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Joma, peace advocates: ATC move vs. NDFP ‘diabolical’, to worsen armed conflict

National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison described their group’s designation as “terrorist” by the Rodrigo Duterte government as “diabolical”, aimed at not just further closing every possibility of resuming peace negotiations but to kill more of their consultants and resource persons.

READ: GRP designates NDFP as ‘terrorist organization’

Reacting to the Anti-Terrorism Council’s (ATC) June 23 resolution designating the NDFP as a terrorist organization, Sison said the government clearly intends to:

  • Close further every possibility of resuming the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations at least for the duration that Duterte is in power,
  • Harass, silence, arrest or even kill the NDFP consultants and resource persons and others involved in the peace negotiations and target even the broad range of peace advocates, critics and oppositionists,
  • Allow Duterte to control and rig the 2022 elections, stay in power together with (Davao City Mayor) Sara and prevent his (Duterte’s) arrest for crimes against humanity on the prospective warrant that may be issued by the International Criminal Court, and
  • Pave a wider path for the Duterte regime to declare martial law and impose a fascist dictatorship on the people either before the anticipated 2022 elections or after this is rigged in order to preempt the 1986 type of people’s uprising.

“The diabolical purpose of the Duterte regime in designating the NDFP as terrorist cannot be understated because this has been preceded by the murder of NDFP consultants committed so flagrantly by Duterte death squads,” Sison said.

In its Resolution No. 21 (2021) issued last June 23, the Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC) designated the NDFP as a terrorist organization/association, saying the group is “an integral and inseparable part of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New People’s Army (NPA).”

Sison cited the murder of Randy Malayao, Randall Echanis, couple Agaton Topacio and Eugenia Magpantay, couple Antonio Cabanatan and Florenda Yap, Reynaldo Bocala and Rustico Tan as proof the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) is into killing NDFP consultants.

The victims were killed after Duterte ordered the GRP Negotiating Panel to walk away from the peace negotiations in mid-2017.

Sison also cited the arrest of NDFP consultants Adelberto Silva, Rey Casambre, Vicente Ladlad, Renante Gamara, Ferdinand Castillo  and others who have been arrested and imprisoned on so-called trumped up charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives.

He added that the designation is “at war” with basic principles of international humanitarian law on the legitimate status, rights and character of national liberation movements such as those by the NDFP.

‘War hawks to blame’

A group of peace advocates blames so-called war hawks in the ATC for NDFP’s designation as terrorist.

The group Pilgrims for Peace (PfP) said GRP’s move bodes ill for human rights, democracy and the quest for peace under the Duterte administration.

“The war hawks are hell-bent on killing peace negotiations and instead pursuing all-out war in the government counterinsurgency program as well as casting a wide net of suppression against all opposition and dissent through state terror as embodied in the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020,” the group in a statement said.

PfP said the designation can only intensify the “nefarious red-baiting/ terrorist-tagging by the National Task Force-End Local Communist Armed Conflict, with dire implications on and further deterioration of the human rights situation and constriction of democratic space in the country.”

The group added the designation directly contravenes a basic tenet of peace advocacy: addressing the roots of the armed conflict through earnest peace negotiations.

“[B]y designating those who have stepped forward to engage in peace negotiations as ‘terrorist,’ the Duterte administration is blatantly acting against the principle and practice of peace building,” PfP said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

GRP designates NDFP as ‘terrorist organization’

The Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) has added the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) to its list of terrorist organizations, dashing what remains of hopes for the resumption of formal peace negotiations between the parties.

In its Resolution No. 21 (2021) issued last June 23, the Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC) has designated the NDFP as a terrorist organization/association, saying the group is “an integral and inseparable part of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New People’s Army (NPA).”

The designation was signed by ATC chairperson and executive secretary Salvador Medialdea and council vice-chairperson and national security adviser Hermogenes Esperon.

“[The] NDFP is organized, controlled, acting on behalf of or at the direction of, and operated by the (CPP), a designated terrorist organization, association and/or group of persons under ATC Resolution No. 12 (2020),” the ATC said.

The Council said the NDFP is the last of three major components, along with the CPP and the NPA, that provides support to the armed and organizational expansion of the Communist movement in the country.

Founded in April 1973, the NDFP describes itself as “[A] revolutionary united front organization of the Filipino people fighting for national freedom and for the democratic rights of the people.

