Canadian foreign minister urged to voice rights violations concerns in PH visit

A group asked the Canadian foreign affairs minister to stop her government’s support to the Philippines’ counter-terrorism campaign they say often leads to human rights violations.

In a May 18 letter, International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP)-Canada asked Minister Melanie Joly to bring up human rights concerns in her ongoing visit to the country.

“It is important for Canada to stop offering financial, programmatic, and technical assistance to the Philippine Government as it may lead to the oppression of its own citizens through counter-terrorism measures,” ICHRP Canada said in its letter.

Joly is in the Philippines from May 18 to 20 to strengthen bilateral relations between the Canadian and Philippine governments.

The Canadian foreign minister is set to meet with Philippine foreign affairs secretary Enrique Manalo and other Cabinet members on matters including regional security and stability, maintenance of a rules-based international order, Canada’s Indo-Pacific strategy and partnership with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

ICHRP however urged Joly to ask the Philippine government to stop the red-tagging of Filipino human rights defenders the Philippine military and several government officials accuse of being “enemies of the state.”  

Red-tagging and similar campaigns are “questionable counter-terrorism efforts,” the group said.

“In less than a year since President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. assumed office, eight human rights defenders and community organizers have involuntarily disappeared. By continuing to support the Philippine Government, Canada risks being complicit in serious and widespread human rights violations. Therefore, this issue needs to be addressed promptly,” ICHRP explained.

ICHRP also called on Minister Joly to call on the Philippine government to:

  • Repeal the Anti-Terror Law and recall Executive Order No. 70, creating a National Taskforce to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), stop all activities emanating from this order, including the escalation of smear campaigns and judicial harassment against human rights defenders and specifically, call on Philippine authorities to surface the eight human rights defenders, who have involuntarily disappeared in the past 11 months, alive and safe;
  • End impunity and prosecute the perpetrators of human rights violations, and
  • Adhere to and respect the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Declaration of Human Rights, and the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights instruments to which the Philippines is a party and signatory.

ICHRP said its partners have reported that the counter-terrorism policies and programs of the Philippine Government do not meet the international standards for counter-terrorism and human rights obligations.

“Canada’s response to this issue serves as a test of its dedication to protecting human rights and those who defend them,” the group said.

“This is a critical issue that demands prompt attention,” it added. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Fil-Am activists condemn high level US-PH meeting they say undermines Philippine sovereignty

By Nuel M. Bacarra

Filipino-American activists belonging to the United States of America, District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia chapter of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan and its member organizations condemned the high-level meeting earlier this week between US and Philippine cabinet secretaries they said further undermines Philippine sovereignty.

In a statement, the activists said the meeting purported “to reaffirm the United States commitment to (its) alliance with the Philippines which has contributed to peace, stability and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region for more than 70 years,” was meant to bolster the ongoing US-led war games that started on that day in the Philippines.

The group also condemned the addition of four new Enhance Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) sites in the Philippines widely seen as a containment maneuver against Chinese aggression in the West Philippine Sea.

“The four new locations… indicate a considerable motive for the US to intervene in the country and intimidate China. The amplified scale of the Balikatan exercises also aligns with accelerated motions to provoke China before actual combat ensues,” BAYAN-USA-DMV said.

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin III met with Philippine Secretary of Foreign Affairs Enrique Manalo and Philippine Department of National Defense officer in charge Carlito Galvez Jr. in a ministerial dialogue that discussed Indo-Pacific security, Philippine military modernization, economic and environmental security and alliance partnerships.

DFA Secretary Manalo said, “We especially welcome the United States pledge to fast-track and to ramp up support for the modernization of our defense, civilian law enforcement and humanitarian assistance and disaster response capabilities, especially in the maritime domain, as well as the implementation of EDCA projects and investments in and around EDCA-agreed locations.”

BAYAN-USA-DMV however said the event was only meant to justify the Balikatan military exercises that see a 140% increase in US military presence in the Philippines involving 12,000 US forces, 5,000 Filipinos and 111 forces from Australia.

The group added that US support to the Philippines uses US taxpayers’ dollars in arming and funding of the Philippine military and police known for gross human rights violations, including the indiscriminate bombings in Mindanao, in Negros, military encampments on indigenous and farmer communities and the massacre of human rights and peace advocates, activists and environmental defenders.

More groups abroad oppose war games

The International League of Peoples’ Struggles-Hong Kong and Macau held a protest rally against EDCA last April 11. (Provided photo)

The group Malaya Movement in New York called for the junking of “unequal military agreements” between the US and the Philippines because as “ineffective and unnecessary” as well as contradictory to Philippines sovereignty and the interests of the Filipino people.

“[T]here is no doubt that [the Balikatan] is a military build up to war in Asia Pacific…meant to provoke China and to stoke the flames of world war,” the group said.

International League of Peoples’ Struggle – Hong Kong and Macau also condemned “US military’s intervention in the Philippines undermining our national sovereignty under the pretext of its humanitarian assistance and disaster response propaganda.”

“We denounce the move of the US government to undermine our national sovereignty through the EDCA additional sites and the Balikatan exercises. We demand the termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement and the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement,” the group in a statement said.

“The Balikatan exercises are not beneficial to the Filipino people. The funds allotted for the war games should instead be used to resolve more worthwhile concerns such as hunger and poverty, failing health and education services. War games are costly in financial terms while entailing massive environmental destruction. It breeds human rights abuses, corruption in the military and intensifies local conflict,” it added. # (with reports from Raymund B. Villanueva)

CPP praises NPA’s ‘achievements and victories’ on its 54th anniversary today

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) praised the New People’s Army (NPA) on its 54th founding anniversary Wednesday, March 29, citing achievements and victories through more than five decades of revolutionary armed struggle in the country.

