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A revolutionary and peace warrior’: Tributes pour in for NDFP’s Fidel Agcaoili

Tributes are pouring in for National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) Negotiating Panel chairperson Fidel Agcaoili hours after the group’s international information office confirmed his passing in Utrecht, The Netherlands due to pulmonary arterial rupture .

READ: BREAKING: NDFP’s Fidel Agcaoili dies

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) said Filipino communists and revolutionaries feel a deep sense of sorrow and loss with Agcaoili’s passing.

“He was one of the most beloved and respected leaders of the Party, the NDFP and the Filipino people,” the CPP said in a statement.

“Over the past decades, from the underground movement, to inside prison, to international work and peace negotiations, [Agcaoili] untiringly struggled with the Filipino people and served the revolutionary movement and all the oppressed and exploited classes to achieve national and social liberation,” the group added.

The CPP said Agcaoili firmly upheld its principles at all times and he was imbued with the communist spirit to his last breath.

“The Party and all revolutionary forces, including all Red fighters of the New People’s Army, are in mourning,” the CPP said.

Agcaoili’s government counterpart, labor secretary Silvestre Bello III, told Kodao he joins all peace-loving Filipinos in grieving the passing of a revolutionary whose passion for peace is as ardent as his love for structural change on the land of his birth.

“Ka Fidel V. Agcaoili, my counterpart in the peace table in our efforts to try to end the decades-long armed conflict with the CPP-NPA (New People’s Army)-NDF, was a man of honor and conviction,” Bello said.

Bello added that Agcaoili was an instrument in making the mostly arduous tasks of talking peace smoother and a bit easier.

“It is just sad that Ka Fidel will no longer savor the lasting peace with justice that he was pursuing with passion. Goodbye to a dear friend, a revolutionary and a peace warrior,” Bello said.

Former Quezon City mayor Herbert Bautista, who served as adviser to the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) Negotiating Panel from 2016, said Agcaoili’s death is “sad news.”

“He was kind. He was flexible on the negotiating table yet strict and firm on principles,” Bautista, a Brigadier General of the Armed Forces of the Philippines Reserve Command, added.

Tributes from journalists

Journalists who covered the NDFP-GRP peace process only have kind words for Agcaoili.

“[The news] came as a shock. He was a generous news source, always eager to clarify issues with journalists. He will be missed,” GMA reporter Raffy Tima told Kodao.

Danny Buenafe (right) talks to (from left) Fidel Agcaoili, Jose Maria Sison and Luis Jalandoni. [Photo from Danny Buenafe]

Veteran ABS-CBN broadcaster Danny Buenafe said he had a good time covering the peace talks for more than three decades in large part because of Agcaoili.

“He was tough in taking a stand, but we all know he has a soft spot with journalists when requesting for interviews. Ka Fidel was kind and accessible with us media persons,” Buenafe said.

Buenafe, Europe-based for many years, added Agcaoili was probably the toughest among the so called three “Supremos” (top leaders), the two others being NDFP Negotiating Panel chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison and 20-year NDFP chief negotiator and Agcaoili’s direct predecessor Luis Jalandoni.

“Personally, I found Ka Fidel as the heart of the revolutionary struggle with his decisive character in the negotiating table. Ka Joma (Sison) provides the deeper intellectual discourse, and Ka Louie (Jalandoni) the fatherly approach with the soft touch. Ka Fidel provided a good balance that makes the NDF position solid,” Buenafe said.

The now retired ABS-CBN Europe Bureau Chief said he can never forget being fetched by Agcaoili and wife Rosario at the Utrecht Grand Central Station to attend a small birthday gathering for NDFP peace panel member Julie Sison at a public park several years ago.

“We will all miss him. Rest in peace, Ka Fidel,” Buenafe said.

Friends grieve

Human rights lawyer Ma. Sol Taule said Agcaoili was among the rights defenders she looked up to.

