Ni Benito Tiamzon

Ang linyang nagbubukod ay siya ring nagdudugtong.

Ang nakatuturol na guhit na nagbibigay hanggan

at hugis sa lahat ang umpisa at dulo

ng inaalam na kahulugan.

Ngunit ang linyang nakapangyayari ay usbong,

Tanda din lamang ng mga bagay, ugnayan at proseso.

Ito ay umpisang iniresulta at gaya ng lahat

may sarili niyang oras.

Hangal ang sumasamba sa tatag ng namamayani

Sa walang-hanggang pagkakahati ng banal at sala

sa taas ng pader na naghihiwalay

sa tinatanggap at itinataboy.

Ang nagnanaknak na hapdi ng mga tinatapakan

ay asidong uuksa sa pinakamatibas na moog.

Lalamunin ng apoy sa parang ang lahat ng sagwil

at bibigyang-daan ang bagong simula.

Walang tigil, kumukulo ang kaibuturan ng mundo.

–26 Mayo 2014

Lawyers condemn brutal deaths of Tiamzons; fraternity condoles with family

Human rights lawyers condemned the brutal deaths of their clients Benito and Wilma Tiamzon, calling it a “grave breach of international humanitarian law (IHL).”

In separate statements, the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) and the Public Interest Law Center (PILC) called for accountability for the deaths of Benito, Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) executive committee chairperson, and his wife Wilma, CPP central committee secretary general between August 21 and 22, 2023.

“The reported manner of killings, signs of torture on the unarmed victims’ bodies and the insidious cover-up involving the explosion and sinking of a ‘hostile boat’ in the waters of Catbalogan City…all point to the commission of war crimes by the military,” the NUPL said.

“These grave breaches of (IHL) expose the injustice of the current counterterrorism framework, which blurs the distinction between armed conflict and terrorism, enables the arbitrary terrorist designation of parties to the protracted armed struggle, and enfeebles the application of protective legal norms to hors de combat, prisoners of war, and protected persons,” the group said.

The PILC for its part said the loss of a client in a savage extrajudicial killing in the midst of unresolved injustices is far worse painful than the loss of a case in court.

“The news about the brutal killing of our clients Benito and Wilma Tiamzon, with eight companions, shows how the system has failed again,” the PILC said.

The law firm said the Tiamzons first became their clients upon their arrest in Cebu in March 2014, a difficult task since they were branded as “enemies the state” given their extensive knowledge of the nature and problems of Philippine society and deep involvement in the armed struggle to bring about structural change.

“Contrary to the vilification, they were both level-headed, patient, and soft spoken. They would often give us insightful analysis of the case. Our conversations with them as our clients taught us to be more meticulous and analytical in our work,” they said.

Peace warriors

The Tiamzons were released from jail by the previous Rodrigo Duterte administration to participate in formal peace negotiations in Europe between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).

Formal talks lasted less than a year, between 2016 and 2017, but was enough for the Tiamzons to make their mark in the process, PILC said.

“[I]n the peace negotiations with the Philippine government, they provided significant contributions with the sincere aim of reflecting in the agreement the aspirations of the oppressed Filipino masses,” the law firm said.

The Tiamzons actively participated during the discussions on specific provisions of the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER), the most substantive of the four peace talks agenda that includes respect for human rights and international humanitarian law, political and constitutional reforms (PCR), and cessation of hostilities and disposition of forces (CHDP) as laid down by the parties in their Joint Hague Declaration signed in September 1992.

Even while the drafting of a common draft of the CASER was still being finalized, Benito and Wilma had already started work on the next agenda of the peace negotiations, their lawyers said.

Benito, aside from being a member of the NDFP negotiating panel, was also the head of the reciprocal working group tasked to study the agenda on the PCR, while Wilma was the head of the reciprocal working group assigned to research and draft proposed provisions on the agenda of CHDP.

The peace negotiations could have been an opportunity for the Philippine government to end the armed conflict and achieve a just and lasting peace, PILC narrated.

Where are government’s obligations?