In a statement, the CPP said the NPA has defeated numerous government campaigns of encirclement and suppression from the first Marcos regime to the present, growing from its original “60 fighters and commanders, nine automatic rifles, 26 single-shot rifles and handguns, and a mass base of around 80,000 in the first district of Tarlac province.”

While balance of forces overwhelmingly remain in favor of the Manila government, the CPP said the NPA has fought indefatigably over the over the decades and “it has grown by leaps and bounds.”

In its 54th founding anniversary statement last December 26, the CPP said the NPA currently has more than 110 guerilla fronts all over the country.

“The NPA is the most powerful weapon of the Party for waging the people’s democratic revolution. It carries out protracted people’s war along the strategic line of encircling the cities from the countryside,” the CPP said.

The revolutionary group said the NPA has adapted to the particular conditions of the country, achieving “great successes in carrying out guerrilla warfare, building guerrilla zones and base areas, and establishing Red political power covering vast areas in the countryside.”

“Day by day, the seeds of the future people’s democratic government are sown in thousands of villages across the country, existing side by side with and antithesis to the present reactionary and fascist government,” it added.

‘Heavier tasks’

The CPP said the NPA however faces heavier and greater tasks ahead, needing to “surmount and defeat the intensified campaigns of encirclement and armed suppression being carried out by the US puppet army,” referring to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

“We must continue to accumulate strength by smashing the AFP part by part in order to bring the people’s war from its current level to the next higher level. The Party and NPA remain fully determined to carry forward the people’s war to victory,” it said.

The CPP said NPA commanders and Red fighters have to “stir up and spread the flames of the people’s war for national freedom and democracy.”

The underground party cited “intensified imperialist oppression against the Filipino people” and emphasized the need to “attain freedom from US control and domination, and carry out land reform and national industrialization” which it said are key steps to improve the lives of the Filipino people.

It also denounced the plan of the US to construct more military bases in the Philippines to use the country “as part of its war theater preparations against China.”

The CPP said “the broad masses of the Filipino people are suffering from increasingly intolerable forms of oppression and exploitation… they are ever determined to wage resistance in order to free the country from clutches of US imperialism and the subservient ruling classes, and attain genuine national freedom and democracy.”

‘It lasts because it is loved’

In a separate statement, the NPA in Southern Panay said it joins all revolutionary forces in the country in celebrating the Red army’s anniversary.

Ariston Remus, NPA-Southern Panay spokesperson said the people’s love and support enabled them to outlast massive military operations launched by the government.

“The masses continue to put their faith in armed struggle as the only effective solution to their poverty and with the NPA as their true defenders,” Remus said in Filipino.

“The masses are getting better in their underground activities to show their love and give their fathomless support to their army,” he added.

‘Lofty ideals’

Founded in Capas, Tarlac in 1969, NPA’s armed struggle is often regarded as the longest-running Communist Party-led armed revolution in the world.

It has been designated as a so-called terrorist organization by the Philippine, United States and other Western governments, an accusation the revolutionary groups vehemently rejects.

In September 2022, a Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) rejected Manila government’s bid to have both the CPP and the NPA proscribed as terrorist organizations.

Manila RTC Branch Judge Marlo Magdoza-Malagar wrote that while both organizations may be regarded as rebels, they are not terrorists because violence is simply part of their means but not their end.

“A perusal of the foregoing Program consisting of lofty ideals readily shows that the CPP-NPA is organized or exists not for the purpose [of] engaging in terrorism,” Judge Magdoza-Malagar ruled. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

UN slams PH gov’t for failing to protect ‘comfort women’

The Philippines failed to redress continuous discrimination and suffering of sexual slavery victims perpetrated by Imperial Japanese Army during World War II, the United Nations (UN) women’s rights committee reported on international women’s day, March 8.

The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) based in Geneva, Switzerland in a decision said the country’s failure to fight for justice for the victims had essentially resulted in ongoing discrimination against them that continues to this day, nearly seven decades since the war ended in 1945.

CEDAW issued the decision after examining a complaint filed by 24 Filipina nationals, commonly known as “comfort women”, asking the Philippine government to support their claims against Japan for reparations for their suffering from sexual slavery in the hands of the Japanese Imperial Army.

CEDAW member Marion Bethel said the decision is a symbolic moment of victory for the victims who were previously silenced, ignored, written off and erased from history in the Philippines.

 “The committee’s views pave the way for restoring their dignity, integrity, reputation and honour,” Bethel said.

The complainants, members of Malaya Lolas (Free Grandmothers), an organization of sexual slavery survivors and supporters, testified that on November 23, 1944, they were taken to an old mansion called “Bahay na Pula” (Red House) in San Ildefonso in Bulacan province where there were repeatedly raped, tortured and subjected to inhumane conditions for up to three weeks.   

“They have since then endured long-term physical, psychological, social and economic consequences, including physical injuries, post-traumatic stress, permanent damage to their reproductive capacity and harm to their social relationships in their community, marriage and work,” CEDAW said in a news release.

They asserted that they had consistently raised their claims at the domestic level, requesting that the Government of the Philippines espouse their claims and their right to reparations against the Government of Japan, the committee reported.

