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High alert or high insecurity? Police swarm Tuguegarao as activists prepare for Malayao burial

By Tonyo Cruz

TUGUEGARAO CITY–Hundreds of cops and Special Action Force personnel swarmed parts of Tuguegarao City on Wednesday as activists from across Region II started to gather for the burial of slain activist Randy Felix Malayao.

The remains of Malayao — an NDFP peace consultant, regional chair of Bayan Muna and national vice president of the Makabayan coalition — will be buried Thursday at the town cemetery of his native San Pablo, Isabela.

San Pablo is less than 30 minutes away from this regional center.

If the police and military were really innocent in Malayao’s murder, it didn’t look or feel that way.

The excessive police presence in Tuguegarao Wednesday betrays a high sense of insecurity and maybe even guilt.

Initial reports also said police and soldiers blocked several busloads of protesters from several Cagayan towns, as droves sought to join the funeral march for Malayao.

Dozens of police and SAF bearing high-powered weapons were deployed outside and inside the courtyard of the Tuguegarao Cathedral where the activists gathered.

A stone’s throw away, at the former city jail, about 50 police in full anti-riot gear could be seen practicing their moves.

Cops and intelligence officers, Some in plainclothes, followed the rallyists as they marched through downtown Tuguegarao. They brazenly took photos of the activists.

The protesters carried white placards made of rice sacks bearing the words “Hustisya kay Randy Malayao!” and “Stop the killings! Stop the crackdown!”

In a joint statement distributed during the march, Cagayan Valley groups BAYAN and DANGGAYAN accused the notorious Philippine Army 5th Infantry Division in the murder of Malayao.

They said elements of the 5th ID harassed the quick reaction team dispatched by human rights watchdogs at the PNP station in Aritao, the town where Malayao was shot dead while sleeping in a bus en route to Isabela.

Prior to Malayao’s murder, the 5th ID had identified Malayao and other activist leaders as enemies of the state.

The PNP Regional Office 2 recently released CCTV video showing Malayao boarding the bus in Quezon City for his trip back home.

Another video showed two persons mulling around the bus at the stop in Aritao, Nueva Vizcaya.

One of the two persons was later seen boarding the bus while still at the stop. Gunshots could be heard in the video.

Instead of ordering a manhunt and trying to identify the suspects, PNP’s PRO2 has accused the Malayao family of “obstruction of justice” for demanding the return of all of Malayao’s personal belongings seized by the police after the incident.

Without naming names of the suspects, PNP PRO2
spokesman Superintendent Chevalier Iriangan immediately said that “Malayao’s comrades” are the suspects in his killings.

He said that the family should give the PNP all of Malayao’s phones, laptop and iPad.

Malayao had long been tagged by the PNP and the military as a Red leader in Cagayan Valley, culminating in his 2008 abduction in Cainta, Rizal in Manila.

Five days later, the police and military surfaced him in Tuguegarao, detained him and charged him in connection with the death of a former governor.

Malayao successfully defended himself from all the trumped-up cases leveled against him, which led to his freedom.

The Malayao family has rejected police claims that their youngest brother was a corrupt activist who ran away with the movement’s money.

The PNP claimed it could be a motive for Reds to kill him.

Malayao’s elder sister Perla has told media that their family is calling for an impartial and credible investigation. #

Government covering up on Malayao murder—CPP

SAN PABLO, Isabela—The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) denounced efforts by the Rodrigo Duterte government for what it calls the “regime’s foulest move in sowing false information surrounding the murder” of National Democratic Front of the Philippines peace consultant Randy Malayao last January 30 in Aritao, Nueva Vizcaya.

In a statement, the CPP accused the Philippine National Police in Cagayan Valley of not conducting any investigation but is only engaged in “covering up, spreading intrigue and slandering the victim.”

“This aims to cover up the responsibility of state agents, specifically Rodrigo Duterte’s death squads, which he himself ordered to carry out the killing,” the CPP in a statement Sunday said.

In a press release, the PNP in Region 2 said Malayao may have been killed by his comrades, alleging that he may have kept some monies for himself and that he ran off with a woman.

