Sunday, December 13, 2020

Alleged KFR member with ASG links killed in Zambo Sibugay

From the Manila Bulletin (Dec 14, 2020): Alleged KFR member with ASG links killed in Zambo Sibugay (By Aaron Recuenco) 

An alleged member of a kidnap-for-ransom group which reportedly kidnaps for the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) was killed in a raid in his safehouse in Payao, Zamboanga Sibugay early Monday morning.


He was identified as Usman Hassan, alias Gang-Gang, who is wanted for kidnapping for ransom with serious illegal detention with no bail recommended.

Gen. Debold Sinas, chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP), said the operation was carried out at around 3 a.m. in Sitio Masanang in Barangay Poblacion after policemen got hold of information that Hassan was hiding in the area.

“During the service of warrant of arrest, he fired at our personnel using a .45 pistol. It triggered a shootout which led to his death,” said Sinas.

Hassan is reportedly a member of a KFR group that has close contact with ASG sub-leaders Sibih Pisih and Idang Susukan.

“He served as the facilitator of the KFR activities of the Sulu-Based ASG and as a transporter of the kidnap victims from Zamboanga peninsula to Sulu province,” said Sinas.

The official said the slain suspect was among those who abducted a three-year old grandson of a mayor and a bakery worker several years ago. He was also tagged in the killing of a kidnap victim in Zamboanga del Sur.

Sinas said Hassan was also connected with the Sabtal and Barahama Ali criminal gangs based in Zamboanga Sibugay who are involved in KFR, robbery and hold up, sea piracy, extortion and illegal drugs.

He was also linked with the group of Abral Abdusalam and Ustadz Bayani Abdurahman who were recently killed during the armed encounter with the Military in R.T. Lim, Zamboanga Sibugay three months ago.

Multi-sector peaceably launches Yes for Peace on Int’l Human Rights Day

From the Philippine Information Agency (Dec 13, 2020): Multi-sector peaceably launches Yes for Peace on Int’l Human Rights Day (By Jerome Carlo R. Paunan) 

Yes for Peace holds peace and human rights-oriented event kickoff in front of the UP Carillon Tower in Diliman, Quezon City (Photo courtesy of Mr. Ernesto A. Alcanzare)

CALOOCAN CITY, Dec. 13 (PIA) -- Following strict health protocols set by the World Health Organization, representatives of various sectors had peaceably assembled on International Human Rights Day to officially launch the historic Yes for Peace-Bayanihan ng Bayan para sa Kapayapaan, Kaunlaran at Kasaganaan at the Andres Bonifacio Centennial Carillon Tower located in the Diliman campus of the University of the Philippines system.

The kickoff, a stark contrast amid the reportedly dwindling noisy and insolent protests and marches of anti-government forces to commemorate the global human rights event on Dec. 10, calmly called for the promotion of peacebuilding efforts, such as answering the Yes for Peace questionnaire to boost peace education, asserting the right to peace, and calling for an end to all armed conflicts in the country.

In his speech, Commissioner Yusoph Mando of the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) said, “Unfortunately, peacebuilding is still not the default response to conflict.”

“We need everybody’s help to tell others about how we can tackle conflict and end violence,” Mando added.

For his part, Cosanie Derogongan, Director of the Bureau of Peace and Conflict Resolution (BPCR) of the NMCF said, “We believe that we can achieve a just, comprehensive, unifying and sustainable peace without destruction to property and deaths, including unarmed civilians.”

“The armed conflicts can only be stopped if the will of the people can verifiably be documented through the people’s referendum component of Yes for Peace to debunk the self-declaration of armed rebels that they are fighting for the rights and interests of the people,” Derogongan added.

In his message, Undersecretary Severo S. Catura, Executive Director of the Presidential Human Rights Committee (PHRC) underscored, “Peace is a human right, even as a society that is at peace is its ultimate aim.”

“There can never be real, tangible and felt development without making our people feel secure and it is our duty to uplift the people’s welfare,” Catura quoted a statement made by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte during the first State of the Nation Address (SONA).

Catura, who started his career at the Office of the Peace Commissioner (OPC) which eventually became the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) recalled, “This campaign is already more than thirty years old. We remain steadfast and firm in supporting its call because the advocacy of our office is for each individual to have the right to peace.”