In an announcement Monday, the CPP reported the Tiamzons and eight others were caught in a military dragnet near Catbalogan on August 21 last year.

The revolutionary group added the Tiamzons were severely beaten and their bodies subsequently blown up off the coast of Samar province in what the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) described was a running firefight.

Former AFP officials involved in the said incident denied CPP’s allegations, pointing out that DNA tests being conucted abroad have yet to confirm if body parts recovered from the scene belonged to the Tiamzons.

The NUPL however still called on the Manila government to fulfill its obligation to respect and ensure respect for international humanitarian law in all circumstances as stated in the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and their Protocols, the domestic Philippine Act on Crimes Against International Humanitarian Law, Genocide and Other Crimes Against Humanity, and even the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) signed by both the GRP and the NDFP as a mutual agreement connected with the peace process between the parties.

“This non-derogable obligation includes the duty to recognize the equal applicability of international humanitarian law to both parties of an armed conflict and to hold the military to account for the inhumane treatment and deaths not only of the Tiamzon spouses but of many other casualties of its war crimes,” they said

Fraternity condoles

Meanwhile, Benito’s University of the Philippines (UP) Alpha Sigma Fraternity brothers expressed condolences for the death of their member they described as having lived their brotherhood’s principles.

Benito was a member of the fraternity’s 1969-D batch, indicating the year of his entry into the group.

Bilang isang miyembro ng aming kapatiran, naging malaki ang naging kontribusyon ni Brod Benito, at ang kanyang bunga ay naramdaman din sa labas ng aming organisasyon. Ang kanyang liderato at aktibismo, sa loob at labas ng Unibersidad ng Pilipinas, ay nag-iwan ng hindi malilimutang marka sa aming kapatiran at sa lipunan na pinagsisilbihan namin. Ang kanyang dedikasyon at matatag na paninindigan para sa mga tao ay nagbigay inspirasyon sa aming lahat,” the group in its message said.

(As a member of our brotherhood, Benito’s contributions had been immense that we feel even outside of the organization. His leadership and activist, within and outside UP, leave an unforgettable mark on our fraternity and the society we serve. His dedication and unflinching principles inspire us all.)

“Bilang isang kapatiran, nangangako kami na patuloy na itataguyod ang aming pinakamataas na layunin na Alay sa Sambayanan na isinabuhay ni Brod Benito at Wilma Austria at patuloy na maglilingkod sa mga tao upang makagawa ng positibong pagbabago sa ating lipunan. Taos-puso naming ipinagmamalaki si Brod Benito bilang isang tunay na myembro ng UP Alpha Sigma Fraternity na hanggang sa dulo ng kanyang buhay ay ubos lakas na pinaglilingkuran ang sambayanan,” it added.

(As a brotherhood, we vow to pursue our loftiest ideal of serving the people that our brother Benito and Wilma lived by to bring about positive changes in society. We are wholeheartedly proud of Brother Benito as a genuine member of the UP Alpha sigma Fraternity who until the end of his life gave his all for the people.) # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

‘Happiness is in the revolution’

Reportedly captured, tortured and killed on August 21, 2022 with wife Wilma Austria and eight others:

“Happiness is in the revolution. I could not think of any other life. There is no other way. The revolution is not a burden, an obligation I perform with a heavy heart. It comes out naturally.”—BENITO TIAMZON, Communist Party of the Philippines Executive Committee Chairperson

NDFP Peace Panel ‘immensely outraged’ at Tiamzons’ brutal deaths

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) Negotiating Panel said it is “immensely outraged” at the killing of its member Benito Tiamzon and peace consultant Wilma Austria Tiamzon it blames on the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

Following the announcement Thursday by the Communist Party of the Philippines that the Tiamzons were arrested, tortured and killed in Catbalogan, Samar last August 21, NDFP Negotiating Panel interim chairperson Julieta de Lima said they are also in deep mourning for the Tiamzons and their eight companions.

