Reds in Masbate report successful attacks ahead of NPA’s 54th anniversary

GENEVA, Switzerland—The New People’s Army (NPA) in Masbate said its successful military operations in the towns of Placer and Dimasalang are its contributions to the celebrations of their 54th founding anniversary tomorrow, March 29.

The NPA’s Jose Rapsing Command (JRC) in the province said its coordinated guerilla actions last Wednesday, March 22, in Barangay Locso-on in Place and Barangay Gain in Dimasalang resulted in the deaths of 10 government soldiers and the wounding of not less than seven others.

The fatalities belonged to the 2nd Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army, augmented by troops from the Philippine National Police (PNP).

JRC-NPA spokesperson Luz del Mar in a statement said they belie Joint Task Force Bicolandia’s claims the government soldiers were ambushed near communities and civilian spaces, in turn accusing government troops of attacking schools “in a desperate attempt to cover up their defeat.”

Del Mar said JRC-NPA their offensive was a reaction to the ongoing focused military operations of their enemies using many drones, helicopters and soldiers.

She added that their coordinated attacks were meant to punish the Philippine Army for its attempts to recruit Masbate students to join the paramilitary Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit (CAFGU).

In a post on its Facebook page, the 2nd Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army said only two soldiers and two police officers were wounded in the firefights.

In a statement by Acting Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity Isidro Purisima subsequently posted on the same military social media page, he said that a government soldier was killed while two others were wounded.

Meanwhile, the Inquirer reported that another soldier was killed in a firefight with the NPA in Masbate Monday, March 27.

Corporal Antonio Parreno Jr. was killed after the 2nd Infantry Battalion figured in a five-minute exchange of gunfire with some 12 communist rebels in Barangay Villahermosa in Cawayan town, the report said.

Del Mar said their series of attacks against government troopers is in defense of Masbate citizens suffering from the intense militarization of their province.

“These tactical offensives prove that the claims by the Armed Forces of the Philippines, PNP and CAFGU of their strategic victory against the revolutionary movement are false,” del Mar added. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Parents of abducted activists say they are proud of their children

‘We are grateful they are activists’

The parents of abducted Cebu activists said they are proud of their children and have come to understand their activism better after their six day ordeal in the hands of kidnappers.

Armand Jake Dayoha’s mother Sarah told a press conference in Quezon City on Tuesday they learned more about their children’s advocacies and fully support their work despite fears of continuing harassments against them.

“We are very proud of our children…We are grateful they are activists,” Sarah said.

“What is wrong in being activists? The prices of basic commodities have gone way up, but are the workers’ wages enough? We have learned so much from them,” Mrs. Dayoha added.

Armand Jake, a capacity building coordinator of the non-government Visayas Human Development Agency, and fiancée Dyan April Gumanao, union organizer and Alliance of Concerned Teachers-Region 7 coordinator, were abducted by men in plainclothes last January 10 as they disembarked from a 2Go ferry boat at Cebu Port’s Pier 6.

Both Dayoha and Gumanao said their kidnappers introduced themselves as police officers as men in uniform as well as Cebu Pier security personnel witnessed their abduction but did nothing.

They were recovered at a resort in Carmen town north of Cebu City last January 16 after they were abandoned by their kidnappers.

Danilo Gumanao, Dyan April’s father told the same press conference their children’s abduction was “inhuman, barbaric and uncivilized.”

He said Dyan April is well-known in their hometown in Mindanao as a kind and principled person.

“They don’t deserve such treatment. This practice must stop,” Danilo said.

Abducted activists Dyan Gumanao and Armand Dayoha at a press conference in Quezon City after their rescue from kidnappers they described as government security forces. (Photo by Mark Saludes/Altermidya)

‘State forces did it’

The victims pointed to state security forces as their kidnappers, saying no other group has the motive, capacity and history of kidnapping activists.

“Who else but them has the ability and motive to bring a private vehicle to the pier, drive us around, bring us out of Cebu (City), take us on a boat but those who angry at activists, organizers and development workers?” Dyan April asked.

She added their ordeal is not an isolated case nor was the response of the Philippine National Police (PNP) when their parents reported their abduction.