Red tagging

After careful deliberation and negotiations with UP Diliman Chancellor Fidel Nemenzo and Vice-Chancellor for Community Affairs Aleli B. Bawagan, the kick-off activity inside the UP Diliman campus was approved dispelling some allegations that UP is anti-government and will not permit non-leftists to openly express their advocacies inside the campus.

The full support of the university was felt by event organizers. Personnel from its Community Maintenance Office prepared the venue while the management of the UP Theater readily provided electrical power for the sounds and lights used in the event. Normal fees for rental and electrical consumption were likewise waived.

Alpha Dasmarinas, Chief Financial Officer of Yes for Peace, Incorporated was elated, “Thank you UP for the full support that you have given to for this simple kick-off event.”

“May you continue to support our campaign and take is as your own in the days to come pursuant to your Board of Regents Resolution offering UP as venue and as mediating institution during its 1056th meeting,” Dasmarinas said in gratitude.

Asked by the PIA-NCR, Ernesto Angeles Alcanzare, lead organizer of Yes for Peace–Bayanihan ng Bayan and Chief Executive Officer of Yes for Peace Incorporated said, "Curiously, some well-meaning, but obviously misinformed supporters of the Duterte administration have reportedly red-tagged Yes for Peace over various social media platforms simply because it decided to use the color red as the background of its propaganda tarpaulins and because they allowed the UP Community to display the messages 'Defend Academic Freedom' and 'No to Red-Tagging'."

He explained, “The use of gold on red in our campaign tarpaulins is based on the Chinese belief that these colors bring fortune and good luck especially during events such as these. After all, the use of these colors is not exclusive to the communists.”

“As for the tarpaulins of the UP Community, these are commonly held beliefs among constituents, including its alumni to which I belong. Red-tagging the whole university because of a very noisy albeit small minority is unfair,” he lamented.

“Moreover, who can in his right mind refuse a very gracious host to post a commonly held message in your event even if it seems to have taken the scene away from the central messages of one’s event?” he added.

Alcanzare said it is in this light that he appreciated the wisdom of President Duterte who saw all through the non-partisan and inclusive nature of Yes for Peace when he wrote in his message, “I recognize this noble undertaking of Yes for Peace–Bayanihan ng Bayan because it promotes a newfound culture of harmony and cooperation among our communities… I am amazed how anybody can be so bigoted and narrow-minded to accuse and judge Yes for Peace as part of the over-all plan to destabilize and bring down the government.”

“Please let me take this opportunity to inform all those who have jumped the gun to unfairly accuse us of being leftists that we categorically but respectfully denied the display of a red tarp bearing the message ‘ABOLISH NTF-ELCAC’,” Alcanzare said of a group handing them a prepared banner prior to the event launch.

“I am sure that had we allowed them to do their bidding, they would have joined us and trebled the number of participants,” he said, “Actually, they conducted a rally right across the street and waited for us to march to the Oblation Plaza, a thought that did not even cross our minds.”

For her part, Evelyn Canete Evangelio, National Executive Director of Alpha Phi Omega International Philippines Inc then suggested, “We might as well change the colors used in campaign tarpaulins to Blue and Gold to satisfy the call for blood by bashers who have displayed the propensity to accuse anybody of being a communist by sheer color of preference.”

“After all, APO is into this campaign pursuant to our founder’s vision for us to convince leaders of the world to resolve conflicts in a more humane and legal manner than by war,” Evangelio added.

For his part, Mama S. Lalanto, al Haj, Chairman of Yes for Peace, Incorporated and a past president of APO Phils declared, “The Yes for Peace is an inclusive campaign. We do not discriminate anybody by virtue of race, religion and political beliefs. This is reflected in our logo which bears the primary and secondary colors of the elementary color wheel.”

“Any color of preference by any donor is acceptable for as long as it is used in good faith and communicated to us prior to the production and distribution of the campaign materials,” Lalanto emphasized.

To recall, the The Yes for Peace–Bayanihan ng Bayan para sa Kapayapaan, Kaunlaran at Kasaganaan, a multi-sectoral peace and development campaign was incorporated into the Sectoral Unification, Capability Building and Mobilization (SUCBEM) cluster of the National Action Plan of the National Task Force to End the Local Communist Armed Conflicts (NTF ELCAC) submitted by National Security Adviser Secretary Hermogenes C. Esperon, Jr. and approved by President Duterte in 2019.