“We recognize and value his unrelenting efforts for a just and lasting peace. He (was) the boomer we all aspire to be,” Taule wrote on Facebook.

Distant relative and retired University of the Philippines professor Aurelio Solver Agcaoili for his part said Agcaoili’s death is a loss to the Filipino people.

“But we gained something [in his passing]: The thought and the resolve to do things right for our suffering people,” he told Kodao.

The CPP said it will announce the day for mourning, giving honor, and remembering Agcaoili whose remains will be flown to the Philippines in accordance with the wishes of his family.

 “In behalf of the entire Philippine revolutionary movement, the (CPP) extends deep sympathies to the wife and children of Ka Fidel V. Agcaoili, chairperson of the Negotiating Panel of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP),” the CPP said. (Raymund B. Villanueva)

BREAKING: NDFP’s Fidel Agcaoili dies

National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) Negotiating Panel chairperson Fidel V. Agcaoili passed away Thursday in Utrecht, The Netherlands, the group’s international information office announced.

He was 75 years old.

“The (NDFP) announces with deep sorrow the untimely passing of Ka Fidel V. Agcaoili today, 23 July 2020 at 12:45pm in Utrecht, The Netherlands. He would have turned 76 on 8 August,” it said.

“According to the doctor, the cause of his death was pulmonary arterial rupture which caused massive internal bleeding. It was not Covid-19 related,” it added.

Agcaoili, a veteran member of the Left’s peace panel, took over from his 20-year predecessor Luis Jalandoni on October 5, 2016 before the start of the second round of formal talks between the NDFP and the Duterte government in Oslo, Norway.

As chief negotiator, Agcaoili led the NDFP panel in forging major agreements with the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) Negotiating Panel such as free land distribution for poor farmers and national industrialization for the country that may serve as the backbone of comprehensive agreements on social and economic reforms with future Manila governments.

He became a member of the NDFP Negotiating Panel in 1992.

He was also a long-time chairperson of the NDFP Human Rights Committee.

Agcaoili was the longest-held political prisoner under the Ferdinand Marcos dictatorship and was released only after the first People Power uprising in 1986.

His remains will be flown to the Philippines in accordance with the wishes of his family, the NDFP said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Duterte’s attacks vs NPA meant to cover up COVID failure, corruption—Sison

National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison said President Rodrigo Duterte was merely pretending when he asked for a ceasefire with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) to cover up on his failure to stop the coronavirus from entering the country while planning to plunder the anti-pandemic budget.

In his reply to Duterte’s latest tirade against him, the CPP and the New People’s Army (NPA), Sison said Duterte is trying to deflect attention from his “criminal responsibility” for the entry of the coronavirus to the Philippines by allowing the entry of more than half a million Chinese tourists even after the pandemic has broken out in China.

Sison also scored the president’s “lack of preparations and plan for fighting the pandemic” and instead taking the opportunity to advance his “fascist dictatorship” and corruption.

In his latest address to the nation broadcast late Monday night, May 4, Duterte said there is no longer hope in talking to Sison and the NDFP in peace negotiations.

The president also cautioned the police to be careful as NPA rebels are “itching” to grab their rifles, an opportunity that will increase once the president would order the Philippine National Police in conducting contact tracing on coronavirus victims.

“Be careful, you soldiers and police…Do not be too confident about it. Even your stations are being raided. They will kill you and I am telling you, kill them also,” Duterte said.

Sison however said it is convenient for Duterte to scapegoat and attack the NPA to deflect attention to the government’s failures on containing the virus and to deliver food and cash assistance, mass testing and medical treatment to the people.

 “At the same time, he has used Covid-19 as the reason for grabbing emergency powers, the immediate amount of more than 375 billion pesos and the license to realign the 2020 budget,” Sison said.

