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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)

NDFP to Carpio: Hague Joint Declaration, not GRP Charter, to remain as talks framework

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) Negotiating Panel expressed disagreement with former Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio’s advise that its future peace agreements with the government must be in accordance with the Philippine Constitution.

In a statement, NDFP panel interim chairperson Julie de Lima said they will not agree to allow the Philippine Constitution to govern future peace negotiations and reiterated that their group’s Hague Joint Declaration with the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) remains the framework of the process.

Instead of the GRP charter, The Hague Joint Declaration signed on September 1,1992 stipulates that the holding of the peace negotiations must be in accordance with mutually acceptable principles, de Lima said.

These principles include national sovereignty, democracy and social justice, as well as the absence of preconditions that shall negate the inherent character and purpose of the negotiations, she added.

In his opening statement at the 1Sambayan peace web forum Wednesday, the retired magistrate advised that the peace agreements must be in accordance with the Constitution, lest it suffers the fate of the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) between the GRP and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front signed in 2008.

“Any peace agreement can be forged as long as it is within the Constitution. That is the only criterion, that the Constitution be followed. And that criterion allows for very broad parameters to achieve peace,” Carpio said.

He then recalled the Supreme Court’s issuance of a temporary restraining order on the eve of the signing of the MOA-AD in Kuala Lumpur due to so-called violations of several provisions of the government Constitution.

‘Welcome, but no’

De Lima said they welcome Carpio’s positive views on the need for the peace negotiations but said the NDFP will not agree to the GRP Constitution as the framework of future talks.

She said both the NDFP and the GRP signed and have repeatedly reaffirmed the Hague Joint Declaration, especially its decisive provision statement stating that, “No precondition shall be made to negate the inherent character and purpose of the peace negotiations.”

“This means that no party, neither the (GRP) nor the (NDFP) shall make a precondition insisting that its constitution be the sole determinant of the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations,” de Lima said.

She explained that if the GRP Constitution is allowed as the new framework, it means the imposition of surrender and capitulation of the NDFP and its forces.

“Then there would be no real negotiations. It would mean unilaterally imposing surrender particularly on the NDFP,” de Lima said.

“Preconditioning the peace negotiations with the submission or surrender of one side to the Constitution of the other is the prevention of peace negotiations,” she added.

The Hague Joint Declaration on the other hand is an agreement of parity and reciprocity as it opens the way to peace negotiations on Social and Economic Reforms (SER), Political and Constitutional Reforms (PCR) and End of Hostilities and Disposition of Forces (EHDF), De Lima explained.

NDFP’s own Constitution

De Lima said that that NDFP refuses to recognize the GRP charter as the sole determinant of the peace negotiations as it has its own Constitution.

She said that one of the reasons why the Declaration was crafted and signed was because both parties are expected not to impose their respective legal and constitutional process on the other.

Instead, the third substantive agenda in The Hague Joint Declaration, the PCR, anticipates potential mechanisms to ensure the compatibility of the parties’ respective legal and judicial processes and frameworks with prospective agreements on SER and EHDF.

The GRP and the NDFP earlier signed the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law in 1998, the first substantive agenda under the Declaration.

“In the concrete, either or both Parties should be open to tweak their respective organic documents to make them consistent with whatever is achieved in the negotiating table to give life to the SER and PCR as well as the EHDF provisions so they can be implemented both jointly as well as separately by the Parties,” de Lima said.

As a matter of fact, even under the ongoing CASER drafts, there are multiple proposed provisions on practical cooperation, including projected GRP congressional appropriations for genuine land reform and national industrialization, she added.

“At all events, the Parties should and are expected to anticipate, address and hurdle any constitutional and legal concerns or challenges that arise or may arise when they negotiate and enter into agreements,” de Lima said. # (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)

Another Bloody Friday: Police kill NDFP consultant in Iloilo; gunmen murder former priest and NDFP negotiator in Cebu

Police killed a National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace consultant In Iloilo City while a retired NDFP leader and former priest was also gunned down in Camotes Island in Cebu province Friday evening.

Reynaldo Bocala, a known Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and new People’s Army (NPA) leader in Panay Island, was killed in a raid conducted by the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) last night at Providence Subdivision, Brgy. Balabag, Pavia, Iloilo.

Local alternative media outfit Panay Today reported that the PNP-CIDG conducted the raid to purportedly serve four warrants of arrests against Bocala.

Pavia, Iloilo City where Bocala was killed by the police.

Bocala was the husband of NDFP peace consultant Concha Araneta-Bocala.