“The NDFP seeks to develop and coordinate all progressive classes, sectors and forces in the Filipino people’s struggle to end the rule of US imperialism and its local allies of big landlords and compradors, and attain national and social liberation,” its website says.

Aside from the CPP and the NPA, the NDFP has at least 15 other “revolutionary allied organizations” and is present in 70 out of the country’s 81 provinces.

Since 1992, the NDFP has been holding peace talks with the GRP to “address the roots of the armed conflict.”

After two years of fruitful negotiations across four formal rounds in three countries in Europe from 2016 to 2017, President Duterte walked away from the process and has since designated the CPP and NPA as so-called terrorists.

Observers said NDFP’s exclusion from GRP’s list of terrorist organizations provides hope that it is still open to resuming negotiations with the underground group.

NDFP officials have yet to respond to requests for comment on this development. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Gov’t freeze of Casambre bank accounts ‘pathetic’

[UPDATED] The government’s freeze order of a National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace consultant’s bank accounts is a pathetic move that failed to touch his real treasures, his family said.

Xandra Liza Bisenio, daughter of jailed NDFP consultant Rey Claro Casambre, said their family’s real assets and their most valued possessions cannot be found in her father’s modest bank accounts the Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC) and the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) recently ordered frozen.

“Freezing my father’s and others’ almost negligible accounts purportedly to cripple the communist movement is pathetic. Instead, it has deprived my elderly parents of their funds for essential needs, magnified the crisis of the pandemic, and is bringing anxiety to our family and friends,” Bisenio said in a forum marking the first anniversary of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 last July 3.

Bisenio said they managed to get copies of official bank documents last June 16 that confirmed Casambre’s bank accounts have been frozen in accordance with ATC Resolution 17 and AMLC Resolution TF-40 (2021).

“We had felt the adverse impact of this action a month earlier, even before the announcement of the designation (of Casambre and others as so-called terrorists). We attempted, as was usual, to withdraw cash from Mr. Casambre’s ATM account to pay for some groceries, and got the message: ‘The account does not exist,’” Bisenio said.

She added that Casambre’s bank accounts are modest and do not deserve suspicion and subsequent closure.

Bisenio said Casambre’s bank deposits are no more than accumulated savings from allowances as executive director of the Philippine Peace Center and wife Cora’s income as researcher-translator.

She however said her parents’ modest monetary assets are not their family’s source of joy, security and peace of mind.

“They lie in our lifetime commitment to serve the common good, in solidarity with the downtrodden who are the real giants and heroes in this world. Intangible yet real and vibrant, these treasures are inextricably embedded in our minds, beyond the reach of any state entity, and silently but fiercely ablaze in our hearts, which no statute can ever freeze,” she said.

Rey Claro and Cora were arrested while on their way home to Cavite in December 2018 and were charged with illegal possession of firearms and explosives, a standard case slapped against arrested activists by the police and military.

The prosecutor however found the charges “preposterous” that paved the way for Cora’s early release but Rey Claro remains in jail for separate murder and attempted murder charges of allegedly participating in a New People’s Army ambush in Lupon, Davao Oriental in September 2018.

Casambre’s bank accounts have been frozen after fellow NDFP consultant Vicente Ladlad’s two Landbank accounts have been closed in May this year. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

[ERRATUM: The original version of this report erroneously said the Casambre family publicly asked for the unfreezing of their bank accounts. They made no such claim in their statement, hence this corrected version. The reporter apologizes.]

Joma looks past the ‘treacherous’ Duterte for peace talks resumption

National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison looks past the Rodrigo Duterte administration for the possible resumption of the stalled peace negotiations between the Left and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP).

In a statement, Sison said it is “utterly perverse” of the Duterte regime to expect that the Communists can be convinced back into peace negotiations after the murder of NDFP consultants and attempts by GRP officials and agencies to paint him as a “terrorist”.

“I assure these fascists (in the GRP) that the CPP, NPA and NDFP have enough brains to think that even peace negotiations in a foreign neutral venue have become too risky and costly for the NDFP after the murder of so many NDFP peace consultants,” Sison said.

Randy Felix Malayao, Randall Echanis, Julius Giron, ederly couple Agaton Topacio and Eugenia Magpantay, couple Antonio Cabanatan and Florenda Yap, and Reynaldo Bocala were all brutally killed after Duterte terminated the peace negotiations in 2017.