“The reported manner of their questionable capture, inhuman treatment and barbaric torture, and the deceptive scheme to dispose of their and eight of their comrades’ mutilated bodies are despicable acts of evil persons from the GRP State’s terror machinery,” de Lima said.

According to the CPP, the Tiamzons and their companions were captured at a military checkpoint near Catbalogan and and suffered severe beating in the hands of their captors, citing witnesses who saw how the faces and bodies of the victims were smashed with hard objects.

Their dead bodies were then taken to a boat that was blown up off the coast of Samar province to make it appear that they were killed in a firefight with the military’s Joint Task Force Storm, the 8th Infantry Division and the Joint Special Operations Task Force-Trident in the early morning hours of August 22, 2022 off the coast of Catbalogan.

The CPP added that the “Catbalogan 10” suffered the same fate as other CPP and New People’s Army (NPA) leaders who were brutally killed after capture, such as in the case of NPA spokesperson Jorge Madlos (Ka Oris) in October 2021, NPA national commander Menandro Villanueva (Ka Bok) in January 2022, revolutionary leader Antonio Cabantan (Ka Manlimbasog) in December 2020, CPP Central Committee leader Julius Giron (Ka Nars) in March 2020 and a number of others.

“This deliberate pattern of either arbitrarily arresting or outrightly murdering activists and revolutionaries must immediately stop,” de Lima said.

Instead of meaningful resolution of the armed conflict, the killings and other damaging acts and statements by the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) make it more difficult to address the root causes of the armed conflict, she added.

AFP denies CPP report

In media interviews Thursday, retired 8th Infantry Division-Philippine Army commander Edgardo de Leon denied the CPP report that the Tiamzons were captured in a military checkpoint and were subsequently killed.

De Leon confirmed however that they implemented a dragnet in the area and purposefully engaged a number of alleged NPA fighters off the coast of Catbalogan where there is little chance of civilians being caught in the crossfire.

He also denied that their Joint Special Operations Task Force-Trident directly involved American troops.

 Meanwhile, the Philippine National Police said the results of Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) results from abroad to establish if body parts retrieved on the coast of Catbalogan were indeed those of the Tiamzons.

The CPP however said that the supposed offshore firefight was an elaborate way to hide the torture the Tiamzons suffered in the hands of the military.

“The claimed mid-sea firefight and explosion were all a drama hatched by the AFP and its US military advisers, to hide all evidence of the ignominy of their fascist crime. In truth, the already lifeless bodies of the Tiamzons and their group were dumped on a motorboat filled with explosives, and tugged from Catbalogan midway towards Taranganan island before it was detonated. Only eight bodies were subsequently retrieved by the military,” CPP chief information officer Marco Valbuena said.  

The NDFP Negotiating Panel said the Tiamzons should not have suffered arrest, torture and murder as they were protected by several signed agreements and protocols.

“Being protected persons under the GRP-NDFP Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) as well as the GRP-NDFP Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL), in particular, and of international human rights law and international humanitarian law, in general, they should have been accorded all their rights and not murdered in cold blood by remorse-deficit GRP State terrorists,” de Lima said.

Arrested for the second time in southern Cebu in 2014, the Tiamzons were released from jail in 2016 to enable their participation in formal peace negotiations between the GRP and the NDFP in Europe.

Benito was a member of the NDFP Peace Panel and a key political consultant of the NDFP Reciprocal Working Group (RWG) on Political and Constitutional Reforms (PCR). He was 71 years old.

Wilma a political consultant of the NDFP RWG on End of Hostilities and Disposition of Forces (EHDF). She was 70 years old.

Childhood sweethearts, the two were classmates at Rizal High School in Pasig where they graduated at the top of their class.

They both studied at the University of the Philippines where they separately joined the Samahan ng Demokratikong Kabataan but jointly went underground when the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr. Imposed martial law in 1972.

They rose to become two of the CPP’s top leaders and was credited for leading the party in its Second Great Rectification Movement in the 1990s.

The CPP said Benito was chairperson of its executive committee while Wilma was secretary general of its central committee at the time of their deaths.