“[I]t became clear that his overriding malicious objective was to scapegoat the CPP and NPA in order to advance his ambition of realizing a Marcos-type highly-centralized and brutal fascist dictatorship through charter change under the pretext of federalism as well as though the application of Oplan Tokhang methods of extrajudicial killings and mass intimidation against social activists, critics and opponents and the broad masses of the people,” Sison said.

In one of his first addresses on the coronavirus last March 16, it was Duterte who asked for a ceasefire with the NPA he said would give his government, the military and the police the chance to concentrate on containing the spread of the pandemic in the Philippines.

The government then issued a unilateral ceasefire declaration last March 19 that lasted until April 15.

Responding to a global appeal by United Nations Secretary General Antonio Gutteres for all warring parties to temporary lay down arms to focus on fighting the pandemic, the CPP issued its unilateral ceasefire order to the NPA last March 23 to also end on April 15.

The CPP extended its truce order to April 30 despite accusing the military of not abiding by its own ceasefire declaration.

Sison said it had been Duterte’s plan to try to trick the rebels that backfired when more soldiers had been killed in dozens of military operations against the NPA fighters throughout the country.

“After pretending to declare a unilateral ceasefire and plead for reciprocation by the revolutionary movement, he has persisted in launching military offensives against the CPP and NPA and blame them for his own crimes, his ceaseless drive for fascist dictatorship and his failure to deliver sufficient food and cash assistance, mass testing and other necessities under the severe conditions of so-called enhanced quarantine,” Sison said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

CPP orders NPA to shift to ‘offensive posture’ after ceasefire order ends

There is no more ceasefire in effect in the country after the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) announced it has decided against re-extending its truce order that expired midnight Thursday.

“The refusal of the Duterte regime to relent in its attacks against the NPA (New People’s Army), despite calls for a ‘global ceasefire’ has made the further extension of the NPA ceasefire impossible,” the CPP said in a statement.

The CPP’s 36-day ceasefire was first declared last March 24 and was extended when it ended last April 15. The government’s first and only ceasefire declaration under the ongoing coronavirus pandemic started last March 19 and ended on April 15.

In a recorded address aired last Monday, President Rodrigo Duterte said he will never be ready for any round of peace talks with the CPP, accusing the NPA of attacking soldiers in Ma. Aurora Town in Aurora Province who were escorting a relief operation connected with the government’s Luzon-wide lockdown.

The CPP however denied the allegation, saying the AFP was in fact conducting a counter-insurgency operation, as it did throughout the ceasefire periods.

“Since Duterte called for a ceasefire on March 16, AFP counterinsurgency operations remain unabated, deploying its units in at least 396 villages in 148 towns, ceaselessly conducting combat operations, aerial bombardments and artillery shelling, aerial surveillance and ground intelligence operations, arresting civilians, and violating people’s rights with impunity,” the CPP said.

The CPP said that in more than a month since both parties declared their unilateral ceasefire orders, the AFP mounted at least 36 raids against NPA encampments in 23 provinces that resulted in at least 11 armed encounters.

The group claimed the AFP suffered at least 56 casualties, 31 of whom were killed in action.

On the part of the NPA, 18 Red fighters were killed while eight were wounded, the CPP reported.

The military operations happened in Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Antique, Bohol, Bukidnon, Compostela Valley, Davao Oriental, Davao del Norte, Iloilo, Lanao del Sur, Masbate, Negros Occidental, Northern Samar, Quezon, Rizal, Samar, Sorsogon, South Cotabato, Surigao del Norte, Surigao del Sur, Zamboanga Sibugay, Zamboanga del Norte and Zamboanga del Sur provinces, the group added.

The CPP commended its armed wing for “successfully defending themselves and the masses and thwarting the raids and treacherous attacks mounted by the AFP in their relentless counterinsurgency operations.”

Starting today, Friday, May 1, the CPP has ordered the NPA to shift from “active defense” to an “offensive posture” in anticipation of more attacks against its forces.

‘Offensive posture’

In shifting to an offensive posture, the CPP urged the NPA to be always ready to strike against the AFP, Philippine National Police and the paramilitary forces under the Civilian Auxiliary Force Geographical Unit as well as other armed groups of the government.

