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‘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)

Bicol NDF says Masbate ‘clash’ another police canard

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NDFP: AFP blurs distinction between banned and allowable landmines

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) cautioned against claims the New People’s Army (NPA) uses landmines that are banned by the Ottawa Convention as claimed by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

In a statement, the NDFP National Executive Committee belied claims by various military spokespersons that the NPA uses landmines that are banned by the 1997 Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines.

“There are the tendentious, misinformed and even maliciously distorted claims of the GRP (Government of the Republic of the Philippines) and other entities on the issue of the legitimacy and acceptability of the use of certain types of landmines in warfare in the context of the present armed conflict and in accordance with an accurate reading of international humanitarian law and instruments on the matter,” the NDFP said.

The group said the NPA only uses command-detonated landmines that require a person to be present, observing the landmine emplacement and manually detonating it, usually electrically, upon the approach of a moving target close to the emplacement.

Command-detonated landmines are different from the indiscriminate type of landmines that are triggered by weight, pressure, or tripping of a wire.

“It is the position of the NDFP that the use of land mines and IEDs (improvised explosive devices) – particularly and most especially those that are command-detonated anti-personnel and anti-vehicle types or contact-detonated anti-vehicle types—are legitimate tools of warfare, it said.

The AFP however only generically describes the explosion reported to have killed footballer Keith Absolon and cousin Nolven last June 6 in Masbate City as “anti-personnel mines.”

The military said the NPA is behind a total of 141 incidents of use, stockpiling, transport and production of anti-personnel mines or landmines which have so far caused 224 casualties since 2010.

In its definition of landmines, the Ottawa Convention said that anti-personnel mines are those designed to be exploded by the presence, proximity or contact of a person and that will incapacitate, injure or kill one or more persons.

“Mines designed to be detonated by the presence, proximity or contact of a vehicle as opposed to a person, that are equipped with anti-handling devices, are not considered anti-personnel mines as a result of being so equipped,” it added.

The NDFP said that the Ottawa Convention only bans the use of anti-personnel mines that are detonated by proximity to or contact of a person.

“It neither prohibits the use of command-detonated anti-personnel mines nor both target-detonated and command-detonated anti-tank/vehicle mines,” the NDFP said.

The NPA’s landmines are known to target military and police vehicles bearing government forces.

The NDFP bewailed that their enemies are using the deaths of the Absalons to blur distinctions between banned and allowable landmines.

“This present incident and many others in the past are unfortunately being manipulated to blur the distinction between the allowable command-detonated anti-personnel mines, target/contact-detonated as well as command-detonated anti-tank/vehicle mines, on the one hand, and the generally disfavored target/contact-detonated anti-personnel mines, on the other hand,” it said.

It earlier cautioned the public from immediate condemnation of the NPA pending the result of a thoroughgoing investigation the Communist Party of the Philippines promised to conduct on the incident.

“There should be no rush to judgment, presumption or insinuation to the effect that the entire revolutionary movement and entire revolutionary forces are guilty of a criminal offense, negligence or error for which certain individuals may be liable on the basis of a full and complete investigation,” it said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

DILG, NTF-ELCAC afraid of peace, NDFP consultant says

A National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace consultant condemned “militarists” in the Rodrigo Duterte administration for opposing the possible resumption of formal peace negotiations between the Left and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP).

NDFP consultant Rafael Baylosis in a statement Friday said those opposing attempts to resume the negotiations are afraid that the peace talks would eventually lead to a genuine just and lasting peace in the Philippines.

“This is because they are afraid it might lead to certain agreements for reforms such as the free redistribution of land to peasants and national industrialization,” Baylosis said.

“They also do not want the possible grant of general amnesty to the CPP-NPA and release of political prisoners,” he added.

‘No more talks’

In a strongly worded statement last February 21, the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTC-ALCEC) denied the possibility of the peace negotiations being resumed in the last 16 months of the Rodrigo Duterte government.

“There will be no resumption of peace talks with the NDFP now or ever in as far as the Duterte Administration is concerned,” it said.

The task force said peace negotiations with the Left had always been a mistake, accusing the NDFP and its allied organizations, the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army, of having been insincere from the start.

The Department of Interior of Local Government (DILG) in a statement Wednesday, February 24, said it supports the NTF-ELCAC declaration.

“The [DILG] fully supports the position of the [NTF-ELCAC] opposing any move for the resumption of the failed peace talks with the CPP-NPA-NDF,” DILG officer-in-charge Usec. Bernardo C. Florece, Jr.
said.

Florece added that back channel efforts to resume peace negotiations with the NDFP are futile.

‘Their statements run counter to declarations by Duterte’s emissaries with the NDFP however.

Norway pushes for resumption

Labor secretary and former Government of the Philippines chief negotiator Silvestre Bello III revealed in a two-day online forum last week he and former Pangasinan Rep. Hernani Braganza were supposed to travel to The Netherlands last December to meet with the NDFP.

The trip did not push however as new coronavirus cases spiked in Europe since November.

Bello also revealed the Royal Norwegian Government, Third Party Facilitator to the GRP-NDFP Peace Process, had been working on back channel talks to resume the stalled formal negotiations.

He added that Duterte is again “very much inclined” to revive the negotiations the President scuttled in June 2017.

NDFP Negotiating Panel interim chairperson Juliet de Lima for her part said the planned back-channel talks would resume discussions on an interim peace agreement (IPA) that includes agreements on social and economic reforms.

IPA discussions shall also include possible coordinated unilateral ceasefire declarations as well as modes for their implementation, de Lima said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Duterte lies on razor blade killing, NPA in Negros says

The New People’s Army (NPA) in Negros Island denied President Rodrigo Duterte’s accusation it killed a soldier using a disposable razor blade, in turn accusing government troops as “consistent violators” of the rules of war.

“It is not true. The four police officers were fired upon by the NPA and were never tortured,” Juanito Magbanua, spokesperson of the Apolinario Gatmaitan Command of the NPA, told Kodao.

Magbanua was referring to the March 3 ambush of four police officers by the NPA at the boundary of Guihulngan City in Negros Oriental and Isabela town in Negros Occidental that injured four soldiers of the 94th Infantry Battalion (94IB) of the Philippine Army.

But Duterte may have been referring to the killing of a paramilitary trooper and two “military informants” last June 13 in Himamaylan City by a partisan unit of the NPA as punishment for their alleged participation in the implementation of the government’s brutal Oplan Sauron counter-insurgency campaign in the island.

The families of those killed said they were killed with guns.

“That razor incident at hostage-taking never happened,” Magbanua added.

Duterte in his recent report on the government’s coronavirus response Monday night again spent a substantial part of his recorded address verbally attacking the NPA and the Communist Party of the Philippines, accusing them of being the country’s biggest terrorist threat.

The president said the NPA had been attacking police officers escorting relief operations by the government.

“Pati nga ‘yung pulis na kasama ng gubyerno na tutulong sa mga tao, pinatay niyo lahat. Tapos, using a Gillette blade (hand moving across throat). Kaya ako galit sa inyo,” Duterte said.

He added that he had no history of maltreating captured NPA fighters in Mindanao.

“There was never a time that we handled an NPA prisoner sa Mindanao na sinaktan namin. We don’t even allow the mosquitoes to bite them. May warning kami sa mga alimatok pati sa mga…ano ba ng alimatok sa Tagalog? Linta. Leech. Na huwag galawin ang mga NPA na bihag dahil baka tayo ang pagbintangan,” he said.

Magbanua however said it is the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) that consistently violates International Humanitarian Law through strafing of civilian homes, red-tagging of activists, and physical and mental abuse of detainees.

Marco Valbuena, information officer of the Communist Party of the Philippines, also said that Duterte is, in fact, the country’s biggest terrorist, using the AFP and the entire State machinery to unleash “wanton terror” in his government’s drug war, massacres, extrajudicial killings, the bombardment of communities in his nearly four years in power. # (Raymund B. Villanueva) 

CPP orders NPA to shift to ‘offensive posture’ after ceasefire order ends

There is no more ceasefire in effect in the country after the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) announced it has decided against re-extending its truce order that expired midnight Thursday.

“The refusal of the Duterte regime to relent in its attacks against the NPA (New People’s Army), despite calls for a ‘global ceasefire’ has made the further extension of the NPA ceasefire impossible,” the CPP said in a statement.

The CPP’s 36-day ceasefire was first declared last March 24 and was extended when it ended last April 15. The government’s first and only ceasefire declaration under the ongoing coronavirus pandemic started last March 19 and ended on April 15.

In a recorded address aired last Monday, President Rodrigo Duterte said he will never be ready for any round of peace talks with the CPP, accusing the NPA of attacking soldiers in Ma. Aurora Town in Aurora Province who were escorting a relief operation connected with the government’s Luzon-wide lockdown.

The CPP however denied the allegation, saying the AFP was in fact conducting a counter-insurgency operation, as it did throughout the ceasefire periods.

“Since Duterte called for a ceasefire on March 16, AFP counterinsurgency operations remain unabated, deploying its units in at least 396 villages in 148 towns, ceaselessly conducting combat operations, aerial bombardments and artillery shelling, aerial surveillance and ground intelligence operations, arresting civilians, and violating people’s rights with impunity,” the CPP said.

The CPP said that in more than a month since both parties declared their unilateral ceasefire orders, the AFP mounted at least 36 raids against NPA encampments in 23 provinces that resulted in at least 11 armed encounters.

The group claimed the AFP suffered at least 56 casualties, 31 of whom were killed in action.

On the part of the NPA, 18 Red fighters were killed while eight were wounded, the CPP reported.

The military operations happened in Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Antique, Bohol, Bukidnon, Compostela Valley, Davao Oriental, Davao del Norte, Iloilo, Lanao del Sur, Masbate, Negros Occidental, Northern Samar, Quezon, Rizal, Samar, Sorsogon, South Cotabato, Surigao del Norte, Surigao del Sur, Zamboanga Sibugay, Zamboanga del Norte and Zamboanga del Sur provinces, the group added.

The CPP commended its armed wing for “successfully defending themselves and the masses and thwarting the raids and treacherous attacks mounted by the AFP in their relentless counterinsurgency operations.”

Starting today, Friday, May 1, the CPP has ordered the NPA to shift from “active defense” to an “offensive posture” in anticipation of more attacks against its forces.

‘Offensive posture’

In shifting to an offensive posture, the CPP urged the NPA to be always ready to strike against the AFP, Philippine National Police and the paramilitary forces under the Civilian Auxiliary Force Geographical Unit as well as other armed groups of the government.

“The NPA must mount tactical offensives especially against the most notorious human rights violators and those who have subjected people to abuse. The NPA must target the isolated and weak units and detachments of the AFP and its armed auxiliaries,” the CPP ordered.

While getting ready to meet the AFP’s counter-insurgency operations, the CPP also urged the NPA to continue its anti-COVID health services and information drives in various communities. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Church group calls on gov’t to reciprocate CPP’s truce extension

A church-based group asked the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) to heed the Easter call of Pope Francis for “an immediate ceasefire in all corners of the world” by reciprocating the Communist Party of the Philippines’ (CPP) extension of its truce order.

In a statement, the Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform (PEPP) also called on the government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) to open the doors to resume the stalled peace talks “especially in the face of an uncertain future brought about by this Covid-19 pandemic.”

The PEPP said that despite accusations from both side that each has violated their respective unilateral ceasefire declarations that simultaneously expired last before midnight of Wednesday, April 15, it still believes that the ceasefires may lead to “healing” and can only provide a good environment for the unhampered flow of services to the Filipino people during the lockdown.

A reciprocal declaration of truce orders may also pave the way for both side to again engage in “principled dialogue toward lasting peace,” it added.

The PEPP statement, signed by Roman Catholic Archbishop Antonio Ledesma and Anglican Bishop Rex Reyes, was issued after the CPP announced its order to extend its unilateral ceasefire declaration to April 30.

The PEPP also volunteered to provide custodial guarantee to vulnerable and elderly prisoners, such as several NDFP consultants, it said should be released on humanitarian grounds as reports of contagion and deaths of detainees have hit various prisons.

“PEPP stands by our longstanding offer to enable and facilitate a conducive atmosphere for restarting the peace talks by providing custodial guarantee through the church network of PEPP should the process of Release on Recognizance be followed in relation to the detained consultants of the NDFP,” it said.

“We call on President Rodrigo Duterte to put a heavy premium on peace and the release on humanitarian grounds the vulnerable during this time of crisis. Today, more than ever—as our nation and the whole world prays for healing—is the time to ‘seek peace and pursue it,” PEPP said, quoting the Bible.

AFP offensives continue

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) however said military offensives against the New People’s Army (NPA) have resumed as of April 16.

AFP spokesperson Brigadier General Edgard Arevalo told reporters last Friday, April 17, the military offensives shall continue even as the country grapples with the coronavirus pandemic.

Malacañan Palace’s has yet to react to efforts by Kodao to seek its comment on the CPP’s truce order extension.

NDFP chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison on the hand said he highly appreciates PEPP’s appeal to Duterte to reciprocate the unilateral ceasefire order of the CPP to the NPA, to release the political prisoners on recognizance to the church leaders, and to pave the way for the resumption of peace negotiations.

“I hope that Duterte heeds the appeal of the PEPP. The war hawks of the Duterte regime and the military violate Duterte’s own avowal for healing,” Sison said.

He added that the AFP has only shown “their hatred for the people by denying the violations of their own ceasefire and by launching more offensives against the NPA and the people at the time of the Covid-19 contagion. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

CPP accuses gov’t of violating own ceasefire order in Rizal clash

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) accused the Rodrigo Duterte government of violating its own unilateral ceasefire declaration following an encounter between the Philippine Army (PA) and the New People’s Army (NPA) in Rodriguez, Rizal last March 28, Saturday.

CPP chief information officer Marco Valbuena said in a statement issued today, March 30, that based on Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) reports themselves, the armed clash broke out when 80th Infantry Battalion troops of the PA’s 2nd Infantry Division carried out patrol operations.

An AFP conflict alert report was sent to Kodao by CPP founding chairperson Jose Maria Sison, purported to be obtained by the National Democratic Front of the Philippines from sources within the military proving it was the aggressor in the incident in Barangay Puray of the said town.

The report said that a team led by one Staff Sargeant Angot conducted community defense patrol at the vicinity of Sitio Malasya Uyungan where they encountered around 30 NPA fighters at around three o’clock in the afternoon.

The report said the clash lasted for about 40 minutes that resulted in the killing of a government trooper and the wounding of two others.

The killed soldier was a corporal while the two injured were a sergeant and a private.

The report claimed one rebel fighter was killed and that the government soldiers recovered an M16 rifle, a rifle grenade, a jungle pack with personal belongings, two empty bandoliers, a NPA flag, documents, medical paraphernalia, and water gallons.

The report added that the team recommended to “move forces to block the possible withdrawal routes of the rebels.”

The unit also requested an helicopter for an immediate evacuation of the casualties.

In a statement, the AFP’s Public Affairs Office said the soldiers were in the vicinity to conduct “community work,” contrary to what the report indicated that its unit conducted the patrol “acting on the information from concerned citizens.”

The NPA for its part did not confirm that it suffered a casualty in its statement.

Valbuena however said the AFP’s claim that the concerned NPA unit was planning an attack was baseless.

He said all NPA units will continue to uphold the CPP’s ceasefire declaration “in order to give full play to efforts to extend public health service to the people amid the Covid-19 (corona virus disease) pandemic.”

The CPP’s Central Committee declared a unilateral ceasefire declaration last March 24 in response to United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres’ appeal that all warring parties temporarily lay down their arms to focus on the global fight against Covid-19. It is effective until April 15 when the government’s own truce order expires.

The Duterte government declared its unilateral ceasefire order last March 18 effective 00:00 hour of March 19 to 24:00 hours of April 15.

Valbuena clarified that the NPA will not mount armed actions against government military, police, paramilitary and other armed agents but will remain alert against offensive actions launched by AFP units.

“The Party assures AFP soldiers that they will not be attacked during the ceasefire period especially if they are conducting public health activities in relation to efforts to contain the spread of Covid-19,” Valbuena said.

The CPP spokesperson urged AFP units to concentrate on Covid-19 operations and refrain from conducting anti-NPA patrol operations which may result in armed contact with nearby NPA units.

“At this time, the Filipino people need all the help they can get to surmount the threat of Covid-19,” he said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

CPP: ‘The NPA does not torture its enemies’

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) denied the New People’s Army (NPA) tortured the four police officers killed in Ayungon, Negros Oriental last July 18.

In a statement, the CPP’s Information Bureau said that based on reports of the NPA’s Mt. Cansermon Command that claimed responsibility for the attack, the four armed personnel of the Philippine National Police (PNP) were killed in an ambush.

Those killed were not tortured, contrary to claims made by President Rodrigo Duterte, the CPP said.

“They were armed adversaries of the NPA and died in a legitimate act of war. Duterte and the police are making up stories in a vain attempt to gain public sympathy,” the CPP added.

The group said, the NPA strictly prohibits the use of torture, “[u]nlike the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines] and PNP.”

“The NPA’s rules prohibit even lifting a finger against its captives or prisoners. The policies of the NPA are much unlike Duterte’s cruel war that targets civilians with extreme brutality,” the CPP said.

‘No ordinary ambush’

In a press conference last Friday, Police Regional Office-7 (Central Visayas) director PBGen. Dobeld Sinas said he does not believe the casualties died in an ordinary ambush.

Sinas alleged the four police officers were dragged, hogtied, mauled and even hit with butts of rifles by the NPA.

Sinas identified the fatalities as Corporal Relebert Beronio and Patrolmen Raffy Callao, Patrolman Ruel Cabellon and Patrolman Marquino de Leon.

Based on police reports, the four police officers were on board two motorcycles were waylaid and fired upon by at least 11 unidentified NPA fighters.

They were intelligence personnel of the 704 Mobile Force Company of the Regional Mobile Force Battalion in Central Visayas.

The NPA’s Mt. Cansermon Command (MCC) spokesperson, Dionisio Magbuelas, said the four officers were killed for acting as spies to implement police operations that had led to civilian deaths in Negros Oriental.

“Based on our intelligence report, the four police operatives were gathering information and surveilling the area for another round of Oplan Sauron or Synchronized Enhanced Management of Police Operations where innocent civilians are killed by uniformed personnel in the guise of counter-insurgency efforts,” the NPA said in a statement.

‘Series of successful tactical offensive’

In another statement Thursday, the NPA unit claimed no less than 43 soldiers and police were either killed or injured in three separate offensives it conducted between June 22 and July 18.

Aside from the Ayungon ambush, the MCC also conducted what it called a sniping operation in Sitio Bulo, Brgy. Bantolinao, Manjuyod, Negros Oriental last June 22 that resulted in the death of three soldiers of the 94th Infantry Battalion-Philippine Army (IBPA) and the wounding of 20 others.

Last July 2, the MCC said it foiled a raid attempt by the 11th IBPA in Sitio Small Samac, Brgy. Nalundan, Bindoy, Negros Oriental and launched a counter offensive that killed 10 and wounded six government troopers. 

“The series of successful tactical offensive was conducted by MCC-NPA to need the call for justice for the victims of extrajudicial killings especially for the innocent victim’s of Oplan Sauron 1 and 2,” Magbuelas said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

OFWs in peril in Saudi-Yemen war, Migrante warns

A Filipino migrant group warned that thousands of Filipinos are facing danger after Yemeni Houthi fighters fired missiles at an airport in Abha, Saudi Arabia earlier this week.

Migrante International said that it may already be unsafe for close to 36,000 overseas Filipino workers to be airlifted to safety after Houthi fighters again targeted Abha’s Najran airport with missiles.

Migrante International photo.

Migrante said the Rodrigo Duterte government in the Philippines failed to put in place contingency measures to assist OFWs working in southwest Saudi Arabia close to the Yemeni border.

“Now that airports and control towers are being targeted, it will no longer be safe for Filipinos to be airlifted to safety from these regions,” Migrante said in a statement Thursday.

Migrante said that the Philippine consulate in Jeddah lists about 15,000 Filipinos work in Jizan and 7,850 are in Najran.

It added that in the Asir region, there are 13,000 OFWs in the city of Khamis Mushayt alone.

The city is close to the King Khalid Air Base which earlier suffered airstrikes from Yemeni fighters.

“We are outraged that the Duterte administration remains stone-deaf in hearing our calls to ensure the safety of Filipinos in Saudi Arabia as the Philippine government displays the same ineptitude it has shown during the previous outbreak of armed conflict in Libya, Iraq and Syria,” Migrante said in its statement.

The group accused the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs of merely re-echoing “almost the same consulate advisory issued by its office in Jeddah last month.”

“In light of reports from Saudi authorities on the interception of two alleged Houthi ballistic missiles over Taif, one heading toward Makkah and the other toward Jeddah, on Monday morning, 20 May 2019, the Philippine Consulate General in Jeddah Kingdom of Saudi Arabia wishes to advise our kababayans in the city and its neighboring areas to remain calm but vigilant for any eventualities,” the Consulate said in its Public Advisory No. 44.

“Will the government wait once more for thousands of Filipinos to be caught up in the deadliest last minute before it even lifts a finger?” Migrante asked.

The group said signs of escalation in the fighting have been clear but the Duterte government “wasted several weeks” in merely campaigning for its senatorial candidates in the region.

“This vile apathy demonstrates how much weight the Duterte government places on its lust for power than looking after the welfare of imperilled OFWs,” Migrante said.

Migrante again called on the Duterte government to ensure that concrete actions are already in place to readily assist OFWs in need of immediate evacuation in all locations of Saudi Arabia within missile range.

“It should draw lessons from similar periods in the past when it only responded upon the moment when lives have already been lost,” it said.

The fighting in the Arabian Peninsula escalated March 2015 when a Saudi-led coalition of Arab states intervened and backed the Yemeni government against the Shiite Houthis, bitter rivals of the Saudi Sunnis.

The United Nations earlier said that as many as 50,000 may have already been killed in the Saudi-led and US-backed war in Yemen in the past four years.

Recently, however, Houthis had been firing ballistic missiles deep into Saudi territory that signify the escalation of conflict where tens of thousands of OFWs are stationed. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)