Saturday, May 17, 2014

2 soldiers wounded in Davao clash with leftist rebels

From the Philippine Star (May 17): 2 soldiers wounded in Davao clash with leftist rebels

Two soldiers were wounded in a clash with the leftist New People's Army (NPA) this morning in Davao, the military said.

The encounter occurred along a village road in Paquibato District, Davao City, at around 5:30 a.m. while the government troops were preparing the route for the culmination of a 3-day peace building summit by the local government, different line government agencies, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police, said AFP's 10th Infantry Division spokesperson Ernest Carolina.

Prior to the incident, a team of soldiers from the 69th Infantry Battalion were sent to patrol along the road after receiving information about a landmine said to have been planted by the NPA in the said route.

The team encountered some seven rebels along the route, and a firefight erupted and last for about 10 minutes, Carolina said.

Two soldiers were wounded by shrapnel from the landmine blast during the clash, while the NPA casualties remained undetermined, he said, adding that the soldiers recovered a 100-meter long blasting wire in the area.

The government troops launched a pursuit operation against the fleeing rebels.

No confirmed location yet of Sayyaf, foreign captives

From the Philippine Star: No confirmed location yet of Sayyaf, foreign captives

Police and military intelligence units that have been tracking for several weeks now the Abu Sayyaf group that abducted foreigner have yet to find the bandits and their captives.

Capt. Ma. Rowena Muyuela, spokesperson of Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom),  saidtheir military intelligence unit have been conducting intelligence tracking operation parallel to the efforts of the provincial police office of Sulu.

Muyuela said the verification operation came following unofficial information that German nationals Stefan Viktor Okonek, 71, and her female companion, Herike Diesen, 55, who went missing from their yacht off Palawan  and were reportedly seized and brought by the Abu Sayyaf to the Sulu province.

“So far the result of the intelligence tracking operation yielded no confirmation yet. The military operation is just to back up the police authority which is taking the primary responsibility over the kidnapping case,” Muyuela said.

2Lt. Orchelyn Bobis, acting public affairs chief of 2nd Marine Brigade, said the absence of the positive information prompted them to consider the information as hearsay. However, she said troops continue to monitor and coordinate with the police authorities.

Reports also confirmed that the Abu Sayyaf group is also holding captive Chinese national Gao Hua Yuan and Malaysian-Chinese Yang Zai Lin, who were separately abducted  from Sabah in April.

Gao, 29, a Shanghai native, was abducted along with Filipina resort worker Marcelita Dayawan, 40, on April 1 from a resort off Semporna while Yang, 34, and a companion identified as Konar Resowan, were taken on May 6.

Prof. Octavio Dinampo, a peace advocate member and professor of Mindanao State University (MSU) of Sulu, said the military and police have been moving forces to track down the possible locations of the victims.

Dinampo said his “informants” and information from the ground disclosed that the two Germans have been brought to Sulu in  April and taken to the area in Patikul where senior Abu Sayyaf leader Radulan Sahiron is holding camp.

He said there were unconfirmed reports that the two German nationals have been merged with the two other European captives Elwold Horn of Holland and Swiss Lorenzo Vinceguerre, both abducted in February 2012 from Tawi-Tawi and brought to Sulu.

He said it was also confirmed that Gao and Yang were held in two separate places by the Abu Sayyaf.

25th ID troops practice jungle survival at Balikatan

From Hawaii Army Weekly (May 16): 25th ID troops practice jungle survival at Balikatan

FORT MAGSAYSAY, Phillipines — Gen. Vincent Brooks, commander, U.S. Army-Pacific, dons protective gear in preparation to observe a live-fire drill, here, May 7, conducted by Philippine and U.S. Soldiers during Balikatan 2014.

Gen. Vincent Brooks, commander, U.S. Army-Pacific, dons protective gear in preparation to observe a live-fire drill, May 7, conducted by Philippine and U.S. Soldiers during Balikatan 2014.
FORT MAGSAYSAY, Phillipines — The cobra hissed and flailed violently as Tech. Sgt. Riden A. Dumalig, an instructor with the Philippine Army Special Forces, demonstrated to American Soldiers how to prepare it for nourishing themselves in a jungle environment should the need arise.

 This lesson was just one of the many learned by more than 60 Soldiers with 3rd Battalion, 7th Artillery Regiment; 2nd Bn., 27th Inf. Regt.; and 3rd Bn., 4th Cavalry Regt., 25th Infantry Division, as they participated in a jungle survival training course as part of Exercise Balikatan 2014, May 4.

 Units with the 25th ID conducted bilateral training exercises with their Philippine counterparts, May 5-15.

 Instructors from Philippine Army Special Forces taught the Soldiers jungle survival fundamentals, such as trapping, foraging, nutrition, and preparing animals and plants for consumption. Among the resources used for survival were coconuts, herbs, wild goats, fish, chickens and even snakes.

“It’s important that Soldiers are able to survive off the land, sustain themselves, especially in environments where there’s not much opportunities for resupply,” said 1st Lt. Nicholas Risher, 3-4th Cav. Regt. “If we can feed ourselves out there, then we can last longer and fight harder.”

The unique training provided the Soldiers with valuable knowledge and skills from subject matter experts who have had decades of experience in their field.

“For me, the hands-on instruction we’re getting from the Philippine Special Forces is the best part of the training,” said Risher, of Cincinatti, Ohio. “This is valuable training that we can’t get anywhere else. This is especially valuable at a time when we’re moving out of Iraq and Afghanistan, into other environments, and it allows us to be more prepared for conflicts in the Pacific or anywhere there’s a jungle environment.”

Furthermore, the event provided the U.S. Soldiers with opportunities to build rapport and camaraderie with the Philippine Special Forces instructors, as they shared not only food, but also stories and experiences from Afghanistan to the Southern Philippines.

“I like training and interacting with the American Soldiers,” said Dumalig. “It’s a good learning experience for both parties, and I feel that we are teaching them valuable knowledge that will help them when they conduct operations in the jungle.”
Balikatan 2014

 Balikatan is an annual joint-exercise between the U.S. and the Philippines, designed to foster cooperation and interoperability between the two nations’ armed forces through training, as well as humanitarian aid and disaster relief projects.

CPP/NDF: On the baseless allegations and malicious innuendoes hurled at me by the AFP and their patrons

Anti-AFP propaganda statement posted to the CPP Website (May 14): On the baseless allegations and malicious innuendoes hurled at me by the AFP and their patrons
Roy Erecre
NDFP for the Visayas
NDFP Consultant ND978243 under the assumed name Vide Alguna
Bohol District Jail (BDJ) in Cabawan
District, Tagbilaran City
Let me convey my gratitude for the opportunity to respond to baseless allegations and malicious innuendoes hurled at me by the AFP and their patrons.

Immediately after abducting me in my hometown, this government has kept me incommunicado by transferring me from one detention cell to another across the seas until finally jailing me in Bohol where I once studied and then learned the necessity and worked for the realization of a systemic revolution. In the crucial time following my abduction, government agents denied me the right to counsel, as they interrogated and threatened and manhandled me. While locked up from public scrutiny, I was accused of trumped-up charges and misrepresented as guilty felon through trial by publicity.

I didn’t know then that having medical treatment with one’s family physician translates to “island-resort hopping” of sorts in military mind, and that either constitutes a crime. I and my aide were just surprised that morning of May 7, 2014, when intelligence operatives pounced on us while on our way for my follow-up check up for diabetes.
During my arrest, I was robbed of my personal belongings. Until now, my phone, journal, and flash drives haven’t been returned.

All these because of my being a consultant to the peace panel of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) in its peace negotiations with this government. It is a role I have taken since Cory Aquino opened peace overtures after the EDSA Revolt. Then and now, the duplicity of this government at feigning negotiations in order to gather intelligence information against its perceived enemies has reached scandalous heights.

Instead of respecting the agreements it signed with the NDFP, this government is instead preoccupied in emasculating each one, especially the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) and the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG). In fact, there are now 169 victims of extra-judicial killings nationwide since the beginning of Aquino’s presidency, as documented by KARAPATAN. This year alone, 19 human rights defenders were executed by government agents, including veteran people’s lawyer and comrade Noel Archival. There has also been continued crackdown on those involved in the NDFP’s peace panel. Just weeks before, a similar, bare-faced attack on fellow NDFP peace consultants Benito and Wilma Tiamzon was carried out in Cebu.

This travesty justice and its own due processes, however, serves only as this government’s own undoing. It only exposes the hopeless rottenness of the system this government represents and protects. It merely enflames the people’s revolutionary anger and collective desire for holistic change. It just pushes the people to be more determined in breaking free from the structures of oppression and exploitation.
This government may have succeeded in imprisoning me for now, but it can never be triumphant in containing the surging people’s wrath.

