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Groups oppose Duterte’s plan to arm civilians

Farmers and human rights groups expressed opposition to a statement by President Rodrigo Duterte ordering the arming of civilian groups to help in law enforcement, saying such move could lead to more unwarranted and merciless killings.

In separate statements, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), Karapatan and the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) said so-called force multiplier groups under the Duterte government may lead to more extrajudicial killings.

“As if police brutality and the PNP’s (Philippine National Police) abuse of power are not enough, Duterte openly allows civic groups to carry arms. This is unacceptable and must be opposed. Tokhang killings have cost more than 30,000 lives,” KMP chairperson Danilo Ramos said.

Tokhang refers to extrajudicial killings of suspected illegal drug dependents by the police and suspected State agents since the start of the Duterte administration in 2016.

At the launch of the PNP-backed Global Coalition of Lingkod Bayan, Global Coalition of Lingkod Bayan Advocacy Support Groups and Force Multipliers in Camp Crame last Friday, Duterte ordered that the group carry firearms to help in law enforcement.

“If you have this coalition, you have a list of people who are there who can arm themselves. I will order the police if you are qualified, get a gun, and help us enforce the laws,” he said.

KMP said the public must oppose the proposal and Duterte’s move to turn so-called civic groups into his private army and death squads.

“Arming these civic groups will do more harm than good to the civilian population,” Ramos said.

Rights group Karapatan also expressed opposition to Duterte’s statement, citing abuses by state forces under his government.

“Arming them will further weaponize these groups as paramilitaries, which have a long bloody history of human rights violations, for the administration’s whole of nation approach in both campaigns — a tactic that merely uses the population to subvert civilian authority for militarist and fascist objectives and ends,” Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay said.

The government’s own human rights agency opposed the proposal, saying armed civilian groups may cause more killings instead of being a deterrent to crime.

“Elections are fast approaching. We don’t want election-related violence to rise,” CHR spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia said.

“We also don’t want this proposal to be an excuse for armed groups to be used by politicians. We don’t want a Maguindanao Massacre to happen again,” she added. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Itanong Mo Kay Prof: Masbate Incident at CARHRIHL

Panayam kay Prof. Jose Maria Sison ng Kodao Productions, sa pamamagitan ni Prof. Sarah Raymundo, hinggil sa insidente sa Masbate at ang bisa ng CARHRIHL.

IMKP: MASBATE INCIDENT AT CARHRIHL
June 22, 2021

Sarah: Magandang araw sa lahat ng ating mga tagapakinig, nagbabalik ang Itanong Mo Kay Prof, kasama natin ang Chair Emeritus ng International League of Peoples’ Struggle at NDFP Chief Political Consultant na si Prop. Jose Maria Sison. Magandang araw, Prof Sison, at maraming salamat sa pagkakataong makapanayam kayong muli para sa isang napakahalagang usapin na may kinalaman sa kondukta ng pakikibakang armado ng rebolusyonaryong hukbo sa Pilipinas ang NPA, paritukular ang nangyari sa Masbate.

JMS: Maalab na makabayang pagbati sa iyo Prop. Raymundo, sa Kodao at sa lahat ng ating tagapakinig.

Sarah: Sa ngalan ng Itanong Mo Kay Prof, nagpapaabot po ako ng taos-pusong pakikiramay sa pamilya ng mga nasawi nating kababayan at nakikiisa po ang aming programa sa pakikidalamhati sa ating mga kababayan sa trahedyang ito.

Sa panayam na ito, sisikapin nating makuha ang suri at ilang resolusyon ng NDFP batay sa mga naaangkop na mga dokumentong may lokal at internasyonal na saklaw na nakatuon sa mga sirkumstansya ng gerang sibil są mga bansang tulad ng Pilipinas kung saan may pwersang nagsusulong ng rebolusyonaryong pakikibaka para sa pambansang paglaya.

Halina at alamin natin ang kahalagahan ng Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC), ang Comprehensive Agreement on Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CAHRIHL), ang The Hague Declaration, at ng Ottawa Treaty. At kung bakit Usaping Kapayapaan ang pinanawagan ng mga taong-simbahan at iba pang grupo na nagtatanggol sa karapatang pantao, matapos maisapubliko ng insidente na hindi naman itinanggi kundi agad namang inako ng CPP-NPA. Bilang founding Chair ng CPP, ano kaya ang pagtingin ni Prop. Sison sa isyung ito?