“They told our parents that we just probably eloped. Is that the way they conduct investigations?”

Dyan April said that the PNP also alleged that they refuse to cooperate in the investigations, instead blaming them by sowing intrigue and gossip.

“Something is off in all these,” she said.

Armand Jake revealed that while he was being interrogated, one of their abductors admitted that they were abducted because they were activists.

“State forces yan. Documented naman (na gawain nila iyan),” he said. (They were state forces. They are known for doing such things.)

He added that they were tied down and blindfolded in the duration of their ordeal even when they had to go to the toilet.

Armand Jake said he and Dyan April have become more convinced that security forces under the Ferdinand Marcos Jr. government are the real terrorists and not activists they accuse.

“There is nothing wrong in being an activist. I draw strength from this affirmation. What we are saying are true. The workers need living wages and benefits. The freedom to join and form unions must be respected,” he said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Cebu Church condemns ‘gross disrespect’ of Holy Mass by LGU, PNP

Cebu Archdiocese, students score loud music, armed demolition of stalls, privatization of historic Carbon Public Market

The Archdiocese of Cebu condemned the city government and a development corporation on their rude disruption of a Holy Mass its priests were celebrating with Carbon Market vendors last Monday.

In a statement, the Cebu Archdiocesan Social Advocacies (CASA) office said some employees of the local government and Megawide Corporation intentionally began playing loud music to disrupt the solemnity of the activity.

“We denounce the gross disrespect of this religious activity and urge of the City Government to take action against the personnel involved,” Cebu Archdiocese Vicar for Social Advocacies Fr. Nazario Ace Vocales said.

CASA said Monday’s Mass was being celebrated in solidarity with Carbon Market vendors who face “unjust demolition” of their stalls as the city government rushes to “modernize” and “beautify” the area.

Videos posted on news outlets and social media platforms showed the police assisting demolition teams dismantling stalls at the market.

The University Student Council of the University of the Philippines in Cebu (UP-Cebu USC) also condemned the incident and the “illegal and excessive use of armed troops to demolish stalls” in the market.

The students added that the police refused to turn off the loud music despite repeated requests from the Mass attendees and the priests.

Cebu City Philippine National Police deputy director for operations Lt. Col. Janet Rafter they deployed 200 officers to “secure the area” during the demolition.

Small retail vendors affected by the demolitions are fighting the city government’s plan to transfer them to Bagsakan Market eight kilometres away from where they have been practicing their trade for more than a hundred years already.

They say the city government has no right to proceed with the demolition pending the resolution of their appeal before local courts.

Cebu’s historic market

The city’s oldest and largest public market, Carbon Market was named after the Cebu Railroad coal depot that first occupied the location.

It has since grown to become a major tourist attraction in the city because of its prime location and its famous inexpensive items such as souvenirs for Cebu’s many tourists.

Accessible to many forms of public transportation, Carbon Market also supplies almost all of the food items city residents need.

Fr. Vocales said selling at the market is a vocation to the vendors.

“Generations of these vendors have sustained us through the fresh produce and affordable goods that they provide,” he said.

In 2020, the city government entered into a 50-year agreement with Megawide for the market’s “redevelopment” to include “lifestyle establishments” and so-called mixed use developments.

A plan to transform the market into a transport hub to include a water taxi service to the Mactan-Cebu International Airport was also mentioned.

City market administration Wendell Censas however said Monday’s incident was a clearing activity as Mayor Michael Rama “wants the road cleared.”

Government’s heavy-handed tactics against the resisting vendors are earning condemnations from Cebu residents, however.

The celebration of the Holy Mass rudely disrupted by the police and city government personnel. (Photo by the UP-Cebu USC)
Demolition of market stall by the Cebu City LGU. (Photo by the UP-Cebu USC)
Affected small market vendors shedding tears as they watch their stalls being demolished and their Holy Mass rudely disrupted. (Photo by the UP-Cebu USC)
Priests asking the police to turn off the offending music is being ignored by the police while demolition continues in the background. (Photo by the UP-Cebu USC)

‘Forgetting manners and conduct’

Cebu Parish Pastoral Council president Elias Baquero went on Facebook to denounce the police for its participation in Monday’s incident.

