeded to law school at the University of San Carlos (USC) and volunteered as a paralegal for human rights groups.

Earlier, AFP Visayas Command mistakenly described the victim as a University of Cebu (UC) – Banilad Campus law alumna, prompting Dean Ria Lidia Espina to issue a correction.

“On behalf of the University of Cebu School of Law, we would like to extend our condolences to the family and send prayers for the eternal repose of her soul, though she was not a UC Law graduate,” Espina said in a Manila Bulletin report.

Philippine Army spokesperson Col. Louie Dema-ala also alleged Cesista became an NPA fighter in 2020 at a time when the victim was a full time law student in Cebu.

As a USC law student, Cesista spent her free time volunteering giving free human rights and paralegal workshops to poor communities.

She was also one of the pioneer members of the National Union of People’s Lawyers Students-Cebu Chapter and was elected as secretary-general.

Cesista graduated in 2022 and passed the bar in 2023. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

(Updated: 28 February)

NDFP to file complaint on disappearance of consultant

The negotiating panel of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) said it will file a complaint against the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) on the reported involuntary disappearance of one of its peace consultants.

NDFP chief negotiator Fidel Agcaoili said the disappearance of Lora T. Manipis and her husband Jeruel B. Domingo since February 24 will be a subject of a complaint to be filed with their joint human rights and international humanitarian law monitoring committee with the GRP.

“We expect the GRP to act on [the complaint] together with all the other hindrances [to the resumption of the peace talks],” Agcaoili told Kodao.

The NDFP in Far Southern Mindanao said Minipis and Domingo both vanished without a trace after being seen by witnesses in Kidapawan City. The group said the couple had not made any contact with their family and comrades.

“At the time of their disappearance, they were arranging for activities related to the peace process. They were also actively holding dialogs with indigenous people and peasants who have been affected by the large-scale mining operations of X-trata Mining in Tampakan, South Cotabato,” NDFP said.

Manipis joins other NDFP consultants believed abducted by the Armed Forces of the Philippines, such as Leo Velasco, Rogelio Calubad, Prudencio Calubid, NDFP staff members Philip Limjoco, Leopoldo Ancheta, and Federico Intise.

“We fear that Manipis and Domingo may have already been executed by intelligence and military operatives, or are suffering from intense torture and other violations of international humanitarian law,” the NDFP said.

Meanwhile, Davao Today reported that Philippine Army’s 10th Infantry Division spokesperson Capt. Jerry Lamosao denied responsibility for the couple’s disappearance.

“If they believe that the Army is responsible, they should have filed a complaint earlier given that if they coordinate with authorities, they can ask for assistance,” Lamosao said.

Agcaoili said they are still checking Manipis’ Document of Identification name with their official list of consultants under the NDFP and GRP’s Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG).

The JASIG list was deposited by both the NDFP and the GRP with an unnamed third party in The Netherlands last June.

Consultants included in the JASIG list as well as other persons directly participating in the peace negotiations are guaranteed free movement and freedom from arrest, surveillance, interrogation and similar actions in connection with their involvement or participation in the peace negotiations for the duration of the peace talks.

Immunities cover acts, statements, materials, information and data made during or resulting from the peace negotiations.

The 2017 list, encrypted in Universal Serial Bus (USB) flash disks and backed up in a Security Drive (SD), contains photographs and the real identities of NDFP peace consultants who are still underground, the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Arrested ‘NPA commander’ a JASIG-holder


THE National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) announced that the “top New People’s Army Commander” arrested Thursday night in Ozamiz City along with an Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI) bishop is a consultant in its peace negotiations with the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP).

In a statement, NDFP’s chief negotiator Fidel Agcaoili said Rommel Salinas is a Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG)-protected person with Document of Identification Number ND-978453 under the name of Hermie Abella.

Salinas was arrested with IFI Ozamiz Bishop Carlo Morales and two others last May 11 at six o’clock in the evening by Philippine National Police and Philippine Army (PA) forces at a checkpoint.

The PA’s 1st Infantry Division said Salinas (alias Venico, Beto, Carlos, Doming, Artem and Mark) is a top New People’s Army commander in Western Mindanao.

Salinas is reportedly facing criminal charges for destructive arson, murder, frustrated murder, attempted murder and robbery in band.

The PA added a hand grenade was allegedly seized from Salinas upon arrest.

Salinas’ arrest is “another clear violation of the JASIG,” Agcaoili said.

Online news site Interaksyon reported that, according to accounts from the IFI, Salinas “presented his ID as an NDFP consultant and JASIG holder” and informed the soldiers and police who stopped them that “the purpose of his travel is to campaign for the fifth round of the formal talks between (the government) and NDFP.”

