Thursday, December 27, 2018

11 soldiers hurt in clash with NPA in ComVal town

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 27): 11 soldiers hurt in clash with NPA in ComVal town

Eleven personnel of the Army's 10th Infantry Division (10ID) were hurt when they encountered an undetermined number of New People's Army (NPA) rebels in Mt. Diwata, Monkayo town, Compostela Valley province on Wednesday.

A report released by the 10ID on Thursday said troopers belonging to the division's Recon Company and 25th Infantry Brigade conducted  "focused military operation" after receiving information indicating NPA presence in the area.

A firefight that lasted several minutes erupted, with the NPA believed to have suffered an undetermined number of casualties based on the traces of bloodstain in the encounter site.

The 10ID said the 11 wounded soldiers are now in stable condition.

According to several locals, the NPA combatants were harassing community members to participate in the 50th-anniversary celebration of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP)-- the NPA's mother organization.

The rebels, belonging to the Guerilla Front 20, were also extorting money from community members, the residents alleged.

When they couldn't get enough locals to participate in the CPP's December 26 anniversary event, the NPA allegedly started planting landmines on the road, prompting residents to report them to the military.

GF 20, which operates in the northern part of Compostela Valley province, was recently declared by the military as being on the verge of disbanding following the series of surrenders by its members and underground mass supporters.

The Compostela Valley encounter is the second incident involving the NPA in Region 11 during the week.

On Christmas Day, troops from Army's 39th Infantry Battalion (39IB) clashed with NPA rebels in Sibulan, Sta. Cruz town in Davao del Sur while conducting security operation.

10ID said it has launched pursuit operations to prevent the rebels from launching more attacks.

Brig. General Jose Faustino, 10ID commander, condemned the NPA use of landmines.

"The 10ID condemns in the strongest possible terms the use of IEDs (improvised explosive devices) by the NPAs. It is a clear violation of the provisions stipulated in IHL (International Humanitarian Law)," Faustino said in a statement.

Faustino said landmines may also inflict harm on civilians.

"We assure the public that 10ID is steadfast in performing our mandate of protecting the people and ensuring that communities are secured. With our joint effort, both military and civilian communities, terrorist-communist atrocities will not prosper," Faustino said.

AFP chief wants guerrilla bases as 'peace zones'

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 27): AFP chief wants guerrilla bases as 'peace zones'

The chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is seeking to turn areas formerly used by the communist guerrillas as bases into peace zones where development can thrive and people's lives are improved.

Lt. Gen. Benjamin Madrigal said the plan needs an integral approach, and that the whole nation must participate as he conceded that peace and development initiatives cannot be achieved solely by the military.

"We should have the same dedication, sense of urgency, the same passion, parehong momentum para sabay sabay (the same momentum so that we all move together)," Madrigal said in an interview here Wednesday.

Madrigal said development efforts should not be confined on the areas affected by the communist insurgency, but also around neighboring areas to encourage New People's Army (NPA) community supporters to actively engage with the government's programs.

The AFP chief also underscored the role of the private sector in bringing development to areas whose economic development has been stunted by insurgency.

"Paano mo i-encourage ang mga tao sa conflict areas kung gobiyerno lang? (How are you going to encourage people in conflict areas if you solely rely on the government)," he said.

For instance, Madrigal cited the dire situation of the Indigenous Peoples (IPs) whose ancestral lands the NPA has turned into guerilla bases. This, he said, has made the tribes more vulnerable not only to NPA atrocities but to its recruitment as well.

To respond to these challenges, Madrigal said the AFP will launch a national task force that will give flesh to the "whole-of-nation" approach by starting community-based development programs.

Meanwhile, the AFP chief lauded the military units in Mindanao for the series of mass surrender of NPA combatants and their community supporters.

In Davao Region alone, the Army's 10th Infantry Division (10ID) said it has scored 524 regular NPA surrenderers; 700 Militia ng Bayan--the NPA frontline militia organization; 256 Sangay ng Partido sa Lokalidad (SPL) or community-based supporters; and 6,242 underground mass organization members.

Madrigal assured the former NPA combatants and supporters "can lead a good life after abandoning the communist struggle."

However, the military official conceded that "we can only achieve complete victory if we can address all concerns in the conflict-affected areas."

"With President Rodrigo Duterte in the lead supported by the regional executive councils, the local government units, we can address the roots of insurgency," he added.

Army lauds IP leaders for speaking up vs. NPAs

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 27): Army lauds IP leaders for speaking up vs. NPAs

PROTEST. Members of the Indigenous Peoples communities in Sultan Kudarat hold at a lightning rally Wednesday (Dec.26) in Koronadal City denouncing the communist New People’s Army for duping the IPs on their futile cause. (Photo courtesy of the Manobo Dulangan IPs)

PRESIDENT QUIRINO, Sultan Kudarat -- The military here lauded the lightning protests conducted by members of Indigenous Peoples (IPs) from Sultan Kudarat on Wednesday in Koronadal City, describing it as a form of democratic expression of grievances.

Lt. Colonel Harold Cabunoc, commander of the Army’s 33rd Infantry Battalion, said the tribal leaders have spoken and they no longer support the communist New Peoples’ Army (NPA).

About 30 members of Manobo Dulangan tribespeople formed a line in front of the SOCCSKSARGEN regional center in Barangay Carpenter, Koronadal City between 9 to 10 a.m. chanting: “NPA mangingilad (NPA deceitful),” “NPA terorista (terrorist).”

The protesters were led by Bai Nenita Billones, an IP tribal leader and a certain “Ka Jason,” a Manobo and former NPA who recently surrendered to the government.

The IPs, their faces covered and holding placards, demanded the rebels to stop terrorizing IP communities in the mountains of Sultan Kudarat. Some of the protesters were former NPAs.

They also demanded the NPA to cease recruiting their relatives in the mountains, especially the minors.

The tribal leaders also condemn militant groups for using and manipulating the IPs in political rallies advancing the interest of communist rebels. “Many of us are used to rally against mining, against logging, against the government and we get nothing for doing so, we were just used,” the group’s speaker said during the rally using a megaphone.

They also denied claims by militant groups that a massacre took place in December 2017 between the group of Commander Datu Victor and elements of the Army’s 27th and 33rd Infantry Battalion.

The Commission on Human Rights in Region 12 found Cabunoc and Lt. Colonel Benjamin Leander, former 27th IB commander, liable for alleged human rights violations in South Cotabato-Sultan Kudarat borders. “There was no massacre, it was a legitimate encounter and soldiers also helped the injured followers of Datu Victor after the fighting by bringing the injured rebels to the hospital,” the IPs said.

The group peacefully dismissed a few minutes later. An amateur video about the lighting protest was also posted on Facebook. “Clearly, the IPs speak, and they do not want the NPAs to continue recruiting their followers by providing false promises,” Cabunoc said.

“This is an indication that the IPs, who used to support them, now realize the rebels are indeed terrorists and will not help them out of poverty but use them to fight the government,” he added.

The Army official said a partnership between the Army and the local government units (LGUs) of President Quirino, Senator Ninoy Aquino, and Bagumbayan has helped the IPs realize that there is a government that cares for them.

“The Army, in coordination with the LGUs, has continuously been reaching out to far-flung villages where the Manobo Dulangan resides and extend them help and provide basic government services,” Cabunoc said.

CPP-NPA violated IP rights in Mindanao: ex-members

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 27): CPP-NPA violated IP rights in Mindanao: ex-members

The Communist Party of the Philippines - New People's Army (CPP-NPA) destroyed what was once a peaceful region in Mindanao, former Lumad NPA members said.

In a documentary produced by Sambayanan, former Lumad NPA members revealed that killings became rampant since the time the CPP-NPA entered their area.

Datu Manlig-Onan Rolando Lanapan, former Lumad NPA leader in Agusan del Norte, admitted that they were easily lured by the doctrines of the CPP-NPA.

“It became bad, because it has become so chaotic and killing was rampant (within the tribes). There was no respect between siblings, to relatives, even parents, and no more others where everyone is killing due to the doctrine introduced by the CPP-NPA-NDF,” Lanapan said in the vernacular.

Ranny Undayon, a former Lumad NPA leader in Northern Mindanao, said prior to joining the NPA, his heart was patriotic for the people, but later on realized that the NPA’s activities were not really for the people’s good.