“As president of a Parish Pastoral Council (PPC), I condemn the policemen who disrupted the Holy Mass in Carbon Market, July 18, 2022. Attention President Bongbong Marcos Jr. and Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG),” Baquero said.

“While I highly respect the Philippine National Police (PNP), I lost my respect to these policemen in Cebu who forgot good manner and right conduct,” the lay leader fumed.

Fr. Vocales said the vendors are being driven away during a time of economic uncertainty in a privatization scheme to benefit only a few investors [and] at the expense of vendors and consumers.

“[W]e stand with the vendors in their call to modernize the Carbon Market with the participation of all stakeholders and without depriving them of their livelihood and the consumers with the affordable price of basic commodities,” Vocales added. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Red-tagging of 1st IFI woman bishop, 3 priests go unabated in Ilocos Norte

A bishop, Iglesia Filipina Independiente’s (IFI) first-ever woman prelate, is being red-tagged in Ilocos Norte, along with three priests.

Bishop Emelyn Gasco-Dacuycuy and IFI priests Noel Dacuycuy, Randy Manicap and Arvin Mangrobang were accused by a shadowy group calling itself the Tagapagtanggol ng Bayan Laban sa Terorismo as New People’s Army (NPA) recruiters.

Posters and streamers bearing the victim’s pictures and alleging the priests and the bishop were NPA recruiters were found at the IFI Parish in Batac town Thursday morning, June 2.

The bishop also disclosed that more such flyers were distributed this morning at the IFI Cathedral in Laoag City and the Parish of Banna where she pastorally resides.

The posters ordered the priests to surrender at a police station to clear their names.

In a press conference Friday, Rev. Mangrobang said he does not need to have his name cleared again after already talking to the Vintar chief of police earlier.

Mangrobang revealed that a hand-painted streamer made from a rice sack had already been hung in Vintar last May 8 accusing him of being a NPA supporter.

“The new posters bearing our photos are worse. I have not even seen a NPA member,” Mangrobang said.

The priest said he only recruits sacristans to assist in the altar during Masses and to help in doing God’s work.

“They must know that I am a full-time priest and that I stay in the convent,” he added.

Rev. Dacuycuy for his part blamed President Rodrigo Duterte’ anti-terror law for the red-tagging activities against them.

“They insist that those who speak out in behalf of the people are automatically leftists or terrorists,” Dacuycuy explained.

In a statement Friday, Bishop Dacuycuy said she strongly condemns the “malicious accusations” and denied she ever recruited or is involved with the NPA.

The prelate said she met with Ilocos Norte police director Julius Sibaen Thursday who, she said, assured them of their security.

“Today, we will go to Batac PNP to file a blotter about the hanging of the tarpaulin at the gate of [the] Batac convent and scattered flyers bearing our faces with false accusation that happened yesterday morning,” Bishop Dacuycuy said.

Dacuycuy said her diocese is ready to hold a dialogue with government agencies and the military in the area.

Dacuycuy made history when she was consecrated IFI’s first woman bishop in May 5, 2017 whose diocesan see was the birthplace of IFI co-founder and first supreme bishop Gregorio Aglipay.

Ilocos Norte is also the home province of president-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr. whose family also dominated the local elections in the province earlier this month. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

(This report earlier mistakenly said the Rt. Rev. Dacuycuy was the country’s first-ever woman bishop. Two United Church of Christ in the Philippines woman bishops in fact preceded her.)

Media groups reveal renewed Baguio PNP red-tagging of journalists

Media groups slammed renewed efforts by the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Baguio City to red-tag journalists it alleges are members of Leftist organizations.

In an alert, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) said at least two journalists in the Cordillera region have been invited to a fake dialogue with the Baguio City Police earlier this month that turned out to be a witch-hunting activity against journalists and activists.

On January 14, the Baguio Correspondents and Broadcasters Club Inc. (BCBC) and NUJP’s Baguio-Benguet chapter said BCBC president Aldwin Quitasol was invited by the Baguio City Police to attend a so-called dialogue that turned out to be part of its Community Support Program White Area Operation (CSP-WAO), a component of the government’s Oplan Kapayapaan targeting suspected sympathizers of communist rebels in conflict-affected areas.