CPP/Sison: The new democratic revolution through protracted people’s war

Sison lecture posted to the CPP Website (May 15): The new democratic revolution through protracted people’s war

Lecture at the Forum for Liberation Theology
Centre for Liberation Theologies
Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven

I thank the Centre for Liberation Theologies for inviting me to this Forum for Liberation Theology to speak on the new democratic revolution through protracted people’s war. It is an honor and pleasure for me to interface and dialogue with theologians and others who are seriously interested in knowing the nature and development of the Philippine revolution, and the relationship of Christians with the Filipino people’s struggle for national and social liberation.

I wish to present my subject by using the following outline: 1. the old democratic revolution against Spanish colonialism and feudalism; 2. the new democratic revolution against the semi-colonial and semi-feudal ruling system; 3. the Christians for National Liberation; 4. the continuance of the new democratic revolution to the present.

I. Old Democratic Revolution

Spain was motivated by mercantilism and the desire to spread the Catholic Christian faith in imposing colonialism by force of arms on the people of the Philippine archipelago, effectively starting in 1565 after the expedition of Magellan in 1521. It used the sword and the cross to pacify the people. The conquistadores brutally suppressed those who resisted. The missionaries worked persuasively to bring the people under the bells of the Catholic church.

The Spanish colonialists could apply the divide and rule policy on a people that generally had pre-feudal autonomous small communities. The Islamic sultanates covered a small part of the archipelago, particularly in southwest Mindanao. The Muslims traded in other parts and began to spread their faith. But the success of Spanish colonialism cut them off from most of the archipelago.

The Spanish king rewarded the conquistadores by granting to them the encomiendas, large areas of land which they were supposed to administer to make sure that the natives got their Christian catechism and paid tribute. The encomienda system, which involved slavery and all its brutal features previously denounced by Bartolome de las Casas in the Americas, would last for almost a century, and morphed into the system of feudal ownership of land by the friars and the native principales.

Spanish colonialism succeeded in maintaining a colonial system of government centralized in the walled city of Manila. It was enough to control entire municipalities with the use of Spanish friars in charge of the parishes and the Spanish military officer in charge of the civil guards. However, the people were never a totally conquered and pacified. The Moros in the south, Igorots in the north, and many hill tribes resisted subjugation until the end of Spanish colonialism. More than 200 revolts of varying scopes and intensity occurred in supposedly pacified provinces in more than 300 years preceding the Philippine revolution of 1896.

In the Manila-Acapulco galleon trade which lasted until 1815, the Spanish religious orders had a share of the boletas, cargo spaces in the ship, which the friars rented out to merchants. The income was supposedly for obras pias (pious works) but was large enough to capitalize the establishment of a bank, the Monte de Piedad. The galleon trade was basically trade between Chinese porcelain and silk, and Mexican silver, with the Chinese buying Philippine rice and cotton.

When the Suez Canal was opened in 1869, the direct trade between the Philippines and Europe accelerated and expanded. The Spanish religious orders expanded their landholdings arbitrarily, especially in the Tagalog areas of Luzon, in order to produce export crops, including sugar, copra, cocoa, tobacco, and hemp. Landholdings of native landlords for the production of staple food crops also expanded. The dispossessed peasants nationwide became restless.

Since the middle of the 19th century, a big number of native secular priests had been produced by the seminaries. They eventually demanded that they take over the parishes from the foreign missionaries, and that the latter stay in the convents of their religious orders. What arose as a secularization movement among secular priests was condemned by the Spanish regular orders and the colonial government. A theocracy practically existed in the Philippines, with the church often more powerful than the governor generals who came and went in rapid succession.

When the Cavite Mutiny of 1872 occurred in a Spanish naval stockyard, the colonial and religious officials framed up and tried as instigators of the mutiny the known leaders of the secularization movement, secular priests Mariano Gomez, Jose Burgos, and Jacinto Zamora. They were sentenced to death by garrote and were executed in 1872. Their martyrdom galvanized for the first time the national sentiment of the Filipino people against the Spanish colonial authorities and the Spanish religious orders.

Before the 1880s, Filipino students in various professional courses (medical, legal, engineering, etc.) increased. Some of them who resented the authoritarian system in the Catholic schools left for Spain. They imbibed the influences of the French revolution and the Spanish enlightenment. They formed in Madrid the Propaganda Movement in the 1880s advocatng such reforms as making the Philippines a regular province of Spain and letting the people enjoy democratic rights.

La Liga Filipina was established in Manila in 1892 to pursue the reforms advocated by the Propaganda Movement. The Spanish authorities arrested and exiled the leader Dr. Jose Rizal. The crackdown on La Liga Filipina inspired the formation of the Katipunan which vowed to rise up in arms for national independence from Spain. The Katipunan, led by Andres Bonifacio, launched a series of armed uprisings in Manila and its environs in 1896. Thus the Philippine democratic revolution started.

The guiding ideology was bourgeois liberal democratic. It called for national independence from Spanish colonialism and the end of feudalism, especially the dissolution of the friar estates. It was espoused by patriots and progressives among the workers, peasants, and the university-educated youth. They were strongly anti-clerical and were most averse to the friars of the religious orders and to the colonial officials. But they generally considered themselves Christians and called for a Filipino church. It may be said therefore that the Christians were on the opposing sides of revolution and counterrevolution.

The old democratic revolution of 1896 achieved national independence from Spanish colonialism in 1898. The Malolos Constitution of 1899 followed the template of the liberal democratic constitution. It provided for the separation of Church and State. But national independence was short-lived as US imperialism intervened and launched a war of aggression on 4 February 1899. The Constitutional provision on Church-State separation was then suspended for the duration of the war by the cabinet of the revolutionary government on the argument that the Filipino priests of the Catholic church were the most effective collectors of financial and other material resources for the revolution.

The revolutionary government had its own vicar general Rev. Gregorio Aglipay. He had been sent by the Spanish Bishop Nozaleda to offer a peace settlement to the revolutionary government. But instead he declared loyalty to the Philippine revolution and was appointed the vicar general. He considered the Philippine revolution a just war against colonial oppression and social injustice. He led a guerrilla force in his home province of Ilocos Norte to assault the US military garrison in Laoag. All Filipino secular priests in areas governed by the revolutionary forces declared their independence from the Spanish religious authorities, and of course from the colonial government.

As soon as they conquered the Philippines, the US colonial authorities moved to persuade the Catholic Church and the religious orders to replace the Spanish friars with Filipino secular priests in parishes, and to phase out gradually the Spanish friars in religious orders and schools with American or Irish priests. The Catholic church has remained dominant, with 85 per cent of the population baptized by it.

The priests who followed the leadership of Aglipay established the Philippine Independent Church in 1902. This covers some four percent of the population. To this day, it is the largest Christian church outside of the Roman Catholic church. The US colonial period opened the way to the entry of various Protestant denominations that share among them some five percent of the population.

II. New Democratic Revolution

The US imperialists defeated the old democratic revolution mainly with the use of superior arms and extreme brutality. They massacred 10 percent or 700,000 of the Philippine population during the Filipino-American War which formally ended in 1902. They continued to inflict on the Filipino people another 800,000 death casualties up to 1915.

US imperialism had also a high capacity for deception. In the course of its war of aggression, it proclaimed a policy of benevolent assimilation to the revolutionary leaders and the people. It declared that it had no other aim but to further civilize and Christianize the people, and to teach them democracy for the purpose of self-rule. It used the language of bourgeois liberalism to coopt the leadership of the revolution.
The US established a colonial rule different from the old style colonialism of Spain involving sheer plunder. It represented a new kind of colonialism involving the extraction of superprofits through investments. It had the resources and the needs of monopoly capitalism. It expanded the plantations for export crops, opened the mines, and engaged in a limited amount of manufacturing. It established the public school system and improved the infrastructure for expanding domestic and foreign trade.
It has developed a semi-feudal economic system among the natives since the first decade of the 20th century. The urban-based big compradors and the rural-based landlords have served as the ruling classes. They comprise fractions of one percent of the population. The size of the middle bourgeoisie has stagnated as a fraction of one percent and the urban petty bourgeoisie has grown to eight percent. The industrial proletariat has risen from a small percentage to some 16-17 percent. The peasantry has gone down from a high of 90 percent to 75 percent.

The growth of the proletariat and the trade union movement paved the way for the establishment of the Communist Party of the Philippine Islands under the guidance of Marxism-Leninism in 1930. The US colonial regime tried to suppress this party as soon as it was established by imprisoning and exiling the leaders. But the Great Depression and the ever worsening social conditions goaded the workers and peasants to undertake strikes and mass protests.

After World War II broke out, the merger party of the Communist and Socialist parties and the mass movement built a people’s army and local organs of political power, carried out land reform, and fought the Japanese invaders. After the war, the US and the local exploiting classes unleashed violent actions against the communists, the people’s army, and the people, compelling them to fight back and declare an armed revolution.