Their repeated efforts, however, were dismissed by authorities, with their last action turned down by the Supreme Court in 2014. The Philippine government has always maintained that it is not in a position to claim compensation from Japan after ratifying the Treaty of Peace with Japan in 1956, it added.

In 2019, the victims then brought their case to the committee, seeking to establish the responsibility of the State party to fulfill its commitments under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women in supporting the non-discrimination of women and girls on its territory.

The committee noted that the Philippines had waived its right to compensation by signing the Treaty of Peace with Japan.

It observed that the Philippine Commission on Women had not addressed the institutionalized system of wartime sexual slavery, its consequences for victims and survivors or their protection needs.

In contrast, Philippine war veterans, who are mostly men, are entitled to special and esteemed treatment from the Government, such as educational benefits, health-care benefits, old age, disability and death pensions.

The comfort women’s case is one of continuous discrimination, CEDAW asserted.

Given the extreme severity of gender-based violence suffered by the victims, and the continuing discrimination against them regarding restitution, compensation and rehabilitation, CEDAW concluded that the Philippines had breached its obligations under the Convention.

In particular, the Committee found that the State party had failed to adopt appropriate legislative and other measures to prohibit all discrimination against women and protect women’s rights on an equal basis with men.

The Committee requested that the Philippines provide the victims full reparation, including material compensation and an official apology for the continuing discrimination.

“This case demonstrates that minimizing or ignoring sexual violence against women and girls in war and conflict situations is, indeed, another egregious form of violation of women’s rights. We hope that the committee’s decision serves to restore human dignity for all of the victims, both deceased and living,” Bethel said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

A YEAR OF HEROES: A 2022 Yearender

By Renato Reyes Jr., Bagong Alyansang Makabayan secretary general

I will remember 2022 for the heroic sacrifices of comrades and friends who fought for a just, free and democratic society. While there are those are no longer with us, there are also those who continue on the path of resistance. I offer this year-ender as a tribute to all those who have departed while serving the people to their very last breath. I likewise give recognition to the tireless work done by the different sectors, groups and organizations who remain steadfast amid great difficulties. The propaganda machinery of the state will try their best to vilify them and tarnish their memory, but the people know better and these lies will ultimately be exposed.

The start of the year saw the passing of Rita T. Baua, our longest serving official in Bayan, after a battle with cancer. A week before her passing, she struggled to sit on the hospital bed, to raise her fist, for a picture that would be sent to comrades and friends, as if to challenge them to keep fighting.

Not long after Rita’s passing, we mourned the death of Chad Booc who was killed together with Lumad volunteer teacher Jojarain Alce Nguho III, health worker Elgyn Balonga, and drivers Roberto Aragon and Tirso Añar. The military claimed there was an encounter but witnesses deny this. Their deaths were again part of a “fake encounter” used to justify the extrajudicial killings. We also bade goodbye this year to Nelia Sancho, a stalwart of the feminist movement in the Philippines and former Gabriela founder and Bayan chair. This year, we also lost Marie Hilao Enriquez, the former chair of Karapatan, due to illness.

Towards the end of the year, we grieved the death of our dear friend Ericson Acosta, who was killed by the military in another “fake encounter” in Kabankalan, Negros . His death weighed heavily on us, coming a little over a year after the death of his wife Kerima Tariman. The outpouring of love and support however from various sectors and from the cultural community assures us that his memory will live on. The fight for justice will continue in 2024.

And then there was the death of the revolutionary trailblazer and thinker Prof. Jose Ma. Sison, 83, which was mourned all over the world, most especially by activists and revolutionaries in the Philippines. Tributes came in from different groups and personalities amid the relentless attacks by the enemies of the people and absurd restrictions and repeated take-downs by social media giant Facebook. His memory lives on in the people’s struggles for national and social liberation.

The electoral campaign

The year 2022 was marked by intense struggles, from the electoral campaign, to the resistance to a Marcos restoration, continuing human rights violations and the worsening economic crisis.

The first half of the year saw an upsurge in mass mobilizations during the electoral campaign in support of the Opposition forces against the Marcos-Duterte tandem. Hundreds of thousands of people joined the Leni-Kiko rallies across the country. Issues such as the Marcos ill-gotten wealth, human rights violations and abuse of power were discussed on a daily basis during the campaign. After two years of pandemic restrictions, it was time for the people to turn out in large numbers to let their voices be heard. Thousands of volunteers went house to house, and undertook a massive campaign to counter the well-funded machinery of the Marcoses.

The Marcos-Duterte tandem employed a combination of vote-buying, massive disinformation, red-tagging and fascist repression, together with a non-transparent automated election system, to be able to claim victory. It was apparent that despite the clam of 31 million votes, there were no spontaneous celebrations of so-called Marcos supporters in the aftermath of the counting. There were however protest marches in front of the Comelec, near the PICC, the CHR and in Plaza Miranda in the days after the election results were announced.

While Leni Robredo may have conceded the elections, many refused to simply accept the outcome and vowed to continue fighting. Ika nga, kapag namulat, kasalanan na ang pumikit. We welcome the many concerned individuals and activists who have taken the extra step beyond the electoral arena, and into the much wider arena of struggle for systemic change.

Political prisoners fight back

This year saw the release of several political prisoners including labor leader Dennise Velasco, and the Tondo 3 of Reina Mae Nasino, Alma Moran and Ram Carlo Bautista, Bayan Panay chair Elmer Forro, Bayan CL chair Pol Viuya, Karapatan human rights worker Nimfa Lanzanas from Laguna, and several others from Bicol and Cagayan. They are all victims either of questionable search warrants or plain trumped-up charges. The State, especially under Duterte, has resorted to the perversion of the legal system and gross violations of due process just so they could put activists behind bars. Many remain incarcerated on false charges, including several peace consultants of the NDFP. The political prisoners who continue to struggle even when behind bars, are among this year’s heroes.