“The NPA must mount tactical offensives especially against the most notorious human rights violators and those who have subjected people to abuse. The NPA must target the isolated and weak units and detachments of the AFP and its armed auxiliaries,” the CPP ordered.

While getting ready to meet the AFP’s counter-insurgency operations, the CPP also urged the NPA to continue its anti-COVID health services and information drives in various communities. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

No serious talks since 2017, Reds say of Duterte’s decision against peace negotiations

Who is surprised with President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision to no longer hold peace talks with the Left? Not us, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) said.

“We are not surprised with Duterte’s declaration. All-out war had been his policy since 2017,” the CPP said in a statement Tuesday, April 28.

Responding to the President’s latest statement, the CPP said Duterte based his latest decision on complete lies, adding Duterte himself knows that the New People’s Army (NPA) does not steal from the masses.

“The masses give to the NPA (New People’s Army) even without being asked,” the CPP said.

Duterte was known to be among local government officials to have donated to the NPA when he was Davao City mayor, especially during anniversary celebration of the CPP and the guerrilla army.

In his latest public address to report on his government’s coronavirus response, Duterte said there is no more peace talks to talk about.

“I am not and will never be ready for any round of talks because the NPA, the Communist Party of the Philippines, has (sic) no respect either for their spoken word or in their deed of killing soldiers who are on humanitarian missions.

Earlier, Duterte pointed that that the NPA ambushed and killed government soldiers in Maria. Aurora town in Aurora province he claimed were escorting relief aid workers.

The CPP however have repeatedly denied Duterte’s allegation, saying all clashes between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the NPA had been instigated by the state troopers.

The CPP has pointed out that at least three Philippine Army spot reports said state troopers either were conducting “military patrols” when they chanced upon NPA guerrillas or have been alerted by “concerned citizens” of the presence of the Red fighters in the area, prompting them to conduct so-called pursuit operations.

“For example, when the AFP attacked a NPA encampment in Carabalan, Himamaylan, Negros Occidental last April 19, were the soldiers securing the DSWD (Department of Social Welfare and Development) that was 10 kilometers away from the clash site?” CPP information officer Marco Valbuena asked.

“The people are already hungry from the lockdown but only war is in Duterte’s mind,” he added.

The CPP added that Duterte’s ceasefire declaration of March 19 to April 15 was a fraud.

“Since March 16, based on our monitoring, the AFP has now deployed troops in more than 400 barangays in 150 towns, with orders to wage total war against NPA units in their areas,” the CPP said.

The CPP said its policy during the corona virus pandemic is to facilitate, not prevent, the entry of relief and assistance for the people.

The underground group said that it is ready to cooperate with the DSWD at local government units, claiming that even social work secretary and retired general Rolando Bautista could not prevent them to partner with the NPA in distributing goods in far-flung areas that only so-called revolutionary governments are in power.

Duterte, on the other hand, is using the “new normal” during the coronavirus lockdown and the NPA as convenient excuses to declare martial law and impose “a fascist dictatorship,” the CPP alleged.

‘Deranged’ Duterte

CPP founding chairperson and National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison for his part said that Duterte has never been interested in serious peace negotiations in the first place.

“Duterte is mentally, politically and morally deranged. He needs the peace talks more than the revolutionary movement,” Sison said in a statement.

Sison added that he agrees with the CPP that by declaring he is against peace talks, Duterte is “scapegoating” the Left “to advance his scheme of full-scale Marcos-type fascist dictatorship.”

“Unwittingly, [Duterte] makes it clear that the Filipino people and their revolutionary forces are justified to intensify their struggle for national liberation and democracy through the armed revolution,” Sison said.

Church plea

Meanwhile, a group of religious leaders expressed sadness over Duterte’s decision to close the peace negotiations with the NDFP.

The Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform (PEPP) said that in the very uncertain times brought about by the coronavirus, an escalation of the armed conflict with NPA and the imposition of martial law will be very costly, not only to the warring parties, but for the Filipino people as a whole.

“We are also troubled by the President’s remarks that the military has rejected the results of the backchannel talks that Sec. Silvestre Bello had commenced with his NDFP counterparts last December to restart the peace negotiations. The President and the military appear to be rejecting the peace process with the NDFP,” the PEPP said.

Bello was the former chairperson of the government negotiating panel with the NDFP. He had been asked to represent the government in backchannel talks since last December but his panel has yet to be formally reconstituted and his team officially reappointed.

“We call on the government to focus its efforts and funds for medical and socio-economic solutions to heal the nation rather than imposing martial law and spending for counter-insurgency, and an all-out war. We also call on both parties to declare an extension of their unilateral ceasefires until May 15 and follow these ceasefire declarations to the letter,” the PEPP said.

While the CPP extended its unilateral ceasefire declaration to April 30, Duterte refused to reciprocate when the government’s truce order expired last April 15.

The PEPP statement was signed by PEPP co chairperson and Cagayan de Oro Archbishop Antonio Ledesma, PEPP co-chairperson and Anglican Church Bishop Rex Reyes Jr., Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches National President  and Bishop Noel A. Pantoja, National Council of Churches in the Philippines general secretary and Bishop Reuel Norman Marigza, Office of Women and Gender Commission – Association of Major Religious Superiors Women Sr. Mary John Mananzan, and PEPP head of secretariat and Bishop Emeritus Deogracias Iñiguez Jr. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Church group calls on gov’t to reciprocate CPP’s truce extension

A church-based group asked the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) to heed the Easter call of Pope Francis for “an immediate ceasefire in all corners of the world” by reciprocating the Communist Party of the Philippines’ (CPP) extension of its truce order.

In a statement, the Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform (PEPP) also called on the government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) to open the doors to resume the stalled peace talks “especially in the face of an uncertain future brought about by this Covid-19 pandemic.”

The PEPP said that despite accusations from both side that each has violated their respective unilateral ceasefire declarations that simultaneously expired last before midnight of Wednesday, April 15, it still believes that the ceasefires may lead to “healing” and can only provide a good environment for the unhampered flow of services to the Filipino people during the lockdown.

A reciprocal declaration of truce orders may also pave the way for both side to again engage in “principled dialogue toward lasting peace,” it added.

The PEPP statement, signed by Roman Catholic Archbishop Antonio Ledesma and Anglican Bishop Rex Reyes, was issued after the CPP announced its order to extend its unilateral ceasefire declaration to April 30.

The PEPP also volunteered to provide custodial guarantee to vulnerable and elderly prisoners, such as several NDFP consultants, it said should be released on humanitarian grounds as reports of contagion and deaths of detainees have hit various prisons.

“PEPP stands by our longstanding offer to enable and facilitate a conducive atmosphere for restarting the peace talks by providing custodial guarantee through the church network of PEPP should the process of Release on Recognizance be followed in relation to the detained consultants of the NDFP,” it said.

“We call on President Rodrigo Duterte to put a heavy premium on peace and the release on humanitarian grounds the vulnerable during this time of crisis. Today, more than ever—as our nation and the whole world prays for healing—is the time to ‘seek peace and pursue it,” PEPP said, quoting the Bible.

AFP offensives continue

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) however said military offensives against the New People’s Army (NPA) have resumed as of April 16.

AFP spokesperson Brigadier General Edgard Arevalo told reporters last Friday, April 17, the military offensives shall continue even as the country grapples with the coronavirus pandemic.

Malacañan Palace’s has yet to react to efforts by Kodao to seek its comment on the CPP’s truce order extension.

NDFP chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison on the hand said he highly appreciates PEPP’s appeal to Duterte to reciprocate the unilateral ceasefire order of the CPP to the NPA, to release the political prisoners on recognizance to the church leaders, and to pave the way for the resumption of peace negotiations.