Also killed in the operation was a certain Willy Arguelles who was with Bocala at the time of the incident.

Iloilo police initially announced the incident was an illegal drugs buy-bust operation, local radio reports said.

Panay Today said a Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) Document of Identification was found on Bocala by the members of the operating team.

A Kodao source confirmed Bocala was a JASIG Document of Identification holder.

A JASIG Document of Identification supposedly protects its bearer from surveillance, harassment, threat, arrest and killing as participants in the peace process between the NDFP and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP).

State agents however have killed and arrested several JASIG-protected peace process participants, especially after formal NDFP-GRP peace negotiations were cancelled by GRP President Rodrigo Duterte in 2017.

Killed in his sleep

In Cebu province, former Roman Catholic priest and NDFP consultant for Cebu Rustico Luna Tan was killed in Purok Caimito, Brgy. Upper Poblacion, Pilar, Camotes Island, Cebu.

Tan was asleep on his hammock when shot on his face and torso by unidentified assailants.

He was 80-years old.

Rustico Luna Tan as a political detainee. (Karapatan Central Visayas photo)

A former political detainee, Tan was abducted in 2017 by the PNP detained in Tagbilaran City, Bohol for alleged 14 counts of murder.

The charges were dismissed by the Tagbilaran Regional Trial Court in 2019.

The former priest was again slapped with murder charges in Bacolod City, Negros Occidental soon after but was freed in March 2020 by release on recognizance.

Tan had been active since in community organic farming initiatives in Camotes Island until his death yesterday.

Tan was also arrested with 14 others from the Visayas and detained at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City in 1989 on charges of illegal possession of firearms and rebellion. He was eventually cleared of the charges.

Tan first gained prominence as NDFP peace negotiator for Cebu Province between 1986 and 1987 in the first ever NDFP-GRP peace talks.

Ordained as a priest under the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart congregation, Tan served in various parishes in Surigao and Lapu-Lapu cities.

He later joined the NDFP-allied Christians for National Liberation.

Tan was among the many priests from all over the country who joined the CPP-led revolutionary movement during the Ferdinand Marcos dictatorship. # (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)

Laborer rebuffs PNP’s order to spy on KMU; reveals assassination plot vs NDFP consultants

A construction worker said police intelligence operatives tried recruiting him to spy on labor federation Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) and help in the planned abduction and assassination of remaining National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace consultants.

The laborer however rejected the offer and reported the incident to his former KMU colleagues.

James (an alias), a construction laborer and a former KMU driver, said two men who identified themselves as Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group members allegedly tried to intimidate and bribe him agree to be a police spy on KMU.

In a press conference, James said he was fetched by barangay security personnel (tanod) and was taken to Barangay Banaba Hall in San Mateo, Rizal last Friday, March 19, on the pretense he needed to secure a permit for a construction project.

The victim was working at a renovation project at KMU secretary for human rights Eleanor de Guzman’s house at the time of the incident.

At the barangay hall, he was isolated in a room with the two police personnel who ordered him to return as KMU staff driver and spy for the police.

Makipagtulungan kang maayos, pagkatapos naman ay peace-peace tayo. ‘Yang pagtatrabaho mo, kayang-kaya naming ibigay ang pangangailangan mo, basta bumalik ka lang sa Balai para mag-spy,” the alleged police officers told James. (You cooperate properly, and then there would be peace between us. We will give you what you need as long as you return to Balai to spy for us.)

Balai is KMU’s national headquarters formally known as Balai Obrero (Workers’ House).

The unnamed officers told James they are particularly interested with de Guzman and her father, NDFP peace consultant Rafael Baylosis.

Assassination of peace consultants

The police told James they intend to abduct and assassinate all remaining NDFP peace consultants.

“Matagal na naming kayong minamanmanan, buti nga kami ang kausap niyo kasi may isang unit naming ang dudukot sa inyo,” James quoted the officers as saying. (We have you under surveillance for a long time. You should be grateful it is us who are talking to you because we have one unit tasked to abduct all of you.)

“Uubusin daw nila ang mga consultant,” he added. (They said they will finish off all consultants.)

James said the two officers took photos of him and demanded to reveal his phone number.

He also noticed at least eight other men on board motorcycles and heavily-tinted cars who followed him to his next destination. All vehicles did not have license plates, he added.

De Guzman and KMU national chairperson Elmer Labog said they condemn the police’s “criminal act” as direct and dangerous attacks against labor unionists and other human rights defenders.

The KMU said they are reporting the incident to the Commission on Human Rights to ask for an investigation.