He added that here is a need for certain new guarantees to ensure the safety and immunity of NDFP negotiators, consultants and staff if ever peace negotiations would be held in cooperation with an administration, “which is not as treacherous and murderous as the Duterte regime.”

All-out war

In his statement, Sison confirmed observations that Duterte made a total turnaround on the peace negotiations in the second half of 2017.

In a statement, Sison said that after the Manila government aborted the fifth round of formal talks in May 2017 it became increasingly clear that Duterte had a change of position and attitude.

“He was no longer interested in peace negotiations with the NDFP and was single-mindedly for an all-out war against the CPP and NPA to comply with [then United States of America President Donald] Trump’s order and to aim for fascist dictatorship,” Sison said.

Duterte issued Proclamation 360 terminating the peace negotiations on November 23, 2017 and Proclamation 374 designating the CPP and NPA as “terrorist” organizations on December 5, 2017.

The termination wasted significant progress made in the negotiations and in the drafting of the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms in the previous four rounds of formal talks from August 2016 to April 2017, Sison rued.

Sison said the Manila government’s turnaround came after Duterte failed to lure his former professor to return to the Philippines and instead allowed the Europe-held peace negotiations to produce beneficial agreements such as free land distribution to poor farmers.

Sison said Duterte used the excuse that the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founding chairperson has no control or influence over the Party and the New People’s Army (NPA) to push for so-called localized negotiations.

Sison said Duterte and the military are absolutely correct in saying the neither the NDFP Negotiating Panel and its chief political consultant have the power to issue orders to the CPP and the NPA whose leading formations are all in the Philippines.

“Duterte and his running dogs are therefore mendacious and malicious in taking the position and attitude and ranting that I make decisions and give orders to the CPP and NPA and that I am a “terrorist” who should be deported by the Dutch government to the Philippines for punishment by the Duterte regime under its draconian law of state terrorism,” he said.

Sison also scored repeated pro-GRP pickets staged in front of the Dutch Embassy in Makati City calling for his deportation to the Philippines.

The pickets have also demanded that the peace negotiations be held in the Philippines under the auspices of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process.

“I wish to point out that Duterte and his fellow butchers are not only criminally brutal but also utterly stupid. They conveniently forget that I am a recognized political refugee under the absolute protection of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights and the principle of nonrefoulement in the Refugee Convention,” he said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Reds say Masbate incident will be investigated internally

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines pointed out that the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human rights and International Humanitarian Law established the Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC) as the principal mechanism to monitor the implementation of its agreement with the Government of the Republic of the Philippines, under which the deaths of footballer Keith and his cousin Nolven in a bomb blast last Sunday should be investigated.

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) rejected calls by Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) agencies to surrender New People’s Army (NPA) fighters suspected to be behind the deaths of two civilians in Masbate City last Sunday.

In a statement, the NDFP said it asserts its duty to investigate the incident under its Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) with the GRP.

“Under the CARHRIHL, in conformity with their respective separate duties and responsibilities, the NDFP has sole jurisdiction over complaints against units and personnel of the (NPA), in the same way that the GRP has the sole jurisdiction over complaints against its own armed units and personnel,” it said.

NDFP’s assertion came after police and military officers dared the NPA to turn those suspected to have perpetrated the killings over to the GRP.

The Commission on Human Rights made the same demand, saying the NPA “should identify all those responsible and surrender them to the lawful authorities to face justice within the court system.”

The NDFP however pointed out that the CARHRIHL established the Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC) as the principal mechanism to monitor the implementation of the CARHRIHL, under which the deaths of footballer Keith and his cousin Nolven in a bomb blast should be investigated.

At present, the NDFP-nominated section is open and functioning but the GRP-nominated section had been inactive even as both the GRP and the NDFP have agreed in 2016 to reconvene the JMC to start investigating the thousands of complaints of violations filed since opening in 2004.

“The NDFP welcomes the urgings of all concerned for the necessary investigation and wishes to have the full chance to do the investigation and make the report to the GRP-NDFP (JMC) if and when convened to deal with the case,” it said.

Their own legal system

The NDFP however said the investigation of the Masbate incident should be within the NPA command structure and frameworks of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), NDFP and the People’s Democratic Government (PDG) the Communists claim to have established in areas under their control.

“The NDFP will make sure that certain questions are answered by a thoroughgoing investigation,” it said.

The group said it will seek answer to questions, such as:

1) If true, which NPA unit and personnel are involved?

2) Is there no case of the enemy committing the crime and falsely ascribing it to the NPA?, and

3) Is there no local feud involved?