“Ka Benny and Ka Wilma are incontestably two of the most beloved, selfless and brightest leaders of the struggle. They, like Joma (Sison), Fidel (Agcaoili), Randall Echanis, Randy Malayao, Pedro Codaste and countless others, have steadfastly dedicated their whole lives, energies, wisdom and talent to achieve a truly  just and lasting peace for the people,” de Lima said.

“We honor their legacy by carrying on what they have passed on with even more vigor and resolve.  There is no other option,” de Lima added.

Meanwhile, the CPP’s Central Committee urged all NPA units nationwide to perform 21 gun salutes for the Tiamzons on April 24, the 50th founding anniversary of the NDFP. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘Heavier tasks’

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘It lasts because it is loved’

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

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

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

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

‘Lofty ideals’

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

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

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

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

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

Sison, PH’s most influential political figure, cremated in Utrecht

Diplomats, comrades, friends and family pay tribute

Communist Party of the Philippines founding chairman and National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison was laid to rest in Utrecht, The Netherlands on Tuesday, December 27.

A two-hour farewell ceremony was held prior to Sison’s cremation the NDFP said was attended by family, comrades, representatives of political parties and groups, progressive allies, former staff members, friends and admirers.

“They came from the US, Canada, Belgium, Germany, The Netherlands, Philippines, Turkey, Iceland, the UK, Spain, France, Switzerland and Norway. Representatives of NDFP revolutionary mass organizations in Europe were also present, among them the CPP, Kabataang Makabayan, Makibaka, and Christians for National Liberation,” the NDFP information office said in a statement.

Representatives of the Royal Norwegian Government (RNG) were also present, led by Special Envoy Kristina Lie Revheim, Third Party Facilitator to the peace process between the NDFP and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines.

The NDFP said the farewell ceremony was filled with poetry and songs, the fallen leader being well-known for his award-winning poetry and passion for singing.

NDFP National Council Member and NDFP Chief International Representative Luis Jalandoni led in the tributes to Sison, describing his comrade as “an imperishable leader” who was loved by the masses in the guerilla zones he had visited.

Jalandoni said that Sison declared in his last message to the Filipino before he died that “the Filipino people’s democratic revolution is invincible.”

In her tribute, NDFP Peace Panel member and underground women’s liberation group MAKIBAKA international representative Coni Ledesma said Sison was “a friend, a teacher, a leader.”

“I and so many others will be guided by his wisdom, thoughts and vision…..we will go on with the struggle knowing he will still be there leading us. Joma (Sison’s moniker), we will continue bearing the torch and fight on until victory. Thank you, Joma, for the gift of you,” Ledesma said.

The international tribute for Communist Party of the Philippines founding chairman Jose Maria Sison in Utrecht, The Netherlands on December 27. (NDFP photo)

International tribute

In her tribute, Revheim said that on behalf of Norwegian diplomats, it was a privilege to have worked with Sison on the peace process through the years.

The Special Envoy described Sison as having a “rich personality and having a great impact on Philippine politics, history and society, where navigating controversies is part of the political landscape”.

She said Ka Joma was respectful and kind who patiently explained the intricacies of Philippine politics to the various Norwegian diplomats involved in the peace process.

Revheim said one can have an open and honest discussion with Sison, disagreeing on some issues but always with mutual respect. She added that aside from Sison’s intellectual capacity, he had a pragmatic side to always find new possibilities to break the impasse in the negotiations.

The RNG representative revealed that five days before he died, Sison messaged her, saying, “Please tell Kristina we are always open to peace negotiations.”

Representative of political parties and progressive groups from Belgium, Germany and Norway also paid tribute to Sison at the ceremony, saying Sison has been an inspiration to European progressives and activists.

“For Joma, it wasn’t only about theory and practice but also attitude and camaraderie. His revolutionary optimism and perseverance will echo for a long time not only in the Philippines but also in Europe,” a speaker from Belgium said.

Filipino underground revolutionary groups and friends of Sison also spoke, including a former Utrecht neighbor who described him as a kind, amiable, friendly and jolly person. The neighbor said he was her inspiration for studying law.

Joma’s work to continue

Sison’s daughter Joy, responding to the tributes in behalf of the family, said her father’s greatest gifts to her were teaching her the ability to empathize with the plight others and being introduced to his comrades who selflessly serve the people.

Julie de Lima, NDFP Peace Panel chairperson and Sison’s wife and comrade-in-arms narrated the pain she suffers in her husband’s passing.

“[Y]ou took your last breathe and now you are relieved of pain. The pain is with me now and forever will be. It squeezes my heart every time I breathe, and I will always, until I join you,” de Lima said in an emotional farewell.

“It is love that binds us and us to our four children and grandchildren, to our comrades and friends, and the people whom we have served all our lives. I shall always love you. I shall always feel your presence with every air that I breathe, in the sunlight that sheds on me, in the water that I drink on the ground which I tread, and in all the things that I do,” she added.

De Lima, Sison’s editor in many of his books, said their unfinished projects keep her going.

She revealed that Sison left her many notes that she may be finish as additional books to her husband’s nearly 30 volumes of collected writings so far.

In an earlier tribute, de Lima said that there are unfinished articles however that only Sison could have completed. She expressed hope that someone may be able to take them up and finish them in the future.

De Lima then read Sison’s last scribble in his note pad: “It is unfair that an entire society is called capitalist, and yet so few can call themselves capitalist and look down on the rest of the people. It is outrageous that the capitalists boast of being the creators of the wealth created by labor. It is simply unjust and revolting that the capitalists dominate the exploited and exploit living labor. It is best to fight for a society where everyone can call oneself like others a socialist, and live with honor and equality.”

The NDFP said Sison’s ashes will remain in the crematorium for one month, in keeping with Dutch legal laws. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

NPA reports recent victories in Albay; AFP counters with rebel surrender claims

The New People’s Army (NPA) in Bicol reports successful ambuscades in Albay province this month, countering Philippine Army claims of demoralization in the ranks of communist guerrillas in the region.

The NPA said its Santos Binamera Command in Albay killed seven soldiers of the Philippine Army’s (PA) 49th Infantry Battalion in a clash in the town of Jovellar last October 3 while suffering no casualty of their own.

This followed a series of offensive military operations in the province that resulted in the death of nine more government troopers since September, the NPA claimed.

Raymundo Buenfuerza, NPA Bicol spokesperson, said their recent successes in Albay is a slap on both the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) that claim counter-insurgency programs have weakened the rebel army in the region.

“[The] Red army still is, and will remain, unfaltering,” Buenfuerza said in a statement.

The rebel spokesperson said their recent victories continue to defeat “massive and intensive” government military operations in Albay.

“Not less than 11 combat companies of AFP-PNP are deployed while 20 CAFGU detachments are in the area. The Philippine Air Force’s Tactical Operations Group 5, Philippine Navy’s 4th Naval Station and Naval Task Force 41 – NAVFORSOL as well as PNP Region V’s central commands also have their bases in Albay,” the NPA-Romulo Jallores Command spokesperson said.

“Despite this, the Red army is exemplary in continuously reaping victories in the field,” Buenfuerza said.

The PA has not made statements on the latest NPA claims of recent successful ambuscades.

Instead, the PA’s 9th Infantry Division announced that seven NPA members surrendered in Masbate province last October 16 while one of its units have killed a rebel fighter in a clash in Barangay Liong, Cataingan town last October 8.

Second Infantry Battalion commander Lt. Col. Orlando Ramos Jr. identified the slain alleged NPA fighter as Lito Villaces Ajena, alias Cesar.

Buenfuerza said the NPA in Bicol are set to launch more and bigger military offensives in the region in the future.

“The NPA cannot be stopped and will never be defeated. It will continue to advance until the people’s democratic revolution’s complete victory,” Buenfuerza said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Former GMA reporter among 4 NPA dead in Negros

Spate of clashes reveal NPA remains strong

(UPDATED) A former radio reporter was among the four guerilla fighters killed in Binalbagan, Negros Occidental last July 6 in what the New People’s Army (NPA) said was a massacre, contrary to what the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) claimed was an encounter.