However, upon the advice of Esperon, the campaign design was refined, per the approved plan by the Yes for Peace, Incorporated, which was registered with the Securities and Exchange to give a juridical identity to empower the proponents to enter into agreements with government institutions and non-government organizations for the transparent implementation of the campaign.

The consultation and refinement process were made parallel to the preparations of the whole-of-government to get all agencies on board in the good governance pillar of NTF-ELCAC. The process took over one year.

Prior to the issuance of EO No. 70 by Duterte, Yes for Peace was calling “Resume Peace Talks Here” in contrast to the insistence of left-leaning forces that were shouting “Resume Peace Talks” even as the President was trying to convince communist leader Jose Ma. Sison to come home to the Philippines so that peace talks to resume.

Unfortunately, Sison who initiated the armed revolution and protracted war to bring down the government vehemently refused citing concerns for his life and security. On record, Sison has been blaming Duterte for killing the peace talks.

“Had the peace talks resumed with UP as venue and mediating institution, could the final peace agreement have been crafted and signed within three months which was the time frame declared by Joma Sison?” Alcanzare asked.

With the inevitable and final collapse of the peace talks because of Sison’s refusal to give in to the President’s firm and unmovable position that it be held here, Yes for Peace searched for cost-effective and resource-efficient means to document the Filipino people’s consensus on the three calls of the campaign. (PIA NCR)

DILG: Quezon City denounces communist terrorist groups with Sanggunian resolution

From the Philippine Information Agency (Dec 13, 2020): DILG: Quezon City denounces communist terrorist groups with Sanggunian resolution (By Jerome Carlo R. Paunan)

Philippine News Agency photo of an anti-communist rally

CALOOCAN CITY, Dec. 13 (PIA) -- The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Saturday said the Quezon City Government had already denounced Communist Terrorism when it passed Sangguniang Panlungsod Resolution No. 8189 s. 2020 last March 16, 2020.

“Our records show that Quezon City passed the SP Reso. 8189 early this year which is entitled “A Resolution Strongly Condemning All Forms of Atrocities and Acts of Violence in Support of Executive Order No. 70, s. 2018” during its 25th regular session. The resolution was approved by the Quezon City Council on March 16, 2020,” said DILG Undersecretary and Spokesperson Jonathan Malaya.

He said that the Resolution itself states that the Quezon City Government supports the implementation of Executive Order No. 70 which created the National Task Force to End Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) and institutionalizes the whole-of-nation approach in attaining inclusive and sustainable peace in our country.

He added that the strong condemnation by local government units (LGUs), including Quezon City, of the atrocities of communist terrorist groups (CTGs) through sanggunnian resolutions in effect declares them as persona non grata in their localities.

“That is the effect of an LGU’s condemnation of the violence and atrocities perpetrated by these Communist Terrorists. When a local government unit (LGU) denounces the acts of violence of the CTGs, would it still open its doors and welcome them into their localities? Of course not. That has no rhyme nor reason,” added Malaya.

“Kapag sinabi nating kinokondena natin ang karahasan ng mga Komunistang terorista, ang ibig sabihin din noon ay nakapinid at nakakandado na ang kanilang mga pintuan laban sa kanila. Ibig sabihin, persona non grata na sila,” he said.

He explained that persona non grata is a generic term that includes all forms of condemnation against the CPP-NPA-NDF and its front organizations whether it is directed against its members of the CTGs or their acts of violence and atrocities. “Just the same, it means that they are not welcome in the LGUs and they cannot use that LGU as a base to kill or ambush government forces or liquidate, kidnap or extort from innocent civilians,” he said.

On Friday, Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte denied that the city government issued a resolution declaring the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (NDF) as persona non grata after the DILG reported that QC was among the 1,546 LGUs nationwide that issued such a resolution.

“I never said this… We are an inclusive city, where people are free to express their views, so long as we all follow the rule of law and behave ourselves accordingly,” Belmonte texted an online newspaper when asked if Quezon City issued such a declaration.

EO 70, which was signed by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte in 2018, created the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict and institutionalized a whole-of-nation approach in achieving inclusive and sustainable peace as a means to end the five-decade problem with communist-terrorists.