The second journalist refused to be identified.

 ‘Stop red-tagging’

In their joint statement BCBC and NUJP Baguio-Benguet demanded a stop to the red-tagging and witch-hunting of journalists.

“We are strongly concerned by the renewed effort of the (PNP) to drag us in their counterinsurgency campaign through Dumanon, Makitongtong (Seek and Talk), which the Regional Peace and Order Council (RPOC) adopted from Oplan Tokhang of the Duterte administration,” the local media groups said.

Whatever name it carries, the PNP’s counter-insurgency campaigns involving journalists as well as activists aims to harass and intimidate, they added.

“We urge law enforcers to cease this madness, stop targeting activists and the media in their counterinsurgency actions. We also call on local governments to take a stand and protect the people against institutionalized red-tagging and political vilification,” BCBC and NUJP Baguio-Benguet said.

Human rights violations

This month’s incident is not the first time that Baguio City Police has accused journalists of links to supposed Communist fronts.

In February 2021, the Regional Law Enforcement Coordinating Committee in CAR endorsed tokhang-type campaigns against alleged left-leaning personalities, including activists and the media.

The proposal was quietly dropped after widespread criticism, but police officials last August revived the proposal for the so-called seek and talk strategy against alleged members of left-leaning organizations, the NUJP said.

Cases of red-tagging in the Cordillera Administrative Region rose to 15 incidents in 2021 from eight complaints filed in 2020, the NUJP, quoting the Cordillera office of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR-Cordillera), said.

The campaign is patterned after the tokhang campaign used in the Rodrigo Duterte government’s so-called war on drugs that, according to government data, has killed at least 6,000 victims, it added.

Following earlier police summons of Quitasol, CHR-Cordillera in June 2021 issued a resolution warning that red-tagging — linking individuals and groups to the communist armed rebellion — violates human rights.

Other rights organizations, including the UN Human Rights Office, have also warned against the practice, which they said can lead to harassment and physical attacks. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Pahayag ng Tanggol Magsasaka sa demolisyon sa Patungan sa Cavite

Mariing kinundena ng Tanggol Magsasaka-Timog Katagalugan ang marahas na demolisyon na naganap ngayong araw, Enero 13 sa Patungan Cove, Brgy. Mercedes, Maragondon, Cavite kung saan tatlong residente ang malubhang nasugatan.

Sinalakay ng mga pwersa ng Philippine National Police, Bureau of Fire Protection at Seraph Security Agency ang mga residente na nagbarikada laban sa planong eko-turismo ng pamilya Virata at negosyanteng si Henry Sy.

Tinatayang nasa 600 na ektaryang lupain kung saan mahigit 1,200 katao ang nakatira sa nasabing lugar na karamihan ay mga magsasaka at mangingisda.

Court acquits activist couple in Manila

Another Burgos-Villavert warrant dismissed

By Joseph Cuevas

A Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) judge acquitted two political prisoners on Wednesday, November 24, dismissing charges against them based on a search warrant issued by a controversial Quezon City judge.

In a 13-page decision, Branch 19 judge Marlo Mardazo-Malagar said that the prosecution failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt Michael Bartolome and Cora Agovida’s ownership or possession of illegal firearms, ammunitions and explosives the police alleged were seized from the couple.

The polices’ Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) raided Agovida and Bartolome house in Sta. Ana, Manila on October 31, 2019, later alleging they found hand guns and a hand grenade during the raid.

In a text message, Atty. Katherine Panguban of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers told Kodao that the couple’s arrest sprung from the implementation of a series of “questionable” search warrants issued by Quezon City Executive Judge Cecilyn Burgos-Villavert in 2019 against Metro Manila based activists and rights defenders.

Burgos-Villavert also issued warrants against Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-Metro Manila’s Ram Bautista, Manila Workers’ Unity’s Alma Moran and Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay)-Manila’s Reina Mae Nasino based on police information that the activists were part of a gun-running syndicate.