The police however did not provide any proof to back up its allegations.

Malayao was single and was known to have kept a Spartan lifestyle.

Looking elsewhere

Meanwhile, PNP director general Oscar Albayalde relieved two top Nueva Vizcaya cops for allegedly mishandling the initial murder investigation.

Nueva Vizcaya provincial police director PSSupt Jeremias Aglugub and Aritao Chief of Police Police Chief Inspector Geovanni Cejes were sacked for “apparent lapses in the investigation of the slay, particularly the mishandling of evidence at the crime scene.

“Albayalde’s order was an apparent punishment to the officers who allowed Malayao’s personal belongings returned to his family.


DILG’s demand letter addressed to the victim’s family.

In a related development, the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) demanded from Malayao’s family that his belongings be surrendered to the police.

PNP personnel had arrived in Malayao’s wake Friday to press the victim’s family to surrender his belongings.

Several family members are high-ranking DILG officials, raising fears they may be further harassed over the tug of war over the victim’s personal belongings.

Family members refused to issue a statement to Kodao on the issue of the victim’s belongings.

A Kodao source, a lawyer, however said the DILG needs a court order to enforce its demand.

The CPP for its part said that despite the Duterte’s efforts to blame the victim, “the revolutionary forces vow to attain justice for Ka Randy and punish the perpetrators of this fascist crime.” # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Makabayan files bill seeking exemption of journalists from anti-drug ops

The Makabayan Bloc at the House of Representatives filed a bill seeking the exemption of journalists from acting as witnesses in police anti-drug operations.

House Bill 8832 was filed Wednesday by ACT Teachers’ Party Reps. Antonio Tinio and France Castro, Gabriela Reps. Arlene Brosas and Emmi de Jesus, Anakpawis Party Rep. Ariel Casilao, Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate and Kabataan Party Rep. Sarah Elago together with National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) officers.

The bill seeks to amend Section 1 of Republic Act 10640, otherwise known as “An Act to Further Strengthen the Anti-Drug campaign of the Government,” which orders that journalists act as “optional witnesses” to drug operations.

The law amended section 21 of Republic Act No. 9165, otherwise known as the “Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002,” which earlier ordered that journalists act as mandatory witnesses to the police inventory of seized items in drug operations, along with elected officials and members of the National Proecution Service.

HB 8832 stemmed from an ongoing NUJP campaign against ordering journalists to as witnesses to police anti-drug operations.

According to the NUJP, journalists throughout the country report that law enforcement units continue requiring them to sign on as witnesses, often as a condition for being allowed to cover anti-drug operations.

“Worse, there are reports that they are made to sign even if they did not actually witness the operation or the inventory of seized items,” the NUJP’s “Sign Against the Sign” campaign said.

Journalists who decline can find their sources or the normal channels of information no longer accessible, the media group added.

HB 8832 said that aside from the obvious coercion and attempts to control information of vital interest to the public, the media’s opposition to this practice also stems from the fact that it unnecessarily places journalists at risk of retaliation from crime syndicates, on the one hand, and exposes them to prosecution for perjury and other offenses in the event of irregularities in the conduct of anti-drug operations, on the other.

The proposed measure said that journalists must be protected from harm and the anti-drug laws must help ensure that reportage on the government’s anti-drug operations must remain objective and factual.

Rep. Tinion said the Makabayan Bloc will ask Committee on Public Information chairperson Ben Evardone of Eastern Samar to schedule a hearing on the bill as soon as possible.

The NUJP for its part will ask Senate Committee on Public Information chairperson Senator Grace Poe to file a counterpart in the Senate. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

NDFP waiting for GRP offer to reopen talks, Joma says

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) would be willing to explore whatever offer the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) would be making to reopen the stalled peace talks, Jose Maria Sison said.

In a statement, Sison said he sees a silver lining in GRP President Rodrigo Duterte’s recent statement that he would be willing to go back to peace negotiations on the premise that the revolutionary movement could tone down its offensives against the military and police.