In 1946, the US gave up direct colonial rule, granted nominal independence to the Philippines, and passed on functions of national administration to the politicians of competing factions of the local ruling classes of big compradors and landlords. Thus, the Philippines became a semi-colony, with the US retaining its military bases, the property rights of its citizens and corporations, and its strategic dominance over the Philippine state, its economy, politics, culture, defense, and international relations.

The semi-feudal economy persisted characterized by the exploitation of the toiling masses of workers and peasants, production of raw materials for export and import of manufactures mainly for consumption. Politics remained a revolving game for factions of the local exploiting classes. The dominant culture was a mixture and compromise of cultural imperialism and Christianity of the reactionary kind. The Philippine military continued its dependence on US indoctrination, planning, intelligence, and supply of war materiel. The Philippine government robotically followed US policy.

In the 1960s, the crisis of the Philippine ruling system worsened, with the exhaustion of the land frontier for peasant resettlement and the lack of industrial development causing mass unemployment and widespread poverty. The broad masses of the people called for fundamental social change to lift them from poverty and misery. The anti-imperialist and anti-feudal mass movement grew. The Marcos regime became more violent in suppressing the mass movement and saw the crisis conditions opportune for a fascist dictatorship.

The proletarian revolutionaries recognized the worsening social conditions and the need for an armed revolution. They separated from the old merger party of the Communist and Socialist parties in April 1966. They criticized, repudiated, and rectified the errors of this party. They reestablished the Communist Party of the Philippines on 26 December 1968 under the theoretical guidance of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought. They proclaimed the Program for a People’s Democratic Revolution. They organized the New People’s Army on 29 March 1969 with the aim of overthrowing the big comprador-landlord government, and replacing it with a people’s democratic government.

The Communist Party of the Philippines constituted itself as the advanced detachment of the proletariat – the leading class in the new democratic revolution and the consequent socialist revolution. It recruited its cadres and members from the ranks of workers and progressive youth activists who wished to remould themselves as proletarian revolutionaries. It deployed the proletarian revolutionaries to the countryside to arouse, organize and mobilize the peasantry as the main force of the revolution and as the inexhaustible support for the people’s war. It regarded the urban petty bourgeoisie a basic revolutionary force but no longer as the leading force as in the old democratic revolution. It also sought to win over the middle bourgeoisie on grounds of patriotism, despite the latter´s distrust for the toiling masses.

The program of the new democratic revolution holds US imperialism and the local exploiting classes of big compradors and landlords as responsible for the semi-colonial and semi-feudal character of Philippine society. In the political field, it demands national independence and democratic rights, including respect for civil liberties, the solution of the land problem, and the empowerment of the workers and peasants. In the economic field, it demands social justice and economic development through land reform and national industrialization. In the cultural field, it demands a patriotic, scientific, and pro-people system of education and culture. In foreign relations, it seeks solidarity and cooperation with all peoples and countries for peace and development.
All the demands in the program of the new democratic revolution uphold, defend and promote the national and democratic rights and interests of the entire Filipino people, especially the toiling masses of workers and peasants, irrespective of their religious beliefs, their ethno-linguistic affinity, ancestry, color of skin, and gender. For emphasis, let me state that Christians and other religious believers, have the fundamental right to freedom of thought and belief. This right is clearly enshrined in the revolutionary constitution, the Guide to Establishing the People’s Democratic Government.

The strategic line of protracted people’s war, which involves encircling the cities by the revolutionary forces in the countryside, and accumulating strength here until conditions are ripe for seizing the cities, has been adopted by the CPP and the NPA for two reasons. First, it gives full play to the role of the peasants as main force of the democratic revolution. Second, it is the way to enable the people’s army to grow from small to big and from weak to strong, and avoid being decisively destroyed in one uprising or one battle by a far superior enemy military force.

All forces of the new democratic revolution, including the Communist Party of the Philippines, the New People’s Army, the National Democratic Front, the revolutionary mass organizations, and the organs of democratic power, recognize that more than 90 percent of the population are Christians, and that the new democratic revolution cannot be won without the participation and support of the Christians. Thus, the Christians for National Liberation has been initiated to engage the Christians as such, and give full play to their participation and support in the Philippine revolution.

The CNL has played a highly significant role in promoting ecumenism by uniting within the revolutionary movement the faithfuls of the Roman Catholic Church, the Philippine Independent Church, and various Protestant denominations; by developing mutual understanding between Christians and Muslims; by opposing Christian chauvinism so-called and other un-Christian phenomena engendered by colonial history and continuing bigotry; and by realizing the dialogue and cooperation between religious believers and nonbelievers.

While guided by dialectical and historical materialism in their revolutionary practice, the communists in the Philippines respect the faith and theology of the Christians.They uphold the freedom of conscience and do not impose their ideology on others. When others differ from them in opinion, they prefer to listen and learn first, and then patiently explain their side for the purpose of mutual understanding and cooperation.
They avoid deflection of the issues of national and social liberation towards a heated debate of religious issues above the social needs and demands of the people. But they happily welcome and agree with any attempt to develop the dialogue and cooperation between them and the Christians in their obedience to the second great commandment to love and serve the people in consonance with their love of God above all.

III. Christians for National Liberation

The Christians for National Liberation (CNL) was founded at the worship room of the Sampaloc University Center in Manila on 17 February, 1972 on the anniversary of the martyrdom of Fathers Gomez, Burgos and Zamora. Seventy-two revolutionary disciples of Christ gathered to bear the “cross of sacrifice” and raise the “red banner of revolution”. They described themselves as a revolutionary organization of church people who had been challenged by social realities and their Christian faith to take part in the new democratic revolution under the leadership of the Communist Party of the Philippines and in accordance with the Program for a People’s Democratic Revolution. They adopted the battle cry, “Love your neighbor. Serve the people.”

The founding process extended to the general assembly that was held at the Assumption Convent in Herran, Manila on 19-20 August 1972, a full month before the Marcos regime declared martial law and imposed a fascist dictatorship on the Filipino people. The nearly 250 delegates included priests, nuns, pastors, seminarians, novices, and church militants involved in social action projects in urban and rural communities. They elected the National Executive Board of the CNL.

The CNL officers and members arose from and developed in the anti-imperialist and anti-feudal or national democratic movement from the late 1960s to 1972. They were motivated by a high sense of patriotism sharpened by renewed studies of the Philippine revolution of 1896, the current dismal conditions, and the urgent need for continuing the Philippine revolution. They wanted to end the semi-colonial and semi-feudal conditions. They wanted national and social liberation from the evils of foreign domination, domestic feudalism, and bureaucrat capitalism. Like the rest of Filipino patriots and progressives, they were also inspired by the revolutionary resistance of the Vietnamese and other Indochinese people against the US war of aggression.

They were appalled and challenged by the ever worsening social crisis, the increasing violence of the Marcos regime towards mass protests, and apparent scheme of the regime to impose a fascist dictatorship on the people. They deemed it necessary to fight for democracy not only in the sense of upholding civil and political liberties but also in realizing the substance of democracy though land reform for the benefit of the peasant majority of the people. They desired the end of the conditions of underdevelopment and the start of genuine development through land reform and national industrialization.

The Catholics, the members of the Philippine Independent Church, and the Protestants all used the Bible as the source of inspiration. They had their respective theological authorities to support their commitment to the cause of national and social liberation. Certainly, the Catholics found wider new ground in the documents of the Second Vatican Council. The book Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paolo Freire became available in English translation in 1970, and influenced those who became members of the CNL. It was well ahead of the book A Theology of Liberation by Gustavo Gutierrez which was published in English by Orbis only in 1973. The book Rules for Radicals of Saul Alinsky also influenced those Christians who engaged in community work. The Filipino Redemptorist, Fr. Luis Hechanova advocated the Theology of Struggle and wrote a pamphlet on this.

The CNL departed from the conservative tradition and position of the institutional church and hierarchy. It called for the church of the people, especially for the poor, deprived, and oppressed. It propagated conscientization and preferential option for the poor. The lower clergy joined the CNL and consciously distanced themselves from the mindset and actuations of an institutional church that owns substantial land and stocks in major corporations, and that provides services mainly to the exploiting classes. In the shift from the Spanish to the US colonial period, the Catholic Church retained their property rights and gained capital for corporate investments from the sale of friar estates which came under the US-instituted land reform program.

The religious and church workers that comprised the CNL also differentiated themselves from the reformist tradition cultivated by the American Jesuits since the 1930s to propagate the social encyclicals of the church, advocate social reforms, and carry out social action with the objective of improving upon and preserving the ruling system, and preventing the communists from winning the people and taking power.
The American Jesuit, Fr. Walter Hogan became prominent in the Philippines for establishing the Institute of Social Order which trained the organizers of the Federation of Free Workers and the Federation of Free Farmers starting in the 1950s, in order to seize the initiative as the state cracked down on the suspected communist organizations of workers and peasants. They also pushed for the enactment of the Anti-Subversion Law to target suspected communists.

