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NDFP names 5 Cabinet officials as worst peace talks foes

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) accused high-ranking government and military officials of opposing efforts to revive peace negotiations and launching actions that violated the recently concluded ceasefire agreement between the Communist Party of the Philippines and the Manila government.

NDFP chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison named Duterte’s national security adviser Hermogenes Esperon, national defense secretary Delfin Lorenzana, interior and local government secretary Eduardo Año, presidential adviser on the peace process chairperson Carlito Galvez and new Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff Felimon Santos of opposing efforts to revive the peace process.

“Either Duterte has been pretending to be for peace negotiations all along or he fails as commander-in-chief to put in line his military subordinates for the resumption of the peace negotiations,” Sison said.

Sison said Duterte’s five subordinates made the following declarations to disobey the President’s public declarations on his desire to resume peace negotiations with the NDFP:

1. They can destroy the CPP and NPA before the end of the Duterte regime despite the failure of all previous regimes to destroy the people’s revolutionary movement and the repeated failure of the current Duterte regime to comply with its deadlines for destroying said movement.

2. They oppose peace negotiations in a neutral venue abroad but favor negotiations for the surrender of the CPP, the NPA and entire revolutionary movement in a Philippine venue under the control and manipulation of the regime and its armed minions.

3. They can stage fake localized peace talks despite the glaring fact that all organs of the CPP and commands of the NPA at all levels have publicly rejected and condemned such fakery.

4. They are happy with and enjoy the escalating conditions of oppression and exploitation under the semicolonial and semifeudal ruling system of big compradors, landlords and corrupt bureaucrats who are servile to the imperialist powers, their banks and monopoly firms.

5. They shun social, economic and political reforms to realize full independence, democracy, social justice and all-round development and they are most vehemently against genuine land reform and national industrialization.

“[T]he Filipino people should not be surprised if the GRP-NDFP will not be resumed in the twilight years of the Duterte regime,” Sison said.

Sison said that even before the end of the reciprocal unilateral ceasefire agreement last January 7, Duterte’s military and police subordinates “have been calling for war and blood and have been making offensive deployments against the Filipino people and revolutionary forces throughout the archipelago.”

The NDFP in Negros island, one of three rebel strongholds Duterte ordered to be flooded with military forces last year, reported “unabated military operations” during the two-week holiday truce.

Military movements

In a statement Wednesday, January 8, a day after the ceasefire agreement concluded, Ka Bayani Obrero, NDF-Negros spokesperson, said they received the following reports of AFP combat operations throughout the island from the Apolinario Gatmaitan Command of the New People’s Army (AGC-NPA):

1. December 24, 2019 – 1 military truck full of 62nd Infantry Battalion (IB) troops descended on Brgy. Mansablay, Isabela, Negros Occidental; 

2. December 27, 2019 – 21 soldiers of the 62nd IB descended on Sitio Kuyawyaw, Brgy. Inolingan, Moises Padilla, Negros Occidental; 

3. December 27, 2019 – 21 soldiers of the 62nd IB descended on Sitios Oway-oway and Binataan, Brgy. Quinten Remo, Moises Padilla, Negros Occidental; 

4. December 27, 2019 – 30 soldiers of the 62nd IB descended on Sitio Tibobong, Brgy. Quinten Remo, Moises Padilla, Negros Occidental; 

5. December 28, 2019 – 33 soldiers of the 62nd IB descended on Sitio Tiyos, Brgy. Quinten Remo, Moises Padilla, Negros Occidental; 

6. December 30, 2019 – Undetermined number of 62nd IB soldiers descended on Sitio Saisi, Brgy. Tan-awan, Himamaylan City, Negros Occidental; 

7. December 31, 2019 – 62nd IB soldiers also descended on Sitio Bayi, Sitio Cande-is and Sitio Ulitaw, Brgy. Buenavista, Himamaylan City, Negros Occidental; 

8. December 31, 2019 – 20 soldiers of the 79th IB led by a certain Maj. Tupaz descended on Sitio Tanquinto and Hacienda Amparo, Brgy. Mabini, Escalante City, Negros Occidental; 

9. January 1-3, 2020 – 62nd IB soldiers descended on Sitio Pisok, Brgy. Buenavista, Himamaylan City, Negros Occidental; 

10. January 3, 2020 – 14 soldiers of the 79th IB descended on Sitio Brodjen, Brgy. Malasibog, Escalante City, Negros Occidental, and;

11. January 6, 2020 – 40 soldiers of the 79th IB descended on Brgy. Paitan, Escalante City, Negros Occidental.

The NDF-Negros also reported troop movements and operations by the 11th IB under the 302nd Brigade and the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Brgy. Talalac in Sta. Catalina and other municipalities in the Third Congressional District of Negros Oriental.

 “[These] manifest the dubious sincerity of the Duterte regime regarding peace talks resumptions,” Obrero said.

Obrero said the AFP and the PNP implemented combat operations in peasant communities in the mountainous areas “to persistently spread terror, threats, and harm on the Negrosanons.” 

“This simply shows that Duterte has no control over his bloodthirsty and warmongering dogs in the military and police,” AGC-NPA spokesperson Ka Juanito Magbanua said.

Magbanua said all NPA guerrilla fronts in Negros successfully celebrated the CPP’s 51st founding anniversary last December 26. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Advocates urge rejection of peace spoilers

On the last day of the reciprocal unilateral ceasefire agreement between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the Communist Party of the Philippines, supporters of the peace talks between the government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) held a protest rally at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City to urge for the rejection of peace spoilers.

The protesters said the government must reject militarist calls by defense secretary Delfin Lorenzana, national security adviser Hermogenes Esperon, interior secretary Eduardo Año and others who have openly declared their opposition to ongoing efforts to revive the peace talks.

They also called for the release of NDFP peace consultants and other political prisoners as a boost to confidence-building measures for the resumption of peace negotiations. (Video by Jek Alcaraz/Kodao)

Ceasefire ends ‘successfully’, but no extension

The reciprocal unilateral ceasefire agreement between the government and the communist rebels ended without further incident at midnight last night, but Jose Maria Sison thinks there is no reason to extend the truce at this point.

Sison, National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) chief political consultant, expressed disappointment that despite the ceasefire’s success, the Rodrigo Duterte government did not release a single political prisoner in the last two weeks to further bolster chances of resuming formal peace negotiations between the parties.

“There is no reason for the NDFP to recommend to the CPP (Communist Party of the Philippines) the extension of the ceasefire, especially because GRP did not release a single political prisoner who is sickly, elderly or NDFP consultant in the entire period of the ceasefire agreement,” Sison told Kodao in an online interview.

Sison said the holiday truce between the CPP and the government had been successful nationwide “despite some two incidents of self-defense by the New People’s Army (NPA) before the GRP (Government of the Republic of the Philippines) submitted its SOMO (Suspension of Military Operations) and SOPO (Suspension of Police Operations) to the NDFP belatedly on December 26.”

Sison was referring to the separate ambuscades undertaken by the NPA in Camarines Norte and Iloilo provinces that killed one police officer and injured several others on the morning of December 23 on the day the ceasefire agreement was supposed to take effect.

The Philippine National Police (PNP) admitted its troops were on combat operations on both occasions but claimed they were in the process of pulling out when waylaid by the communist guerrillas.

On the other hand, government soldiers belonging to the 401st Infantry Brigade of the Philippine Army “swarmed” a village in Bacuag, Surigao del Sur last December 30, causing the NPA to cancel its celebration of the CPP’s 51st founding anniversary and mass wedding of its members.

Sison said the troop movement was offensive, provocative to the NPA, disturbing to the community and was, therefore, a violation of the ceasefire.

Despite the general success of the nearly two-week truce, however, Sison revealed there is no further agreement between the two parties to extend the ceasefire agreement.

“Instead, what the NDFP is getting from the GRP side are the warmongering statements of AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) and PNP officials announcing offensives and insisting on fake localized peace talks staged by AFP military officers for racketeering,” Sison said.

Sison was referring to the 9th Infantry Division-Philippine Army’s claim that 306 alleged NPA members surrendered last December 26 on the occasion of the CPP’s 51st founding anniversary that immediately backfired when netizens pointed out that photographs released by the Philippine Army purportedly showing the surrenderers were faked.

The AFP later admitted to the fakery.

Sources in the backchannel talks between government representatives and the NDFP said labor secretary Silvestre Bello III is expected in The Netherlands in the third week of the month for another “informal talk” aimed as preparatory to a formal meeting for the resumption of formal peace negotiations. # (Raymund B. Villanueva) 

CPP-GRP ceasefire successful so far, Joma acknowledges

The ongoing ceasefire between the government and the communist rebels had largely been successful, paving the way for more meetings between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) negotiators, Jose Maria Sison acknowledged.

“By and large, the two parties have complied with the ceasefire agreement and allowed it to serve as goodwill and confidence-building measure for enhancing the environment for the resumption of the GRP-NDFP negotiations,” Sison said in a statement two days before the end of the reciprocal unilateral ceasefires on Tuesday, January 7.

Sison added that since December 26, when the GRP had provided the NDFP with copies of suspension of military and police operations by the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police, there had been no reported firefights between combatants of both parties.

The NDFP earlier explained that the firefights in Camarines Norte and Iloilo on the morning of December 23 when the holiday truce was scheduled to start happened before the GRP issued its own orders to effectively start the ceasefires.

The PNP on both occasions admitted that they were on combat patrol when waylaid by NPA guerrillas but said they were in the process of pulling out of their operations.

But Sison claimed that 401st Infantry Brigade-Philippine Army’s troop movement that disrupted a Communist Party of the Philippines event in Bacuag, Surigao del Sur last December 30 was offensive in nature and a violation of the ceasefire agreement.

The communist leader, however, seeks to downplay the incidents, saying there had been “no incident in which one side fired at the other side” since December 26.

“The few allegations of ceasefire violations have not disrupted the nationwide implementation of the reciprocal unilateral ceasefire agreement. Such allegations can be threshed out by the GRP and NDFP negotiating panels and the Joint Monitoring Committee under the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law,” Sison explained.

In an earlier online interview with Kodao, Sison said that a successful ceasefire may be extended while meetings to set up a formal round of NDFP-GRP negotiations this month are underway.

“That can be considered by the NDFP negotiating panel if its GRP counterpart proposes,” he said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Ceasefire finally on; NDFP receives GRP’s truce orders

The Philippine government has finally transmitted its ceasefire orders to the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) Negotiating Panel the group said paves the way for the unilateral and reciprocal ceasefires to “proceed effectively.”

In an announcement, NDFP chief negotiator Fidel Agcaoili said they received copies of Suspension of Offensive Military Operations (SOMO) and Suspension of Offensive Police Operations (SOPO) from the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) at 8:54 a.m. Thursday, December 26, at their office in The Netherlands. (3:54 p.m., Philippine time.)

“We hope that from hereon the unilateral and reciprocal ceasefires declared by the two Parties shall proceed effectively,” Agcaoili said.

Agcaoili said former GRP chief negotiator Silvestre Bello III sent the documents. 

The NDFP chief negotiator said the SOMO, dated December 24, was issued by Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff Noel Clement while the SOPO, dated December 22, was issued by Philippine National Police (PNP) officer in charge Archie Gamboa.

Both documents comply with a memorandum issued by Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) secretary Eduardo Año, Agcaoili added.

Last December 22, Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo announced that GRP President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the AFP, PNP, DILG and the Department of National Defense to issue the government’s truce orders.

On the same day, the Communist Party of the Philippines has issued its truce order, a day ahead of the scheduled start of the ceasefire agreement last December 23, Monday.

Earlier, questions were raised whether government military and police forces would abide by their commander in chief’s directive as combat operations were reported to have been conducted as late as December 23.

Ninth Infantry Division-Philippine Army public affairs chief Major Ricky Aguilar told reporters Monday that a platoon of government soldiers on combat patrol was ambushed by New People’s Army (NPA) fighters in Labo, Camarines Norte.

A government trooper was killed while six others were injured by an improvised explosive device as the soldiers were pulling out from Barangay Paat at about 9:20 a.m., Aguilar said.

Also last Monday, PNP’s Gamboa accused the NPA of staging an ambush against the Iloilo Mobile Force Company that injured two police officers in Tubugan town, Iloilo Province.

NDFP chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison said that both incidents were not violations of the ceasefire agreement as the GRP has yet to issue its truce orders at the time.

The ceasefire would be in effect only after both parties have issued their respective truce orders, the December 21 NDFP-GRP Joint Statement signed in Utrecht, The Netherlands reads.

As to GRP’s transmittal of its truce orders, Sison said there is no more problem about continuing the CPP ceasefire order to the NPA.

“The best thing to do is cool down and proceed with the reciprocal ceasefires and let them generate goodwill and confidence in preparation for the resumption of the peace negotiations,” Sison added.

The holiday truce shall be in effect until January 7. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

CPP orders Xmas truce; Panelo says Malacañan to follow suit

SAN VICENTE, Palawan–The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) declared a unilateral ceasefire Sunday, December 22, ahead of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines’ (GRP) reciprocal declaration Malacañan Palace said is forthcoming.

In its order, the CPP asked all commands and units of the New People’s Army (NPA) and people’s militias to implement a nationwide ceasefire that will take effect from December 23 to January 7.

The CPP said the ceasefire order shall take effect upon the issuance of the corresponding and reciprocal ceasefire declarations from the GRP in the form of suspension of military and police operations.