“Yung sinapihan kong NPA hindi naman akma yung trabaho naming mga ground commander dun sa mga plano para sa katauhan (The NPA that I joined failed to put our work on the ground as ground commanders on the plans for the good of the people),” Undayon said.

Another former Lumad NPA leader in Agusan del Norte, Datu Revise Mandahinog, said he experienced deceptions by the CPP-NPA when they took advantage of his grandfather’s death.

“I remember then on 1973 that my great grandfather Datu Mangkalasi Sr. was killed by then capitalist NALCO (Nasipit Lumber Company), the entire tribe here in Agusan del Norte declared a Magahat (tribal war declaration), then after that the rebel group CPP-NPA took advantage of the opportunity,” Mandahinog said in their local language.

Datu Bawang Eddie Ampiyawan supported Mandahinog’s claim as he narrated how the CPP-NPA promised to help them fight the NALCO.

“Ginagamit nila ang NALCO na maging kadahilanan para ang tribo sumali sa kilusang CPP-NPA-NDF. (Their true motive was to use NALCO as a reason for the tribe to join the CPP-NPA-NDF),” Ampiyawan said.

The US State Department and the European Union have tagged the CPP-NPA as terrorist groups.

CPP-NPA extorted from bizmen, politicians in Mindanao

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 27): CPP-NPA extorted from bizmen, politicians in Mindanao

Gomer Matanog

The Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) extorted money in Mindanao by threatening local businessmen and politicians of harm if they do not give in to the rebels’ demands.

Gomer Matanog, resident of San Miguel, Agusan del Sur, made this claim in a documentary produced by Sambayanan.

He said the CPP-NPA kills those unable to give money.

“The moment you can’t give you will be warned or fined. If not, you will be killed,” Matanog said in the vernacular.

Showing reports from People’s Television (PTV), the NPA reportedly provides “permit to campaign” to local politicians in exchange for a certain amount depending on the position the candidate is running for.

Another PTV report showed the NPA burning several heavy equipment worth PHP40 million.

In an earlier report by the Philippine News Agency, former CPP-NPA and Bayan Muna officer Magdalena Gano admitted that the CPP-NPA charges revolutionary taxes as she herself collected them from establishments in their area in Surigao del Sur, with threat of arson for those unwilling to pay.

The US State Department and the European Union have both tagged the CPP-NPA as terrorist bodies.

Communist group tagged in mass murder of members

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 27): Communist group tagged in mass murder of members

Former Southern Mindanao Regional Party Committee-executive committee member Ben Tepaet

The Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) has committed mass murder among its members in the 1980s, former members of the rebel group said.

In a documentary produced by Sambayanan, former Southern Mindanao Regional Party Committee-executive committee member Ben Tepaet said it was CPP founder Jose Maria Sison’s successor, Benito Tiamzon, who initiated the investigation of all CPP-NPA members and summary killing based on mere suspicion.

“Yung pumalit kay Sison, Tiamzon, yan ang gumawa ng polisiya na lahat ng tao pinaimbestigahan sa bawat level ng unit, talagang patayin ka nila (The one who replaced Sison was Benito Tiamzon. He was the one who made that policy that all of the people were investigated in every level in the unit. They will really kill you),” Tepaet said.

Former NPA-Sandatahang Yunit Propaganda member Chito Herbolingo

In the same documentary, former NPA-Sandatahang Yunit Propaganda member Chito Herbolingo said "kangaroo courts" were established, which resulted in about 1,000 deaths in Davao.

“Pag punta ka doon, parang tapos na yung desisyon, formality nalang yung pagpunta mo doon. In Davao alone, tinataya na mayroong more or less one thousand ang pinapatay ng sarili nilang kasamahan (Even if you go there, the decision’s already done, it was just some sort of formality. In Davao alone, there were more or less a thousand that were killed by their fellow comrades),” Herbolingo said.

Sison is in exile in The Netherlands since 1987, after peace talks with then-President Corazon Aquino’s government failed.

The Department of Justice (DOJ), meanwhile, asked the Philippine courts to arrest Tiamzon and other CPP-NPA consultants for multiple murder cases.

Tiamzon went into hiding when their bail for temporary liberty was cancelled.

The DOJ also filed a pending motion in court to declare the CPP-NPA-NDF as a terrorist organization under the Human Security Act.

The US State Department and the European Union have both tagged the CPP-NPA as terrorist bodies.