“There is some silver lining in [Duterte’s] statement that he is willing to engage in peace negotiations. In this regard, the NDFP is open to exploring whatever opening the GRP is willing to offer,” Sison said.

Sison explained that if peace negotiations between the GRP and the NDFP resume and reach a point where substantial agreements are made, ceasefire can be agreed upon by the negotiating parties.

‘We can talk’

In his recent speech in Masbate Province, Duterte said his government and the revolutionary movement can talk if the New People’s Army (NPA) would lessen its attacks against government troops.

“But if they can tone down, no ambush, no killing of my policemen and my military, we can talk,” Duterte said.

Otherwise, Duterte said that he will allow the purchase of individual firearms, including mayors, to protect them from NPA attacks.

Duterte said local politicians “feel naked” without firearms.

Duterte repeated his statement Thursday in a speech at the turnover of housing units to several soldiers and police personnel in San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan Thursday.

“Give me another reason to talk to you again and I will be there,” Duterte said.

‘Agreements more plausible’

Sison advised Duterte to resume peace talks instead of arming civilians, saying a peace agreement is more plausible and less costly than for the government than to keep trying to destroy revolutionary forces.

Sison said the President still has time if he chooses a political agreement rather than an all-out war.

“In the next three years, it is possible for the GRP and NDFP to make a peace agreement if the Duterte regime is serious and sincere about negotiating and ending its all-out war against the revolutionary forces and the people,” Sison said.

“It is even more plausible and less costly for a peace agreement to be made by the two parties than for the GRP to seek in vain the destruction of the revolutionary forces in the next three years,” Sison said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Joma: It’s Duterte regime that may not survive by 2022, not the NPA

The Rodrigo Duterte government should concentrate on surviving the next three years rather than be preoccupied in trying to wiping out the New People’s Army (NPA) by 2022, National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison said.

Even with a reset deadline, government military and police forces will surely fail in destroying the revolutionary army, Sison in a statement said, adding it is Duterte who may already be out of office by 2022.

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founding chairperson explained the military and the police cannot accomplish in three years what they failed to accomplish in 50 years.

“The scheme will surely fail from day to day, week to week, month to month and from year to year as the NPA will intensify tactical offensives and mass work,” Sison said,

 Instead, Duterte himself will have difficulty surviving politically, he added.

“These are lameduck years for him, during which infighting among his followers will be debilitating and challenges will rise from within the ruling system as well as from the revolutionary forces,” Sison said.

Department of National Defense secretary Delfin Lorenzana told reporters Tuesday the government hopes to wipe out the communist guerrillas in three years.

 ‘Pipe dream’

In the press briefing, Lorenzana admitted that defeating the communists could not be accomplished within the year, as earlier predicted by Duterte.

In September, President Duterte’s said the government would win the war against the NPA by the second quarter of 2019.

Former Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff and now Presidential peace adviser Antonio Galvez in November echoed Duterte’s statement that the military will eliminate the NPA by next year.

Lorenzana, however, said the prediction is a tall order even with increased military operations nationwide.

“We cannot do it this year because it is a huge problem. If you will recall, this insurgency has been going on for the past 50 years already and we cannot end it in one year,” Lorenzana said.

“Maybe, our target now should be in the remaining three years of President Duterte’s term. We can probably accomplish that,” he added.

‘Wasted years’

Sison said Duterte should be blamed for wasting opportunities to sign peace agreements with the NDFP aimed at addressing the root causes of the armed conflict.

Duterte cancelled the peace talks with the NDFP in November 2017 and moved to have CPP and the NPA declared as “terrorist organizations.”

“Were the Duterte regime willing to engage sincerely and seriously in peace negotiations with the NDFP to address the roots of the armed conflict and make agreements on social, economic and political reforms, a just peace could be attained in less time than three years and at far less cost in contrast to the enemy’s futile military campaigns that are costly in terms of blood and public money,” Sison said.