The issuance of E.O. 70 shifts the fight against the CTGs and their front organizations from a military-centric approach where the AFP and the PNP are solely responsible to a whole-of-nation approach where all civilian national government agencies, local government units, and civil society organizations take an active part in ending the CTGs by addressing the root causes of the insurgency.

He said that the time has come for LGUs to make a stand against the end the reign of terror of the CTGs and express their support for democracy, for peace, and for the country.

“Dalawang panig lang naman po ito. Sa isang panig ay ang gobyerno at ang mga Pilipino na tunay na nagmamahal sa demokrasya, kapayapaan at sa bayan. At sa kabilang panig ay ang mga kaaway ng taong bayan na ang gusto ay patalsikin ang gobyerno at magtatag ng communist state. Saang panig tayo?” he asked.

Out of the 1,546 LGUs that have declared CTGs as persona non grata, 64 provinces, 110 cities, and 1,372 municipalities have already passed resolutions while the remaining 169 LGUs are in various stages of deliberation in their respective provincial, city, and municipal councils.

In addition, some 12,474 barangays nationwide have also declared the CPP-NPA-NDF as persona non grata in their respective localities. (PIA NCR)

From siege to wedding rites: APC serves as 'bridal tank'

 From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 13, 2020): From siege to wedding rites: APC serves as 'bridal tank' (By Divina Suson)

BRIDAL TANK. One of the armored personnel carriers of the Philippine Army's 4th Mechanized Infantry Battalion that was converted into a wedding vehicle. A wedding ceremony was held for six military personnel of 4Mech and their partners on Saturday (Dec. 12, 2020) at the soldiers' headquarters in Baloi, Lanao del Norte. (Photo by Divina Suson)

BALOI, Lanao del Norte – Three years after the five-month siege in Marawi City in 2017, the armored personnel carrier (APC) of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) was back running, not to carry soldiers in full-battle gear, but to carry six white-clad brides to marry soldiers who were part of the war against terrorists.

The "bridal tank" or "wedding tank," as they call it, was the PHP39-million worth M113A2 APC which helped significantly in the liberation of Marawi from the influence of Dawlah Islamiya (DI).

It was donated by the United States (US) government which came with a remote-controlled weapon system that killed Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon and one of the Maute leaders, Omar Maute, on October 16, 2017.

On Saturday, Dec. 12, 2020, the tank became the center of attraction as it was pulled out from the location where it was parked, decorated with white flowers and ferns and brought six ladies in white bridal gowns to the hall inside the Army camp of the 4th Mechanized Infantry Battalion (4Mech) where their respective partners were waiting.

The grooms

Six Army soldiers of the 4Mech were to marry their partners in a Catholic ceremony dubbed as “masked wedding” because of the need to wear facial masks in compliance with the health protocols. The couples have lived together for some months, some for several years.

Lt. Col. Domingo Dulay, Jr., 4Mech commander, said the unit decided to hold the wedding for the troops who had been living together with their partners and had not married despite having children.

Being legally united would make settlement of soldiers' benefits easier in case of accidents, and avoid misunderstanding and quarrel among family members.

"Many times that when a soldier was killed or met an accident in line of work, and he has a child but not legally married to the mother of the child, it would result to misunderstanding between the family of the child’s mother and the family of the soldier. They would usually cause conflict on who would receive big share of the benefits," Dulay said.

In his message, he wished the couples a strong marriage that would endure all kinds of temptations and challenges, like the APC which went through trying times during the Marawi siege.


Rev. Msgr. Ramonito S. Torres (center), Vicar General of the Prelature of Marawi, officiates the wedding ceremony of military personnel inside the 4th Mechanized Infantry Battalion headquarters Saturday (Dec.12, 2020) in Baloi, Lanao del Norte. (Photo by Divina Suson)

Love and romance

Private First Class Monte Carlo Bueno and Geneveve Veloso are both from Luzon. They met in 2010 through a common friend when both of them were still students and officially became a couple months afterward.

Seven months into their relationship, they broke up because “we did not have enough time for us together”, according to the couple.

“But I kept on thinking of her and I was looking for her. In 2012, while I was working in our LGU (local government unit) I unexpectedly saw her in a mall. I did not waste my time, I asked for her contact number and we were back together,” Bueno said.