The Filipino people observed the 50th anniversary of the imposition of Marcos’ martial law with a firm commitment to never forget and to fight historical distortions aimed at whitewashing the crimes of the dictator. During this period, there were lectures, historical tours, film screenings, and a huge gathering in UP, all with the same message of “never again” and “never forget”. Katips the Movie served as a timely counterpoint to Maid in Malacanang. The Bantayog ng mga Bayani became a classroom for lessons on history.

Revolutionaries are not terrorists

On the same day the Filipino people were commemorating the 50th anniversary of Martial Law, news broke that a Manila RTC judge dismissed the proscription case filed against the Communist Party of the Philippines – New People’s Army. Overnight, Judge Marlo Malagar became the number one target of the mouthpieces of the NTF-ELCAC, which even earned one a show cause order from no less than the Supreme Court. The decision of Judge Malagar provides an interesting legal insight on why revolutionaries, and those who take up arms for clear political objectives and programs, are not necessarily terrorists. It also exposed the folly of the Philippine government’s attacks against the revolutionary forces, instead of addressing the roots of the armed conflict.

PH human rights record under scrutiny

The Philippine government’s human rights record came under heavy scrutiny by United Nations member-states during the regular Universal Periodic review. Several states called for accountability in the drug war killings under Duterte, an end to red-tagging of activists and journalists, and for the Philippines to rejoin the ICC. The Philippine government was put on the defensive over the lack of meaningful changes in the human rights situation in the Philippines after the Marcos regime took power. During the year, we witnessed intense militarization of the cities and countryside, including the bombings and artillery shelling of communities and forrest areas suspected of being NPA encampments. The practice of forcing civilians to “surrender” as members of the NPA, to be paraded in public as part of the so-called “localized peace talks” aka “surrender talks”, continues.

Another victory for justice was achieved when a Bacolod court convicted two military personnel over the killing of labor organizer and Bayan Muna coordinator Benjamin Bayles 12 years ago in Himamaylan, Negros Occidental.

Protests against Kamala, US military aid

During the second half of the year, US Vice President Kamala Harris visited the Philippines to promote the lopsided US-PH relations. The US continues to maintain its strategic interest in the Philippines and Asia, with Marcos Jr providing unqualified support for his imperialist masters. Marcos Jr, during his recent trip to the US, which was met with daily protests, Marcos said he could not imagine a future without the US. The US State Department meanwhile has pledged to provide $100 million in military aid to the Philippines, which will likely be used for state terrorism against revolutionary groups and the people. Marcos is seen moving closer to the US than his predecessor.

The economic crisis and the people’s response

The start of the Marcos II regime was marked by public debt at a historic high, soaring inflation, a weakening peso, and a clamor for higher wages and lower prices. Inflation and low wages were consistently the top two concerns of the people, according to surveys. This year brought us record high prices for gasoline and onions, bringing tears to the eyes of consumers.

Amid the economic crisis, the Marcoses were seen partying in Singapore for the F1 Grand Prix, an incident which drew widespread criticism of the ostentatious lifestyle of the President.

Before the year ended, labor groups and consumers were clamoring for a substantial wage hike and for government intervention to lower prices. Various labor groups joined forces for a huge march on November 30, the birth anniversary of the revolutionary Andres Bonifacio, to call for the implementation of the family living wage.

Mass transport crisis remains

As COVID restrictions were eased and the movement of people increased, the issue of the mass transport crisis again came to the fore. Free rides at the EDSA Carousel are about to end, and the Marcos regime is now thinking of privatizing the carousel. The NAIA is also slated for privatization. Instead of investing in mass transport and basic transportation facilities, the Marcos regime has chosen the discredited path of privatization which will inevitably lead to price increases and profit guarantees shouldered by tax payers. Just take a look at the water services which are set to increase again over the next five years, or the rising cost of privatized electricity which are a source of non-stop burden for consumers. Privatizing mass transport shows a lack of effort and long-term solutions on the part of the government.

SIM card registration

Before the year ended, mobile phone users were forced to register their SIM cards starting December 27. On its first few days, there were already problems that threatened the privacy of consumers. Selfies were required from people registering their prepaid SIM cards even if such was not part of the law. Some telcos made their subscribers sign waivers on the use of their data by the telcos, which proved the criticism of various groups that user’s privacy will be compromised as telcos attempt to profit from these. The collection of user’s personal information in a data base by telcos poses many problems which we are seeing unfold right now. It will only be a matter of time before this law is again challenged in the courts and in the streets.

Mandatory ROTC and Maharlika Fund

Before session ended, two measures were rushed by the allies of the President in the Lower House, These were the Maharlika Investment Fund, whose name was a deliberate throwback to the dictator Marcos, and the two-year mandatory National Citizens Service Training (NCST) program. The Maharlika Investment Fund was initially met with strong opposition when it proposed to utilize the pension funds of the SSS and GSIS. The proposal comes in the wake of massive public debt and a looming global recession in 2023. It has been branded as a vehicle for crony capitalism, wherein state funds are funneled into companies with suspected links to the families in power. The NCST meanwhile has been criticized as “mandatory ROTC in disguise” and as another means of extending the reach of the military inside educational institutions.