In response, presidential spokesperson and chief legal counsel Salvador Panelo said in a statement that GRP President Rodrigo Duterte has directed the declaration of a unilateral nationwide ceasefire effective on the said dates.

The President has instructed the Department of National Defense and the Department of Interior and Local Government, as well as the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police to issue Manila’s official ceasefire declaration, Panelo’s statement reads.

In its order, the CPP said the reciprocal and unilateral ceasefires aim to generate a positive atmosphere conducive to the holding of informal talks preparatory to the formal meeting to resume the peace negotiations between the GRP and the NDFP.

Formal peace negotiations between the two parties stalled in 2017 after the GRP sent its negotiators home just as an interim peace agreement was about to be signed.

The GRP for its part said the confidence-building measures reflects Duterte’s commitment to the possible resumption of the peace talks.

Panelo’s statement also announced that Duterte ordered the reconstitution of the GRP Negotiating Panel, naming executive secretary Salvador Medialdea as among its members. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Kwento ng ina ng inarestong menor de edad sa Bacolod

Ibinahagi ni Jingjing (hindi tunay na pangalan) ng kanyang karanasan matapos hulihin ang kanyang 15 anyos na anak habang nag-eensayo para sa isang pagtatanghal. Kasama ang kanyang anak sa 57 na dinakip sa ginawang raid ng mga pulis at sundalo noong Oktubre 31 sa Bacolod City na ayon sa mga progresibong grupo ay malaking crackdown ng gubyerno laban sa mga aktibista.

Nagbigay-payo din sa mga kabataan at magulang si Jingjing na lubos ang pagsuporta sa ginagawa ng anak sa na kasapi ng isang pang-kulturang grupo. (Background music: Lovers by David Fesliyan Salin ni: Reylan Vergara/ Karapatan Bidyo ni: Joseph Cuevas/ Kodao)

Mga inaresto sa Bacolod, lalo pang pinahirapan matapos dakpin

Isinalaysay ni Jefer Alipo-on, 23 anyos, ang kanilang naging karanasan nang sila ay inaresto noong Oktubre 31 sa ginawang raid ng mga pulis sa opisina ng Bayan Muna sa Bacolod City. Isiniwalat ni Alipo-on sa bidyo na ito ang karagdagang tortyur sa kanila ng mga pulis matapos silang dakpin.

Matapos ang halos isang linggo, isa si Jefer sa nakalayang 11 miyembro ng Teatro Obrero, kasama ang 21 na mga manggagawa ng Ceres Bus Line noong Nobyembre 6. Subalit mayroon pang siyam na nakakulong at sinampahan ng anila’y gawa-gawang kaso na iligal na pag-iingat ng baril at granada. (Music: Tangerine Dream Valley of Sun Bidyo ni: Joseph Cuevas/ Kodao)

Activists vow legal pushback vs state forces

By Visayas Today

BACOLOD CITY–Those responsible for the October 31 mass arrest in Bacolod City, from state security personnel to the judge who issued the search warrants, should expect a wave of countercharges to hold them accountable, activist groups have vowed.

“We will make sure there will be countercharges,” Bacolodnon Neri Colmenares, who chairs the Bayan Muna party-list and used to represent it in Congress, told a press conference Thursday, November 7.

In all, the joint police and Army units under the Regional Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict that carried out the raids on three offices and a private residence in Bacolod City arrested and detained 57 persons, among them a dozen minors.

They claimed to have recovered more than 30 firearms and some explosives from the offices of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, women’s organization Gabriela – both in Barangay Bata – and the National Federation of Sugar Workers in front of the Libertad market, and the home of Romulo and Mermalyn Bito-on in Barangay Taculing.

The security forces said the offices, particularly the compound that houses the office of Bayan and other groups, were being used to train “recruits,” including minors, of the New People’s Army.

However, on November 6, 32 of those arrested – 21 laid off workers of Vallacar Transit who were consulting the Kilusang Mayo Uno and 11 members of cultural group Teatro Obrero, all arrested at the Bayan office – were released after the city prosecutor dropped the charges against them.

Only 11 persons remain in detention, seven of them facing non-bailable charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives.

Colmenares said the release of the 32 “proves the falsity of the charges” that those arrested were rebels and that the offices were training facilities.

He said those they intend to charge, both before trial courts and the Office of the Ombudsman, include the “generals, colonels,” and enlisted personnel of police and Army units that carried out the raids, prosecutors, judges who issue “fake” warrants, and the “false witnesses” on whose testimonies the warrants were based.’