“I hope that Duterte heeds the appeal of the PEPP. The war hawks of the Duterte regime and the military violate Duterte’s own avowal for healing,” Sison said.

He added that the AFP has only shown “their hatred for the people by denying the violations of their own ceasefire and by launching more offensives against the NPA and the people at the time of the Covid-19 contagion. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

NDFP condoles with Bello for the death of sister due to Covid

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) Negotiating Panel condoled with Department of Labor and Employment secretary Silvestre Bello III for the “untimely death” of his younger sister due to the coronavirus disease Saturday, April 18.

In a letter, the NDFP said it shares in the grief of Bello and urged him to stay strong in fulfilling his peace advocacy and mission to help Filipino workers, including overseas workers.

Bello was the chairperson of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) Negotiating Panel from 2016 to 2018. He had been a member of various government negotiating panels since the time of the Fidel Ramos government.

The labor secretary confirmed the death of his “favorite sister” he described as someone who heeds his advice.

“Catharine is my favorite. She listened to me. [She was] the first to die among 10 children,” he said.  

The victim was admitted to the hospital last March 25 and was diagnosed positive of Covid-19.

Bello said they thought Catharine was on her way to recovery and were surprised to learn of her death.

In their letter of condolence to their government counterpart, the NDFP said it is of urgent importance that all forces do their respective utmost to combat the spread of the virus, save lives and to safeguard the rights and welfare of the people as the pandemic runs loose throughout the country.

“The death of your sister shall not be in vain as we exert our common effort, as members of our respective negotiating panels, to help secure the release of all political prisoners from their vulnerable conditions in prison on humanitarian and medical grounds,” the letter reads.

“This is the cry of the times as more and more countries respond to the call of the UN Secretary General and the World Health Organization for the release of prisoners,” it adds.

The letter was signed in behalf of the NDFP Negotiating Panel by its chairperson Fidel Agcaoili, chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison, and senior adviser Luis Jalandoni. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

CPP extends truce order despite complaints of GRP ceasefire violations

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) extended its unilateral ceasefire until the end of the month to concentrate on its efforts to help contain the coronavirus pandemic.

In a statement Thursday, April 16, the CPP said its Central Committee has ordered the extension for 15 more days starting April 15 “prioritize the fight against the pandemic and ensure the safety, health and well-being of everyone.”

The extended ceasefire order is effective until 11:59 p.m. of April 30

“The CPP ordered the units of the NPA (New People’s Army) and the people’s militias to continue to desist and cease from carrying out offensive military actions against the armed units and personnel of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Philippine National Police (PNP) and other paramilitary and armed groups attached to the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP),” its information office said in a statement.

The group said the aim of the ceasefire extension is to ensure quick and unimpeded support to all people requiring urgent medical, health and socioeconomic assistance in the face of the public emergency over the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Party said all its revolutionary forces are ever ready to cooperate with all other forces and elements to achieve this objective.

Meanwhile, the CPP leadership commended all units of the NPA and people’s militias for their discipline in observing the ceasefire order and shifting priority to the anti-Covid-19 campaign.

It said that the Party’s ceasefire order has been observed “despite the difficulties and dangers brought about by the continuing occupation of AFP combat troops of guerrilla zones and base areas, the widespread and intense intelligence and psywar (psychological warfare) operations, and the attacks mounted by the AFP’s strike forces against detected NPA units.”

The CPP Central Committee reminded all NPA units to “maintain strictest secrecy” and not allow themselves to be exposed to AFP attacks.

The recent armed encounters which the AFP misreport as NPA ceasefire violations are all a result of the offensive actions of the AFP, it alleged.

The ceasefire extension order came after the National Democratic Front of the Philippines wrote to United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres complaining of violations by the Rodrigo Duterte administration of the government’s own unilateral ceasefire declaration of March 19 to April 15.

The AFP conducted military operations in 196 villages and 96 towns throughout the Philippines, the NDFP said quoting CPP reports.

In its statement, the CPP also reiterated the call for the “urgent release” and for declaring a general amnesty for all political prisoners.

It also expressed desire for the resumption of the NDFP-GRP peace negotiations.

“During the ceasefire period, all NPA units must strictly limit themselves to active defense operations which shall be carried out only in the face of imminent danger and actual armed attacks by the enemy forces,” the CPP reiterated.

The GRP has yet to comment on whether it would extend its own ceasefire declaration which has expired before midnight Wednesday, April 15. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Reds report to UN on GRP truce violations

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) has reported to the United Nations (UN) the Philippine government’s alleged violations to its unilateral ceasefire declaration committed while much of the country is under a coronavirus lockdown.

As the Duterte government and the Communist Party of the Philippines’ (CPP) respective unilateral ceasefire declarations expired Wednesday night, April 15, the NDFP said in a letter to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres that the government’s violations are in defiance of the global body’s request for all warring parties to temporary lay down arms to concentrate on fighting the pandemic.

NDFP Executive Committee and National Council member Luis Jalandoni told Guterres in a letter that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) have mounted 13 attacks or assaults against the New People’s Army (NPA) and conducted at least five aerial bombardments and artillery shelling throughout the country between March 19 to April 15.

The attacks happened in 196 villages in 96 towns nationwide, he said.

Jalandoni’s letter quoted a report from the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) Information Bureau, alleging that the Duterte government conducted so-called security patrols that targeted “resting units of the NPA in their areas.”

“Despite claims by the AFP of NPA violations of its ceasefire, it is clear from all reports of the AFP that it was their combat units which were on attack mode,” CPP information officer Marco Valbuena said in his report.

The AFP also conducted at least five aerial bombing and artillery shelling operations on March 17, March 24 and March 27-29 in Davao del Norte, Davao de Oro and Bukidnon provinces, all in the southern island of Mindanao, Valbuena added.

“Purportedly conducting Covid-19 related activities, GRP (Government of the Republic of the Philippines) armed troops roam around civilian communities, set up checkpoints, prohibit people from buying food and other necessities, prevent peasants from tending to their crops, enter people’s homes, accuse them of being armed fighters or NPA supporters, and compel them to ‘surrender’ lest they remain in the military’s ‘list,’” Valbuena reported.

There are several incidents of arrests of peasants, including the detention of 11 indigenous farmers in Pantukan town (Davao de Oro province in Mindanao), as well as the arrest of a 71-year old peasant leader Proceso Torralba in Butuan City, accused of being an NPA member, he added.

Jalandoni’s letter to Guterres was dated April 13 and was also furnished to UN Secretary-General spokesperson Stephane Dujarric.

‘NPA compliant with UN’

In his letter, Jalandoni also said that the NPA has complied fully with the unilateral ceasefire order of the CPP in response to the humanitarian appeal of Guterres for parties involved in armed conflicts to declare a global ceasefire in the fight against Covid-19 pandemic.

The health committees and the revolutionary forces of the New People’s Army, the CPP and the entire NDFP continue to carry out programs in all 73 provinces where the NDFP forces operate, Jalandoni said. 

“The NPA refrains from undertaking attacks against the GRP’s armed forces. The NPA is observing an active defense policy to protect the community from the serious violations of the GRP’s armed forces,” Jalandoni said.

Jalandoni added that the NDFP National Council has deeply valued the UN’s appreciation of the unilateral ceasefire issued by the CPP on March 24 in response to Guterres’ call for a global ceasefire among warring parties to combat the Covid-19 pandemic.

Jalandoni added that the NDFP is committed to continuing its programs throughout the country to protect the people against the pandemic as well as the Philippine government’s violations of its unilateral ceasefire in defense of the Filipino people’s fundamental human rights.