For the year 2023, we draw inspiration from our heroes who have passed on, and from the heroes who continue to fight on despite tremendous challenges. We have an unshakeable faith in the people, in their capacity to understand, act and triumph. Ang masa, ang siyang tunay na bayani, as the song goes. We remain ever optimistic and steadfast in the struggle. #

Groups tell UN: PH human rights situation in crisis

The human rights situation in the country has since spiraled into a crisis a decade since the United Nations Human Rights Committee (UNHRC) conducted a review on the Philippines in 2012, human rights organizations revealed.

In a joint report to the international treaty body, Karapatan and Tanggol Bayi said they documented and witnessed gross violations on the right to life and civil liberties of Filipinos as well as deeper and pervasive climate of impunity in the country.

They also told the UNHRC about the lack of effective domestic mechanisms for redress and accountability as well as the ongoing constriction of civic and democratic spaces.

The groups submitted an alternative report to the UNHRC weeks before the Philippines undergoes a fifth periodic review on its compliance to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) in Geneva, Switzerland in October.

Karapatan and Tanggol Bayi said the Philippine government failed to meet its obligations to core international human rights instruments such as the ICCPR under the Benigno Aquino and Rodrigo Duterte administrations.

The groups cited that the Philippine government failed to make soldiers and police accused of killing activists accountable as it failed to stop enforced disappearances and other forms of human rights violations against citizens.

The alternative report also included complaints of how the Philippine government refused to protect human rights defenders but has persecuted them instead.

Karapatan and Tanggol Bayi said that UNHRC’s many recommendations to the Philippine government in its past four periodic reviews on the country have gone unheeded.


Impunity likely to continue under Marcos

In their 29-page report, the groups also expressed fears that impunity seems likely to continue under the new Ferdinand Marcos Jr. government because of his family’s refusal to acknowledge “acts of gross human rights violations and massive corruption” under the Marcos Sr. regime.

The failure of succeeding governments to make the Marcoses fully accountable impedes efforts towards truth and justice, Karapatan and Tanggol Bayi said.

“Marcos Jr.’s recent defense of his dictator-father’s martial law glosses over their family’s rapacious intent to monopolize political power and prolong their rule by suppressing political dissent and pocketing billions from the nation’s coffers. Clearly, Marcos Jr.’s presidency seeks to erase all the crimes of the Marcoses against the Filipino people, to enable them to keep their massive loot from public funds, and to further their political ambitions,” said Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay, reacting to Marcos Jr.’s recent interview defending his father’s imposition of martial law.

 “Marcos Jr. continues the draconian and repressive policies of the Duterte administration, wielding and foisting the anti-terror law and other repressive policies against those who uphold and defend human and people’s rights,” Palabay added.

Karapatan and Tanggol Bayi announced their participation to the 51st session of the UN Human Rights Council and the UN Universal Periodic Review in the next two months that will scrutinize the Philippine government’s human rights record. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

‘Tenacious and determined’ NPA frustrates Duterte’s all-out war

CPP congratulates Red Fighters on 53rd anniversary

The Rodrigo Duterte government has failed to crush the New People’s Army (NPA) despite vowing to do so before its term ends, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) said.

In its message on the NPA’s 53rd anniversary today, the CPP said the revolutionary army has successfully frustrated Duterte and his military generals in their repeated declaration of crushing the people’s armed resistance.

While admitting losses due to the government’s new arsenal of weapons and strategies, the CPP said the NPA has preserved itself and has achieved victories in most guerilla fronts.

“The Red fighters and commanders of the NPA, and the Party cadres leading the NPA, have displayed great tenacity and determination to bear heavy sacrifices, surmount all adversity and limitations, and exert all efforts to defend the people against fascism and state terrorism,” the CPP said.

The underground party also said NPA fighters are willing to shun all desires for comfort and convenience as they shoulder the difficult tasks in waging the people’s war.

“They draw joy, strength and inspiration from the peasant masses who the NPA serves selflessly, and who, in turn, provides for the needs of the NPA,” it added.

The NPA is operating and has preserved its strength in all of the country’s 13 regions, the CPP said.

Bicol NPA twits Duterte

The NPA in Bicol said the Duterte government has failed to crush their armed revolution in the region.

Red fighters of the NPA’s Romulo Jallores Command prepare for a cultural presentation as part of their celebration of the 50th founding anniversary of the Communist Party of the Philippines. (Raymund B. Villanueva/Kodao)

“The advancement of the people’s war in Bikol, despite its being one of the focus of US(United States)-Duterte regime’s anti-people war, is one of the most undeniable proofs of Duterte’s failure to curb the people’s democratic revolution. The insistent mass surrender campaigns, militarization and civilian killings only pushed the Bikolanos towards revolutionary struggle,” Raymundo Buenfuerza, spokesperson of the NPA’s Romulo Jallores Command said in a statement.

“Where are Duterte’s boasts and strong promises that he can pulverize the revolutionary movement during his term? With barely over two months remaining and despite ceaseless empty declarations of surrenderees after surrenderees, encounters and whatnots, the truth that they failed came straight from none other than the tyrant himself,” Buenfuerza added.

The Bicol NPA further said is reduced to pleading and coercing NPA members into pacification as the President’s “last bid to show some success for his bragging and unrealistic declarations six years ago.”

Buenfuerza said the NPA’s continuing advance in Bicol is one of the most undeniable proofs of Duterte’s failure to curb the “people’s democratic revolution.”