The NDFP strongly condemned the arrests.

“It is obvious from the narration of events that Salinas had been conducting consultations with various sectors, including the religious, when he was arrested,” it said.

Meanwhile, Morales’ wife Darling Losaria Morales and their driver Isadome Dalid have been set free by the Ozamiz PNP, according to Fr. Dionito Cabillas, an IFI priest, announced on his Facebook page this morning.

Quoting an inquest memorandum by Fiscal Noel Boter, Cabillas said the bishop and Salinas remain in police custody for the non-bailable offense of illegal possession of explosives.

Proceedings against the two detainees will resume on Monday, Cabillas.

NDFP consultants in danger

The NDFP also assailed “growing threats” against its peace consultants, citing a series of incidents since the start of the year.

Just last Tuesday, NDFP Panel member Benito Tiamzon and consultant Wilma Austria-Tiamzon were tailed by motorcycle-riding men after their meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte in Malacañan Palace and meeting with Tagum City farmers in their camp out on Mendiola Bridge.

The Tiamzons tried to shake off their tail aboard an RS motorcycle with partial license plate number 2419 for about half an hour before deciding to return to the Mendiola camp out, from where friends and comrades helped them evade their pursuers.

The Tiamzons noticed that the back rider was constantly talking to someone on his mobile phone while tailing them.

At the camp out, witnesses observed the motorcycle riders following the Tiamzons and mingling with the crowd to avoid detection.

They were reportedly backed up by at least two other teams of two men each who also monitored the couple’s movements.

They were also tailed in March after their arrival from backchannel talks in The Netherlands.

Earlier, suspected military agents had interrogated the driver of a rented car used by the Tiamzons upon their arrival last January from the third round of formal peace negotiations with the GRP.

The NDFP said consultants who have also complained of surveillance include Ruben Saluta, Concha Araneta, Tirso Alcantara, Ernesto Lorenzo and Kennedy Bangibang.

Several consultants were also threatened with re-arrest when the peace talks collapsed last February.

Agcaoili urged the GRP to look seriously into these incidents and take whatever measures are necessary, saying they may have severe repercussions on the ongoing peace negotiations.

He also expressed  “grave concern” about reports that the military in Northern Mindanao had issued shoot-to-kill orders against NDFP consultant Pedro Codaste while the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ Eastern Mindanao Command was planning to abduct Porferio Tuna, another Mindanao-based consultant.

The NDFP and the GRP are set to hold their fifth round of formal negotiations in Noordwijk Aan Zee, The Netherlands on May 27 to June 2.  # (Raymund B. Villanueva/Photo by Jon Bustamante)

AFP report of relief convoy ‘ambush’ dubious–CPP

THE Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) denied its New People’s Army (NPA) fired upon a relief convoy in Barangay Linunggaman, San Francisco, Surigao del Norte last February 15.

In a statement today, the CPP affirmed the NPA’s earlier denial that a Philippine Army-escorted convoy, which included relief personnel of ABS-CBN’s Lingkod Kapamilya Foundation, was attacked by its guerrillas. Read more

NPA reports 5 gov’t troopers killed, 2 captured in Southern Mindanao

THE New People’s Army (NPA) in Southern Mindanao announced it has killed five Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) soldiers and captured two auxiliary troopers in three separate incidents last February 14.

Rigoberto Sanchez, NPA-Southern Mindanao Regional Operations Command spokesperson, said a company of Red fighters of their Compostela Valley–Davao Gulf Sub-Regional Operations Command fended off an attack of a scout platoon of the 28th Infantry Battallion-Philippine Army (IBPA) in Brgy. New Visayas, Lupon, Davao Oriental province.

“Five AFP troopers were confirmed killed while several others were wounded,” Sanchez said. Read more

Gov’t troops kill two, wound seven miners–NPA

THE New People’s Army (NPA) in North Eastern Mindanao has accused the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) of killing two, including a minor, and injuring seven small scale miners in Sarog, Barangay San Isidro, Santiago, Agusan del Norte last Saturday.

NPA Front 16 spokesperson Ka Oto said at around 4:30 in the morning of February 11, masked armed men in the company of the 29th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army (IBPA) and the Special Action Force of the Philippine National Police (SAF-PNP) fired upon the small miners in the mountains of Sarog.

Oto said the victims begged and shouted that they were civilians but were still fired upon by the armed men.

Killed were Jerson Beto , 17 years old, and Pepito Tiambong, 40 years old, residents of Brgy. Guinoyoran, Santiago, Agusan del Norte, the NPA said.