The NPA’s Apolinario Gatmaitan Command (NPA-AGC), its Negros Island Regional Operational Command, said that Nikka Dela Cruz and her three comrades were earlier captured by government troops but were subsequently “slaughtered.”

The four were ailing and their medical condition rendered them incapable to fight, NPA-AGC spokesperson Juanito Magbanua said in a July 8 statement.

“[F]ascist troops…slaughtered four ailing Red fighters in cold blood at Barangay Biao, Binalbagan, Negros Occidental and shamelessly paraded their bodies as casualties of the fake encounter concocted by the AFP’s top commanders as a cover-up for their war crime,” Magbanua said.

“It was a massacre,” he added.

The 94th Infantry Battallion of the Philippine Army said the four were part of a 14-member NPA team who died in a clash with soldiers and police officers at about nine o’clock in the morning in Sitio Amilis, Barangay Santol, Binalbagan.

Lt. Col. Van Donald Almonte, commander of the 94th Infantry Battalion (94IB), said the fatalities belonged to the NPA’s Central Negros 2, Komiteng Rehiyong-Negros Cebu Bohol Siquijor.

Aside from Dela Cruz, also identified as Ka (Comrade) Chai, the NPA said the three other victims were Roel “Ka Jack”Ladera, Alden “Ka Rocky” Rodriguez and Roel “Ka Caloy” Deguit.

Nikka “Ka Chai” Dela Cruz. (Supplied photo)

‘Final militant red salute’

The NPA-AGC said their four fallen comrades were martyrs of the revolution who “surmounted all sacrifices and difficulties to arouse, organize and mobilize the people in the revolution and to fight for their interests and aspirations.”

The four came from different social backgrounds, Magbanua said.

Magbanua revealed that Dela Cruz, 26, was a former reporter of GMA Network’s Cebu City radio station dySS after graduating from the Catholic University of San Jose-Recoletos in the said city with a journalism degree.

A native of Medellin town in Cebu Province, Dela Cruz was the youngest among three siblings of a well-off middle class family whose mother is a medical doctor.

As a student, Dela Cruz was reportedly already active in the struggles of Cebu City’s urban poor, vendors and other people’s advocacies.

“She played a crucial role in the struggle of Carbon Market vendors against the privatization program of the Cebu City local government. After being hunted by [government] intelligence agencies, she went incognito and focused in revolutionary underground work among students and intellectual youths in 2017,” Magbanua said.

Dela Cruz became one of the leaders of her Communist Party of the Philippines unit who went to Negros to gain exposure to the Communists’ people’s war and decided to serve as a full time NPA fighter, Magbanua added.

Ladera, 30, was a NPA squad leader at the time of their death, Magbanua said.

He was a native of Himamaylan City and first experienced brutality in the hands of the military who they were assaulted after winning a basketball game against soldiers, Magbanua said.

The NPA spokesperson added Ladera was active in the anti-mining campaign in Negros before joining the guerilla army in 2016.

Like Ladera, Rodriguez also suffered maltreatment from abusive local officials before enlisting in 2019. The native of Manjuyod, Negros Occidental also hailed from peasant family, the NPA said.

The oldest among the four victims, Deguit was also a victim of trumped-up charges by government prosecutors before joining the NPA. He was also from Himamaylan, Magbanua said.

“Their untimely demise in the hands of the fascists will only arouse more Negrosanons to the revolution as the AFP is further exposed as a terrorist cabal and protector of the ruling class,” he added.

Not over

Meanwhile, the Philippine National Police (PNP) announced the death of a police officer in an encounter with suspected members of the NPA in Samar province on Saturday morning, July 16.

Patrolman Mark Monge of the Eastern Visayas Regional Mobile Force Battalion in a clash with the NPA in the boundary of Barangay San Nicolas of San Jose de Buan town and Barangay Mabuhay of Gandara town in the said province.

PNP officer-in-charge Police Lieutenant General Vicente Danao Jr. on Monday condemned the incident, saying he wants to curse the rebels and wishes to ambush them himself.

Danao cautioned police officers to be extra careful when conducting operations in the field.

Seven soldiers were also wounded in a clash with the NPA in nearby Mapanas town in neighboring Northern Samar province last July 5 while three alleged NPA fighters were killed in another encounter last July 13, the 8th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army reported.

Both the AFP and the PNP repeatedly vowed that the NPA would have been decimated by this month as the Manila government transitions from former President Rodrigo Duterte to President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

The clashes, however, reveal that the NPA and its 53-year old insurgency remain strong in various parts of the country. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

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

CPP congratulates Red Fighters on 53rd anniversary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bicol NPA twits Duterte

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

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

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

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

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

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

More gov’t troops

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Increased budget for the military

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rampant human rights abuses

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

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

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

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

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

‘Serious setbacks’

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

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

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

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

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

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

7 tasks

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

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

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

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

(Report by Raymund B. Villanueva)

CPP confirms death of NPA national commander

Joma Sison says Villanueva was captured, tortured and executed

[UPDATED] The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) confirmed the death of New People’s Army’s (NPA) national commander Menandro Villanueva but said he and one other were captured alive last Christmas eve and later summarily executed by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

CPP founding chairperson Jose Maria Sison in his tribute said Villanueva and one Sandra Reyes were captured alive last December 24-25 but were later declared killed in separate incidents.

“But Ka [Comrade] Sandra (Reyes) would be reported to the press by the reactionary military as killed in action on December 25,” Sison, quoting a report from the CPPs Mindanao Commission, said.

“On January 5, 2020, the reactionary military one-sidedly fired several rounds of Howitzer artillery at Libodon, Mabini and despite no encounter with the NPA subsequently claimed on January 6 that Ka Menandro had been killed in action in the non-encounter of January 5, 2022,” he said.

“Obviously, he was tortured for at least ten days before he was murdered,” Sison added.

Sison’s statement countered the announcement by the Eastern Mindanao Command (EastMinCom) of the AFP on Friday that Villanueva was killed in an encounter with government troops.

EastMinCom commander Lt. Gen. Greg Almerol in a statement said Villanueva was one of the founding members of the NPA in Mindanao during the 1970s.

Almerol said that Villanueva became a member of the Kabataang Makabayan as an Ateneo de Manila University student who went underground when Martial Law was declared.

“Villanueva was the longest-serving secretary of the NPA’s Southern Mindanao Regional Committee (SMRC) and currently the secretary of Komisyong Mindanao (KOMMID), commanding officer of the NPA’s National Operations Command (NOC) and member of the POLITBURO (political bureau) of the (CPP),” the military added.

AFP target

Known in the underground revolutionary movement as Ka (Comrade) Bok, Ka Jude and Ka Gipo, Villanueva was around 70 years old at the time of his death, the CPP said.

The CPP said Villanueva had been a long-standing AFP target because he successfully led the Party and its armed revolution in Southern Mindanao from one level to another.

“It is a testament to the strength, resilience, and guerrilla discipline of the NPA, and extensive and deep support of the broad masses for the people’s army that it took the enemy more than a decade—spending billions of pesos in relentless military operations, aerial bombings, artillery shelling, occupation of communities, and terrorizing the peasants and Lumad masses—before it could finally vanquish Ka Bok,” the CPP said.

“His death is mourned by the Party, the NPA and all revolutionary forces, and by the broad masses of workers and peasants, especially the downtrodden people in the hinterlands of the Davao provinces, whom he dearly served over the past several decades,” the CPP added.

The group acknowledged that Villanueva’s death is “a big loss.”

“But this setback is only temporary and will be surmounted in due time. A number of Party cadres and NPA commanders, veterans in people’s war, as well as young leaders trained by Ka Bok and steeled in military and political work, are primed to take his place and perform his duties,” the CPP said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)