In 2012, Veloso got pregnant with their first child. They were planning for their wedding when Bueno’s two siblings also planned for theirs, which halted their plans.

“There is superstitious belief that it is not good to have two siblings get married in the same year. They called it 'sukob'”, Veloso said.

The wedding plan took a back seat from their priorities. Veloso then got pregnant with their second child in 2014.

Bueno was accepted in the Philippine Army in 2016 and was assigned in the operations section of the 4th Mechanized Battalion in Camp Pintoy in Barangay Suarez, Iligan City.

During the Marawi siege, he was assigned to receive reports from the battle area.

When they ran out of manpower, he had to join the team that would bring supply to troopers inside the main battle area.

"I was so worried and I could not sleep because of fear there might something bad that would happen. It was also a big challenge for us," Veloso said.

In October, when Bueno learned of the free wedding to be organized by the unit inside the headquarters, he went home to Tarlac to process the documents needed. He also had to bring Veloso to Mindanao for the wedding ceremony.

Their respective parents and their children were not present during the wedding due to some travel restrictions.

“It was a very difficult journey. That time it was enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in our province. There was no transportation from Tarlac to Manila. We survived it just to be here for our wedding,” Bueno said.

“We do not want this chance to pass. Even if this is ‘mass wedding’, this is still something for us to treasure because this is what I want: to marry her (Veloso),” he said.

With the sealing of their union vows on Saturday, Bueno and Veloso had only one promise: to always trust each other always despite the distance between them.

“I will always pray you are safe especially during your operations,” Veloso told Bueno.

Aside from giving the couples hassle and expenses-free wedding, they were also gifted with a three-night accommodation at a hotel in Iligan City “courtesy of 4Mech friends", according to Dulay.

68 ASG members killed, 128 surrender in 2020: AFP

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 13, 2020): 68 ASG members killed, 128 surrender in 2020: AFP (By Priam Nepomuceno)

NEUTRALIZED. The remains of three of six Abu Sayyaf Group bandits killed in a firefight with government forces in Patikul, Sulu on July 31, 2020. The Armed Forces of the Philippines on Sunday (Dec. 13, 202) said its units have killed 68 members of terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) while another 128 have surrendered during intense military operations this year. (Photo courtesy of Joint Task Force Sulu)

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) units have so far neutralized 68 members of terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) while 128 have surrendered during intense military operations this year.

Data gathered show that 156 firearms and 10 improvised explosive devices (IEDs) were either surrendered by or seized from the terrorist group, according to the statement released by AFP public affairs office chief Navy Capt. Jonathan Zata on Sunday.

Recent gains against the ASG include the surrender of two subleaders and 13 members in Jolo, Sulu on Dec. 11.

The 1101st Infantry Brigade facilitated a program for the surrender of ASG subleaders Alvin Yusop and Arab Puti and some of their members including 14 assorted firearms they surrendered to Joint Task Force Sulu.

Three ASG members involved in kidnap-for-ransom consecutively yielded to government forces in Tawi-Tawi from Dec. 2 to 4.

A certain Alsadi Hanain surrendered with his M-1 Garand rifle to the 2nd Marine Brigade in Bongao on Dec. 4 while Bennaser Pae voluntarily surrendered with an M-16A1 rifle and ammunition to troops of Marine Battalion Landing Team-12 on Dec. 3.

Meanwhile, Ugali Alimudin gave himself up to the 36th Marine Company at its headquarters in Sapa-Sapa and turned over an M-14 rifle with magazine and ammunition on Dec. 2.

A total of 36 ASG terrorists along with 11 firearms surrendered to the 4th Marine Brigade in Omar, Sulu on Dec. 4.

“We are currently satisfied with how our troops are continuing our offensives against the ASG, but this does not mean we’re letting our guards down against them or other local terrorists,” AFP chief-of-staff Gen. Gilbert I. Gapay said.

The AFP also achieved significant gains against other Local Terrorist Groups (LTGs) this year as armed encounters against the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) led to the death of 31 of their members, while 184 surrendered, and 22 others were captured.

On Dec. 8, operating troops of the 40th Infantry Battalion arrested seven members of BIFF in Datu Hoffer, Maguindanao. Confiscated were two M-1 Garand rifles, one M-14 rifle, and one M-4 rifle.