“There should be no rush to judgment, presumption or insinuation to the effect that the entire revolutionary movement and entire revolutionary forces are guilty of a criminal offense, negligence or error for which certain individuals may be liable on the basis of a full and complete investigation,” it said.

Under its responsibility and direction and within PDG’s legal system, the NDFP said the investigation must be started and completed within the NPA command structure.

“[This is] to fully and completely establish the facts and prepare any appropriate charges before any procedure to prosecute and try the case before the military court of the NPA or people’s court,” it explained. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

AMLC freezes NDFP consultant’s bank account; immoral and reprehensible order, wife says

Funds consist solely of reparations received by Ladlad for human rights violations he suffered under martial law, Fides Lim reveals.

The wife of a jailed National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace consultant assailed the freezing of his bank accounts containing compensations for human rights violations suffered during Ferdinand Marcos’ martial law years.

Fides Lim questioned the morality of the freeze order and appealed to Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas governor Benjamin Diokno to reverse the directive against NDFP consultant Vicente Ladlad’s bank accounts with the government-owned Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP).

Ladlad’s two accounts, an ATM Visa Debit Card and the attached savings deposit, were ordered frozen following his designation as a “terrorist” on May 13 by the Anti-Terrorism Council.

Ladlad is among the several detained peace consultants of the National Democratic Front ordered arrested after peace negotiations were aborted by President Duterte in 2017.

In a May 31 letter to Diokno, concurrent chairperson of the Anti-Money Laundering Council, Lim expressed distress over the freezing of Ladlad’s LBP account, calling it immoral and illegal.

“[T]hat consist solely and purely of the compensation that Vic received from the Human Rights Victims’ Claims Board (HRVCB) in May 2018 plus the compensation from Atty. Robert Swift in August 2019 from human rights class suits in reparation for Vic’s political imprisonment and torture during martial law and for the abduction and enforced disappearance of his first wife Leticia Pascual Ladlad in November 1975,” Lim said.

She said the two Land Bank accounts were opened in May 2018 when the HRVCB required approved eligible claimants to open a savings account at their nearest Land Bank branch to facilitate the deposit of the monetary compensation.

“Any investigation would easily reveal the official origin of those deposits and why it is wrongful, in fact immoral and reprehensible, to subject them to any freeze order as this would only perpetuate the injustice and tragedy that those accounts seek to atone for and indemnify,” she explained.

“Clearly, the funds are not from money laundering or terrorism financing but resulted from Republic Act No. 10368, otherwise known as the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013, which established the HVRCB to decide on all claims,” Lim said in her letter, adding that authorities can see that the accounts were never used to launder funds for any illegal activity.

She noted that any investigation would also reveal that the reparation was in fact “misused” when Ladlad was arrested on November 8, 2018 and illegal transactions ensued after his LBP ATM Visa Debit Card was taken from him:

“I knew of this immediately due to an LBP alert text on my cellphone suspending the card ’as preventive measure against unauthorized transaction/s.’ I promptly filed a complaint with the LBP and despite initial rejection, the stolen amount was restituted on February 5, 2020 through a full refund,” she revealed

Although the account was compromised and despite lawyers’ advice about asset freeze under the new Anti-Terrorism Act, she said Ladlad decided to keep his LBP accounts because “these were opened purposely to facilitate the payment of compensation to him as a victim of martial law and because, should anything happen to me, he would need to shoulder his medical needs and health care.”

Lim said she went to see Diokno at the BSP last May 31 but was denied entry due to COVID protocols.

“I hope Prof. Diokno will have the fairness of mind to heed my appeal as he belongs to the same generation that experienced the brutal repression of martial law and he can’t ignore the sacrifices recognized by the very law that created this indemnification fund,” Lim said.

“Vic is now 72, and he needs his compensation funds as his heath rapidly deteriorates under political imprisonment,” Lim stressed.

She said Ladlad was diagnosed last December 2020 with Asthma-Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Overlap Syndrome, which has a higher disease burden than either asthma or COPD alone, marked by frequent exacerbations and higher mortality rate.

This latest government action of freezing his legal compensation is a gross injustice that compounds the dark history of martial law and victimizes the victim anew with greater suffering. The lifting of the AMLC’s freeze order on his compensation accounts with the LBP will rectify this injustice and assure humanitarian support for his pressing medical needs,” Lim said.

Ladlad had repeatedly denied being a terrorist and said his imprisonment is “plain political persecution” based on “trumped-up charges” involving planted firearms.

Diokno has yet to respond to Lim’s appeal. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Bayan on Fr. Jun Mercado: ‘Remarkable human being’

Fr. Eliseo “Jun” Mercado Jr. made his mark as a peace champion in behalf of the Bangsamoro. Quite unknown or forgotten however was his past as one of the founding leaders of the militant Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan).

In a tribute, Bayan chairperson Dr. Carol Araullo revealed Mercado was one of the first vice presidents of the country’s biggest alliance of progressive organizations. He was a stalwart of the national alliance of patriotic and democratic mass organizations at the height of the Filipino people’s struggle against the Ferdinand Marcos dictatorship, Araullo wrote. She added that Mercado was once of its founding leaders when the alliance was founded in 1985 and served as one of the vice presidents of Bayan’s founding chairperson Senator Lorenzo Tañada.

“[Fr. Jun] spearheaded the formation of the People’s Caucus after the fall of the Marcos dictatorship. The People’s Caucus was organized by Bayan in order to form a broad front that would continue to push for fundamental socio-economic and political reforms in the post-Marcos era,” Araullo said.

Araullo recalled that one of the main projects of the People’s Caucus was to put together a blueprint for the conversion of the former United States military bases into productive industrial and commercial hubs once the Philippines would be able to reassert national sovereignty over the sprawling prime real estate in Subic, Olongapo and Clark, Pampanga.

“This was to disprove allegations of pro-US quarters that the local economy built around and dependent on the US military installations would collapse should the US pull out. This was important in the campaign to reject the renewal of the RP-US military bases agreement in 1991,” Araullo said.

Both the former US Navy base in Subic and the US Air Force base in Clark have since become economic enclaves when the Americans left in a hurry as Mt. Pinatubo erupted in the early 90s.

Mercado died last May 23 in a Cotabato hospital of a heart attack as he was battling Covid-19.

 ‘Jovial and untiring’

Araullo remembered Mercado as a “very jovial, unassuming, cooperative, sincere and untiring Bayan official and People’s Caucus secretary general.”

“[He] lent his sharp intellect, articulate voice, persuasive charm and warm hearted generosity for the pursuit of BAYAN’s advocacies through its political education and information campaigns as well as mass mobilizations including people’s strikes under the Cory Aquino administration,” she said.

The priest was born and raised in Bulacan and Manila, respectively. His father was an American -trained World War II pilot.

Far from being a priest, Mercado originally wanted to become a politician. His plans drastically changed when he heard Oblate priest Bertrand de Merz introduce the Oblates of the Missionary Immaculate (OMI) in a visit to his school. The young Mercado entered the seminary in 1964 after high school at age 16 and professed his first vows as an Oblate in 1967. Mercado went on to study Classics and Philosophy at the University of Santo Tomas and Theology and Missiology at the Gregorian University in Rome.

As a seminarian, Mercado’s scholarship was drawn to the rituals of birth to death of the Tausug in Sulu province. This influenced his decision to pursue Islamic Studies and Arabic Studies in Italy and Special Studies in Islamic Archaeology in Cairo. In a Philippine Daily Inquirer interview, Mercado described his dedication to study Islam as a “great passion (and) thirst.”

Thus, after his historic role as one of Bayan’s founding leaders and helmsman for the People’s Caucus, Mercado transferred himself to Mindanao from where he became active and well known for his championship of the Bangsamoro. From his Notre Dame University base in Cotobato City, Mercado played the role of peacemaker.

In so doing, Araullo said Mercado was being consistent in his advocacy for the Moro’s right to self determination, a role he played in all of his five decades as a religious.

“[He was] unwavering, if at times critical (in his) support for the GRP (Government of the Republic of the Philippines)-MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front) peace negotiations…[as well as in] his courageous and unflinching role as a human rights advocate and defender of civil and political rights in the troubled island,” Araullo said

She added that Mercado took a principled stand against the Rodrigo Duterte administration’s martial law declaration in Mindanao in the wake of the Marawi Siege and became a convenor of Mindanaoans for Civil Liberties and Barug Katungod Mindanao.

Araullo said Mercado exemplified the activist priest who found and practiced the highest convergence of being the servant of God and service to the people.