“The problem with the Duterte regime is that it thinks peace negotiations are merely for the surrender and pacification of the revolutionary forces and that the sincerity of the NDFP is merely the willingness to surrender to the unjust ruling system of big compradors, landlords and corrupt bureaucrats like Duterte,” he added. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

GRP ceasefire chief’s resignation result of frustration with Duterte, military—Sison

The resignation of the head of the ceasefire committee of the government negotiating panel with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) exposes how President Rodrigo Duterte and the military have made the peace talks impossible, Prof. Jose Maria Sison said.

Responding to Francisco “Pancho” Lara’s announcement of his resignation as chairperson of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) Negotiating Panel ceasefire committee, Sison said he thinks Lara “got fed up” with Duterte and the military.

“I think that Pancho got fed up with Durterte and the military when Duterte practically waste-basketed the draft agreements that had resulted from the hard work in backchannel talks by teams of the GRP and NDFP negotiating panels from March to June 2018,” Sison told Kodao.

The GRP and NDFP peace talks were supposed to resume last June after Duterte terminated the negotiations with his issuance of Proclamation 360 in November 2017 and his subsequent declaration of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New People’s Army (NPA) as so-called terrorist organizations in December.

Both parties were ready to formally sign an interim peace agreement in June, a package that included a stand down agreement between the NPA and the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police; Guidelines and Procedures towards an Interim Peace Agreement and the Resumption of Talks and its attached timetable; the Initialed Interim Peace Agreement; and the NDFP Proposed Draft of the Amnesty Proclamation which was given to the GRP and the Third Party Facilitator.

In an interview with ABS-CBN News Friday, Lara said additional preconditions for the resumption of formal negotiations have “torpedoed” certain aspects of the peace talks.

He revealed that localized peace talks and the demand for Sison’s return to the Philippines were additions to the original agenda that included a ceasefire agreement with the NDFP while negotiations are being held.

“I think those additional issues torpedoed the discussions of a ceasefire and the other reforms because, then, the bar had been raised higher,” Lara said.

Lara surmised that his replacement may be someone more trusted by Duterte and the military or the military would like to take on the issue of ceasefire with the NDFP themselves.

Duterte has appointed former AFP chief of staff Carlito Galvez after formal Presidential peace adviser Jesus Dureza’s sudden resignation last month due to corruption within the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP).

“I know that based on my discussions with the military that they probably want something else rather than a ceasefire,” Lara told ABS-CBN News.

“I think they want to prosecute the war as it is happening right now,” he said.

Sison seconded Lara’s observation, adding the NDFP learned that Duterte allowed the military officers at the command conference held in Malacañang in June 2018 “to insult the OPAPP and the GRP Negotiating Panel.”

Sison did not give details on how the alleged insult happened.

“I think that Duterte is a captive of his own greed for power and bureaucratic look. He does not want the peace negotiations so that he can scapegoat the CPP, NPA and NDFP as pretext and cause for establishing a full-blown fascist dictatorship through chacha (Charter Change) to a bogus kind of federalism,” Sison said.

The OPAPP website has not published a statement on Lara’s resignation as of this posting. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Activists express incredulity at Casambres’ arrest

The morning after couple Rey and Cora Casambre were arrested by elements of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group of the Philippine National Police, activists trooped to Camp Crame in Quezon City to demand their immediate release.

In their protest rally, the activists expressed incredulity in the brazenness of the police officers in presenting trumped-up charges against Rey as well as their lie that the couple was in possession of a gun and a grenade when arrested in Molino, Bacoor, Cavite early Friday morning.

The activists said that no way did Rey participate in an ambush by the New People’s Army in Davao Oriental last October. # (Video by Carlo Francisco)

 

 

 

‘What kind of President does the GRP have?’ Joma asks

President Rodrigo Duterte’s revelation it is the military and the police that will give final approval on a final peace agreement with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) is an admission of his incompetence and lack of political will to pursue the peace negotiations, Jose Maria Sison said.

Reacting to Duterte’s speech in Tanza, Cavite Thursday (November 22) that he will seek military and police approval before he signs a peace agreement with the NDFP, Sison wondered why the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) chief executive is afraid of his subordinates.