More gov’t troops

The CPP revealed the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has created new combat units to try to crush the NPA, to no avail.

The group claimed that almost 60% of the AFP’s combat troops are concentrated in five of the 13 regions, namely, Southern Tagalog, Eastern Visayas, Southern Mindanao, Bicol and North Central Mindanao.

“There is a marked increase in the deployment of troops in Far South Mindanao, Negros, Southern Mindanao, Eastern Visayas, Cagayan Valley and Southern Tagalog. The AFP aims to conduct large-scale and focused military operations, coordinate its various branches and make full use of the whole range of its arsenal against the guerrilla forces of the NPA,” the CPP said.

Despite repeatedly declaring that the NPA has been weakened and is set to be crushed before the end of Duterte’s term on June 30, the AFP and PNP continues to increase its counter-guerrilla combat forces, the CPP said.

It added that there are presently 166 combat battalions of Army, Air Force, Marines, Scout Rangers, Special Action Forces and other military and police units deployed against the NPA, 21 more than the previous year.

The NPA’s First Pulang Bagani Battalion in formation in Davao City in 2017. (R. Villanueva/Kodao)

“With this number, the AFP can deploy 5 to 6 battalions against their priority or focused guerrilla sub-regional or front areas of the NPA, and deploy two to three in non-priority areas. The AFP and PNP have established joint commands and operations,” the CPP said.

“The push to achieve overwhelming military superiority, however, has the opposite effect of deepening its political inferiority,” it said.

Increased budget for the military

The CPP said the Duterte government has increasingly overspent on the military and police yet failing in its objective in crushing one of the world’s oldest Communist guerilla war.

It said Duterte’s budget for the military further increased to ₱221 billion this year from ₱217 billion last year, in addition to creating and unleashing another brutal anti-insurgency program led by the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).

The NTF-ELCAC had an increased of ₱17.5 billion in 2021 from ₱4.2 billion in the previous year, ₱10 billion of which was categorized as unallocated.

The AFP has also received a total of $1.14 billion worth of military assistance in the form of Foreign Military Financing, military training programs and others mainly from the United States of America and other foreign countries in the past six years.

The CPP said the Duterte government purchased attack and combat utility helicopters, jet fighters and attack aircraft, cannons and artillery systems, 500-lb and 250-lb bombs, rockets and missiles, drone systems, tanks, armored personnel carrier, electronic surveillance and communication equipment, rifles, bullets and many other new equipment to fight the NPA.

It has deployed GPS tracking systems, button-sized cameras to track guerrilla movement in forested areas, equipment for mobile phone surveillance in a bid to utilize new technology in fighting the guerilla NPA.

The government has also enacted a new anti-terrorism law and let the NTF-ELCAC control civilian government agencies in a “civil-military junta.”

It has also designated the CPP, the NPA as well as the National Democratic Front of the Philippines as so-called terrorist organizations.

Rampant human rights abuses

The CPP said that all the AFP and the PNP succeeded to do however are rampant human rights abuses, both in the cities and rural areas.

“In the cities, military and police agents subject unionists, community organizers, youth and women activists, as well as human rights advocates, progressive religious leaders, teachers and health workers to surveillance, harassments, arbitrary arrests and extrajudicial killings,” it said.

“The situation is even worse in the countryside, although there is gross under-reporting of incidents of military abuses and violations of human rights,” it added.

The CPP said the government enemy has erased all distinction between combatants and civilians in its “arbitrary accusation” of civilians as being communists or communist-supporters using the new anti-terror law to justify gross violations of people’s rights and freedoms.

“It lays siege on communities mobilizing large numbers of troops in night-time or early-morning raids on peasant homes such as in the Oplan Sauron in Negros, the massacre of Tumandok minorities in Capiz and the Bloody Sunday mass killing of activists in Southern Tagalog,” it said.

‘Serious setbacks’

The CPP admitted that the NPA suffered “serious setbacks,” including the loss of NPA national commander Menandro Villanueva and NPA national spokesperson Jorge Madlos in the past year.

It also admitted that some NPA units committed errors, showed internal weaknesses and committed shortcomings that “incapacitated [them] from effectively using guerrilla tactics of concentration, dispersal and shifting.”

“A few of these units have been saddled with various problems including over-concentration and self-constriction, weakness in striking the correct balance in military and political work, leading to their inability to strengthen and expand the mass base and area of operation,” the CPP said.

“Some units have been afflicted with conservatism and passivity or a mountain-stronghold mentality. In some guerrilla fronts, the enemy was able to concentrate its forces on a limited area and apply brutal tactics of suppression against the masses to build blockhouses, compel NPA units to retreat to rough terrain where supply and flow of information is difficult, and force them into a purely military situation,” it revealed.

The CPP urged all NPA units to “self-critically assess their situation, identify and overcome their weaknesses and shortcomings and surmount their limitations, in order to steadily advance from one level to another.”

The NPA in Negros Island. (File photo/Nonoy Espina+)

7 tasks

While showing great resilience and frustrating six years of Duterte’s offensives, the CPP said the NPA must quickly adapt to the tactics and strategy of its and carry forward the “people’s war.”

“We must creatively enhance our tactics in guerrilla warfare in order to wage extensive and intensive guerrilla warfare on an ever widening and deepening mass base. As always, the key is to arouse the broad masses of the Filipino people in order for them to rise up in great numbers against the fascist tyranny,” it said.