Mga Tanong:

1. Ano ang masasabi nyo Prof Sison sa nangyari sa Masbate na kung saan ay may dalawang sibilyan na namatay dahil sa land mines na ginawa ng mga NPA? Meron na po bang resulta ang imbistigasyon ng CPP/NPA/NDF hinggil dito?

JMS: Isang trahedya na mga sibilyang magpinsan ng pamilyang  Absalon ay nasawi at isa pa ay  nasugatan dahil sa pagkakamaling pinasabog sa kanila ang command-detonated land mines.

Anuman ang klase ng sandata ay maling gamitin laban sa mga sibilyan. Ito ay mahigpit ng patakaran ng CPP, NPA, NDFP at rebolusyonaryong gobyerno ng bayan.

Gumawa na ng kagyat na pagsisiyasat ang partikular na kommand ng NPA sa Masbate na may kinalaman sa partikular na yunit at ilang indibidwal na may pananagutan sa malungkot na pangyayari. Tinanggap ng naturang komand na may pagkakamali.

 Pero gusto pa rin ng pinakamataas na organo ng NDFP na may mas malalim pang imbestigasyon para magkaroon ng batayan para litisin ang mga akusado sa court martial ng NPA o sa hukumang bayan ng rebolusyonaryong gobyerno ng bayan.

2. Maaari nyo po bang maipaliwanag Prof Sison kung meron po bang nilabag ang mga NPA sa land mines na kanilang isinagawa sa Masbate? Ano po ba ang implikasyon nito sa International Humanitarian Law?

JMS: Walang nilabag ng kabuaan ng NPA. Ang lumabag ay partikular na yunit ng NPA o iilang indibidwal na nagpaputok ng land mines. Ang mismong command-detonated land mines ay hindi ipinagbabawal ng Ottawa Treaty. Pero krimen o kamalian ang paggamit ng anumang sandata laban sa mga inosenteng sibilyan.

Sabi ng binanggit kong Masbate command ng NPA na command-detonated na land mines ang ginamit. Sa tamang paggamit ng ganitong land mines sa armadong kaaway ng NPA, hindi ipinagbabawal ng Ottawa Treaty at ng International Humanitarian Law.

Ang maliwanag na ipinagbabawal ng Ottawa Treaty ay yong land mines na sumasabog dahil sa presensya, presyur o kontak ng biktima. Ipinagbabawal ito dahil sa indiscriminate ang nabibiktima.

Sang-ayon at sumusunod ang CPP, NPA, NDFP at rebolusyonayong gobyerno ng bayan sa Ottawa Treaty. Patakaran ng buong kilusang rebolusyonaryo na bawal ang land mines na hindi command-detonated.

3. Hinggil po sa land mines, Prof Sison, maaari nyo po bang maibahagi ano po bang klase ng land mines ang tinatanggap sa International Humanitarian Law (IHL) sa mga lugar na may gera. Pinahihintulutan po ba talaga sa IHL ang pagtatanim ng bomba?

JMS: Sa International Humanitarian Law, ang Ottawa Treaty ang pinaka- partikular na instrumentong legal na nagsasabi kung anong klaseng land mines ang ipinagbabawal.

Ipinagbabawal nang kategorikal at pauli-ulit sa tratadong ito na bawal ang land mines na puputok dahil lamang sa presenya, presyur o kontak ng kahit sinong tao, inosenteng sibilyan o armadong kaaway ng NPA sa kasalukuyang gera sibil sa Pilipinas. Hindi ipinagbabawal ang command-detonated land mines.

4. Ano po ang inyong masasabi sa kahilingan ng gubyerno sa pamamagitan ni DILG Sec Eduardo Año na isurender sa kanila ang mga NPA na nagkasala sa naganap na pagsabog sa Masbate?

JMS: Alinsunod sa International Humanitarian Law at Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law, ang NDFP ang may hurisdiksyon sa anumang paratang laban sa NPA at mga yunit nito at ang GRP naman ang may hurisdiksyon sa mga paratang laban sa AFP, PNP, paramilitar at mga yunit nito.

Ang NDFP at GRP ay mga co-belligerents sa isang gera sibil o armed conflict na saklaw ng Geneva Conventions. Hindi pwedeng utusan ng GRP ang NDFP na isurender sa GRP ang yunit ng NPA na gumawa ng pagkakamali sa Masbate.

Ang GRP ay hindi rin puedeng utusan ng NDFP na isurender sa kanya ang mga akusado sa higit ng 6000 paratang laban sa AFP at PNP na sometido sa Joint Monitoring Committee sa ilalim ng CARHRIHL.

Hindi ring pwedeng utusan ng NDFP ang GRP na isurender sa NDFP ang mga armadong tauhan ng GRP na pumaslang ng napakaraming NDFP peace consultant. Tinutukoy ang pagpaslang kina Randy Felix Malayao, Randall Echanis, Julius Giron, mag-asawang Cabanatan, mag-asawang Topacio, Reynaldo Bocala at iba pa.

May kanya-kanyang sistema ng gobyerno at batas ang GRP at NDFP. Sira-ulo ang mga opisyal at ahensya ng reaksyonaryong gobyerno na gustong magmando sa NDFP na isuko sa GRP ang mga akusado sa insidente ng command-detonated land mines sa Masbate.

5. Ang Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law o mas kilala sa tawag na CARHRIHL ay isang kasunduan na pinirmahan ng gubyerno ng Pilipinas at ng National Democratic Front of the Philippines noong 1998. Ayon sa AFP hindi na ito epektibo dahil wala ng negosasyon sa pagitan ng GRP at NDFP, at matagal na ring nilusaw ang Joint Monitoring Committee o JMC. Ano po amg inyong opinyon hinggil dito Prof Sison? May halaga pa po ba ang CARHRIHL sa panahon ngayon?

JMS: Umiiral pa ang CARHRIHIL dahil sa maraming probisyon nito ay hango sa international law sa human rights at humanitarian conduct at nasa balangkas ng international law na tinanggap ng GRP Constitution. Umiiral at bukas din ang opisina ng NDFP-nominated section ng JMC sa Cubao at kinikilala at sinusuportahan pa ng Royal Norwegian Government.

Totoo na ang GRP ay nagsara ng kanyang opisina sa JMC. Pero hindi ibig sabihin nito na malayang gumawa ng mga krimen ang GRP sa mga pwersa at tauhan ng NDFP. Hindi rin ibig sabihin na  nawalan na  ng hurisdiksyon ng NDFP sa mga pwersang nasa panig niya.

Subukan ng GRP na magpadala ng arresting yunit nila sa erya ng NPA sa Masbate at tingnan natin kung ano ang mangyayari. Kung gawin ng GRP ang panghihimasok, hwag magulat kung lalabanan sila ng NPA.

6. Sa panghuli, Prof Sison, ano po ang inyong panawagan sa ating mga kababayan?

JMS: Hanggang ngayon ipinagmamatigas at ipinagmamalaki ni Duterte na tinapos at pinatay na niya ang peace negotiations at gusto niya ang gera total at pakana niyang idahilan ang armadong rebolusyon para magpataw ng pasistang diktadura sa Pilipinas.

Napakalimitado na ang panahon na umasa ang sinuman na magbabago ang patakaran ni Duterte. Nasa huling taon na ang halimaw sa kanyang legal term of office.

Mas mabuting palakasin ang kilusan ng mga mamamayan para patalsikin sa poder ang traidor, berdugo, mandaranbong at maggagantsong rehimen ni Dutere at makipagsundo sa oposisyon na itaguyod ang patakaran na buksan muli ang peace negotiations ng GRP at NDFP para lutasin ang mga problema na ugat ng gera sibil.

Magkakaroon ang makatarungan at matibay na kapayapaan kung may peace negotiations muli at gumawa ng mga komprehensibong kasunduan tungkol sa mga batayang repormang sosyal, ekonomiko at pulitikal sa balangkas ng The Hague Joint Declaration ng GRP at NDFP.

JMS: Sa pagtatapos ng ating panayam, nagpapasalamat ako kay Prop. Raymundo, sa Kodao at sa lahat ng ating tagapakinig.

Sarah: Maraming-maraming salamat po Prof. Sison para sa isang malaman at ubod ng linaw na pagpapaliwanag. Ang mga nabanggit na mga ahensya at pinagkaisahang dokumento na tunog-teknikal sa una, ngayon ay may malinaw nang hugis kaugnay ng trahedya sa Masbate at gayon na rin sa kabuuang kondukta ng armadong tunggalian sa pagitan ng GRP at CPP-NPA.

Itanggi man ng gobyernong Duterte, maging ng mga anti-komunista at iba pang mga grupo na nananawagan ng maka-isang panig na resolusyon sa trahedyang ito, hindi na maikakaila ang bisa ng mga tratado o treaty at dokumentong sumasaklaw sa kondukta ng armadong tunggalian.

Walang silbing i-etsa pwera sa diskusyon ang dual state power sa bansa, o ang realidad na may dalawang gobyerno sa Pilipinas na sangkot sa isang armadong tunggalian. Hindi ito tungkol durugan o paggapi na solusyon ni Duterte. Walang kahihinatnan ang ganyang pusisyon dahil matagal nang nalikha ang mga opsiyal at lehitimong mekanismo para resolbahin ang mga usaping dulot ng tunggaliang ito. Ang mga mekanismong ito ay hindi pumapabor sa isang panig, kundi mga mekanismong nagbubukas upang talakayin, sawatahin, resolbahan ng dalawang panig ang mga umano’y abuso ng bawat panig, mga panukala ng bawat panig upang matugunan ang ugat ng armadong tunggalian. Sa puntong ito ng armadong tunggalian sa pagitan ng GRP at CPP-NPA walang ibang mekanismo ang maaaring makatugon dito kundi ang Usapang Pangkapayapaan o Peace Talks.

Hanggang sa muli, ito po si Sarah Raymundo, guro ng Unibersidad ng Pilipinas at aktibista ng Bagong Alyansang Makabayan. Ibayong pag-iingat at pakikibaka laban sa tiraniya.

-End-

Bicol NDF says Masbate ‘clash’ another police canard

The group said the three massacre victims were civilians and not communist guerrillas.

The National Democratic Front in the Bicol Region (NDF-Bikol) denied a clash happened between the New People’s Army (NPA) and government forces in Masbate last June 8 that the Philippine National Police (PNP) claimed resulted in the death of three communist guerrillas.

The three victims were civilians who were abducted and later killed by troops of the 2nd Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army (PA) and the provincial police, NDF-Bikol spokesperson Ma. Roja Banua said in statements.

In a June 9 statement, Banua said the government troops indiscriminately fired their guns from four to eight o’clock Tuesday morning and abducted farmers Ramon ‘Boy’ Valenzuela Brioso of Sitio Mabuaya, Matiporon, Milagros; Antonio ‘Tony’ Polegrantes of Barangay Hermosa, Cawayan; and Ailyn ‘Eket’ Bulalacao Gracio of Sitio Bantolinao, Barangay Amutag, Aroroy.

Brioso, 58 years old, was chief cowboy of 7R Ranch while Polegrantes was barangay Hermosa chief tanod, Banua said in another statement today.

PNP-Bicol claimed the three were NPA guerrillas who were part of the group behind the bomb blast that killed footballer Keith Absalon and his cousin Nolven on June 6 in Masbate City.

Bicol regional police spokesperson Maj. Maria Luisa Calubaquib claimed a firefight happened between 30 suspected NPA fighters and a PNP-PA composite team in Barangay Anas, Masbate City at 5:30 a.m. last Tuesday.

The government troopers were reportedly serving an arrest warrant to murder suspect Arnold Rosero the police said may be the leader of the group who detonated the bomb that killed the Absalons.

The police added that the bodies of three dead were found at the clash site after the 15-minute firefight.

The PA for its part claimed guns, ammunition and bomb parts were found near the clash site.

Philippine Army 9th Infantry Division public affairs chief Capt. John Paul Belleza claimed government soldiers found 14 M16 rifles, an M653 rifle, an M14 rifle, bullets, tents and bomb parts in a nipa hut at the boundary of barangays Anas and Bolo.

Banua however denied a clash happened between the NPA’s Jose Rapsing Command and the government troops last Tuesday.

“The police must be drunk from gunpowder-induced illusions when it claimed they confiscated 17 firearms, command-detonated explosives and other war materiel from a made-up clash,” Banua said.

The NDF spokesperson also revealed that the Masbate Provincial Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (PTF-ELCAC) had already repeatedly announced Rosero killed in various clashes in the past years.

The latest claim by the local police was issued to please newly-appointed PNP chief Guillermo Eleazar, Banua said.

“In their haste to take advantage of the NPA’s humble admission of its mistake (in the Absalons’ deaths), they are telling a multitude of lies that are easily disproven. They will also personally benefit from the reward monies they are sure to claim from the national TF-ELCAC,” Banua added.

NDF-Bikol challenged investigating groups to look into how the government’s anti-communist task force is taking advantage of the Absalon family’s grief as well as the death of the three “farmer-civilians.” # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Another Bloody Friday: Police kill NDFP consultant in Iloilo; gunmen murder former priest and NDFP negotiator in Cebu

Police killed a National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace consultant In Iloilo City while a retired NDFP leader and former priest was also gunned down in Camotes Island in Cebu province Friday evening.

Reynaldo Bocala, a known Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and new People’s Army (NPA) leader in Panay Island, was killed in a raid conducted by the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) last night at Providence Subdivision, Brgy. Balabag, Pavia, Iloilo.

Local alternative media outfit Panay Today reported that the PNP-CIDG conducted the raid to purportedly serve four warrants of arrests against Bocala.

Pavia, Iloilo City where Bocala was killed by the police.

Bocala was the husband of NDFP peace consultant Concha Araneta-Bocala.

Also killed in the operation was a certain Willy Arguelles who was with Bocala at the time of the incident.

Iloilo police initially announced the incident was an illegal drugs buy-bust operation, local radio reports said.

Panay Today said a Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) Document of Identification was found on Bocala by the members of the operating team.

A Kodao source confirmed Bocala was a JASIG Document of Identification holder.

A JASIG Document of Identification supposedly protects its bearer from surveillance, harassment, threat, arrest and killing as participants in the peace process between the NDFP and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP).

State agents however have killed and arrested several JASIG-protected peace process participants, especially after formal NDFP-GRP peace negotiations were cancelled by GRP President Rodrigo Duterte in 2017.

Killed in his sleep

In Cebu province, former Roman Catholic priest and NDFP consultant for Cebu Rustico Luna Tan was killed in Purok Caimito, Brgy. Upper Poblacion, Pilar, Camotes Island, Cebu.

Tan was asleep on his hammock when shot on his face and torso by unidentified assailants.

He was 80-years old.

Rustico Luna Tan as a political detainee. (Karapatan Central Visayas photo)

A former political detainee, Tan was abducted in 2017 by the PNP detained in Tagbilaran City, Bohol for alleged 14 counts of murder.

The charges were dismissed by the Tagbilaran Regional Trial Court in 2019.

The former priest was again slapped with murder charges in Bacolod City, Negros Occidental soon after but was freed in March 2020 by release on recognizance.

Tan had been active since in community organic farming initiatives in Camotes Island until his death yesterday.

Tan was also arrested with 14 others from the Visayas and detained at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City in 1989 on charges of illegal possession of firearms and rebellion. He was eventually cleared of the charges.

Tan first gained prominence as NDFP peace negotiator for Cebu Province between 1986 and 1987 in the first ever NDFP-GRP peace talks.

Ordained as a priest under the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart congregation, Tan served in various parishes in Surigao and Lapu-Lapu cities.

He later joined the NDFP-allied Christians for National Liberation.

Tan was among the many priests from all over the country who joined the CPP-led revolutionary movement during the Ferdinand Marcos dictatorship. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Peasant leader’s death sparks outrage, calls for justice

AlterMidya

Longtime peasant leader Joseph Canlas, who had been detained over trumped-up charges, has passed away today, May 11, after he was rushed to a hospital three days ago, according to peasant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas.

“We condemn in strongest terms the jail authorities’ neglect and the Duterte government’s unjust incarceration of Ka Joseph which led to his untimely death this morning,” Amihan National Federation of Peasant Women national chairperson Zenaida Soriano said. “We express our deepest condolences to his family.”

Canlas, chairperson of Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luzon, was arrested March 30 by the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) of the Philippine National Police in Mexico, Pampanga. He was charged with illegal possession of firearms and explosives — a criminal case that human rights groups called the “standard” charges fabricated against activists under the Duterte administration.

The peasant leader was rushed to an Angeles City hospital due to low oxygen level and possible stroke. The following morning, he was transferred to an intensive care unit due to acute respiratory failure and COVID-19.

On May 10, Canlas had lapsed into a coma despite being intubated and connected to a mechanical ventilator.

Human rights groups earlier decried “unjust treatment” of Canlas under custody of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology. They said the land reform advocate was subjected to severe conditions that made him vulnerable to ailments like COVID-19. Hospital records showed his cause of death as pneumonia.

Peasant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), where Canlas served as vice-chairperson, noted that he was in stable condition prior to detention. His health would soon deteriorate under jail custody as proven by his complaints of difficulty in breathing and stuttering speech.

“If jail authorities thoroughly checked Canlas’s health condition, they would have known that he has hypertension and diabetes which makes him more vulnerable to COVID infection,” KMP said.

“If he received proper medical attention while in detention, then the risks could have been lessened,” the group added.

A day after his arrest, Canlas was transferred and put under quarantine at the CIDG Region 3. He was not allowed to receive visitors, including family members and counsel.

According to KMP, Canlas was transferred after two weeks to the BJMP Detention Center in Angeles City after an X-ray examination. Since the BJMP’s facility was full, he was listed to be placed under quarantine.

The peasant advocate was put in BJMP’s quarantine facility along with 100 or more detainees as of April 22. He was transferred to a regular jail after two more weeks.

Who is Joseph Canlas?

Canlas was known in Central Luzon for his decades-long struggle against land grabbing and displacement of farmers in Hacienda Luisita, Hacienda Dolores, Pantabangan Dam, Fort Magsaysay Military Reservation in Nueva Ecija, Camp Gregg in Pangasinan, New Clark City, and expressways CLEX, TPLEX and SCTEX among others.

He finished BS Forestry at Pampanga Agricultural College and became an employee at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. He soon became exposed to corruption in the government agency, especially in the implementation of environmental projects.

Canlas eventually resigned from government work and formed the group Anak Gubat to continue his advocacy of protecting the environment. He became a member of the peasant group Aguman dareng Maglalautang Capampangan (AMC) in 1997. During this time, he was also elected as an officer of  Bagong Alyansang Makabayan in Pampanga.

In 2003, he became the chairperson of the AMGL and led a membership reaching up to 10,000 farmer-members. According to a Bayan-Gitnang Luson, Canlas led successful people’s campaigns in Central Luzon such as the agricultural workers’ strike in Hacienda Luisita, and against infrastructure projects like the New Clark City, Balog-Balog Dam, Aboitiz Geothermal Powerplant, massive land use conversion and the displacement of farmers and Aetas.

In the middle of the pandemic while he was being constantly red-tagged and harassed by state security forces, Canlas was still at the forefront of relief efforts and calls for sufficient health services and economic assistance to peasants and Aetas in Central Luzon.

His organizations KMP, AMGL, Bayan, as well as other progressive groups have denounced the injustice against the peasant leader. In a statement, the KMP said “we could only blame the Duterte administration for his untimely death. His unjust detention led to the swift deterioration of his health condition.”

“We point our fingers to the National Task Force to End the Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) that subjected Canlas to constant red-tagging, Angeles City RTC Executive Judge Ma. Angelica T. Paras-Quiambao who issued the search warrant against Canlas, the PNP-CIDG that executed the defective warrant and carried out the illegal arrest last March 30, and the BJMP for consciously neglecting Canlas’ health condition,” the peasant group said.

According to KMP, peasant organizations and land reform advocates will hold a series of protests, starting with an indignation rally at the Commission of Human Rights complex in Quezon City this afternoon, May 11.

With reports from Ratziel San Juan and Pokus Gitnang Luson 

Central Luzon’s most prominent political detainee fights for life in ICU

Detained peasant leader Joseph Canlas is in an intensive care unit (ICU) of a Pampanga hospital, suspected to have suffered a stroke and contracted the dreaded coronavirus disease in jail.

Canlas’ daughter Jenette announced his father was rushed to a hospital on Sunday morning after complaining of breathing difficulties as early as Saturday afternoon.

The elder Canlas experienced breathing difficulties and stuttering speech on Saturday afternoon and his family pleaded to jail authorities to bring him to a hospital.

He was eventually admitted to the hospital’s ICU while awaiting his Covid-19 test result.

Canlas was apprehended by the Central Luzon Criminal Investigation and Detection Group unit of the Philippine National Police (CIDG-PNP) last March 30 in what the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) said is a questionable arrest using a defective search warrant.

The police said guns and explosives were found at the Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luzon (AMGL) staff house where Canlas was staying.

Canlas, a prominent land reform activist and peasant leader, is AMGL chairperson and KMP vice chairperson.

“The extreme stress of his unjust detention and cramped jail conditions led to the deterioration of Canlas’ health. He has hypertension and diabetes, both comorbidities of COVID-19,” the KMP said in a statement.

KMP demanded Canlas’ immediate release on humanitarian grounds as well as full medical attention until his recovery.

“This is an urgent matter of life and death and justice. The congested jail conditions will only worsen Canlas’ health,” the KMP said Sunday.

The group said the CIDG-PNP and the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology JMP will be liable for any untoward incident that may befall Canlas under detention.

“Canlas does not even deserve a day in jail. The evidence and charges against him are all fabricated,” KMP said.

KMP said there are 3,500 reported Covid cases in BJMP facilities nationwide as of March 22.

Kapatid, the support group for families and friends of political prisoners, also called on the government and the trial court in charge of Canlas’ case to release the detainee, saying that he deserves to be proper taken care of by his family and be given full medical attention.

“Let him fight for his life without the burdens brought by his continued unjust imprisonment for planted firearms,” the group’s spokesperson Fidel Lim said.

“We renew our call to the Supreme Court to fast-track the release of sick and elderly prisoners like Canlas as they are at great risk from the upsurge of the deadly COVID-19,” Lim added. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

‘TANIM PILA’: Memo instructs police to use ‘planted’ beneficiaries at community pantries

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A memorandum and attached project brief from Philippine National Police (PNP) Cagayan de Oro are instructing cops to employ pre-designated beneficiaries in the rollout of their Barangayanihan initiative, which is inspired by the Maginhawa Community Pantry.

Under the said project, police precincts will serve ‘breakfast lugaw’ to select constituents in respective barangays. They are required to cite the Maginhawa Community Pantry as inspiration and make it clear that the effort is a partnership between the precinct and barangay donors and stakeholders.

“Respective beneficiaries will take pictures of the activity and post in their respective FB accounts. These netizens can be planted beneficiary civilians so as to manifest community’s appreciation,” read the project brief.

Although the project brief is attached to the said PNP Regional Office 10 memo, it mentions implementation by almost all precincts in Manila Police District and “possibly the whole NCR and other regions” in the rollout phase from April 21 to 25. Moreover, the next phase from April 26 to May 2 instructs nationwide Barangayanihan.

During this phase, the police are likewise instructed to “ask or plant civilian beneficiaries to take pics/selfies and posting in respective [Facebooks] with appreciation captions and standard MANDATORY hashtags.”

The objectives of Barangayanihan, according to its project brief, include forging stronger ties with the grassroots through the “basic unit of society”, the barangay.

The police directive also explicitly states that “The more we manifest collaborations with the barangay citizenry, the more we gain grounds in the fight against insurgency”, confirming the suspicion of several critics that state forces are planning to use the community pantry against the progressive movement.

Hijacking community pantries?

A portion of the project brief reads “Respective beneficiaries will take pictures and post in their respective FB..”

The said memorandum listed among its references the PNP’s guidance and compliance under Executive Order 70, which institutionalized the whole-of-nation approach against insurgency and established the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).

Just last week, NTF-ELCAC executive director Allen Capuyan in a leaked Viber message encouraged the task force’s different clusters to partner with the public and private sectors to initiate community pantry-related activities.

Capuyan’s message read that the task force is encouraging its clusters, including the Peace, Law Enforcement and Development Support (PLEDS), the Poverty Reduction Livelihood and Empowerment Cluster (PRLEC), etc. to start their own community pantry activities.

The PNP memo to organize precinct-run community pantries seems to come from this directive from NTF-ELCAC. Former Bayan Muna party-list representative Teddy Casiño said that the task force’s latest approach follows the controversial red-tagging of community pantries by NTF-ELCAC officials Communications Undersecretary Lorraine Badoy and Lieutenant General Antonio Parlade Jr., which drew huge flak from the public.

“Ok sana kung gustong magtayo ng community pantry ng mga pulis. Pero naman, pati ba ito tataniman nila?” Casiño tweeted.

“Clearly, after failing to discredit and intimidate the community pantry movement, the NTF-ELCAC, police and military establishment are poised to hijack it due to their paranoia that it’s all a communist plot,” he said. “They simply can’t leave a good thing alone.”

In a statement, labor group Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) said that the huge budget of the PNP should instead be rechannelled to cash aid for the poor. The Barangayanihan, it said, is a “publicity stunt” that hijacks pantries and attempts to conceal the government’s failure in addressing the pandemic.

“Desperadong hakbang ito gamit ang buwis ng mamamayan,” KMU leader Jerome Adonis said.”Ideretso nyo na ang pera sa mamamayan sa pamamagitan ng P100 daily wage subsidy at P10k ayuda.”

With reports from Ratziel San Juan

Restless night for rights defenders, activists

It had been a restless night for human rights defenders and activists who had been on alert against more police raids after the arrests of activists on Holy Tuesday, March 30.

“We are on alert tonight and expecting more raids in the offices of OLALIA-Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU), Bagong Alyansang Makabayan(Bayan)-Timog Katagaluganand Gabriela Southern Tagalog, all in Cabuyao, Laguna,” KMU’s regional chapter Pagkakaisa ng Manggagawa sa Timog Katagalugan (Pamantik) yesterday said.

 “Residents near the offices have seen police elements in full battle gear roving the areas near the offices,” the group added.

Pamantik’s alert status was announced after operatives of the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group raided the abandoned office of its affiliate, the Alyansa ng mga Manggagawa sa Engklabo (AMEN) in Sta. Rosa City, Laguna also on Tuesday.

As in almost all raids against activists throughout the country, the police alleged it found firearms and explosives in the property.

“Nagtanim ang mga ito (PNP-CIDG) ng tila isang ‘armory’ ng mga baril, granada, bala at bomba,” KMU said after the Laguna raid. (The police again planted a seeming armory of guns, grenades, ammunitions and bombs.)

The raid came after the Bloody Sunday killings in four Southern Tagalog provinces last March 6, and just two days after the death of Dandy Miguel, Pamantik vice-chairperson.

It also followed the raid and arrests of Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luzon chairperson and concurrent Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas vice chairperson Jose Canlas in Pampanga and Bayan-Gitnang Luzon chairperson and KMU vice chairperson for Central Luzon Florentino “Pol” Viuya in Tarlac on Tuesday.

Karapatan paralegal May Arcilla was arrested along with Viuya after vigorously protesting so-called irregularities in the operation.

As in the Sta. Rosa raid, the police alleged it found guns and explosives in the houses it raided in Central Luzon.

The “huli” (arrest, capture) week actually started in Bulacan province last Friday with the arrest of Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap-Pandi chapter chairperson Connie Opalla by the police.

The police have yet to announce Opalla’s whereabouts despite announcing her arrest on its Facebook page.

“Huli Week” had been a moniker invented by Karapatan human rights workers since the time of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to describe the spike in the number of arrests of activists during Holy Week.

The PNP is known to favor the filing of so-called trumped up charges such as illegal possession of firearms and explosives, an unbailable criminal offense, to frustrate human rights lawyers from securing the victims’ early release. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

‘Huli week’ in full swing in Central Luzon; 3 arrested on Holy Tuesday

[UPDATED, 2:47 PM] “Huli” (arrest, capture) Week is in full swing in Central Luzon in the middle of Holy Week as at least three human rights defenders have been arrested and activists’ offices and houses were raided this morning, Holy Tuesday.

Alerts by various organizations said Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-Gitnang Luzon chairperson Pol Viuya was arrested by the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group of the Philippine National Police (PNP) in his residence in Barangay Anupul, Bamban, Tarlac.

The alerts said Viuya was presented with a warrant of arrest but no details of his alleged offense had been provided.

Viuya is also Kilusang Mayo Uno vice chairperson for Central Luzon and member of its National Council.

Bagong alyansang Makabayan-Gitnang Luzon chairperson Pol Viuya. (Bayan image)

Reportedly arrested with Viuya was Karapatan-Central Luzon paralegal May Arcilla.

“As Karapatan paralegal, she fearlessly questioned the validity of the search warrant served and was arrested for speaking her mind. She is currently detained at Camp Macabulos, Tarlac City,” Karapatan said.

In Sapang Maisac, Mexico, Pampanga, the police arrested Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luzon (AMGL) chairperson Jose Canlas.

In a CLTV 36 interview, AMGL staffer Joyce said the police ordered them to get out of their hut, entered and later claimed to have found a .45 handgun inside.

Joyce said Canlas, concurrent Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas national vice chairperson, was never known to have owned a gun.

She added that Canlas protested his arrest as the search warrant belatedly presented by the police bore the name of Joseph Canlas, instead of his real name Jose.

The police responded by forcibly taking Canlas down to the ground that alarmed even children of the five-house compound, Joyce revealed.

Joyce added that monies amounting to at least P20,000 and other items have gone missing after the police operation.

Canlas had been taken to Camp Olivas in San Fernando City, PNP-Region 3 headquarters.

A source said activists in other provinces are also being arrested this morning, declining to name the other police targets pending verified reports from human rights organizations in the region.

The police had been known to conduct arrests of activists during Holy Week, taking advantage of lulls in activities of progressive organizations.  

Karapatan Central Luzon paralegal May Arcilla (Karapatan image)

‘Surface Opalla’

Meanwhile, urban poor group Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay) demanded that the police surface its Pandi chapter leader Connie Opalla who was arrested last Friday in the Central Luzon province of Bulacan.

Opalla, Kadamay said, was able to inform her colleagues after her arrest she would be held at the San Rafael police station in Bulacan.

The PNP however has subsequently denied being in custody of Opalla despite already announcing her arrest on its Central Luzon Regional Command Facebook page.

The police said Opalla’s lawyers and family are being given the run-around by the police as her whereabouts is being withheld, along with other documents needed to secure her bail.

“They are hiding her from us, her family and lawyers. After two days of being incommunicado, she should be categorized as a missing person already,” Kadamay secretary general Mimi Doingo said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

(This is a developing story. Click for updates.)