Other Burgos-Villavert warrants have been either quashed or junked by fellow judges, including the one used against journalist Lady Ann Salem and trade union organizer Rodrigo Esparago in December 2020.

Salem and Esparago were released last March after the Mandaluyong City RTC dismissed charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives against the two..

Womens group Gabriela said it welcomes the court decision, adding the development is a slap on the Rodrigo Duterte administration that has incessantly attacked activists and human rights defenders.

Agovida is Gabriela-Manila’s chairperson and regional spokesperson of Gabriela-Metro Manila while Bartolome is a Kadamay-Metro Manila organizer. #

‘Justice,’ Kadamay says of death of Badion’s alleged assassin

Urban poor group Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay) said its assassinated secretary general Carlito Badion had been given justice with the reported death of one of his alleged assassins.

This was the group’s reaction to a report that one of Badion’s alleged killers, Jojo “Pekulo” Lucero, had recently been punished with death by the New People’s Army (NPA) last June 25 in Ormoc City.

“What we have seen through the punishment done by the NPA is that Filipinos are seeking alternative methods for justice as the government continues to fail them. Kadamay supports all oppressed sectors in their search for justice and accountability,” the group said.

Badion, long-serving Kadamay secretary general, was tortured and murdered in his home city of Ormoc in Leyte in May 28, 2020.

Badion defended urban poor communities from violent demolitions and was known critic of substandard and dangerous government relocation sites.

He had been a repeated victim of red-tagging by government security forces until his death.

In an announcement through the underground Eastern Visayas newspaper Larab last October 2, the NPA said it conducted investigations and found Lucero guilty of being one of Badion’s assassins.

The decision was reached by a “people’s court” and was carried out by the NPA, the Larab report said.

The NPA said Lucero also took Badion’s laptop computer, mobile phone and money after the urban poor leader was killed.

“Sa isinagawang imbestigasyon sa kaso, napatunayang nasa ilalim ng proteksyon ng pulis si Lucero. Ayon sa nakalap na impormasyon, ‘sumuko’ siya sa lokal na yunit ng Philippine National Police (PNP) matapos paslangin si Badion,” the NPA said. 

(The investigation conducted proved Lucero was under police protection. According to pieces of information we gathered, he ‘surrendered’ to the local PNP unit after Badion was killed.)

But the police did not press charges against Lucero and instead sent him home with money and grocery items, the group added. 

Lucero was also a known police asset who, despite being involved in theft charges has not been jailed, the NPA said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Court junks police-military charge against teacher-unionist

By Joseph Cuevas

A municipal court in Agusan del Norte dismissed the case against a teacher and leader of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) in the Caraga Region.

Citing lack of evidence, the 2nd municipal circuit trial court in Santiago Tubay approved the recommendation of the provincial prosecutor and ordered the dismissal of the attempted homicide charge filed against Rosanilla “Lai” Consad.

Consad is a special education teacher and assistant principal of San Vicente National High School in Butuan City. She is also a member of ACT’s National Council.

The court said, “Finding merit on the counterveilling evidence submitted by the accused Rosanilla ‘Lai’ Consad, the investigating Provincial Prosecutor recommended the dismissal of the case against her for total lack of evidence.”

The court added that the accused proved she was at home on November 21, 2020, the day of the ambush the military alleged she was part of.

Through messages stored on her mobile phone, the teacher proved she was busy with her laundry and was in fact assisted by her son on the morning of the incident.

She was also busy on Facebook and sending messages to her co-teachers and DepEd school supervisor.

Assistant Principal and Alliance of Concerned Teachers national council officer Rosanilla Consad. (Supplied photo)

Consad was arrested last March 17 by a combined team of police and military personnel who later charged her with the crime of attempted homicide for participating in a New People’s Army (NPA) ambush in Sitio Manhupaw in Santiago, Agusan Del Norte.

ACT hailed the court’s decision, adding the “ridiculous case” against Consad was only meant to harass and persecute her for being an ACT unionist.

“This is a clear case of the state’s deplorable weaponization of the law against critics and dissenters,” ACT secretary general Raymond Basilio said.