“He is supposed to be the supreme political leader and commander-in-chief of the GRP. That is an inadmissible excuse for his repeated termination of the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations,” Sison told Kodao.

“Give me the final draft [of a peace agreement]. If I like it, I will pass it on to the military and the police. I will ask [them], ‘Is this alright with you?’” Duterte said Thursday.

Kasi, kung ‘di naman tanggap ng militar at pulis, I coup d’etat ka naman. Anak ng jueteng!” he explained. (Because, the military and the police will only launch a coup d’etat against me if they are against it. Son of a b****!)

Sison said Duterte is simply joking, stupid or crazy if he thinks the NDFP will agree to submit a draft peace agreement only to be subjected to a final approval by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP).

“He pretends not to know that there is a negotiating process or he is so drugged by fentanyl that he does not really know it,” Sison said.

Fentanyl is a powerful anti-pain drug banned in many countries that Duterte admits he is taking.

Sison reminded Duterte that before the President  terminated the peace negotiations in November last year, both the NDFP and GRP negotiating panels had already made their respective drafts of the comprehensive agreements on social and economic reforms (CASER) and on political and constitutional reforms (CAPCR) and had made substantial progress in reconciling their drafts of CASER.

“Duterte seems to imagine that the NDFP is like China which has enough money to bribe him to let it draft a major document for his consent and approval,” Sison said.

The NDFP’s chief political consultant said that Duterte only further exposes his “inane mind” by admitting that he would still need the ultimate approval of the military and police.

“He acknowledges that he stands in fear of coup d’etat by the military and police and he actually claims that his supposed authority as political leader and commander-in-chief of the GRP and its armed services is inferior to the authority of the military and police,” Sison said.

“What kind of president does the GRP have? A clown, a dolt or a dopehead?” Sison asked.

Sison however said NDFP negotiators will still talk to their GRP counterparts.

“Because of the NDFP’s standing policy to be open to negotiations with the GRP, (NDFP Negotiating Panel chairperson) Fidel Agcaoili will continue to be in touch with his counterpart [Silvestre] Bebot Bello and explore the possibility of resuming the peace negotiations,” Sison said.

“In view of the termination of the peace negotiations and absence of any ceasefire, it is logical for the NPA and other revolutionary forces to do their best in conducting the people’s war while the NDFP focuses on drawing up the draft agreements on social, economic and political reforms to lay the basis for a just and lasting peace,” he added. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Duterte: Military, police has final word on peace agreement with NDFP

President Rodrigo Duterte revealed his will not be the last word on whatever peace agreement the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) enters into with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).

In a speech in Tanza, Cavite Thursday (November 22) to inaugurate a new barge port, Duterte said he will seek approval from the military and the police before signing a final agreement with the NDFP even if he already approves of it.

“Give me the final draft [of a peace agreement]. If I like it, I will pass it on to the military and the police. I will ask [them], ‘Is this alright with you?’” Duterte said.

Kasi, kung ‘di naman tanggap ng militar at pulis, I coup d’etat ka naman. Anak ng jueteng!” he explained. (Because, the military and the police will only launch a coup d’etat against me if they are against it. Son of a b****!)

Duterte also revealed he decided not to meet NDFP chief peace negotiator Fidel Agcaoili and senior peace adviser Luis Jalandoni.

“And this Agcaoili and Jalandoni would come here and talk to me. I said, ‘Why should I talk to you? You talk to [Presidential peace adviser Jesus] Dureza and [GRP chief negotiator Silvestre] Bello,’” Duterte said.

Duterte, however, has previously met with Agcaoili and Jalandoni after his election and assumption of the presidency, even promising to issue a general amnesty for more than 500 political prisoners.

Agcaoili, Jalandoni and NDFP Negotiating Panel member Coni Ledesma was set to arrive in the Philippines this week to meet with the new Norwegian Ambassador the Philippines and attend meetings as members of the Joint Monitoring Committee of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law.