It added that the NPA has the following tasks in the coming years:

  1. Strengthen the Party’s leadership of the NPA.
  2. Vigorously wage armed struggle and resist the enemy’s brutal war of suppression.
  3. Strengthen the New People’s Army.
  4. Broaden and deepen the NPA mass base in the guerrilla fronts.
  5. Generate widespread support from the cities for the revolutionary armed struggle in the countryside.
  6. We must systematically proselytize among the enemy’s ranks.
  7. Aggressively generate international support for the New People’s Army and the Philippine revolution.

(Report by Raymund B. Villanueva)

Typhoon Rai aftermath highlights Duterte’s sluggish disaster response

Affected communities continue to appeal for help

By Karlo Mongaya/Global Voices

The prolonged aftermath of Typhoon Rai (local name Odette) highlights the Rodrigo Duterte government’s sluggish response to the storm, which wreaked havoc across

the Visayan Islands and parts of Mindanao in the Southern Philippines on December 16, 2021.

Affected communities and local governments have been appealing for help after the typhoon-ravaged agricultural zones across Samar, Leyte, Bohol, Cebu, and Negros Islands and even overwhelmed Cebu City, a major commercial and cultural hub in the Visayas-Mindanao regions.

Typhoon Rai destroyed thousands of homes while the damage to agriculture, infrastructure, and other properties displaced people’s livelihoods and left many more without electricity, internet connectivity, or access to water.

Various civil society groups and private sector actors are leading relief and donation drives to provide immediate assistance to affected communities.

Initial relief goods and other assistance gathered by Balsa Mindanao and Sisters Association in Mindanao arrived in Surigao City on Christmas Day. Thank you to all volunteers and those who donated for this relief mission.

Yet Duterte and his officials have failed to respond to the crisis, using excuses such as depleted governmental funds, media underreporting, and impassable roads to deflect blame for the government’s delayed disaster response and garner public sympathy.

Depleted funds?

The impending arrival of Typhoon Rai did not merit any public statement from President Duterte.

When the president spoke in a televised government briefing a day after the typhoon amid calls for immediate government response, he claimed he was still looking for funds to assist typhoon survivors as the government’s money had been “depleted” because of the pandemic:

This COVID really emptied our coffers. So we’re trying to screen how much we can raise so that we can marshal it to the areas affected.

On December 22, Duterte announced that he would be directing USD 199 million (PHP 10 billion) for typhoon relief. Yet his budget department would not commit to expediting the funds to provide immediate assistance to affected areas.

Duterte’s claim of “depleted” funds was challenged by left-wing opposition legislators who pointed out that the Philippines was, in fact, the biggest borrower from the World Bank in 2021. Bayan Muna (People First Party) chairperson Neri Colmenares commented:

The country has a history of being ravaged by typhoons, and it should have the budget to mitigate and provide immediate relief even while responding to the pandemic.

Later that week, on December 27, Duterte would draw criticism for suggesting the government should use the relief funds to purchase “trapal” or tarpaulin sheets as temporary shelters for typhoon survivors.

He’s the president. Why can’t I demand for something better than tarpaulin sheets especially since more than a week has passed since Odette? This is an exact quote. It’s not taken out of context. The President literally said let’s buy trapal 2 weeks after Odette hit the Philippines.

Inadequate preparations

Indeed, for many Filipinos, Typhoon Rai’s aftermath once more highlighted the Duterte government’s lack of adequate disaster preparedness and delayed response that had been the subject of scathing public criticism in the past.

Kara Ahorro, a resident of world-renowned surfing paradise Siargao Island, shared that before the storm, she felt confident that Typhoon Rai would not be as strong as Typhoon Haiyan (local name Yolanda) in 2013, in an interview with SunStar news:

It was forecasted to be just 150 kph at its peak, We were here during Yolanda and that was 300 plus kph, though Yolanda did not made landfall in Siargao, we just thought ‘ah, kaya lang’ [we can handle it].

The economic impact has been especially dire on Siargao Island, where resort and business owners had been prepping to open for visitors again after coronavirus travel restrictions were eased during the Christmas holidays.

Speaking to the Guardian, marketing coordinator Elka Requinta shares how the strength of Typhoon Rai caught everyone by surprise in Siargao:

We didn’t expect it to be this bad. You have locals who were hit because I don’t think there was a call for any evacuation from the government.

Blaming Media

But a top Duterte official, Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Michael Dino, blamed the national media for the slow disaster response, claiming they failed to adequately report about the typhoon beforehand.

Journalists pushed back on these accusations, noting the constant steam of coverage in the aftermath of the typhoon amidst great challenges, as Rappler’s Head of Regions Inday Espina-Varona underlines:

From Siargao and Dinagat in Mindanao, Silago, Sipalay, and Ubay in the Visayas, all the way to Palawan, officials and residents waded for hours through mud and water, inching their way through on motorcycles, bangkas, and on foot, just to get their first scratchy messages out into the world. Media reported that.

Ironically, government itself now controls the most extensive regional media network after it denied ABS-CBN, the country’s biggest broadcast network, the right to operate in 2020:


Kodao publishes Global Voices articles as part of a content-sharing partnership.