The group said that in its press conference after Consad’s arrest, the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) falsely claimed she was a high-ranking Communist Party of the Philippines and NPA officer.

Weeks after her arrest, NTF-ELCAC and DepEd Caraga also held a seminar that red-tagged teacher Lai in one of the presentations, ACT said.

ACT said it is preparing to file counter-charges against those who arrested and unjustly charged her. #

‘Kill-kill-kill mindset’ caused police officer to kill grandmother, rights groups say

Human rights groups expressed alarm at the spate of killings of civilians by police officers, with Karapatan calling for a system change within State security forces.

Following the killing of a 52-year old grandmother by a police sergeant in Fairview, Quezon City Monday night, Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay said a dangerous mindset ails many among security forces in the country.

“How many more should die, before it is acknowledged that the system that drives State security forces to kill civilians needs to be changed?” Palabay asked.

Palabay added there are more than enough recent cases to indicate that the public killings by police officers are not isolated incidents.

Kaparatan listed the following cases involving police officers, military men and even community security personnel in the last three months:

-On May 31, 2021, a drunk Police Master Sergeant Hensie Zinampan shot 59-year old Lilibeth Valdez in Brgy. Greater Fairview in Quezon City.

-On May 29, 2021, National Democratic Front of the Philippines consultant Reynaldo Bocala, 75, and his 60-year old companion Wilfredo Epago were killed during a police and military raid in Pavia, Iloilo.

-On May 23, 2021, police shot Edwin Arnigo, an 18-year old with autism, during a raid of an illegal cockfighting game in Valenzuela City. Arnigo happened to just pass by the area when executed by a police officer.

-On May 11, 2021, peasant leader Joseph Canlas died after contracting COVID-19 inside a prison in Pampanga. Canlas was arbitrarily arrested during a questionable police and military raid on March 30, 2021.

-On April 19, 2021, 35-year old Retchie Nepomuceno was killed along a road in Cebu City, after accusing a police staff sergeant of raping her while in police custody.

-On April 9, 2021, Ernanie Jimenez died after being beaten by barangay tanod for allegedly violating curfew rules in Calamba City, Laguna.

-On April 2, 2021, 21-year old Darren Manaog Penaredondo died, after being forced to do 300 rounds of pumping exercise in General Trias, Cavite for allegedly violating community quarantine policies.

-On March 7, 2021, nine activists in Southern Tagalog – a fisherfolk couple, a trade union leader, four indigenous farmers, an urban poor activist and a youth leader – were killed in simultaneous police and military raids in three provinces.

Karapatan said police claims that the incidents are “isolated incidents” are simply not true.

“What is clear and apparent is that these violations are brazenly conducted, at many times in full view of an audience. What is clear and apparent is that a governance driven by a kill-kill-kill policy is fostering a environment of insecurity,” she said.

Palabay added that the dangerous mindset of normalizing such killings is deeply ingrained among State forces.

Meanwhile, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) said it shall be conducting a motu propio investigation into the shooting of Valdez.

PMSgt,Henzie Zinampan in front of a church building. (Facebook photo)

In a video circulating online, an allegedly drunk PMSgt. Zinampan can be seen grabbing the victim’s hair and eventually shooting her through the neck.

Ironically, in a standard declaration among police officers, Zinampan has condemned fellow PMSgt. Jonel Nuezca who was also caught on video shooting and killing mother and son Sonia and Frank Gregorio during an altercation in Paniqui, Tarlac Province last December 21.

“This incident is gravely concerning as we expect our police to ‘serve and protect,’ and not be at the frontlines of violating rights, let alone arbitrarily curtailing one’s right to life,” CHR executive director and spokesperson Atty. Jacqueline Ann de Guia said.

De Guia also said the CHR urged the PNP to translate commitments of internal cleansing into actual reduction of cases of human rights violations on the ground after a string of recent deaths and killings attributed to police officers.

“One death is one too many. We urge the government to address these violations with the larger view that the protection of human rights is primarily a State obligation,” de Guia said.

Newly-installed Philippine National Police chief Guillermo Eleazar has ordered the Quezon City Police District to file murder and administrative cases against Zinampan. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)