The three negotiators did not push through with their homecoming after being threatened with arrest by interior and local government secretary Eduardo Año. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Ladlad, Villamors suffering from maltreatment

National Democratic Front of the Philippines peace consultant Vicente Ladlad and companions are suffering from maltreatment in Camp Karingal, his wife complained in an “emergency bulletin.”

Ladlad’s wife Fides Lim announced on her Facebook account that Ladlad and his companion Alberto Villamor were “suddenly ordered transferred to a small, congested prison cell for detainees accused of common crimes at the Criminal Investigation and Detection Unit (CIDU), Quezon City police headquarters.”

Prior to the transfer, Ladlad and Villamor were detained in separate headquarters from common crime offenders after their arrest last November 8.

Ladlad, 69, suffers from acute and chronic asthma that has degenerated to emphysema in addition to a heart condition, Lim said.

Lim said there are 38 male detainees in Ladlad and Villamor’s current prison cell, measuring around 20 square meters.

“The room is so overcrowded that inmates have to take turns sleeping on the floor. Only around 20 prisoners can lie down at a time. They have to sleep on their side to fit in more sleeping bodies into that cramped floor space,” Lim said.

In between them, others have to stand up or sit down. To relieve the congestion during nighttime, sometimes ten prisoners are allowed to sleep at the office area outside the prison cell, she added.

She also complained that cramped as the area is, the “main” floor area of the prison cell is reserved as sleeping space primarily for those who personally contribute for weekly food expenses since there are no food rations for the prisoners.

“Despite the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners requiring access to fresh air and sunning, for two whole days now, Vic and Alberto have not been allowed to go out of their congested cell,” Lim said.

‘World’s most crowded’

Philippine jails have been reported to be the world’s most crowded.

“A humanitarian crisis is facing the Philippine corrections. The Philippine National Police (PNP) detention centers, the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) and provincial jails, and the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) prisons are not only full to the brim, they are teeming with emaciated and disease-carrying bodies,” a Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism article reported last July.

“On June 30, 2016, upon assumption of Rodrigo Duterte as President of the country, the BJMP population stood at 96,000 inmates or Persons Deprived of Liberties (PDLs). Now, two years and three State of the Nation Addresses (SONA) after, the BJMP population stands at 160,000 PDLs. That is a staggering growth of 64 percent in two years,” the article, written by Dr. Raymund Narag, a professor at the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice of the Southern Illinois University said.

“We are now officially the most overcrowded correctional facilities in the whole world: our 605-percent congestion rate is far ahead of Haiti’s 320 percent, the second most crowded,” the article added.

The situation has worsened Ladlad’s health condition, Lim said.

“He has been having palpitations and compelled to take his ‘emergency’ medicines to avoid getting sicker,” she explained.

Lim also said that the Villamors are also suffering from their prison condition.

Panic attacks

“[Alberto] is diabetic requiring insulin and is just recovering from his second stroke that occurred last April 2018,” Lim said.

Virginia Villamor, wife of Alberto who was arrested along with the two is also suffering from trauma resulting from the raid and arrest, Lim added.

“She is given to uncontrollable trembling at night and cries and cries whenever she remembers how the arresting team forced her to lie face down on the floor,” Lim said.

She added that Virginia’s pelvic fracture, which occurred when she was bumped by a tricycle, was aggravated when the police pushed her down to the floor during the raid.

“The injury now makes it difficult for her to stand up,” Lim said.

Lim said that when the three were kept in one room, Virginia constantly called on husband Alberto to talk to her so she can sleep.

“Her transfer to the women’s prison cell and consequent separation from Alberto have worsened her emotional state. She is on the verge of a nervous breakdown,” Lim said.

Lim demanded that the CIDU stop reprisal actions being committed against Ladlad and the Villamors as well as proper medical attention and treatment for the three.

She added that human rights lawyers have filed a motion before the Quezon City Office of the City Prosecutor and Manila RTC Branch 32 to immediately transfer the three to the Metro Manila District Jail 4 (formerly known as SICA-1) in Camp Bagong Diwa, Taguig, where other political prisoners are being held. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)