Troops also engaged BIFF rebels in an encounter in Sharif Aguak last Dec. 9.

The 11th Mechanized Company quelled a possible attack by the BIFF-Karialan faction under “Diok” and recovered live ammunition from enemy positions after the firefight. The 6th Infantry Division clashed with the BIFF in Datu Piang on Dec. 3.

The troops on the ground forced the attackers to withdraw leaving no civilians unharmed.

Meanwhile, 31 members of Daesh-Inspired Maute Group were killed in combat while 35 of them surrendered and five were captured since January of this year.

Gapay said the AFP aims to maintain its firm position in going after the ASG and other terrorist groups despite the ongoing coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.

“We will stop at nothing to keep our fellow Filipinos safe and secure from the despicable acts of terrorism and violent extremism. Your AFP, hand in hand with other government agencies, stakeholders and local government units shall continue to unite to ensure the downfall of local terrorist groups threatening our peace,” he added.

LGUs not stupid to back godless, obsolete ideology, DILG to CPP

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 13, 2020): LGUs not stupid to back godless, obsolete ideology, DILG to CPP

Interior Secretary Eduardo M. Año (File photo)

The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Sunday said local government units (LGUs) “enjoy local autonomy, are not stupid to support the godless and obsolete ideology of communist terrorist groups (CTGs) and are fed up with the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front’s (CPP-NPA-NDF) violence and atrocities.”

DILG Secretary Eduardo M. Año made the comment following allegations by the Communist Party of the Philippines that LGUs are being forced to declare the CPP-NPA-NDF as persona non grata by threatening to withhold the LGUs’ budget.

“Please do not insult the intelligence of our local government officials. Hindi mangmang ang mga LGUs at hindi sila madidiktahan na gumawa ng mga bagay na labag sa kanilang kalooban. Ang katotohanan ay mulat ang mga mata nila at saksi sila sa panloloko ng CPP-NPA-NDF sa kanilang mga lugar (LGUs are not ignorant and they will not be dictated to do something against their will. The truth is they know and are witness to CPP-NPA-NDF’s deception in their areas,” Año said.

Año said it is preposterous for the CPP to insinuate that LGUs are being forced to issue such declaration because LGUs are not witless and stupid puppets.

"On the contrary, they are very much aware of the situation on the ground and of the CTG’s harassment and extortion activities on businesses and ambuscades and raids on government forces that has led to some 40,000 deaths of police, military, and civilians in its more than 50-year reign of terror in the countryside,” he said.

"Kaya hindi naman nakapagtataka na ideklara ng higit sa 1,500 LGUs na persona non grata ang mga criminal at teroristang ito dahil matagal na silang nagpapahirap sa bayan at salot sa lipunan (So it’s not surprising that over 1,500 LGUs declared these criminals and terrorists persona non grata because they (CTGs) have been terrorizing the people and are considered plague to the society)," he added.

The DILG earlier said a total of 1,546 LGUs nationwide have declared the CPP-NPA-NDF persona non grata in their localities. In response, the CPP released a statement saying that the said LGUs were merely forced to pass the declaration otherwise their budget would be withheld.

Año said the CPP's attempt to connect the persona non grata issue to budget allocation for LGUs is straight out of a teleserye narrative.

"Wala na talaga silang maisip na palusot kaya kinakabit nila ang pagdeklara ng persona non grata sa usapin ng budget para sa mga LGUs. Taktika na naman nila ito para linlangin ang publiko at matabunan ang katotohanang isinusuka na sila ng bayan (They have run out of reason so they try to connect declaration of persona non grata to the budget of the LGUs. It’s their tactic to confuse the public and cover the fact that people reject them already)," he said.

He said the annual Internal Revenue Allotment for LGUs is released and downloaded automatically to them in accordance with the provision of the Constitution.

In 2020 alone, he said local governments received more than PHP640 billion in funds without a single complaint from LGUs.

“Lahat ng pondo para sa mga LGU na ultimately ay para sa mga mamamayan ay nakakarating sa kanila. Yan ang katotohanan (All the funds for LGUs that ultimately are given to the people reach them. That’s the truth),” he said.