He said the NDFP National Council, the CPP and the NPA shall decide on whether to issue another truce order as both the CPP and the GRP’s respective ceasefire declarations simultaneously ended before midnight Thursday, April 16. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

GRP and CPP ceasefire orders unlikely to be extended

The ceasefire orders of both the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) are set to expire before midnight tonight, Wednesday, April 15, but both camps are silent on whether to extend the truce orders or not.

After each declaring unilateral ceasefire orders to focus on their respective anti-coronavirus disease (Covid-19) campaigns, the government and the revolutionary forces are unlikely to extend their separate truce declarations due to reports of violations mainly by GRP forces.

President Rodrigo Duterte has not revealed his plans on the whether to extend his truce order or not during  his third Bayanihan To Heal As One weekly report late Monday evening, April 13.

Defense secretary Delfin Lorenzana has also failed to reply to queries from reporters on whether he would recommend extending the government’s ceasefire order.

The GRP declared the suspension of military and police operations against the New People’s Army (NPA) last March 19 after Duterte said he wants the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and Philippine National Police (PNP) to concentrate in helping the government contain Covid-19’s spread throughout the country.

Heeding the request of United Nations (UN) Secretary General Antonio Guterres for all warring parties to temporary lay down arms to concentrate on fighting the pandemic, the CPP issued its own truce order last March 23.

CPP’s move won praises from both the GRP and the UN.

The CPP information office said it is still awaiting official word from the party’s Central Committee on whether it would extend its unilateral ceasefire declaration or not.

Both ceasefire orders end at 11:59 tonight.

Ceasefire violations in 25 provinces

Both the AFP and the CPP accused each other of violating their own truce orders.

The AFP was first to accuse the NPA of violating the CPP’s ceasefire declaration after an encounter in  Barangay Puray in Rodriguez, Rizal last March 28.

A military spot report however revealed it was the Philippine Army, “acting on the information from concerned citizens,” that initiated the 40-minute clash that resulted in the death of one NPA fighter and a government trooper. Two more Philippine Army soldiers were wounded.

On March 31, another NPA unit in Barangay Mabunga, Gumaca, Quezon was attacked by a unit of the AFP’s 59th Infantry Battalion (IB). Another Philippine Army spot report said the unit acted on tips from concerned citizens in launching the operation.

On April 1, another NPA unit was attacked by the 85th IB in Barangay Ilayang Yuni, Mulanay, Quezon.

On April 2, another NPA encampment in Barangay Balagon, Silay, Zamboanga Sibugay was raided by troops of the 44th IB. The same AFP unit raided another NPA camp in Barangay Peñaranda, Kabasalan in the same province.

The AFP has launched military operations in 25 provinces covering nearly 90 municipalities and more than 150 villages nationwide throughout the duration of the ceasefire declarations, the CPP reported.

The incidents range from attacks on NPA encampments, aerial bombings, shelling, and militarization of civilian communities, the CPP said.

The group said the AFP was in direct contempt of the UN’s request as well as the orders of their commander in chief Rodrigo Duterte.

‘Continuous violations and offensives without let-up’

National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison said the AFP’s and the GRP’s “ceaseless offensives” are making useless and unnecessary the extension by the CPP and the NPA of their ceasefire declaration.

Instead, Sison said the NPA units all over the country need to stay alert “to have freedom of action to counter in every necessary way the offensives being conducted by their merciless enemy.”

Sison added that the NPA may refrain from attacking AFP soldiers only in areas under their full control and where their enemy is not taking any offensive action even without a generalized ceasefire declaration.

“At any rate, it is up to the CPP to decide whether the ceasefire is to be extended, upon the recommendation of the NDFP if any,” Sison said.

He added that the NDFP has already informed the UN secretary general of the Duterte government’s violation of their own ceasefire declaration.

CPP information officer Marco Valbuena for his part told Kodao that all units of the NPA remain on alert and await orders and instructions from the CPP high leadership. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)