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ALIPATO (Kay Ka Gelas)

By Rene Boy Abiva

“And wild bears never daunt the brave/ Plum blossoms welcome the whirling snow/ Small wonder flies freeze and perish.”— Mao Tse Tung, Winter Clouds

Larawan mula sa pamilya ni Gelas Guillermo

Dinuyan, inakay, at tinangay ka ng hangin

matapos ang pag-aaklas na gaya sa isang kaingin,

at nakiisa’t inihatid ka ng mga nagluluksang alitaptap

na sindami ng buhangin

sa ibaba ng kulay abong alapaap,

at bago ka bumagsak sa lupang kayumanggi

at ika’y tuluyang lamunin sa huling sandali

ay napagtagumpayan mong iginuhit sa dilim

ang sunod subalit huli’t kaabang-abang na pangitain.

Gamit ang natitira mong anag-ag

winika mo’y mahuhubaran, magagasgas, mabibitak,

babagsak, at sasabog ang agimat

gayundin ang imperyo’t templo ng iilang yayamanin.

Winika mo pa’y aalagwa, aaklas, at makikipagpatayan

sa mapangahas na alindog ng dugong sing-itim

ng sunog na asukal at sing-alat ng asin,

na sinlapot ng lusaw na bato’t tingga,

na sing-init ng pugon

na pinapaypayan ng matatalim at maninipis na elesi,

na mainit, mabigat, at masakit sa baga

ang hininga’t samyo ng bunganga

ng dambuhalang pigsa

sa loob at labas ng Maynila-

ang mga daantaong bihag ng mala-tisa sa puti,

at mala-marmol at pormika sa kinis at dulas na salamin-

na bininyagan, inensensuhan, pinabanguha’t hinilamusan

ng ‘di-mabilang na kwarta, kamanyang, mira, at ‘Ama Namin’.

Pipitik-pitik ang iyong liwanag

nang dahan-dahan, marahang-marahan

hanggang sa ang tibok ng iyong puso’y ‘di na napakingan

pito,

anim,

lima,

tatlo,

isa,

wala,

wala

hanggang sa tuluyan kang ‘di na naaninag

maliban sa naaalala ka tuwing sinasabog

ng bukang-liwayway ang kanyang liwanag

o kapag nagsisisayaw sa alon ang telon

ng Dakilang

Aurora Borealis. 

-Enero 18, 2019

Lungsod Quezon, Maynila

Mabining Mandirigma: A hero’s reminder of what we fought against

Text and photos by Sanafe Marcelo

I was transported back in time as I sat mesmerized in the darkened theater, melodic voices enveloping my body, stirring my soul. I did not want to miss every single line by Nicanor Tiongson in this Chris Mallado-directed musical. Veteran stage actor and activist Monique Wilson enthralling me and the rest of the audience as Apolinario Mabini.

Scenes narrated the political intrigues in the time of Mabini, the main protagonist and one of the most important figures in Philippine history. As the “brains of the revolution against Spain,” the play showed how Mabini struggled to uphold the revolution and defend our Inang Bayan (nation).

Mabining Mandrigma means “The Gentle Warrior.”  The play is a precise presentation of who Mabini was, a gentle, revolutionary warrior despite his disability.

Monique Wilson is remarkable in her portrayal of the hero. Her heart and sincerity reverberates throughout the play, cloaking the audience like a thick fog in the early morn. What is exceptional is, she portrays a male character and ably carries it off. Such is her versatility, no doubt infused with the same fervor for national liberation as the hero she portrays. Her powerful voice rises among her co-actors, entertaining, teaching, imploring, as Mabini did during the years when a reasoned voice was most needed. 

The play’s anachronistic costumes were brilliantly designed by James Reyes, powerful messages in themselves. The cog wheels and the big classic clock as vital parts of the stage design help audience visualize the past’s connection with the present. The play also reminds the enthralled audience that young men and women answered the clarion sounded, a reminder so apt these days when young activists are vilified by their elders who, it seems, have forgotten this.

The songs marked the play’s progression. Their line evoked deep meaning, such that when the closing song begged, ‘Mahalin mo ang Pilipinas nang higit sa iyong sarili,’ there could have been no one that did not fight back tears. Indeed, some gave in and cried at Mabini’s tragedy, our history’s failure, our nation’s sorrow.

The play reminds us that history does repeat itself. What Mabini confronted in his day confronts us in ours. It begs the question, “Whatever our heroes sacrificed their lives for when, more than a hundred years after their mortal bodies have rejoined their beloved soil, we are still battling the very same demons?”

Mabining Mandirigma, an award-winning musical by the Cultural Center of the Philippines’ (CCP) resident theater group Tanghalang Pilipino, is being staged for the fourth time at the CCP. It runs until September 1. #

Fernandez urges NPA in Negros to defend farmers from rights violations

National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace consultant Frank Fernandez urged revolutionary forces in Negros Island to intensify their campaigns against human rights violations, noting that “things have gotten much worse” under the Rodrigo Duterte government.