In fact, the DILG chief also emphasized that LGUs received more budget this year through the Bayanihan To Heal as One law and Bayanihan to Recover as One law in response to the coronavirus disease 2019 public health emergency, debunking CPP’s insinuation of budget manipulation.

In Bayanihan 2 Law alone, LGUs are taking advantage of the PHP1.5-billion allocation under the Covid-19 Local Government Support Fund to provinces, municipalities, and cities for their respective Covid-19 response initiatives. In his report to Congress, President Rodrigo Duterte said a total of PHP18-billion worth of budgetary assistance was given to LGUs through the Bayanihan 1 law.

He said that such allegation of budget denial is fake news. “It’s the usual black propaganda of the CTGs.”

Ex-rebels belie claims gov’t forces torture NPA surrenderers

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 13, 2020): Ex-rebels belie claims gov’t forces torture NPA surrenderers (By Lade Jean Kabagani)

Former NPA rebels Ivylyn Corpin alias "Ka Ivy" (left) and Rey Christian Sabado alias "Chan-chan" (right). (Screengrab from Pros and Cons)

Former members of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army (CPP-NPA) belied claims that government forces tortured and maltreated former communist rebels who went back to the fold of the law.

During the "Pros and Cons" television show aired on Sunday, Ivylyn Corpin alias Ka Ivy, said government security forces are sincere in their commitment to achieving lasting peace as they encouraged more rebels to surrender.

Corpin added surrenderers are actually getting various benefits from the government when they decide to quit the armed struggle.

She said personnel from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) are assisting former rebels "to get back on their feet" and live the life they used to have.

"Binabago talaga ng gobyerno yung kasalukuyan na sistema para lang sa kabutihan ng mga mamamayan (The government has changed the current system for the common of the Filipino citizens)," she added.

Exposing the truth

Corpin said she was a student activist from the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) when she joined the communist armed movement.

She said a series of recruitment processes were organized by the CPP-NPA's legal front organizations to agitate more youth to join their cause.

These recruitment schemes include rallies, mass mobilization and community immersions, eventually pushing the youth to join movement, Corpin said.

Meanwhile, Rey Christian Sabado alias "Chan-chan," also a former NPA rebel, said the communist group, through its legal front organizations, is maneuvering the mindset of the youth to recruit more members.

Sabado said the front groups made him believed that he should protect the democratic interest of the youth by participating in militant activities.

Corpin and Sabado said at first, they were not aware of such recruitment schemes.

Sabado said he became a member of the Kabataang Makabayan, an underground mass organization that he said directly supports the communist armed movement.

He said there is a systematic recruitment process being done within the CPP-NPA-National Democratic Front (NDF).

Quit communist insurgency

The former NPA members urged various student activists to withdraw their support to the alleged legal front organizations of the CPP-NPA-NDF, saying "they will not gain something good from joining this unreasonable cause."

"Sa mga kabataan na hinihikayat ng CPP-NPA-NDF o mga miyembro na ng mga legal na organisasyon na ito, mag-withdraw na tayo ng suporta sa kanila. Kung nire-recruit pa lang po tayo, huwag na natin sila i-entertain. Hindi naman po tayo papabayaan ng gobyerno—yung napatunayan po namin yan na mga FR [former rebels] na hindi totoo na tinotorture, sinaktan, binubog o lini-liquidate ang mga nagsu-surrender (To individuals who are being encouraged by the CPP-NPA-NDF or current members of these legal-front organizations, withdraw your support. If you are still in the recruitment process, don't entertain them. The government will not abandon us because we have proven that—as former rebels, it's not true that those surrenderers were tortured, harmed, beaten, and executed)," Corpin said.

Meanwhile, Sabado urged students who are still part of the NPA's legal front groups "not to waste their skills, talents, and intellects" by engaging themselves with the communist insurgency.

"Kapulutan sana natin ng leksyon, ng aral iyong mga naging karanasan namin ni Ka Ivy, Ka Amihan at ng iba't-iba pang mga former rebel na nagpapatotoo na kung ano na po ba talaga yung mukha nitong CPP-NPA-NDF doon sa mga legal front organizations na iyon (May we learn lessons from our experiences with Ka Ivy, Ka Amihan and those other former rebels who are testifying to the real intentions of the CPP-NPA-NDF along with their legal front organizations)," said Sabado.

The CPP-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines.