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LGU, police deny AFP report; Reds slam ‘despicable lie’

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) slammed the military for “spreading false information,” saying the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the state media are “irresponsible” in distributing lies amid the nationwide battle against the corona virus disease (Covid-19).

Denying that the New People’s Army (NPA) took away distributed relief goods in Sitio Bangon, Barangay Guinmayohan, Balangiga, Eastern Samar around 9:00 AM of April 7, the CPP said there is “absolutely no truth to the false information irresponsibly being circulated by the AFP.”

“It is despicable and condemnable how the AFP has resorted to outright lies and perverse propaganda at a time that the Filipino people are confronted by the Covid-19 pandemic,” CPP information officer Marco Valbuena said.

Screenshot of Balangiga DRRM officer’s Facebook post.

The CPP denial came after ESTE News and PressOne.Ph published news reports Saturday, April 11, quoting the Balangiga mayor, municipal disaster relief and rehabilitation officer, and the chief of police denying such an incident happened.

Government television network PTV carried the news last Friday, April 10.

Screenshot of the PTV report.

Valbuena said the AFP’s lie desperately wants to discredit the NPA’s public health campaign to raise people’s awareness and enable them to adapt the necessary measures to prevent the spread of the Covid-19.

“The NPA’s information drive, mass clinics, and other activities are well received by the masses, especially in the rural areas. There are also efforts to raise food production to prepare for an imminent shortage. We anticipate the AFP to come up with more lies against the NPA in the days to come,” Valbuena said.

He added that the AFP’s objective is to justify its counterinsurgency drive it relentlessly carries out despite their commander in chief President Rodrigo Duterte’s ceasefire order effective March 19 to April 15.

The CPP said in a post in its website that the AFP’s counterinsurgency drives despite the government’s ceasefire declaration has been launched in 24 provinces, 81 municipalities and cities, and 146 barangays nationwide.

CPP image.

Based on its official newsletter Ang Bayan’s initial tally, there had been AFP counter-insurgency campaigns in Rizal (1), Quezon (10), Oriental Mindoro (4), Occidental Mindoro (2), Palawan (2), Capiz (1); Negros Occidental (9), Negros Oriental (1), Zamboanga del Norte (2), Zamboanga del Sur (4), Zamboanga Sibugay (3), Sultan Kudarat (1), Sarangani (1),

Sorsogon (5), Northern Samar (5), Eastern Samar (5), Western Samar (5), Agusan del Sur (1), Surigao del Sur (1), Bukidnon (6), Misamis Occidental (5), Davao del Norte (2), Davao de Oro (3), and Davao City (1).

The incidents range from attacks on NPA emcampments, aerial bombings, shelling, and militarization of civilian communities, the CPP said.

Fire fights in Rizal, Quezon and Zamboanga Sibugay provinces has so far resulted in the deaths of two NPA fighters and two Philippine Army troopers.

Two more government soldiers were also wounded in action. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Amid Taal disaster, ‘Duterte Legacy’ disinformation campaign launched

by IBON Media

Research group IBON hit Malacañang’s launching of the ‘Duterte Legacy’ campaign while relief operations are still ongoing for tens of thousands of families displaced by the present eruption of Taal volcano. The campaign is not just rife with disinformation, said the group, but also insensitive politicking for the still distant 2022 elections.

Organized by the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO), the Duterte Legacy Campaign was launched by Malacañang at the Philippine International Convention Center barely a week after Taal volcano erupted. Cabinet officials showcased the Duterte administration’s accomplishments in three “key pillars”: peace and order, infrastructure development, and poverty alleviation.

IBON executive director Sonny Africa criticized the launch for its insensitivity. “The government pleaded lack of relief funds and asked the public for support,” Africa said, “but here comes the PCOO using its bloated propaganda budget for presidential self-promotion conspicuously in anticipation of the 2022 elections.” The PCOO budget which averaged Php1.1 billion a year in 2011-2016 has greatly increased under the Duterte administration to Php1.7 billion for 2020.

Africa said that the PCOO campaign is only the latest disinformation effort of the administration. “The Duterte Legacy Campaign is deceiving the public about the real state of the economy with its selective and misleading presentation of figures.”

The PCOO claims 4.2 million jobs generated through ‘Build, Build, Build’ to hype its impact. Africa said this is an exaggeration though and points out, for instance, that this is even more than the 4.15 million total employed in the construction sector in 2019 reported by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA). There is so much double-counting that the number is virtually made up, he stressed.

The 4.5% unemployment rate is meanwhile disingenuous because the figure is only for the October 2019 labor force survey round. The PCOO would be more honest, he said, if they cited the higher 5.1% unemployment rate for the whole year which is already available from the PSA. Africa also said that the supposed 5.9 million Filipinos being lifted from poverty is only because a very low and unrealistic poverty line of Php71 was used to compute this.

IBON pointed out that the Philippine economy is in worse shape because of the unreformed neoliberal policies of the Duterte administration. The group noted that: growth has been slowing since the start of the administration to just 5.8% in the first three quarters of 2019; agriculture grew weakly at just 1.5% and manufacturing slowed to 3.7%. The group also cited government debt bloating to Php7.9 trillion; regressive tax reforms eating away at the incomes of the poorest 60% of the population; high real unemployment at 4.7 million; and more than 12 million families trying to survive on Php132 or less per person per day. #

(This article is being reprinted by Kodao as part of a content-sharing agreement with IBON.)