“The revolutionary forces must bring the struggle to a higher stage as the systematic campaign against the peasants and the activists have become much worse since I was last there,” Fernandez said.

Speaking from his hospital bed at the Philippine Heart Center (PHC), Fernandez said it is a testament to the strength of the revolutionary forces in the island that Duterte has ordered the deployment of more Philippine Army infantry brigades in the island since November.

Duterte issued Executive Order 32 in November 2018 ordering more troop deployment in Negros, Bicol and Samar in a bid to crush New People’s Army (NPA) units in the said regions.

Increased Armed Forces of the Philippines presence in Negros, however, has led to numerous human rights violations, Fernandez said.

Frank Fernandez in his hospital room.

Complete turnaround

Fernandez said the NPA in Negros has fully recovered from near decimation in the early 1990s.

“There was almost no NPA left in Negros in 1994,” Fernandez said.

He credited the NPA’s grasp of the correct political and ideological lines that allowed its forces to recover and overcome the schism with former comrades that broke away to form the so-called Revolutionary Proletarian Army and the Alex Boncayao Brigade.

Fernandez said that the poor masses helped in their recovery.

“The poor but struggling masses of Negros did not allow us to give up and encouraged us to rebuild,” Fernandez said.

The incarcerated NDFP peace consultant said it is time to repay the masses by defending them against the government and the landlords’ widespread human rights violations in the island.

Human rights violations

Intensifying agrarian reform struggles across the Negros Island has resulted to two massacres, assassinations of a human rights lawyer and a municipal councilor as well as killings and arrests of several farmers and human rights defenders.

Just yesterday, another human rights defender who was an active member of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente was murdered in his hometown of Manjuyod, Negros Oriental.

An urgent alert by the group Defend Negros said Salvador “Bador” Romano, 42, an adviser of the YIFI (Youth of the IFI) and former Negros Oriental coordinator of the human rights group Karapatan, was shot dead by motorcycle-riding gunmen around 12:30 p.m.

Last March 30, 10 peasants and church workers were killed in one night in Canlaon City and Sta. Rita, Negros Occidental.

Nine sugarcane farmers, including four women and two children, were also killed last October 20 in Sagay City. The bodies of three of the victims were also burned by their killers.

Human rights lawyer Benjamin Ramos and Escalante City councilor Bernardino Patigas Sr., both described as martyrs of the sugar cane workers’ struggles, were killed on November 7 and April 22, respectively.

After Patigas’ murder, opposition Senator Leila de Lima denounced the murders, blaming the Duterte administration for “the snowballing record of human rights defenders killed in Negros Island.”

De Lima said Patigas’ murder raises suspicions that there is a death squad targeting rights advocates in the province because his killing “hews closely” to the type of killings regularly happening recently.

The senator said Patigas’ murder was the 48th in Negros under Duterte.

Bishop Gerardo Alminaza of the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Carlos also condemned the killings and called on the Duterte government to respect human rights.

“In sadness, we all are crying out: End the Killings! These barbaric and calculated assassinations must end! We should not tolerate this kind of crime,” the bishop said in a statement last April.

Fernandez, for his part, urged for the resumption of the abandoned peace talks between the NDFP and the Duterte government in order for the human rights situation in Negros to be addressed by the negotiating panels.

“It would be favorable for the masses, as well as for jailed peace consultants like myself, if the peace talks would be revived,” he said.

Heart problems

Fernandez was taken to the PHC last Friday to undergo laboratory examinations.

“I am suffering from heart ailments, spinal column problems, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, arthritis, and hypertension. There may be more,” he told Kodao.

Fernandez said he left Negros more than a year ago to seek medical treatment in Manila when nabbed by military and police operatives in Liliw, Laguna last March 24.

“Doctors of the Philippine Army General Hospital in Fort Bonifacio discovered I also have hardening of the arteries close to my heart,” he said.

Fernandez has since been incarcerated at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City where his state of health has gotten worse.

“They often feed us porridge that are either so unpalatable or are so sweet when made into champorado (chocolate porridge).  For lunch and dinner, they feed us papaya soup with sardines or miswa noodles with sardines,” he said.

The Sta. Cruz Regional Trial Court in Laguna ordered the 71-year old Fernandez to be taken to the PHC for medical check up. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Lawyer: No reason for Duterte to suspend privilege of the writ of habeas corpus

President Rodrigo Duterte’s threat to suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus has no legal basis and is an illogical reaction to criticism and opposition, a human rights lawyer said.

“First of all, there is absolutely no legal, constitutional, and factual basis to suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus,” National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) president Edre Olalia said.

Reacting to Duterte’s speech before prosecutors in Puerto Princesa City Thursday, Olalia said that Duterte only validated accusations of his whimsical and vindictive exercise of power.

“[H]is threat smacks of authoritarian reactions of a leader intolerant of dissenting or divergent opinions,” Olalia said.

Outraged at widespread criticisms of his policies, Duterte said he may arrest all his critics.

Pero ‘pag ako ang pinaabot niyo ng sagad, I will declare a suspension of writ of habeas corpus and I will arrest all of you. Isama ko kayo sa mga rebelde, kriminal, pati durogista,” Duterte said. (If you push me to my limit, I will declare a suspension of writ of habeas corpus and I will arrest all of you. I will put you together with the criminals, rebels, and drug lords.)

Duterte also threatened to declare “revolutionary war.”

Pahirapan mo ako, I will declare a revolutionary war until the end of my term. Pasensiyahan tayo,” he said. (If you make things difficult for me, I will declare a revolutionary war until the end of my term. We test each other’s patience.)

Olalia however the president’s reaction to cautionary criticisms to his policies by the opposition is illogical.

“[H]is threat smacks of authoritarian reactions of a leader intolerant of dissenting or divergent opinions,” Olalia said.

“[T]here is no other appropriate people’s reaction but to fight and fight we must against brute despotism clothed in legal garb,” he added.

Other criticisms

Former solicitor general and candidate for the Senate Florin Hilbay cautioned Duterte, saying the last president who did so was ousted.

“Ser, remind lang kita: nung last time na ginawa ‘yan, may diktador na nasipa sa pwesto,” Hilbay posted on his Facebook wall. (Sir, may I remind you: the last time that was done, a dictator was ousted.)

Fellow senatorial candidate Neri Colmenares for his part called President Rodrigo’s threat “baseless” and “senseless.”

Colmenares, a human rights lawyer, said criticism of the president does not meet the constitutional or legal requirements to suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus.

He said Duterte’s “inordinate reaction to so innocuous a statement from Senator Drilon” led him to suspect the president’s anger stemmed from recently released videos accusing him and his son Paolo, who is running for congressman in Davao City, to the illegal drug trade.

“If so, the charges in the videos can only gain traction,” Colmenares said.

“This is the first time I’ve heard a government threatening revolutionary war,” Colmenares said.

National Democratic Front of the Philippines chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison also said Duterte cannot engage in a revolutionary war “because he is a counterrevolutionary agent of foreign monopoly capitalists, big compradors and big landlords.”

“He is a bureaucrat capitalist of the worst kind,” Sison wrote in his quick reaction to Duterte’s speech.

Sison added Duterte “should not misappropriate and besmirch the noble calling of revolutionary.”

“He is a tyrant, traitor, plunderer and mass murderer hell-bent on imposing a fascist dictatorship on the Filipino people through charter change to a bogus kind of federalism,” Sison added.

Sison said Duterte is already engaged in de facto martial law nationwide and in the de facto suspension of the writ of habeas corpus.

Duterte is increasingly engaged in mass intimidation, mass arrests and mass murders, the president’s former political science professor said.

Sison added that if Duterte formally proclaims the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus or even martial law nationwide, he will only succeed in further enraging the people and inciting them to wage all forms of revolutionary resistance.

“The real revolutionary war is against his ongoing counterrevolutionary war,” Sison said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva, with JJ Espina)

NPA turns 50 today; CPP calls for intensified guerrilla warfare

The Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) called on the New People’s Army (NPA) to boldly intensify guerrilla warfare and wage all-out resistance against the Rodrigo Duterte government as the revolutionary army celebrates its 50th founding anniversary today.

Congratulating Red fighters all over the country, the CPP’s top leadership said the NPA continues to advance nationwide and succeeded in surmounting Duterte’s all-out offensives and focused military operations in 2018.

Founded by the CPP in March 29, 1969 in Sta. Rita, Capas, Tarlac, the NPA started with only nine rifles and 26 inferior firearms for 60 Red fighters consisting of veteran guerrillas and new recruits from Manila and Isabela.

CPP founding chairperson Jose Maria Sison and local rebel leader Bernabe Buscayno were among the prominent personalities present in the event.

After five decades of continuous guerrilla warfare, the NPA said it has 110 guerrilla fronts all over the country, majority of which are composed of company-sized formation of full-time Red fighters.

The NPA’s guerrilla war is the longest-running in the world today.

Major victories in 2018

Last year, the CPP said the NPA mounted several hundred tactical offensives across the country, seizing at least 107 high powered rifles from government forces and even from security agencies serving big mining operations.

The underground party said the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), the Philippine National Police and their paramilitary forces suffered at least 600 casualties in 2018 with more than 380 killed in action.

One hundred eighty five AFP soldiers were killed in action across eastern Mindanao, the CPP claimed.

The group added that the numbers of government casualties were more than 40 percent higher than in 2017.

Units of the AFP that suffered the most casualties were those deployed in focused military operations in north central and north eastern Mindanao provinces where NPA units were able to carry out active defense operations against AFP offensives.

The CPP said the AFP’s decision to reduce its troop deployment in Mindanao to as low as 60 percent from a high of 80 percent in previous years is added proof that aims to crush the NPA in eastern Mindanao is failing.

“In the face of the steady nationwide growth of the NPA, Duterte’s security officials have already toned down on their earlier braggadocio of defeating the NPA by middle of 2019. They have instead moved their ‘deadline’ to the end of 2022,” the CPP said.

5-year plan

Even as it successfully frustrating Duterte’s all-out war, the CPP called on the NPA to boldly intensify guerrilla warfare nationwide and wage all-out resistance against the Duterte regime.

The CPP said the call is in accordance with the Central Committee’s five-year program (2017-2021) to continue developing nationwide strength, spread and advance.

“We must strengthen the NPA several times over and raise its capability in annihilating enemy units,” the CPP said.

The program includes the building of more units of people’s militias, self-defense units of mass organizations, partisan units, as well as raising their capability in waging mass guerrilla warfare, the CPP said.

“With its current nationwide strength and spread, the NPA is in a position to carry the people’s war forward to unprecedented levels in the coming years,” the group added.  # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Petition amendment proves terrorist proscription vs CPP-NPA arbitrary–lawyer

The Rodrigo Duterte government’s amendment to its petition to proscribe revolutionary groups as terrorists is proof that it has a weak case against the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New People’s Army (NPA), a human rights lawyer said.

In a statement, National Union of People’s Lawyer president Edre Olalia said the government’s original petition filed in February 2018 is weak and is merely a move to railroad the legal process.

“[The] amended petition by the government to proscribe the CPP-NPA is proof that the original one was sloppy, shotgun and arbitrary against hundreds of individuals and was designed to harass and threaten them,” Olalia said.

Last January 3, the Department of Justice (DOJ) filed the amended petition before Branch 19 of the Regional Trial Court in Manila.

Six hundred individuals listed as “terrorists” in the original petition have been taken off  but retained CPP founding chairperson Jose Maria Sison; NPA national operations command spokesperson Jorge Madlos; NPA’s Melito Glor Command spokesperson Jaime Padilla, National Democratic Front of the Philippines-Negros spokesperson Francisco Fernandez; alleged CPP-Visayas deputy secretary Cleofe Lagtapon; alleged CPP Mindanao Commission secretary Antonio Cabanatan; alleged NPA-Mindanao leader; and alleged NPA-Mindanao operations chief Myrna Sularte.

The amended petition no longer includes United Nations Environment Programme 2018 Champion of the Earth awardee Joan Carling and five Baguio activists like Jeanette Ribaya-Cawiding.

Cawiding, former chair of the Tongtongan ti Umili and coordinator of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT), said the new petition removes them from immediate danger posed by being labelled as terrorists, but said government spying on non-government organizations remains as a threat to free speech and human rights.

“This is a partial victory, but we cannot let our guard down,” Cawiding said.

She points to the latest red-tagging of ACT and harassment of teachers who are ACT members as proof that the threat against activists and government critics will continue.

“Harassment has been continuous against progressive organizations, like ACT, the delisting of the individuals named in the DOJ proscription does not guarantee the protection of our rights and our safety because the Philippine National Police and Malacañang are justifying their witch hunt in the context of [Duterte’s] Executive Order 70,” Cawiding said.

EO 70, signed last December, directs the creation of a national task force headed by the President and vice-chaired by the National Security Adviser to end local communist armed conflict and pushed for localized peace talks.

The court earlier directed the DOJ to remove the names of Vicky Tauli-Corpuz, UN Special Rapporteur for Indigenous Peoples Concerns and former Baguio councilor Jose Molintas.

Molintas was also a former member of the UN Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP).

Corpuz, Carling, Longid and Molintas are former leaders of the militant Cordillera People’s Alliance (CPA), which Cariño helped establish as an indigenous peoples’ rights group that opposed the Marcos regime.

Current CPA chair Windell Bolinget said strong protests pushed the DOJ to amend its proscription petition.

But he said the threat does not end.

“They wanted the proscription of the CPP and NPA as terrorists by focusing on few names. Once they are proscribed as terrorists, people they suspect, vilify and attack as fronts and supporters will be linked and later considered terrorists. This is the danger,” Bolinget said.

Still dangerous

Olalia said that even with the amendment, the petition remains dangerous to those earlier named.

“[The] present petition remains to be without legal and factual basis and repackaged the old one in order to railroad the legal process. This will in turn violate a slew of individual and collective rights not only for those who remain in the list but many others who are maliciously identified, associated, suspected or labelled,” Olalia said.

IFI Bishop Vermilon Tagalog, chair of the regional coordinating committee of the Ilocos Network for the Environment welcomed the amended DOJ petition but said “the removal of names does not guarantee their safety”.

“The mere existence of the DOJ petition remains a clear threat especially with the insistent communist-tagging of Duterte’s administration of activists and progressive organizations,” Tagalog added.

Tagalog said that the Human Security Act of 2007, the DOJ’s basis for the filing of the proscription petition is not just directed against “terrorists” but also to critics of the government.

“We call on all environmental defenders to remain vigilant and steadfast in the fight against efforts of the administration to impose its tyrannical rule and clamped-down on our democratic rights.” #(Raymund B. Villanueva/ Kodao and Kimberlie Olmaya Ngabit-Quitasol/Northern Dispatch)

NPA in Bicol celebrates CPP’s 50th anniversary

The Romulo Jallores Command of the New People’s Army invited journalists of select local and international media groups to a press conference in a guerilla camp deep in the Bicol Region.

The event was part of the nationwide celebration of the 50th anniversary of the reestablishment of the Communist Party of the Philippines.

CPP successfully celebrates 50th anniversary

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) successfully celebrated its 50th founding anniversary yesterday in many regions nationwide despite the government’s refusal to reciprocate its unilateral ceasefire declaration, the group’s information bureau announced.

“In the guerrilla areas, NPA (New People’s Army) Red fighters and Party members gathered in fiesta-like assemblies together with the peasant masses from nearby barrios with food and cultural programs,” the CPP said in a statement.

The NPA’s temporary ceasefire held since December 24 despite relentless military offensives by the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines), the group said.

No fire fights happened during the NPA’s unilateral ceasefire from December 24 to 26.

“In the cities, Party members and activists held meetings and small gatherings under the nose of police and military intelligence agents,” the group’s information bureau revealed.

Last week, members of the Revolutionary Council of Trade Unions, an underground organization of workers, held a rally in downtown Manila as a “warm up” activity prior to yesterday’s anniversary.

Abroad, a rally was held in Hong Kong last Sunday by Filipino migrants in unity with the CPP celebrations.

An assembly was also planned in The Netherlands where the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) International Office is based, the CPP said.

President Rodrigo Duterte ordered Saturday the destruction of all Reds, both combatants and civilians, marking the first Christmas and New Year that his government refused to declare a ceasefire.

A platoon of the Romulo Jallores Command of the New People’s Army parades before members of the media and civilian supporters in a camp in the hinterlands of Bicol. (Photo by R. Villanueva)

NPA victories

In response to ongoing military operations against communists, NPA guerrillas struck in the Bicol region, Kalinga Province in the North, Compostela Valley in Mindanao and Northern Samar in the Visayas, scoring massive victories that netted them dozens of firearms while inflicting casualties on both AFP and paramilitary forces.

In Barangay Western Uma in Lubuagan, Kalinga last December 23, Sunday, the NPA’s Lejo Cawilan Command overran a detachment of the 77th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army (PA) and carted away 30 firearms.

The detachment’s commander, a Sergeant Elon D. Bayang, was reportedly killed while three paramilitary troopers were injured. The NPA said they also suffered one casualty in the attack.

The NPA accused the PA unit and its Civilian Auxiliary Force Geographical Unit (CAFGU) paramilitary of harassing and restricting the movements of residents in the area whom they accuse of being rebel supporters.

The government troopers also instigated gambling and “anti-social” activities in the communities, the NPA said.

The raid followed a massively successful NPA raid of a military patrol base in Barangay New Tubigon, Sibagat town, Agusan del Sur where they carted away 24 high powered firearms “without firing a single shot.”

The Red Fighters also took two soldiers of the 3rd Special Forces Battalion and 12 paramilitary troopers captive. The NPA assured that their prisoners of war are being treated humanely under International Humanitarian Laws.

Earlier, the NPA also launched successful tactical offensives in Sorsogon and Northern Samar provinces.

In Las Navas town in Northern Samar last December 22, a government soldier was killed while two others when attacked by the NPA.

PA Private First Class Alvin Avila died on the spot while Private Ivan Anthony Ignao Michael Ocasla were wounded.

The NPA in Sorsogon Province attacked a Philippine National Police station in Magallanes town, inflicting injuries on three police personnel before withdrawing after a ten-minute fire fight.

Aside from projecting nationwide strength on the CPP’s 50th founding anniversary, the successive NPA attack are seen as the NPA’s response to massive military operations against civilian communities.

Since early December bombings and military operations in the Kalabugao plains straddling the  tri-boundary of Agusan del Sur, Bukidnon and Misamis Oriental in Mindanao have forced indigenous peoples and civilian communities to flee.

Col. Edgardo de Leon, commander of the 403rd Infantry Brigade said the bombings and military operations are meant to disrupt the CPP’s anniversary celebrations.

“We discovered a major NPA hideout that is probably a projected venue of the CPP anniversary celebration,” de Leon said.

Meanwhile, CPP and NDFP’s respective websites, prwc.net and ndfp.org have become inaccessible since yesterday.

“The CPP’s website became inaccessible as it was under attack likely by the US-trained AFP cyberwarfare group. But in social media, the hashtags #CPP50 and #LetsCelebrate were the top Twitter trending topics in the Philippines for several hours since early morning and was still trending as of mid afternoon,” the CPP Information Bureau said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

CPP hails Sison, heroes and martyrs on 50th anniversary

The Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) hailed Jose Maria Sison and its thousands of martyrs and heroes in a message on the revolutionary group’s 50th founding anniversary today.

“The Central Committee gives highest honors to Comrade Jose Ma. Sison, the Party’s founding chairman, who masterfully applied Marxism-Leninism-Maoism to the concrete conditions of the Philippines and set the revolution along the correct path and steered it from strength to strength,” the CPP said.

Celebrating a rare milestone in the history of armed uprisings in the world, the party said Sison continues to be a leading light of the longest-running Maoist revolution in the world.

“Even during his prolonged incarceration and exile since 1987, [Sison’s] theoretical, socio-historical and practical insights continue to illuminate the Filipino people’s revolutionary path, help guide the Party as well as rouse the international proletariat and people to wage anti-imperialist resistance and socialist revolution,” the CPP said.

Aside from Sison, the revolutionary party said it salutes all revolutionary heroes and martyrs who gave their all for the people and served revolution to their last breath.

“It is with their dedication and sacrifices that made possible the revolutionary victories of the Filipino people,” the CPP said.

The CPP was founded in the province of Pangasinan in 1968 by a small group of intellectuals and activists led by Sison on a date that coincided with the 75th birth anniversary of the revolutionary thinker, poet and leader Mao Tse Tung.

The CPP said it celebrates its anniversary while it wages “all-out resistance against Duterte’s fascist tyranny, corruption and puppetry.”

“The rise of the US-Duterte fascist regime and its reign of terror and tyranny is, symptomatic of, and aggravates the grave conditions of the semicolonial and semifeudal system in the Philippines,” the CPP said.

The party added that the killings and many other forms of human rights violations is the Duterte regime’s way of countering the Filipino people’s growing resistance against old methods of political rule characterized by political dynasties, corruption and neglect.

Worsening crisis under Duterte

Under Duterte, the CPP said, social crises have grown even more grotesque as shown by fiscal deficits and debts.

Last September, the budget deficit widened by almost 80 percent to P378 billion from P213.1 billion during the same period last year, the group said.

To finance its programs and operations, the CPP said the Philippine government plans to borrow as much as P624.4 billion next year as Duterte seeks excessive amounts of loans from China, as well as from the Asian Development Bank and other financial institutions in order to spend for his Build, Build, Build Program.

“Under Duterte, Philippine public debt rose by more than 17 percent to P7.167 trillion from P6.09 trillion in 2016. Over the past 15 years, the Philippines allotted P10.741 trillion in debt payments and services,” the CPP said.

Against this backdrop, the CPP said the Duterte regime has become outright fascist, unleashing martial law in Mindanao until the end of next year and implementing its counter-insurgency scheme Oplan Kapayapaan to bloody results.

But the CPP said Duterte cannot defeat the NPA with such schemes, owing to widespread and deep support to its revolution.

NPA is growing

The CPP said that amidst Duterte’s harsh rhetoric against the party and the NPA, the armed revolution still grows five decades after it began.

“Duterte and the AFP have repeatedly boasted of crushing the NPA. Their claim last year that the NPA will be defeated before the end of 2018 has been frustrated and proven a big lie. This year, they proclaim that the NPA will be completely finished by mid-2019. As in all previous regimes, they keep on moving their impossible deadline,” the CPP said.

The CPP said the NPA has more than 110 guerrilla fronts in 80 provinces throughout the country, a great majority of which boasts of company-sized or bigger fighting units that are augmented by people’s militias.

“Even with US military advice and support, Duterte’s pipedream of crushing by mid-2019 the people’s armed revolution and other forms of resistance will fail,” the CPP declared.

“With the nationwide spread and growth of the NPA, it is practically impossible for Duterte to achieve superiority on all fronts at any given time. The NPA enjoys such widespread and deep support among the masses rendering the AFP incapable of encircling or constricting every guerrilla unit without rousing widespread resistance,” the group explained.

The CPP said the NPA has recently stepped up “annihilative tactical offensives” from north to south, wiping out small enemy units and seizing firearms and other war materiél while carrying out numerous attritive actions against fascist troops with the help of people’s militias and self-defense corps of revolutionary mass organizations.

In Mindanao, the NPA continues to persevere and succeed in launching successful tactical offensives despite being focus of military offensives, most notable of which is the recent overrunning of a paramilitary detachment and capture of 24 firearms in Agusan del Sur.

The CPP also said the three-week long offensives by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in the Bukidnon-Misamis Oriental-Agusan del Sur triboundary allegedly aimed at driving away the Lumad from their lands have been roundly frustrated.

“The enemy desperately wants to duplicate its concentrated and sustained offensives in the Davao region in North Central Mindanao, Samar, Bicol, Southern Tagalog and Negros. It will, however, be roundly frustrated as it faces a stronger nationwide force of the NPA that is ever more capable and determined to mount annihilative attacks on its weak and vulnerable points, to make it bleed with countless attritive actions while avoiding its attacks,” the CPP said.

Duterte’s November 28 order deploying more AFP troops in Bicol, Samar and Negros lessens the 75 percent concentration of government troops in Mindanao to 65 percent, the CPP said.

“[It] provided the NPA in the Luzon and Visayas regions the opportunity to mount a growing number of tactical offensives. Duterte’s order to deploy more troops in Bicol, Samar and Negros is an admission of the growing strength of the NPA in Luzon and Visayas. In doing so, the AFP is being further overstretched, increasingly exposing thinner parts to NPA annihilative offensives,” the group revealed.

CPP challenges members

The CPP’s 50th anniversary statement challenged its members to intensify their anti-feudal struggles and other mass struggles in the countryside.

“Amid worsening conditions and worsening forms of exploitation and oppression, the broad masses of peasants must intensify the land reform movement across the country and raise the demand for free distribution of land to the tiller. Mobilize the peasant masses in their millions,” the group said.

The party called on workers, students and other democratic sectors to carry out mass struggles in the advancement of their rights and welfare amid worsening socio-economic conditions against “Duterte’s heavy taxation, inflation, corruption, misuse of public funds and other anti-people policies.”

It also called on underground organizations and network to frustrate and defeat the Duterte regime’s surveillance, arrests, extrajudicial killings and other forms of attack against the legal democratic forces.

“Activists and mass leaders who are being targets of liquidation or abduction can avail of the security of the guerrilla base areas of the NPA,” the CPP said.

“As we mark and celebrate the Party’s 50th anniversary, we look forward to accomplishing ever bigger achievements and revolutionary victories,” it said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Generations of fighters | Bicol as hotbed of revolution

A few weeks ago, President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the deployment of more troops to crush the “insurgency,” but the men and women, both old and young, of this armed revolution just laughed.

By RONALYN V. OLEA

BICOL REGION – Somewhere in the mountainous part of the region, there were makeshift huts made of freshly cut pieces of wood, leaves and plastic waterproof sheets. A few hammocks made of taffeta hung in between trees. These served as temporary sleeping quarters for the mobile army composed mainly of peasants, some workers and intellectuals.

There was a kitchen, a meeting place and a stage. Slits of bamboo were used as poles for the flags of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), New People’s Army (NPA) and National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).

Electricity came from a generator. Water was sourced from the nearby brook.

The temporary camp was only a two-hour walk (for the urban-raised but less than an hour for those who know the terrain by heart) from the cemented road.

In this same region, military operations continue. A few weeks ago, President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the deployment of more troops to crush the “insurgency.” But the men and women, both old and young, of this armed revolution just laughed at their enemy’s dream.

Why such confidence? What sustains the NPA? Who supports them?

Four NPA guerrillas from different generations shared their stories.

Taking roots

The NPA prides itself as the people’s army.

Samuel Guerrero, the 69-year-old spokesperson of the NPA-Celso Minguez Command, has devoted 27 years living among the poorest. Like many NPA units, 70 percent of his time is devoted to organizing and the other 30 percent to military work.

“In some villages, the poor eat lima-lima (a Bicolano term for pig’s food) because they could not afford to buy rice. If you are immersed among the poor, your resolve to fight is strengthened all the more. Even the fatigue disappears when you are with the masses,” Guerrero said in Filipino.

He himself came from a poor peasant family. At the age of 12, Guerrero’s small hands became familiar with soil. His family cleared portions of public land and planted abaca, corn, sweet potatoes, banana and coconut. Sometime in 1975, the soldiers came and destroyed their crops. The men in uniform also accused his father of being a NPA. Out of fear, the family left and went back only in 1986.

When his father was confined in a hospital due to a disease affecting his spine, the family became deeply indebted. They were able to pay it many years after.

“The poorest just waits for death to come,” Guerrero said. “The system only works for the rich.”

And so, it was easy for Guerrero to embrace the alternative society espoused by the revolutionary movement. On May 10, 1991, Guerrero sought out the NPA to join them.

Guerrero explained that the NPA does not only fight their enemy but also help the masses in agricultural production, wage agrarian revolution, provide health services, build organs of political power, among others.

His hair, beard and moustache already white, Guerrero does not have any plan of retiring yet. He guides the younger ones, often talking to them and helping them in even the menial tasks of preparing food and fetching water.

“The leader should be the role model in strict discipline. He should have a good relationship with his troops,” he said.

His wife and their three children are also active in the revolutionary movement in the village.