Special mention must made of the Student Christian Movement of the Philippines, based in the state-owned University of the Philippines, in the university belt in Manila and the Protestant colleges and universities. It studied and published articles against US domination and the unjust social system in the Philippines. The Khi Rho, a militant Catholic youth and student organization, declared itself a national democratic organization. It promoted the line of the new democratic revolution not only in the Catholic schools and the National Union of Students of the Philippines but also worked to win over to the line such organizations as the Federation of Free Workers and Federation of Free Farmers. It actively opposed the rabid anti-communist line of Fr. Jose Blanco, S.J.

The officers and members of the CNL studied the documents of the Communist Party of the Philippines, especially the Program for a People’s Democratic Revolution and Amado Guerrero’s Philippine Society and Revolution, and engaged the communists in dialogues for mutual understanding and cooperation in the social, economic, political, and cultural fields. The Christian side did not oblige the Communists to study Christian theology. Neither did the Communists oblige the Christians to study Marxism-Leninism. But certainly in the course of ever continuing dialogue, each side took interest in studying the principles of the other side, in appreciating the desire of the other side to join the cause of national and social liberation, and in creating the bridge of cooperation.

The Communists learned more deeply than ever about the faith and good works of the Christians. They distinguished the good Christians from the bad ones among the exploiting classes, who used religion as an opium to delude themselves and the people. On the other hand, the Christians learned to appreciate materialist dialectics and class analysis as tools for understanding and solving social problems and for changing society. Many do so without having to give up their religious faith. Some priest friends of mine also said that they accepted historical materialism but not dialectical materialism.

When Marcos declared martial law on 21 September 1972, the CNL played an important role in opposing the fascist dictatorship and in providing refuge and facilities to many people, especially the activists, who were targeted for arrest and detention. They also helped families in asking the military for the whereabouts of people arrested and detained, and in providing humanitarian aid and legal counsel to those in need. They did so even as then Cardinal Rufino Santos supported the proclamation of martial law and declared that it be given a chance to carry out reforms.

The CNL joined the National Democratic Front of the Philippines when it was established on 24 April 1973 as a united front of patriotic and progressive forces committed to work for the unity of the broad masses of the Filipino people in fighting the US-directed Marcos fascist dictatorship. It cooperated with the organizations that sought its help. It deployed CNL members to strengthen the urban underground. It played a key role in encouraging and supporting the La Tondeña workers’ strike in 1975, and the consequent nationwide wave of workers’ strikes in 300 workplaces that extended up to 1976.

It authorized CNL members to work in the countryside in order to do religious work and mass work, or join the New People’s Army and become spokespersons or communicators to the people. Many priests, nuns, pastors and seminarians became communists and even joined the NPA in the course of working with communists and Red fighters in serving the people and fighting the enemy. There is a long list of martyrs and heroes who were religious and chose to become revolutionary fighters. There is also long list of religious who became political prisoners.

In the broad united front of the religious promoted by the CNL, the secular priests in the Philippine Priests Incorporated and the Association of Major Religious Superiors made significant contributions to the people’s struggle against the Marcos fascist dictatorship. Many social action centers of the Catholic Church adopted the national democratic orientation and enjoyed the support of Bishop Julio X. Labayen and Fr. Luis Hechanova, head and executive director of the National Secretariat of Social Action (NASSA). Bishop Labayen inspired and supported the Basic Christian Communities-Community Organizing which became targets of propaganda and physical attacks by the military minions of the fascist dictatorship.

Archbishop Jaime Sin took over the archdiocese of Manila when Cardinal Santos died in 1973. By then, human rights violations had become rampant and more bloody, with forced disappearances, torture, and extrajudicial killings victimizing oppositionists, trade unionists, and peasant leaders, who were affiliated with the church and who were not at all connected to the revolutionary movement. The CNL played a significant role in persuading Cardinal Sin and the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines to criticize the fascist regime and demand justice for the victims of human rights violations.

However, Cardinal Sin would only proclaim a policy of critical collaboration towards the Marcos fascist regime. This policy would come to an end only on 13 February 1986 when the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines issued a pastoral letter declaring the regime illegitimate and immoral after the farcical snap presidential election of 1986.

In accordance with their own respective reasons, the Catholic and other Christian churches, the conservative opposition forces, the Communist Party of the Philippines, the US, sections of the reactionary armed forces, the chambers of commerce and industry, and other forces, converged on the decision to overthrow the Marcos regime. The broad masses of the people carried out gigantic mass actions in the national capital region and in the provinces to put the fascist dictatorship to an end.

IV. Continuance of the New Democratic Revolution and People’s War

The downfall of the Marcos dictatorship did not result in the national and social liberation of the Filipino people. The ruling system of big compradors and landlords under US hegemony remained intact. From the monopoly of political power and bureaucratic loot, there was a swing back with a vengeance to the oligarchy of factions competing for power and wealth, and masquerading as democracy.

Every post-Marcos regime has been characterized by puppetry to US imperialism, collaboration with foreign and local exploiters, bureaucratic corruption, brutality, and gross human rights violations. It is therefore not surprising that the Filipino people and the revolutionary forces have persevered in the new democratic revolution through protracted people’s war, and that every post-Marcos regime has failed to destroy the armed revolutionary movement.

In the course of the struggle against the Marcos fascist dictatorship, a broad range of opposition forces had an understanding that, immediately after the overthrow of Marcos, there would be a peace agreement between the Manila government and the revolutionary forces represented by the National Democratic Front of the Philippines. In accordance with such understanding, the revolutionary forces represented by the National Democratic Front of the Philippines discreetly reminded President Corazon Aquino of their willingness to negotiate an agreement for a just and lasting peace.
But Aquino was interested merely in a ceasefire agreement to allow her to consolidate her power. She had no interest in an agreement to address the roots of the armed conflict through basic social, economic, and political reforms. At any rate, the NDFP agreed with the Aquino regime in November 1986 to have a 60-day ceasefire to work out the agenda for substantive peace negotiations. Before the ceasefire agreement ran out, Aquino allowed her security forces to massacre peasant demonstrators in front of her palace on 23 January 1987, and then, in her own words, “unsheathed the sword of war” against the revolutionary forces on 22 March 1987, instead of investigating and finding out which military officers were culpable for the massacre.

When hard pressed by the mutinous military group called Reform the Armed Forces of the Philippines and by the worsening social and political crisis in the Philippines in 1989, she sent a series of emissaries to the NDFP to express her desire for peace negotiations. But she relented in December 1990 from exploratory talks. It would be her presidential successor Gen. Fidel Ramos who would seek peace negotiations more seriously in 1992.

The Manila government and the NDFP signed The Hague Joint Declaration on 01 September 1992 as the framework agreement for conducting the peace negotiations. This stipulates that the roots of the armed conflict are to be addressed by basic reforms in order to lay the basis for just and lasting peace; that national sovereignty, democracy, and social justice are the mutually acceptable principles guiding the negotiations; and that no side shall make any precondition that negate the character and purpose of negotiations. It sets forth the substantive agenda to be negotiated in sequence, namely: 1. respect for human rights and international humanitarian law; 2. social and economic reforms; 3. political and constitutional reforms; and 4. end of hostilities and disposition of forces. The Hague Joint Declaration also lays down the method of forging the comprehensive agreements through the formation of reciprocal working committees.

Before the end of the Ramos regime, the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) was signed by the Negotiating Panels on 16 March 1998. The NDFP principal, Comrade Mariano Orosa, immediately approved it on 10 April 1998, while Ramos hesitated to approve it. It was his presidential successor Joseph Estrada who approved the agreement on 7 August 1998. However, since then, the Estrada and succeeding regimes continuously put up obstacles in violation of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) and CARHRIHL in order to prevent the negotiation on social and economic reforms.

The Christians for National Liberation and the broad masses of Christians have strongly supported the new democratic revolution through protracted people’s war, the legal and peaceful democratic mass movement, and the campaign for a just and lasting peace. Bishops of the Catholic Church, the Philippine Independent Church, the Protestant denominations, and the lower clergy outside of the CNL have been calling for upholding national sovereignty and the national patrimony, social justice, respect for human rights, protection of the environment, and a just and lasting peace. During every regime of the Manila government, bishops have used their conferences and special bodies, like the Ecumenical Bishops Forum, Pilgrims for Peace and Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform, to call for peace negotiations and to serve as bridge between the Manila government and NDFP.

The revolutionary forces and people represented by the NDFP are ever ready for serious peace negotiations to forge agreements with the Manila government for a just and lasting peace. But because this government refuses to address the roots of the civil war through peace negotiations, the revolutionary forces are justified to wage the new democratic revolution through protracted people’s war. Along this general line, the revolutionary forces are currently pursuing their strategic plan of advancing from the stage of strategic defensive to that of the strategic stalemate.