Seven more were wounded, including Samuel Jaum, 40 years old; Orly Cuyo, 38 years old; and Oca Sandag, 40 years old.  Oto said the names of the other four victims are still being determined.

The NPA spokesperson also belied an earlier statement by the military regarding the incident.

“The NPA Front 16 strongly renounces the statements made by Lt. Col. Glenn Joy, commanding officer of the 29th IBPA and its spokesperson Capt. Angelo Gomez, that they encountered and were fired upon by Red fighters of Front 16 in the mountain area of Sarog, Barangay San Isidro, Santiago, Agusan del Norte last February 11, 2017,” Oto said.

“There was no encounter between the NPA and 29th IBPA troops of the AFP because no member of the NPA in North Eastern Mindanao Region (NEMR) was in Sarog during that time,” he added.

In the area were armed paramilitaries controlled by the 29th IB such as Alan Lagangga and those they can no longer control who are former CAFGU (Civilian Armed Force Geographical Unit) and LUPACA members who have mining tunnels, Oto said.

The NPA said the armed paramilitaries are assets of, accompany 29th IBPA and PNP (in military operations), and plotted with them in ransacking mine tunnels of high grade gold.

“Friendly fire”

The NPA spokesperson also said the casualties government troops suffered were victims of a “friendly fire.”

“Killed and wounded in the crossfire were M/Sgt. Marlon Balais who was with one column of the 29th IBPA, and another who was in the other column manoeuvring at the upper portion of the mountain,” Oto said.

Also wounded were portal guards Oka Sandag, a CAFGU of Brgy. Pangaylan, Santiago and two member of the CVO (Civilian Volunteer Organization) in Purok 5, Brgy. San Isidro, of Santiago, Agusan del Norte, the NPA reported.

Oto said a day before the massacre, 29th IBPA intelligence assets Danny Muñoz, Mat Manlapas, Jun Perez and Tata Villegas, attempted to enter the tunnels. The miners reportedly refused and the four left after threatening the miners they will return.

Before the shooting happened, 29th IBPA troops also detained two small scale miners nearby, he said.

“To conceal their killing of civilians and because a soldier, CAFGU and CVO members were also killed, Lt. Col. Glenn Joy and Capt. Angelo Gomez of the 29th IBPA immediately proclaimed that their troops were fired upon by NPA members even though there were civilians nearby,” Oto said.

“Notorius 29th IBPA”

The NPA said the people know the truth about the Philippine Army unit and have listed a number of alleged victims in Santiago, Agusan del Norte:

  • Ambushed and killed Kalatinga chiettain Datu Arnel in May 2016;
  • Shot and killed Jun-jun Hudyawon near a tunner in Manhopaw in July 2016;
  • Shot and killed Ricardo Tuazon, a farmer of Brgy. Pianing in November 2015;
  • Killed and half buried Jerry Sagsag, a Lumad from Kotom, Alegria in November 2015;
  • Arrested and mauled five farmers from Henimbangan in November 2015, of which a Jerry Banao, a resident of Dahon-dahonan, remains in prison; and
  • Fired upon the Sarmiento family while they were walking in Kamingawan, killing Rusen L. Sarmiento in April 27, 2014;

“They are notorious for committing brutal crimes and lying to cover their deplorable actions,” Oto said.

The NPA called on the Rodrigo Duterte government, the provincial and local government units of Agusan Del Norte and the municipality of Santiago, to investigate the killings to prove what have been committed and to give justice to the victims.

Meanwhile, NPA Guerilla Front 16 also denied it was their fighters who fired at an earthquake relief convoy of the 30th IBPA, which included an ABS-CBN Lingkod Kapamilya Foundation’s Operation Sagip team last February 14.

Oto said they investigated but none of their units have confirmed the allegation.

He said the attack may have been staged and blamed on the NPA to put them in a bad light.

The 30th IBPA countered they have no reason to sabotage their own relief operation.

No one was hurt in the incident. (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Malaybalay incident a ‘legitimate encounter’–NPA

THE New People’s Army-North Central Mindanao Region (NPA-NCMR) belied accusations by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) that the soldiers killed in Malaybalay City, Bukidnon last February 1 were unarmed and were only deployed for “peace and development” duties.

In a rejoinder to their earlier pronouncements about the incident, NPA-NCMR spokesperson Ka Allan Juanito said Sgt. Owen Yee, Corporal Niño Christopher Talabor and Corporal Pat O. Non were engaged in psy-war (psychological warfare) operations and that their deaths was a result of a legitimate encounter. Read more