“He did not shirk from social and political activism as unbecoming of a man of the cloth but embraced it with scholarly enthusiasm and imbued it with a high moral and spiritual conviction. His life-long focus on the plight, struggles and aspirations of the Moro people is a testament to his profound understanding and embrace of the most exploited, oppressed and discriminated against among God’s people,” Araullo said.

The Bayan leader said they are privileged and proud to have been a part of Mercado’s life’s journey as a “remarkable human being.”

“May his fine example shine a light on many more religious men and women who aspire to be relevant and contribute significantly to our people’s national and social liberation,” she said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

‘Genuine revolutionary, loving father and patient husband,’ Concha says of slain husband

National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace consultant Concha Araneta-Bocala called her late husband Reynaldo a genuine revolutionary who gave five decades of his life serving the masses of Panay Island.

In a loving tribute to her life-long partner and fellow NDFP consultant, Concha said she grieves for Reynaldo and companion Willy “Ka Ramon” Arguelles, killed in what the Philippine National Police (PNP) said was a simple service of arrest warrants that turned bloody.

“I grieve for my comrade and my husband Ka Reynaldo Bocala, more lovingly known as Ka Hans, Ka Bading and Ka Minoy to the masses in the countryside of Panay. I also grieve for Ka Ramon his trusted and reliable companion. We all grieve for them. Unarmed, they were traitorously and brutally murdered by the fascist mercenaries of the tyrant Duterte,” Concha said.

Herself in hiding as among those listed as terrorists by the Rodrigo Duterte government, Concha said she is torn by the killing of her husband of 50 years but she is proud and happy that he had lived to his pledge of serving the people and the Party (Communist Party of the Philippines) “until his last breath.”

Concha credited Reynaldo as a key figure in the consolidation and upsurge of the underground revolutionary movement in Central Panay and in the anti-fascist struggle south of the island related to the downfall of the Ferdinand Marcos dictatorship in 1986.

She said Reynaldo also organized the island’s indigenous Tumandok to fight for their right to their ancestral lands.

“Ka Minoy (Reynaldo) gave 50 years of his life in the revolutionary struggle. He was well-loved by the masses for his wit and humor, sharing stories and laughing with them, his down-to-earth style when giving lessons to the masses and practicality in guiding them on how to organize and mobilize their fellow peasants,” she said.

Reynaldo and Willy were killed by a team of police and military operatives in Providence Subdivision, Brgy. Balabag, Pavia, Iloilo City on Tuesday, May 29.

A Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees document of identification, ensuring his protection against surveillance, arrest, detention and assassination, was discovered among his possessions after the incident.

Patient husband, loving father

In her tribute, Concha said her husband was a loving father to their four children.

“[Y]our father, tatay loved you so much, too much. You know that and you can feel that,” she said.

Concha said she and Reynaldo met 50 years ago, got married and had two daughters and two sons.

While her husband failed to see their revolution succeed, Concha said she hopes their children, grandchildren and succeeding generations will see its inevitable victory.

“His life and work as a revolutionary may have taken his time away from you but his work was also for you and for all later generations that you may live decently as hard working people, enjoy genuine freedom and live full and happy lives,” she said.

Concha also revealed Reynaldo had been a patient husband to her, a headstrong woman born of privilege.

“To my comrade and husband, thanks for all the love you showered me even as I’m not easy to deal with, impatient, [lovingly] irritating almost always, and prickly as I may have inadequacies [as lover and wife],” she wrote in Hiligaynon.

“I give you my love admiration and respect,” she ended. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

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)

CPP: All 19 in ATC list ‘courageous, honorable revolutionaries’

The persons recently designated by the Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC) as terrorists are either poor or have chosen to be poor because of their desire to serve the people, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) said.

In a reaction to the ATC’s designation of 19 of its alleged top leaders as terrorists, the CPP said all those listed are honorable revolutionaries who have served the cause of the Filipino people for national and social liberation all their lives.

“Throughout the past decades, they have courageously stood side by side with the people and struggled against dictators and tyrants. They all have sacrificed personal ambition and selfish interests,” CPP chief information officer Marco Valbuena said in a statement Friday.

Valbuena said those named are now in their sixties and seventies and three of them are in jail even as they are well-known National Democratic Front of the Philippines Negotiating Panel (NDFP) consultants who attended peace negotiations with the Rodrigo Duterte government here and abroad.

The three are Vicente Ladlad, Rey Claro Casambre and Adelberto Silva who have been separately arrested after Duterte cancelled formal peace negotiations and were uniformly charged with the non-bailable offense of illegal possession of firearms and explosives.