The Communist Party of the Philippines, the New People’s Army, the revolutionary mass organizations of workers, peasants, youth, women, children, and cultural activists, and the organs of democratic power are strengthening themselves. In the course of the people´s war, they are carrying out programs and campaigns to improve the social conditions and lives of the people through self-organization, public education, health care, land reform, economic production, self-defense, arbitration of people’s disputes, cultural upliftment, gender equality, and environmental protection.


  1. Agoncillio, Teodoro A. & Guerrero, Milagros, History of the Filipino People, 5th ed. (Quezon City: R. P. Garcia Publishing House, 1983)
  2. Christians for National Liberation, Schism and Apostasy in CNL, Pilipinas, special issue, November 1994.
  3. Ditto, 6th National Congress documents, Pilipinas, jan. 1995.
  4. Ditto, ¨Hail the 28th anniversary of the Christians for National Liberation, firmly grasp revolutionary principles¨, Pilipinas, special issue, Feb. 2000.
  5. Ditto, 7th National Congress documents, Pilipinas, February 2004.
  6. Corpuz, O. D., An Economic History of the Philippines (Quezon City: University of the Philippines Press, 1997)
  7. Guerrrero, Amado, Philippine Society and Revolution, 5th ed. (Philippines: Aklat ng Bayan, 2006)
  8. McCoy, Alfred W. & de Jesus, Ed C., Social History of the Philippines (Quezon City: Ateneo de Manila University Press, 2001)
  9. National Democratic Front of the Philippines, Declaration of Undertaking to Apply the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and Protocol I of 1977 (Quezon City: NDFP-Nominated Section to the Joint Secretariat of the GRP-NDFPJoint Monitoring Committee, 2005)
  10. Ditto, The GRP-NDFP Peace Negotiations: Major Written Agreements and Outstanding Issues (Quezon City: NDFP-Nominated Section to the Joint Secretariat of the GRP-NDFPJoint Monitoring Committee, 2006)
  11. Sison, Jose Maria, Building Strength through Struggle (Netherlands & Philippines: International Network for Philippine Studies and Aklat ng Bayan, 2014).
  12. Ditto, Crisis of Imperialism and People’s Resistance (Philippines: Aklat ng Bayan, 2009)
  13. Ditto, Foundation for Resuming the Philippine Revolution (Netherlands & Philippines: International Network for Philippine Studies and Aklat ng Bayan, 2013).
  14. Ditto, People’s Struggle Against Imperialist Plunder and War (Philippines: Aklat ng Bayan, 2009)
  15. Ditto, The People’s Struggle for a Just Peace (Netherlands: International Network for Philippine Studies, 1991)
  16. Sison, Jose Maria & de Lima, Julieta, Philippine Economy and Politics (Philippines: Aklat ng Bayan, 2001)
  17. Veneracion, Jaime, Philippine Agriculture during the Spanish Regime (Quezon City: College of Social Sciences and Philosophy Research and Publications, 2001)
  18. Youngblood, Robert L., Marcos Against the Church (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1990)

CPP: Condemn the AFP’s war of suppression and widespread abuses in Mindanao! ....

Anti-AFP propaganda statement posted to the CPP Website (May 16): Condemn the AFP’s war of suppression and widespread abuses in Mindanao! Wage widespread guerrilla warfare in Mindanao and across the country to defend the people!
Communist Party of the Philippines
The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) condemns in the strongest terms possible the heightened operations of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) against peasant and minority or Lumad communities, as well as against the Moro people, across the different regions in Mindanao. The aim is to suppress the people’s resistance, both their democratic mass struggles and their revolutionary armed movement, in order to pave the way for the entry of big foreign mining, logging and plantation operations in various parts of Mindanao.

The so-called “peace and development” operations of the AFP under its Oplan Bayanihan war against the people have brought nothing but terror and hardship to the hundreds of thousands of peasants and minorities. Combat troops of the AFP have committed widespread abuses of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law as they militarize entire communities, drop bombs and fire mortar shells which destroy farms and the natural environment. Operating troops of the AFP unjustly suppress civilian communities in their desperate effort to wage counter-guerrilla warfare against the New People’s Army (NPA), the people’s militias as well as against the revolutionary armed Moro fighters.

Since the start of 2014, the AFP has mobilized at least 30 combat maneuver battalions against the NPA forces in the South, Far South, Northeast and North Central Mindanao. The AFP’s Eastern Mindanao Command has been beefed up with additional troops from Luzon and the Visayas, including the deployment of at least three Scout Ranger battalions. These forces have been further augmented with forces of the Philippine Navy and Philippine Air Force, the AFP Engineering Brigade, Tactical Operations Group, Regional Community Defense Group and military intelligence battalions. At least one battalion under the 6th ID in the Moro areas in Maguindanao has been transferred to the 10th ID and deployed in Compostela Valley.
Such a major military campaign is likely coordinated with the US military, particularly the Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines (JSOTF-P) based in Zamboanga City. During previous major campaigns in Southern Mindanao, US soldiers set up tactical coordinating centers with field commands to provide combat assistance in the form of real-time satellite or drone intelligence, join combat operations and provide logistical support (including aerial support for dropping smart bombs or for medical evacuation).

The number of operating troops deployed by the AFP is unprecedented. We can conservatively estimate that the Aquino regime is spending at least P500 million a month to cover the costs of the daily field and intelligence operations of its combat units, fuel for its helicopter gunships, transport trucks and armed personnel carriers as well as the acquisition of bombs, artillery and bullets. The Aquino regime will likely be spending several billion pesos in the course of several months of counter-guerrilla operations in Mindanao.

The CPP joins the Filipino people in condemning the Aquino regime for squandering billions of pesos for its heightened military campaign in Mindanao while the majority of the people continue to wallow in poverty. At the same time, the Aquino regime adamantly refuses to heed the people’s demand for rehabilitation in the areas devastated by supertyphoon Pablo in December 2012. Aquino’s government has succeeded only in building 110 substandard houses out of an original target of 1,300. It has reneged on its promise of rice subsidies for the calamity victims. Worse, the Aquino regime has allowed mining and logging operations to continue in Baganga, Cateel and Boston, which were among the towns that suffered destructive mudflows resulting from widespread denudation.

The CPP also joins the widespread condemnation of the AFP’s campaigns of suppression against the people of Talaingod, Davao Oriental. Last April, at least 1,300 residents of Talaingod abandoned their homes and evacuated to Davao City in order to protest the presence of military troops in their communities and the transformation of their schools, day care centers and other village facilities into barracks for the operating troops of the 1003rd Brigade. They narrated how helicopter gunships fired bombs on their farms and how they were accused of being supporters of the NPA and forced to serve as guides for the soldiers in their operations. Earlier this month, the residents of Talaingod returned to their homes after successfully getting the AFP commander to order the withdrawal of troops from the community center. In the same breath, however, the AFP commander threatened to continue deploying soldiers in the area and declared that they would continue with their search and destroy operations in the area.

Over the past several months, the AFP has also conducted similar operations in the towns of Maco, Maragusan and Mabini, all in Compostela Valley; in Loreto, Butuan City and Cabadbaran in Agusan del Sur; and other areas. Cases of human rights abuses are rapidly increasing. These include the killing of Ricardo “Polon” Tuazon in Butuan last April 28, the abduction, torture and killing of Wilmar Bargas in Maco, the abduction of peasant leader Romeo “Ging-ging” Rivera in South Cotabato and others. The AFP have been conducting aerial bombing runs which have endangered civilian communities and caused grave trauma especially among children. Communities have been subjected to hamletting. AFP operating troops have imposed food and economic blockades resulting in grave hardships against the people. Invariably, AFP soldiers have systematically promoted gambling, drug use and other anti-social activities in order to cause divisions among the people. Cases of rape and sexual violations against young women are on the rise.

The people’s revolutionary movement is in complete solidarity with the demand to end the destructive and plunderous logging, mining and plantation operations that these abusive AFP military campaigns protect. The NPA continues to carry out the CPP’s directive to punish and drive away the biggest plunderers in order to make available land for land reform and preserve the ancestral lands of the Lumad. Recently, the NPA has succeeded in disabling large-scale mining equipment of Asia Alston in Agusan del Norte and the Apex Mining Company in Compostela Valley. It has carried out a campaign to put a stop to widespread logging operations in Compostela Valley being run by military officials and bureaucrat capitalists in collaboration with officials of the Aquino regime.

In light of the widespread abuses, grave violations of human rights and international humanitarian law and the vile aim of the AFP’s Oplan Bayanihan brutal campaign of suppression, the Communist Party of the Philippines calls on the Filipino people to unite and demand an immediate end to all offensive military operations and the withdrawal of all operating troops from civilian communities.

The CPP enjoins all peace-loving groups, human rights advocates, lawyers, church and religious workers, student organizations, media associations and progressive people’s groups across the Philippines to take up the cause of the people of Mindanao against the AFP’s intensified war of suppression. They should actively look into the situation in Mindanao and help expose the grave abuses and brutalities being committed by the AFP in the course of its war against the people.

The CPP calls on Filipinos abroad to organize and mobilize in order to come to the aid of the people of Mindanao. Solidarity groups of people who hail from Mindanao can be organized to spearhead an international campaign to expose the AFP’s war of suppression in their home towns and provinces. They can strive to draw international attention to the situation in Mindanao in order to expose the lies and illusions being peddled by the US-Aquino regime.

The CPP applauds the peasant organizations and Lumad groups, as well as the progressive organizations among the workers, students, urban poor, religious, teachers, environmental advocates, media, government employees and other democratic sectors in Mindanao, who have stood up and resisted the AFP’s all-out war of suppression. They have stood courageously in the face of harassment, threats, abductions and arrests carried out by the AFP against the people.

The CPP also urges the Moro forces to continue waging revolutionary armed resistance in order to frustrate the US-Aquino regime’s plan to allow foreign big mining companies to plunder the land and rob the Moro people of their rich natural resources.
The CPP applauds all Red commanders and fighters of the New People’s Army in Mindanao for continuing to seize the initiative in waging extensive and intensive guerrilla warfare. They have adeptly frustrated the AFP’s sustained and concentrated attacks by employing the tactics of shifting and concentration to avoid decisive engagements, luring the enemy deep and launching tactical offensives that they are sure of winning.

Despite the increased number of troops over the past month of operations, the AFP has yet to inflict a decisive blow against against any NPA unit. In fact, it is the AFP that continues to suffer casualties. Last May 5, a fascist trooper of the 67th IB was killed in an NPA sniping operation in Bgy. Pagsabangan, New Bataan. Earlier, the AFP also lost four soldiers in an NPA offensive last April 23 in Brgy Manurigao, New Bataan after conducting operations in Brgy. Pichon, Caraga town, Davao Oriental. On April 13 and 14, eight soldiers belonging to the Army Division Reconnaisance Company and three soldiers of the 9th IB were killed in successive NPA ambuscades in the Maragusan-Maco boundary area. On March 20, two soldiers were killed when an NPA unit ambushed a military truck transporting troops belonging to the 26th IB and the Scout Rangers in San Luis, Agusan del Sur. On March 12, five soldiers belonging to the 9th IB were killed in an NPA ambush in Panoraon, Maco, Compostela Valley. On March 10, the NPA successfully launched a raid against the PNP Headquarters in Matanao, Davao del Sur, killing three policemen and seizing 10 assorted firearms. On March 5, two soldiers belonging to the 58th IB were killed in an NPA harassment operation in Libertad, Gingoog City.

Hundreds of people’s militia units are rapidly being mobilized in order to pursue and harass all AFP operating troops. AFP units continue to punch the air and are fast growing tired and wary of the people’s army and the people’s militias. Their fear of the people and their army, in turn, makes them more desperate and brutal.

The CPP calls on the five regional commands of the New People’s Army across Mindanao to continue efforts to intensify the people’s war by launching ever more frequent and bigger tactical offensives against the enemy. The large-scale operations of the AFP open innumerable opportunities to carry out tactical offensives against the weak spots of the enemy. The NPA and units of the people’s militias can launch small unit operations without letup in order to take advantage of all opportunities to strike at the enemy and make it bleed from a thousand wounds. At the same time, NPA commanders at the regional and interregional level can plan out special operations to deal massive head blows with great political impact.

All units of the NPA in Luzon and Visayas continue to wage extensive and intensive guerrilla warfare in their respective regions and areas of operations. Tactical offensives have been carried out in various provinces over the past month, particularly in Northern Samar, Camarines Norte, Sorsogon, Masbate, Palawan, Batangas, Quezon, Ilocos Sur, Mountain Province and other places.

In the face of the large-scale and brutal war of suppression being waged by the AFP against the people in Mindanao, there is particular urgency to carry out a campaign to launch bigger and more frequent tactical offensives across the country. Such a campaign must be carried out to extend support to the NPA units in Mindanao who are now confronting one of the biggest and longest AFP campaigns of suppression. The New People’s Army must display its strength and unity against the brutalities and abuses being committed by the AFP in Mindanao.

All Party committees and NPA commands must help counter and derail the AFP’s all-out war of suppression in Mindanao. Every regional, subregional and front operations command of the NPA can contribute to this effort by launching ambushes, raids and other tactical offensives against the weak points of the enemy including police, army or CAFGU checkpoints, isolated detachments or police stations, detached supply teams and others. They can carry out the arrest of enemy officers accused of war crimes or notorious criminals in order to subject them to trial. They can target the destruction of enemy camps, military trucks, helicopters, fuel depots and other supply points through sapper operations and the proper deployment of command-detonated explosives or incendiary weapons. They can carry out punitive actions against the big plunderers of the environment such as mining, logging and plantation operations. All units of the people’s militias must also be mobilized in this effort.

By seizing the initiative in waging people’s war and launching bigger and more frequent tactical offensives, the NPA also directly contributes to the Filipino people’s campaign to put an end to the much-detested puppet, corrupt, brutal and mendacious Aquino regime.

In carrying out and intensifying extensive and intensive guerrilla warfare across the country, the New People’s Army is bound to frustrate the all-out war of suppression of the AFP and the Aquino regime in Mindanao and emerge stronger and more capable in waging and advancing the people’s war. With the people’s inexhaustible support, the NPA will prove itself unstoppable as it marches forward from the current stage of strategic defensive of the people’s war to the next stage of strategic stalemate.

Two soldiers hurt following encounter with NPAs in Davao City

From the Philippine News Agency (May 17): Two soldiers hurt following encounter with NPAs in Davao City

Two troopers of the 69th Infantry Battalion were wounded following an encounter with seven New People's Army (NPA) fighters in Paquibato District, Davao City Saturday morning.

These troopers were responding to civilian reports that the rebels were laying landmines along a road in Sitio Mangga, Barangay Malabog, of the above-mentioned locality, when the soldiers encountered seven heavily-armed NPA fighters around 5: 38 a.m.

This triggered a 10-minute firefight where the rebels detonated a landmine which wounded two soldiers.

The NPAs quickly fled taking with them an undetermined number of casualties. Pursuing troopers later recovered 100 meter blasting wire.

"This is again a deliberate attempt of the NPA to disturb the peace that we are slowly gaining here in Paquibato, but still the success of the peace building activity indicates that we are making progress," 69th Infantry Battalion commander Lt. Col. Rodney Intal said.

He also commended the community for the timely information on the landmine.

Sagada villagers search, dismantle NPA camps

From the Philippine News Agency (May 18): Sagada villagers search, dismantle NPA camps

Irked at the atrocities committed by New People's Army (NPA) fighters against civilians, Sagada villagers in the Mountain Province on Friday conducted their own search-and-dismantle missions against rebel lairs in their areas.

501st Infantry Brigade commander Brig. Gen. Roger Salvador said that this effort was done in response to the consensus reached by Sagada villagers last May 7.

The villagers resolved that no NPA camp or base will be allowed to be set up in their areas and search-and-dismantle missions will be conducted regularly to prevent rebels from taking foot in their communities.

Salvador said that the resolve of the Sagada villagers was in the wake of human rights violations committed by the NPA fighters in the locality which was previously declared as zone of peace effectively barring armed soldiers and rebels from entering the area.

“What is happening in Sagada is an excellent example of people fed up with violence who found the courage to unite and reject the NPA terrorists and allow peace to reign in their town,” he concluded.

Army to fete firefighting personnel injured in Fort Bonifacio fire, explosion

From the Philippine News Agency (May 18): Army to fete firefighting personnel injured in Fort Bonifacio fire, explosion

The Philippine Army (PA) will honor the members of the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) and fire volunteers who were injured during the Explosive Ordnance Division building fire and explosion incident at the Army Support Command in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City last May 7.

The awarding ceremony will be conducted during the flag raising ceremony on Monday at Fort Bonifacio.

Lt. Col. Noel Detoyato, Army spokesperson, said 11 BFP personnel and 17 fire volunteers will be feted.

The incident wounded over 32 personnel. Of the injured military men, two died in the hospital later.

PHL-US 'Balikatan 2014' also a tool in improving countryside communities

From the Philippine News Agency (May 18): PHL-US 'Balikatan 2014' also a tool in improving countryside communities

Aside from improving the military capability of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), the Philippines-United States "Balikatan 2014" exercises conducted from May 5 to 16 was also useful in improving the plight of countryside communities.

This was stressed by Lt. (SG) Annaleah P. Cazcarro, Combined Joint Information co-director of the 30th Balikatan, in a statement on Sunday.

She said that this was exemplified in the Bicol region where troops from the AFP Southern Luzon Command took the lead in the construction of a health center, two-room classroom building, water catchment system and concreting of sidewalk in Malobago Elementary School, Barangay Malobago and another one-room school building in Doña Mercedes Elementary School, all in Guinobatan, Albay.