Labog also called on the Supreme Court, the Department of Labor and Employment and the Department of Justice to use their powers to put a stop to the killings and unjust arrests of workers and human rights defenders. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

DILG, NTF-ELCAC afraid of peace, NDFP consultant says

A National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace consultant condemned “militarists” in the Rodrigo Duterte administration for opposing the possible resumption of formal peace negotiations between the Left and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP).

NDFP consultant Rafael Baylosis in a statement Friday said those opposing attempts to resume the negotiations are afraid that the peace talks would eventually lead to a genuine just and lasting peace in the Philippines.

“This is because they are afraid it might lead to certain agreements for reforms such as the free redistribution of land to peasants and national industrialization,” Baylosis said.

“They also do not want the possible grant of general amnesty to the CPP-NPA and release of political prisoners,” he added.

‘No more talks’

In a strongly worded statement last February 21, the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTC-ALCEC) denied the possibility of the peace negotiations being resumed in the last 16 months of the Rodrigo Duterte government.

“There will be no resumption of peace talks with the NDFP now or ever in as far as the Duterte Administration is concerned,” it said.

The task force said peace negotiations with the Left had always been a mistake, accusing the NDFP and its allied organizations, the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army, of having been insincere from the start.

The Department of Interior of Local Government (DILG) in a statement Wednesday, February 24, said it supports the NTF-ELCAC declaration.

“The [DILG] fully supports the position of the [NTF-ELCAC] opposing any move for the resumption of the failed peace talks with the CPP-NPA-NDF,” DILG officer-in-charge Usec. Bernardo C. Florece, Jr.
said.

Florece added that back channel efforts to resume peace negotiations with the NDFP are futile.

‘Their statements run counter to declarations by Duterte’s emissaries with the NDFP however.

Norway pushes for resumption

Labor secretary and former Government of the Philippines chief negotiator Silvestre Bello III revealed in a two-day online forum last week he and former Pangasinan Rep. Hernani Braganza were supposed to travel to The Netherlands last December to meet with the NDFP.

The trip did not push however as new coronavirus cases spiked in Europe since November.

Bello also revealed the Royal Norwegian Government, Third Party Facilitator to the GRP-NDFP Peace Process, had been working on back channel talks to resume the stalled formal negotiations.

He added that Duterte is again “very much inclined” to revive the negotiations the President scuttled in June 2017.

NDFP Negotiating Panel interim chairperson Juliet de Lima for her part said the planned back-channel talks would resume discussions on an interim peace agreement (IPA) that includes agreements on social and economic reforms.

IPA discussions shall also include possible coordinated unilateral ceasefire declarations as well as modes for their implementation, de Lima said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Pandemic preventing GRP-NDFP back-channel talks

The spike in new Coronavirus-19 (Covid-19) cases in Europe late last year frustrated plans for back-channel talks between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).

NDFP chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison said a planned trip by GRP emissaries to The Netherlands last December did not push through as many countries in Europe implemented extended lockdowns.

“What (labor secretary) Bebot [Silvestre Bello] said that he and (former Pangasinan Representative and GRP Negotiating Panel member) Nani (Hernani Braganza) planned to come over was true,” Sison said.

Sison confirmed that the planned back-channel talks are with the permission of GRP President Rodrigo Duterte and with the mediation of Royal Norwegian Government Special Envoy to the Philippine Peace Process Idun Tvedt.

During the online Ninth Ecumenical Church Leaders’ Summit on Peace on Thursday Bello revealed that back-channel talks are ongoing between the parties.

Bello said that Duterte is again “very much inclined” to revive the negotiations he scuttled in June 2017.

The former GRP chief negotiator said he is confident formal negotiations can resume within Duterte’s last 16 months in office.

Interim NDFP chief negotiator Juliet de Lima for her part told the online forum that the planned back-channel talks would resume discussions on an interim peace agreement (IPA) that includes agreements on social and economic reforms.

IPA discussions shall also include possible coordinated unilateral ceasefire declarations as well as modes for their implementation, de Lima said.

From lows of 108,000 new daily cases last July, new Covid-19 cases spiked in Europe from November last year to January this year, peaking at upwards of two million new cases daily in mid-November.

European countries have since re-imposed strict lock downs and health protocols.

Sison said no new date has yet been set for Bello and Braganza’s possible trip.

Braganza also told Kodao that until vaccinated, it would be difficult for him and Bello to plan the trip.

Mahirap umalis na walang vaccination. Iba-iba rin ang rules hinggil sa quarantine,” he said. (It is ill-advised without being vaccinated. Rules regarding quarantines are also different.) # (Raymund B. Villanueva)