“Unlike Duterte, these revolutionaries have only the clothes on their back to count as their wealth. They do not accumulate money from the government nor fleece the people with taxes,” Valbuena said.

The CPP spokesperson added the 19 revolutionaries do not hide money in China or elsewhere and have repeatedly proven themselves to be true to the “people’s cause”.

Aside from Ladlad, Casambre and Silva, the ATC designated NDFP chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison, New People’s Army (NPA) National Operations Command spokesperson Jorge Madlos, NDFP Negotiating Panel interim chairperson Julietta de Lima, NDFP Negotiating Panel Member Benito Tiamzon and NDFP peace consultants Alan Jazmines, Wilma Tiamzon, Ma. Concepcion Araneta-Bocala, Tirso Alcantara, Pedro Codaste, and Loida Magpatoc as so-called terrorists under the controversial Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020.

The list also includes alleged CPP officials Abdias Gaudiana, Dionesio Micabato, Myrna Sularte, Tomas Dominado and Menandro Villanueva.

All 19, except for Sison and Araneta-Bocala, are from lower middle class or poor origins.

Sison was born of a landed and politically-influential family in Ilocos Sur while Araneta-Bocala was of the landlord class in Panay Island.

Both said they rid themselves of their respective families’ economic interests when they joined the revolutionary movement in their youth.

While the 19’s terrorist-designation needs a court order to become official, however, government agencies may freeze their bank accounts and other assets.

Appeal to BSP

Ladlad’s wife Fides Lim said her husband’s only bank account may be frozen by the ATC terrorist listing.

“Vic is a poor man. The only huge deposit or entire property under his name is the compensation he received from the Human Rights Victims’ Claims Board in May 2018,” Lim said Friday, May 14.

Lim said Ladlad’s bank account with the government-controlled Land Bank includes the reparation for his sufferings as a political prisoner during martial law and for the disappearance of his first wife Leticia Pascual Ladlad in November 1975.

Ladlad wants to use his money for the treatment of his various illnesses such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease as well as food support in jail, replacement of his hearing aid reportedly stolen when he was arrested and to extend assistance to his mother who died last December while he was already in jail, Lim said.

Lim, also political detainee support group Kapatid spokesperson, revealed that the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas and its governor Benjamin Diokno may move to freeze Ladlad’s bank account.

“I came from the Land Bank this morning (Friday) and I know what you are up to as the designated chair of the Anti-Money Laundering Act in relation to implementing orders from the Anti-Terrorism Council regarding my husband,” Lim said.

“This is blood money. Don’t be complicit in the McCarthy witchhunting spree of the Anti-Terrorism Council. Only Vic has the right to his compensation claim,” she added.

Lim reminded Diokno that the arresting team pilfered his Land Bank ATM card and used it to steal money when Ladlad was arrested on November 8, 2018.

Lim said she filed a complaint with the Land Bank and it took over a year before she was able to recover what was stolen.

“I will safeguard every centavo of Vic’s deposit in the Land Bank. To BSP Gov. Benjamin Diokno: This is blood money. Don’t be complicit in the McCarthy witchhunting spree of the Anti-Terrorism Council. Only Vic has the right to his compensation claim,” Lim said.

‘Unconstitutional’

Ladlad protested his inclusion in the ATC terror list as a gross violation of his right to due process.

In a statement, Ladlad said he was never informed by the ATV that he has been charged as a “terrorist” and was never given the opportunity to refute the charge.

“I firmly state that I am not a terrorist. It is the Anti-Terrorism Act in its too vague definition of terrorism and its expansive list of “acts of terrorism” that enabled the authorities to easily brand my political

Baylosis for his part said he vehemently decry and object to the ATC resolution designating alleged CPP Central Committee members as so-called terrorists.

“In my case, the latest ATC order disregards an earlier preceding Manila RTC (Regional Trial Court) decision in the third quarter of 2018 that I was not one of the ‘terrorists’ named in the first GRP proscription suit against the CPP-NPA,” Baylosis said.

Baylosis added that he was also freed from detention in early 2019 based on two Quezon City RTCs final ruling on “false, fabricated non-bailable” charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosive.

Casambre’s family said his inclusion in the list is a desperate move by the government and itself “terroristic” attack.

“Rey Casambre is a teacher and scientist, not a criminal. He is a peace activist, not a terrorist,” his family said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)