"The installation of water storage tank and construction of a public rest room also benefitted the residents of Barangay Pawa, Legazpi City. The troops also repaired and renovated parts of Tamaoyan Elementary School in Barangay Tamaoyan, Legazpi City," she added.

Besides these projects, combined Army and Navy troops from AFP and U.S. Armed Forces likewise constructed and renovated school buildings, offered medical and veterinary services, and conducted medical symposia and training in Legazpi City and Guinobatan.

A total of 65 personnel from the AFP and 94 from joint U.S. and multinational forces participated in the events.

Cazcarro said the partnership between the AFP and U.S. Armed Forces continue to be healthy, dynamic and beneficial.

"It continues to highlight the unswerving commitment of both military forces towards a more secure Asia-Pacific region," she added.

“As we conclude this year’s Balikatan Exercises, we look forward to more joint bilateral military exercises and undertakings that will help the AFP in coping with our ever evolving security environment and achieve our goal of a minimum credible defense system,” Cazcarro stressed.

Bus firm garage bombed in Compostela Valley; cops see NPA extortion

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (May 17): Bus firm garage bombed in Compostela Valley; cops see NPA extortion

TAGUM , Davao del Norte, Philippines – Suspected communist rebels lobbed a grenade towards the garage of a bus company in Compostela, Compostela Valley early on Friday, police on Saturday said.

No one was hurt but at least five units of the Golden Valley Bus Liner Inc. sustained minor damage following the pre-dawn explosion at Poblacion village, said Renato Nerves, the company’s operations manager.

Witnesses reported hearing a motorcycle speeding away immediately after the blast tore through the firm’s garage in Purok (Community) 3, Crossing Gabi around 12:25 a.m., according to Senior Inspector Dervy Hortelano, Compostela Valley police chief.

The explosion also broke the jalousie panes of a house within the garage compound, and responding policemen recovered the grenade’s lever and other explosive fragments at the crime scene.

“We’re looking at extortion by the New People’s Army as a possible motive since the company has received extortion demands in the past,”
Hortelano told the Philippine Daily Inquirer by mobile phone.

PH to spend P1B on new naval base

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (May 17): PH to spend P1B on new naval base

The government will spend P1 billion of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ modernization fund to build a new naval operating base in this town, Mayor Jefferson Khonghun said on Wednesday.

Khonghun said the construction of a pier, warehouses and housing facilities for the naval base would start this month in a 500-hectare area in Barangay Cawag. The site of the proposed base is near the shipyard of the Korean-owned Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction Co. Ltd. Philippines and the Subic Bay Freeport Zone.

“Local government officials are very supportive of this and we’re fortunate to have a naval base in our town,” Khonghun told the Inquirer.

He said the Subic town council on May 7 passed a resolution endorsing the project “without any objection.”

He said the proposed pier would be designed to accommodate “big and modern ships” of both the Philippine and American naval forces.

Last to know

Khonghun said Philippine Navy officials had been coordinating with him about the construction of the naval base. The site was identified three weeks before the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement was signed by Philippine and American officials last month.

“We (local officials) were the last to know about the project because the AFP had to secure first the necessary approval of all concerned agencies,” Khonghun said.

He said members of the AFP’s engineering brigade were scheduled to visit the site this month for the initial preparation of the construction of facilities.

Before retiring last month, Vice Adm. Jose Luis Alano, Philippine Navy flag officer in command, wrote Khonghun to confirm that the Navy had identified an area in Barangay Cawag for the establishment of the naval operating base.

Alano’s April 14 letter said the new site was close to the Hanjin shipyard and would cover private property that the government would buy. The letter also sought coordination and support from the local government.

Strategic site

“The site for the new naval base is very strategic because there are passable roads leading to it. Besides, it is near Bajo de Masinloc (the disputed Panatag or Scarborough Shoal in the West Philippine Sea), so it will provide security to our local fishermen who were previously driven away by Chinese coast guard personnel,” Khonghun said.

He said Subic officials had met with Navy officials several times since April. Local officials, he said, supported the construction of the naval base “after considering national security and weighing the economic benefits” of the project.

A memorandum of agreement between the AFP and Subic officials would be signed next month for the construction of the base, Khonghun said.
Roberto Garcia, chair of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA), earlier confirmed that a portion of the Subic Bay Freeport Zone would be used by the AFP as it establishes a base in the free port.

Garcia said the SBMA would allow the AFP to use sections of the former naval facilities of the United States, including three wharves and ports and a portion of the old US naval air station.

Two soldiers among three nabbed in drugs operation

From the Visayan Daily Star (May 17): Two soldiers among three nabbed in drugs operation

Two soldiers of the 11th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army, based in Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental, and a civilian were arrested in an anti-illegal drugs operation in Sitio Malapay, Barangay Bagawines in Vallehermoso, at around 5:50 p.m. Thursday.

Insp. Ryan Jay Orapa, chief of the Provincial Anti-Illegal Drugs Special Operations Task Group of the Negros Oriental PNP, identified the suspects as Private First Class Marhlo Libo-on, Private First Class Rey Eco, and Teofilo Bayeta Osorio.

He said Osorio was nabbed when he sold suspected shabu, worth about P5,000, to an undercover agent. Orapa said the two soldiers were arrested for alleged violation of Section 15, Article II of Republic Act 9165, or the Dangerous Drugs Act, for drug use, after they allegedly bought “shabu” from Osorio before his arrest.

Brig. Gen. Francisco Patrimonio, commander of the 302nd Infantry Brigade of the Philippine Army, based in Tanjay City, Negros Oriental, said he had received a report about the arrest of the two soldiers who are assigned at the 11th IB.

He said he has directed Lt. Col. Paulito Idol, 11th IB commanding officer, to investigate the case of Libo-on and Eco, who are both assigned to the Bravo Company and were part of a Bayanihan Team, engaged in community activities in Barangay Binobohan, Guihulngan City.

An initial report to Patrimonio said the two soldiers were at a vulcanizing shop in the vicinity where Osorio was arrested.

He added that Libo-on and Eco were released yesterday afternoon after the drug tests conducted on them yielded negative results.

They have returned to the Bravo Company base in Barangay Buenavista, Guihulngan, Patrimonio added.

The drugs operation was jointly conducted by the PAIDSOTG, and the Vallehermoso police, led by its chief, Insp. Eric Errol Besario, in coordination with the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency provincial office.

NDFP hits apprehension of ‘consultant’

From the Visayan Daily Star (May 17): NDFP hits apprehension of ‘consultant’

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines condemned the arrest of its alleged consultant, Roy Erecre, who has been tagged by the military as the secretary of the Komiteng Rehiyonal Sentral Bisayas, in Davao City on May 7.

Former Negrense priest Luis Jalandoni, chairperson of the NDFP negotiating panel, said Erecre is one of their consultants in the peace talks with the government, as he holds an NDFP Document of Identification No. ND978243, under the assumed name of Vide Alguna.

In a statement he issued, Jalandoni accused the AFP and PNP of disregarding Erecre’s NDFP Document of Identification, which he had in his possession during what he calls his “illegal arrest”.

Erecre, with the aliases of Toto and Pasyong, has pending arrest warrants for robbery-in-band, and frustrated murder, the latter of which was issued by the San Carlos Regional Trial Court Judge Kathrine Go, who recommended P200,000 as bail.

Jalandoni said the NDFP holds the administration of President Benigno Aquino III for what he claimed to be the latest gross violation of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees.

In the same statement, Jalandoni said the continued violation of the rights of more than a dozen other NDFP consultants and JASIG-protected personnel, and refusal of the Aquino regime to comply with its obligations according to the JASIG and the Comprehensive Agreement of Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law are big obstacles to the holding of peace negotiations between the regime and the NDFP.

The KRSB allegedly headed by Erecre used to operate in Negros Oriental.

Here’s Your Pocket Guide to the South China Sea Tensions

From Defense One (May 15): Here’s Your Pocket Guide to the South China Sea Tensions

Territorial spats over the waters and islands of the South China Sea have roiled relations between China and countries like Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia, and Brunei in recent years, and tensions continue to escalate in the wake of U.S. President Barack Obama’s announced “pivot” of focus to the region. A handful of islands comprise the epicenter of the territorial dispute, making up an area known as the “cow’s tongue” that spans roughly the entire South China Sea. The region is home to a wealth of natural resources, fisheries, trade routes, and military bases, all of which are at stake in the increasingly frequent diplomatic standoffs. China’s blanket claims to sovereignty across the region and its strong resistance to handling disputes in an international arena have mired attempts at resolving the crises and intensified nationalist postures in all countries involved, particularly Vietnam and the Philippines. Experts say the potential for an escalated conflict in the South China Sea—while seemingly distant for now—presents an ongoing crisis for the region, as well as for U.S. interests in the area.

What territories are involved and disputed?

The South China Sea comprises a stretch of roughly 1.4 million square miles in the Pacific Ocean that encompasses an area from the Singapore and Malacca Straits to the Strait of Taiwan, spanning west of the Philippines, north of Indonesia, and east of Vietnam. The South China Sea islands number in the hundreds, although the largest and most contentious territories include the Spratly Islands, Paracel Islands, Pratas Islands, Macclesfield Bank, and Scarborough Shoal, all of which the six major Southeast Asian nations lay various claims to. The islands are mostly uninhabited and have never had an indigenous population, making the issue of historical sovereignty a thorny one to resolve.

The disputes aren’t limited to land, however; each country has an Exclusive Economic Zone, prescribed by the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), over which it has special rights to marine resources and energy exploration and production. An EEZ spans outward 200 nautical miles from the coast of the each state’s territorial sea, and may include the continental shelf beyond the 200-mile limit. These zones come into play during disputes over sea territory, as displayed in China’s December 2012 spat with Vietnam (WSJ) over oil and fishing activity in the waters near the Paracel Islands.

What is the 9-Dash Line?

The 9-Dash line is a controversial demarcation line used by China for its claim to territories and waters in the South China Sea, most notably over the Scarborough Shoal and the Paracel and Spratly Islands—the two most important disputed island groups. The line, which is contested by the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Vietnam, encompasses virtually the entire South China Sea region and caused immediate controversy when China submitted a map to the UN in 2009 that included the demarcation. Beijing’s issuance of a new passport (Reuters) in late 2012 containing a map of the disputed region based on the line drew fresh international criticism and backlash.

ASEAN countries have contested this boundary, but China has insisted on the historical legitimacy of the line based on survey expeditions, fishing activities, and naval patrols dating as far back as the fifteenth century, putting it at odds with the boundaries UNCLOS has enforced for the region since 1994.

What resources are at play in the region?

The immediate source of conflict in the region is competition over resources, says David Rosenberg, professor of political science at Middlebury College. There are roughly half a billion people who live within 100 miles of the South China Sea coastline, and the volume of shipping through its waters has skyrocketed as China and ASEAN nations increase international trade and oil imports. The need for resources, especially hydrocarbons and fisheries, also has intensified economic competition in the region, particularly given the rapid coastal urbanization of China. “Behind it all, it’s essentially the industrial revolution of Asia,” Rosenberg said. “And the South China Sea has become the hub of that.”

According to the World Bank, the South China Sea holds proven oil reserves of at least seven billion barrels and an estimated 900 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, which offer tremendous economic opportunity for smaller nations like Malaysia, the Philippines, and Vietnam, and energy security for China’s large, growing economy. In December 2012, China’s National Energy Administration named the disputed waters as the main offshore site for natural gas production, and a major Chinese energy company has already begun drilling in deep water off the southern coast.

Competitive tensions escalated when India’s state-run Oil and Natural Gas Corp announced it had partnered with PetroVietnam for developing oil in the disputed waters. In June 2011, Vietnam accused a Chinese fishing boat of cutting cables from an oil exploration vessel inside its EEZ. Hostilities resurfaced in May 2014, when Chinese vessels fired water cannons at a Vietnamese flotilla that allegedly approached a large Chinese drilling rig near the Paracel Islands. The row affected Vietnam’s stock markets, which plunged after the incident.

Smaller-scale fishing incidents have instead become the hub of maritime confrontation as declining fish stocks have driven fishermen farther into disputed areas to search for supply, as well as highly profitable illegal species. In the most recent clash, the Philippines’ naval forces intercepted eight Chinese fishing vessels in the Scarborough Shoal in April 2012, finding what they viewed as illegally fished marine life on board. The attempted arrest of the poachers led to a two-month standoff between the two countries.

Annual fishing bans and arrests of fishermen are a convenient proxy for sovereignty claims since they can be presented as legitimate attempts to enforce marine resources protection, according to a report by the International Crisis Group. “This is an issue that doesn’t make big headlines, but 1.5 billion people live there and rely heavily on fisheries for food and jobs,” Rosenberg said. “That’s where most of the conflict goes on, and most of these have been dealt with on a routine conflict management basis.”

How does the dispute affect trade routes in the sea?

As much as 50 percent of global oil tanker shipments pass through the South China Sea, which sees three times more tanker traffic than the Suez Canal and over five times that of the Panama Canal, making the waters one of the world’s busiest international sea lanes. More than half of the world’s top ten shipping ports are also located in and around the South China Sea, according to the International Association of Ports and Harbors. As intra-ASEAN trade has markedly increased—from 29 percent of total ASEAN trade in 1980 to 41 percent in 2009—maintaining freedom of navigation has become of paramount importance for the region.

This is a very important issue, and has become the main concern of Japan, the United States and even right now the European Union,” said Dr. Yann-Huei Song, a fellow at Academia Sinica in Taiwan. However, Yann-Huei says China is unlikely to instigate an interruption in traffic because its business, exploration, and importation rely entirely on freedom of navigation as well. Experts argue that the mutual benefits from regional economic integration provide an extremely compelling incentive for cooperation on resources, conservation, and security movements, according to a Harvard Quarterly paper.

What are the military stakes?

The region has also seen increased militarization in response to China’s burgeoning power, raising the stakes of a potential armed conflict and making disputes more difficult to resolve. Vietnam and Malaysia have led regional military buildups and increased arms trade with countries like Russia and India, while the Philippines doubled its defense budget in 2011 and pledged five-year joint military exercises with the United States. The Philippines also embarked on a modernization program costing roughly $1 billion that will rely heavily on U.S. sales of cutters and potentially fighter jets. In April 2014, it signed a new ten-year military pact with the United States that would grant the U.S. military increased troop presence and base access in the country.

Ships are commonly involved in naval disputes, as exhibited in the Scarborough Shoal incident in April 2012 when the Philippines said its largest warship—acquired from the United States—had a standoff with Chinese surveillance vessels after the ship attempted to arrest Chinese fishermen but was blocked by the surveillance craft. The involvement of the navy made political compromise more difficult, says the ICG.

There’s nothing like NATO in Asia, and that’s what’s worrisome,” Rosenberg said. “Unlike the U.S. and EU, which are engaged in other regions of the world, the Southeast Asian countries are compelled to spend more protecting their most immediate interests. It’s not the Cold War by any means, but they’re still not very open with each other about military modernization.”

What is being done to resolve the disputes?

One of the largest impasses to a resolution is China’s insistence on conducting most of its diplomacy on a bilateral basis, writes CFR’s Stewart Patrick. Nationalism has also fueled many of these stalemates. International tribunals, like the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, are available, but nations use it selectively in light of the potential domestic political ramifications of appearing conciliatory. China also has repeatedly rejected the mechanisms for arbitration provided by the UN.
A July 2012 ASEAN summit attempted to address ways to mitigate the conflict but ended without producing any communiqué, which some experts say highlights the difficultiesthe region of multilateral approaches.

ASEAN’s six-point statement in July made no reference to specific incidents, and only outlined an agreement to draft and implement a regional code of conduct, respect international law, and exercise self-restraint. CFR’s Josh Kurlantzick said in August 2012 that while ASEAN was an appropriate venue to mediate this dispute, the organization still has not yet found its footing in transitioning to a “more forceful, integrated organization that can provide leadership.” In a November 2012 IIGG working paper, Kurlantzick looks at how ASEAN can strengthen its role in the region to meet challenges such as the South China Sea.

Consequently, joint management of resources has been widely proposed by experts as the best way to ease current tensions, according to the ICG. China and Vietnam have managed to cooperate on a common fishery zone in the Tonkin Gulf, where the two countries have delineated claims and regulated fishing. However, oil development has remained a highly contentious issue, as both Vietnam and the Philippines have gone ahead with gas exploration projects (PDF) with foreign companies in disputed areas.

What does this mean for the United States’ pivot to Asia?

The U.S. pivot to the area, coupled with the region’s myriad conflicts, raises concerns about the future of U.S. interests in Southeast Asia. The Obama administration has not only worked to strengthen ties with ASEAN, but has also forged tighter relations with individual countries like Myanmar, where it has developed a new focus and strategy of engagement. The U.S. has also ramped up security cooperation with Vietnam, while Malaysia and Singapore have also signaled desire for increased security cooperation.

A 2012 Johns Hopkins paper notes that Southeast Asia has transformed in the last two decades to an area where Chinese power and strategic ambition confront an established U.S. military presence, and where a Chinese perception of the status of the South China Sea is fundamentally at odds with a long-settled consensus among major maritime states.

Experts say that the United States faces a dilemma and tough balancing act in the region, as some countries in ASEAN would like it to play a more forceful role to counter what they see as a greater Chinese assertiveness, while others want to see less U.S. involvement. The priority on all sides should be to avoid military conflict, according to Bonnie Glaser of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in this Contingency Planning Memorandum; even as China spars with its Southeast Asian neighbors, it is becoming the largest trading partner and one of the biggest direct investors of most Southeast Asian states since an ASEAN-China free trade area came into effect.