Protesta sa Araw ng Kalayaan upang ipaglaban ang West Philippine Sea laban sa agresyon ng China

Ipinagdiwang ng mga progresibong grupo sa pangunguna ng Bagong Alyansang Makabayan ang ika-123 anibersaryo ng deklarasyon ng kalayaan ng Pilipinas mula sa Espanya sa pamamagitan ng isang kilos protesta sa harapan ng konsulada ng Tsina sa Makati city noong Sabado, Hunyo12. Tinutulan nila ang anila’y kapabayaan ng gubyernong Rodrigo Duterte sa West Philippine Sea at pang-uupat ng Tsina sa mga mangingisdang Pilipino sa loob ng Exclusive Economic Zone ng bansa. (Bidyo nina Jek Alcaraz at Joseph Cuevas. Editing ni Jek Alcaraz)

FIRST PERSON: Kung magka-COVID at sa pampublikong ospital nagpapagamot

Ni Mona Nieva

Ang may akda ay naging pasyente ng COVID sa isang pampublikong ospital sa bandang hilaga ng Kalakhang Maynila. Mahigit isang linggo rin siyang nanatili roon hanggang payagang makauwi para ituloy ang pagpapagaling.

Kung magka COVID ka at malala at sa public hospital magpapagamot, ito ang payo ko sa iyo base sa aking karanasan noong Abril:

1. Masks – magdala at everyday magpalit ka. Sa ward, iba-iba ang makakasama mo, iba iba rin ang level ng COVID. Bukod sa iyo at sa ibang pasyente, para rin ito sa kapakanan ng mga health worker na gagamot sa iyo.

2. Loperamide – kasi baka magka-diarrhea ka at hindi ka na mabalikan ng nurse, lalo kapag full capacity ang ospital. May oras lang ang pagbisita nila at sa dami ng pasyente may chance na makalimutan nila. Hind iyon sadya.

3. Vitamin C – para maka-double dose kahit nasa ospital. Tulungan mo rin sarili ang mo.

4. Biscuit/crackers – pero individually-wrapped. Huwag iyong maramihan, kasi isang bukas lang ay contaminated na lahat iyon. Sana iyong may palaman na rin. In case late ang rasyon ng pagkain. Pwede mo pa i-share sa ibang pasyente.

5. Table napkin o kitchen towel – huwag tissue kasi napakanipis nito. Madali masira ang tisyu. Pero kung kitchen towel or table napkin, sapo ang lahat ng ubo, dahak at more ubo. Maayos pang maitatapon. Mahihikayat din ang iba na hindi na dumahak at dumura sa basurahan kasi kawawa iyong maglilimas nito.

6. Disposable na pangkain – May pagkain sa ospital at maayos at masarap naman ito. May plastic na kubyertos na kasama. Pero kung may nagpadala ng pagkain, mainam ito para hindi masira ang pagkain. Itapon sa basurahan pagkatapos, lahat ng ginamit. Kahit generous ka, no sharing, para sa kapakanan ng lahat.

Rasyon na pagkain sa pampublikong ospital. (Larawang kuha ni M. Nieva)

7. Extra bottled water – may bottled water sa ospital pero minsan mauubos mo kaagad or late darating ang rasyon.

8. Toiletries – sabon para sa iyong hand washing at kung ano-ano pa. Posible naman ang maligo pero mabilisan kasi nakakahiya sa ibang pasyente.

9. Alcohol spray at alcohol pang refill – bring your own alcohol. Importante ito lalo’t marami kayo sa kwarto, iisa lang ng banyo at mixed ang ward. Maaari din itong hiramin ng mga med tech kapag i-xray ka.

10. Charger – because

11. Electric fan – kasi mainit. Kung may extra fan doon, huwag mahiyang manghiram. If magdadala ka, iyong maganda na. Iwan mo na rin doon para sa mga susunod na pasyente.

12. Kumot – walang kumot o unan sa public hospital.

13. Damit – yung presko at madaling isuot, kasi mainit sa ospital. Ang pamalit ay dapat pang-dalawang linggo, lalo ang underwear. Hindi kasi makakapaglaba dahil sa swero o IV. Wala ring pagsasampayan.

Do’s and don’ts

Magpahinga at magpalakas. Mahirap matulog sa ospital pero possible. Gawin iyong lung exercises para lumakas agad ang baga.

Huwag magpanic. Sa loob ng iyong ward, maaari kang makakita ng mga pasyenteng mai-intubate o mamamatay, lalo kung walang separator na tela ang mga hospital bed o mixed ang kaso sa ward. Meron ding tatalon sa bintana.  Anuman ang dahilan nila, kalmahin mo ang sarili mo at isipin mong gagaling ka.

Selfie ng may-aksa sa loob ng ospital.

Makipag kapwa-tao. Makipagkumustahan. Hindi ka man sanay, makakabuti ito sa mental health mo at ng kapwa pasyente.

Unawain ang mga health worker. Kulang kulang pa rin mga PPE nila. Iyong iba, sisinghap-singhap na habang kinukuhaan ka ng BP. Yung iba naman, basang basa na ng pawis to a point na tutulo na parang bukas na gripo yung pawis nila kapag tumungo lang sila. Pero tuloy lang ang pag asikaso sa may sakit.

Huwag mong tiisin ang hindi dapat. Sakaling may mamatay sa iyong ward, paalalahanan ang mga health worker na takpan kung hindi agad makukuha ang labi ng isang pasyente. Kung lumipas na ang isang oras at wala pa rin takip o hindi pa rin kinukuha, ipaalala muli. Huwag mong sundin iyong kasabihan na “Pagtiisan mo na lang dahil naka public hospital ka.” Deserved ng buhay ang respeto, ganoon din ang mga patay.

Magpasalamat ka. Hind mo man nakikita yung doktor mo, ipaabot mo ang iyong pasasalamat. Pasalamatan mo rin ang lahat ng health worker na makakasalubong mo sa iyong paglabas.

Cheers to life! #