The search warrants covering the Bacolod raids were all issued by Quezon City Regional Trial Court Executive Judge Cecilyn Burgos-Villavert. She also issued the warrants that led to the arrests of two other activists in Escalante City and at least five others in Manila around the same time as the Bacolod raids.

While there is a special rule issued by the Supreme Court allowing the RTC executive judges of Manila and Quezon City to issue warrants for areas outside their jurisdiction, activists accuse Villavert of abusing this privilege and issuing “wholesale” warrants that abet human rights violations.

Colmenares said among the charges the security forces can expect are those related to their alleged “planting” of evidence and violations of the anti-torture law. #

32 nabbed in Bacolod raids freed

By Visayas Today

In what human rights advocates said was a clear victory and an indictment of government’s ham-fisted efforts to stifle dissent, 32 of 57 persons arrested and detained following simultaneous raids on what authorities claimed were communist rebel safehouses in Bacolod City on October 31 were released on Wednesday, November 6, after prosecutors cleared them.

Those who walked out of detention at the Negros Occidental Provincial Police Office were 21 laid-off workers of Vallacar Transit Inc., which operates the Cere Bus line, and 11 members of the cultural group Teatro Obrero.

All of them were arrested at the office of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan in Barangay Bata where authorities claimed to have recovered 32 guns.

A number of minors who were also rehearsing with Teatro Obrero at the Bayan office had been released earlier.

Wednesday’s releases left only 11 persons in detention and facing criminal prosecution.

Seven of them are charged for non-bailable offenses:
1. Cheryl Catalogo
2. Karina Mae Dela Cerna
3. Albert Dela Cerna
4. Noly Rosales
5. Proceso Quiatzon
6. Romulo Bito-on
7. Mermalyn Bito-on

The Bito-on couple, who were nabbed during a raid on their home, are accused of illegal possession of firearms and explosives.

The others, who were arrested in the raid on the Bayan office, were charged with illegal possession of multiple firearms.

Those charged with illegal possession of firearms, a bailable offense, are:
1. Anne Krueger
2. John Milton Lozande
3. Danilo Tabora
4. Roberto Lachica

Krueger, a community journalist from alternative media outfit Paghimutad, was arrested at the Bacolod office of women’s organization Gabriela, from where authorities claimed to have recovered two .38 caliber revolver and ammunition.

Lozande, secretary general of the National Federation of Sugar Workers, was also nabbed at the Bayan office, while Tabora and Lachica were at the NFSW office when it was raided.

Aside from the firearms and explosives charges, Lozande, Rosales, the Dela Cernas, who are father and daughter, Catalogo and Quiatzon are also set to be charged for human trafficking.

Immediately after the raids, a joint military and police operation under the Regional Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, the Army proclaimed a major victory and predicted the imminent destruction of the communist rebel movement on Negros.

The military had also claimed the offices of the organizations that were raided, particularly the Bayan office which occupies a large compound, were training facilities where the rebels were supposedly molding “child warriors.”

However, the organizations, all tagged as rebel “fronts,” denied the accusation and insisted the guns and explosives supposedly seized had been planted.

It turned out the laid-off Ceres workers were consulting Rosales, who heads the Kilusang Mayo Uno labor union, about their dismissal from work.

Members of the cultural group Teatro Obrero march out of the Negros Occidental Provincial Police Office where they had been detained since October 31, when they were arrested during simultaneous raids on the offices of activist organizations in Bacolod City. (Visayas Today photo)

The Teatro Obrero members, on the other hand, were rehearsing for a play, “Papa Isio,” about the legendary hero of the revolution against Spain and the war against the American colonizers, which they were supposed to have presented on November 5, which commemorates the liberation of Negros from the Spaniards.

Former Bayan Muna representative and Bacolod native Neri Colmenares, who visited the detainees with Representatives Carlos Isagani Zarate of Bayan Muna and Arelen Brosas of Gabriela Women’s Party, said he expected the release of the 32 detainees to substantially weaken the cases against the remaining 11.

“The release of the majority of the people arrested during the raids essentially means that the charges against them are not true,” he explained.

Incidentally, it took them more than two hours, or close to the end of visiting hours at 5 p.m., to gain access to the detainees and escort those to be released out of Camp Alfredo Montelibano Sr. after police guards refused them entry, saying they were under orders from Col. Romeo Baleros, the provincial director.

Lawyer Joemax Ortiz, counsel of the laid off transport workers, slammed authorities for arresting and forcing them to “go through the inconvenience of proving their innocence” when “they should have been released then and there because they were clearly innocent.”

Progressive groups said the Bacolod raids and the arrest of other activists in Manila signaled the start of a widespread crackdown on legal dissenters and critics of government. #