Peasant and worker

A few years younger than Guerrero, Ka Cedric, 53, also came from a poor peasant family. He grew up in a village considered as NPA mass base and decided to join the guerrillas when he reached 18, the minimum age set by the CPP to join its army.

Asked if his parents agreed with his decision, Ka Cedric paused, his face distorted, his shoulders stiffened and he broke into tears. After a minute or so, he related that the 52nd Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army took his father when he was eight years old. “They tortured him for one week. When he came home, bruises were all over his body,” he told Bulatlat in Filipino.

After the incident, Ka Cedric’s father joined the NPA. When his father died, he was not able to pay his last respects because he was assigned in another province.

In 1983 Ka Cedric was wounded. A grenade exploded as they took soldiers’ firearms after a successful ambush. The left side of his body and his left leg were hit by shrapnel; it took him eight months to recover.

He soon rejoined the NPA, performing organizing tasks and technical work. In 1990, problems arose within the NPA and Ka Cedric decided to leave.

Ka Cedric’s family decided to go to Manila where he worked as a construction worker for more than ten years.  He became active in their union and held a strike to demand wage hike, remittance of their social benefits, among others.

When all of his children already finished high school, the family went back to the province.

In 2017, he rejoined the NPA. “I have always believed there is no other solution,” Ka Cedric told Bulatlat.

Women guerillas

For Ka Arianne, 43, becoming a guerrilla was a fulfilled dream.

Born in a middle class family, Ka Arianne grew up in the city. As a young girl, she remembered her mother, a lay leader who was active in the movement against the Marcos dictatorship, welcoming NPA guerrillas in their home.

In 1998, after earning a degree and passing the licensure examinations, Ka Arianne was dead set to join the NPA. Finishing her studies was sort of a concession, she said. Her parents eventually respected her decision.

Even when she got married and gave birth to her two sons, Ka Arianne never thought of leaving the NPA. Her husband, a NPA fighter of peasant origin, is assigned in another unit. Once a year, they are able to spend quality time with their sons, now aged 13 and 8.

“I never imagined life outside the movement. Raising a revolutionary family is part of our plan,” the guerrilla with a fair complexion and her long, black wavy hair tied in a ponytail, said.

Last summer, her eldest was able to attend an educational discussion about the Philippine Society and Revolution. “He was shocked to know that Cory [Aquino] was far from being saintly,” Ka Arianne said smiling.

“We do not want to impose [upon our children] but we make it a point to expose them to the kind of life we have here, a communist way of living, that is, from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs,” she said. “At the very least, we want them to learn how to care for others and not to think only of personal satisfaction.”

Asked what sustains her, she replied, “The best part is being able to help resolve the problems of the masses.”

Ka Arianne said they form revolutionary committees, the concrete manifestation of red political power, in villages, municipalities and provinces, depending on the level of consolidation of the mass base. These committees perform the functions of revolutionary government, including the dispensation of justice, setting up people’s militia and provision of social services.

Asked what she thought of Duterte’s pledge to crush the revolutionary movement, Ka Arianne let out a gentle laughter and said, “Hindi niya kaya.” (He is not capable.)

She said government troops are afraid of the NPA. “They dare not go to the mountains. They often stay in urban areas, terrorizing the people,” she said.

One of the youngest NPA in the camp also dismissed Duterte’s threats. Ka Kim, 20, said the masses love the NPA so much. “They would invite us to their homes, offer us coffee and whatever food they have,” she said, her eyes glowing.

Like Ka Arianne, Ka Kim grew up seeing NPA guerrillas in their home. “They would give us rice whenever we did not have anything to eat.”

At the age of 11, Ka Kim, the fifth of six siblings, helped in planting banana, vegetables and root crops.  “Whenever NPA fighters pass by, they would also help us in our work,” she said.

Her parents and siblings are active members of organizations in the village. When she reached 18, she joined the NPA.

In the first few months, Ka Kim admitted getting homesick. Whenever melancholy strikes, she performs her tasks or talk to her comrades. “They are all inspiring, especially the old ones,” Ka Kim said.

Ka Kim looks forward to the NPA growing bigger and stronger in the following years.

With the CPP turning 50 this year, Guerrero said they adhere to the resolutions last 2016 to overcome conservatism and achieve more gains for the Filipino people.

“This is a protracted people’s war. When I’m gone, my children and my grandchildren would be there to continue breaking the yoke of imperialism, feudalism and bureaucrat capitalism,” Guerrero said.

Imperialism refers to foreign domination and control over the country’s economic, political and military affairs. Feudalism refers to the feudal bondage of farmers and agricultural workers while bureaucrat capitalism is the use of public office to plunder the nation’s wealth.

For less than a week, the temporary camp was undisturbed. Several farmers came to visit, bringing vegetables and other supplies. Members of cultural group Armas performed revolutionary songs and skits.

Despite the cold December breeze, their hearts were on fire. #