Wednesday, May 19, 2021

In House hearing, NTF-ELCAC questions Patricia Non's 'raised fist' photo

From Rappler (May 19, 2021): In House hearing, NTF-ELCAC questions Patricia Non's 'raised fist' photo (By DWIGHT DE LEON)

(1st UPDATE) The government’s anti-communist insurgency task force says concerned citizens first alerted them about a photo of Patricia Non with a raised fist

In another attempt to question the background of Maginhawa Community Pantry's Patricia Non, the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) said it was concerned over a photo of her raising a clenched fist.

During a hearing on community pantries led by the House committee on human rights on Wednesday, May 19, Undersecretary Severo Catura, one of the new spokespersons of the NTF-ELCAC, claimed there were civilians who questioned Non's photo.

“Tao po ang nagreklamo, hindi gobyerno…. Ni-raise nila ang issue na tumaas ang kamao (It was the people, not the government, who raised the issue on a photo of her raising her fist in the air),” said Catura said, an undersecretary for the Presidential Human Rights Committee Secretariat. He represented fellow spokesperson Lorraine Badoy, who missed the House hearing because of an activity in Davao Del Norte.

The comment did not sit well with Kabataan Representative Sarah Elago, who called out Catura for his remarks.

“Malaya po ang ating kababayan as long as hindi gumagawa ng krimen. Dahil lang may litrato siya na nakataas-kamao, ibig sabihin ba natin na binibigyan natin ng katwiran [ang red-tagging]?” Elago said (Our countrymen are free to raise their fist in the air as long as they are not committing a crime. Do we justify red-tagging just because Non has a photo of her with her fist raised in the air?)

Non graduated from the University of the Philippines, where a raised fist is a common sight and not a political affiliation or belief.

Non has denied her links to the communist movement several times in the past.

Community pantries 'politicized'?

Catura’s statements came as he and fellow NTF-ELCAC spokesperson Antonio Parlade Jr, as well as House Senior Deputy Majority Leader Jesus Crispin “Boying” Remulla, complained about the supposed politicization of community pantries.

Catura lamented how the media highlighted the alleged government incompetence in handling the pandemic, instead of the “bayanihan” (cooperation) spirit, in reporting about community pantries.

“Mag-open po kayo ng Google, type 'nyo ang ‘community pantry’ (Search ‘community pantry’ in Google). Chances are there will be reports on the Philippines’ alleged incompetence and ineptitude to address poverty, food security in the midst of the pandemic,” Catura said.

Non herself said in April that she started a community pantry to fill the gaps in the government’s pandemic response.


‘Pagod na ako sa inaction’: How a community pantry rose to fill gaps in gov’t response

When Elago further pressed the NTF-ELCAC on the red-baiting of community pantries, Remulla chimed in and said “aiding and abetting to rebellion is a crime also.”

“May mga tao na may ibang adhikain diyan sa community pantry na mayroon talagang koneksyon para pabagsakin ang gobyerno (Some people have different goals for community pantries which are connected to efforts to overthrow the government),” Remulla said.

Elago told Remulla that the courts are the proper avenue for such claims.

'Overreaction' instead of encouragement

During the hearing, Agusan del Norte 1st District Representative Lawrence Fortun came to the defense of community pantries, saying they would not have existed if people affected by the pandemic had enough food provisions.

Fortun said that the "beauty" of the community pantry movement is that such a "little initiative" inspired many people across the country and "showed the capacity of the Filipino to step up during crisis and help other people."

He asked the NTF-ELCAC for the number community pantries in the country that the task force said supposedly used the initiative to “demean the government for its failures.”

"We should be very careful in messaging," Fortun said, referring to the NTF-ELCAC's general statements against community pantries. (READ: Parlade likens rapid spread of community pantries to work of ‘Satan’)

He noted that instead of encouraging community pantries, the NTF-ELCAC's "overreaction" caused some community pantries to suspend operations.

State forces 'just doing their job'

The Philippine National Police Human Rights Affairs Office (PNP HRAO) for its part said there was no order from the top to profile community pantry organizers.

“Iyong mga pagtatanong po ng ating pulis na nagpapatrol sa kalsada, sila po ay may katungkulan na alamin ang anumang aktibidad sa kanilang area of responsibility (It is the police’s responsibility to ask questions on any activity in their area of responsibility),” said Police Brigadier General Vincent Calanoga, chief of the PNP HRAO.

Parlade also called out news outfits, including Rappler, for supposedly making a false claim that he admitted to “profiling” community organizers, even though the red-tagging activities of the NTF-ELCAC have been thoroughly documented.

Rappler’s report on April 20, 2021 quoted Parlade as saying, “Alam mo, tsine-check. Marami doon eh. Ilan ba iyang naka-post sa social media? So we’re just checking 'yung background ng mga 'to (You know, they're being checked. There’s a lot among them. How many were posted on social media? So we’re just checking the background of these people).”

On Wednesday, he vehemently denied the NTF-ELCAC’s activities were tantamount to red-tagging.

“In one of my interviews, I was asked ‘Bakit 'nyo nire-red-tag itong mga grupong ito? (Why do you red-tag these groups)’ I said, ‘No, we don’t red-tag them,'” he said, arguing that the NTF-ELCAC was just merely reminding people to be careful about community pantries.

Consequences of red-tagging

Despite the government’s efforts to defend itself against red-baiting allegations, the experiences of community pantry organizers speak for themselves.

Non had to pause her operations for a day in April amid fears for her volunteers’ safety. Some pantries were also forced to cease operations due to alleged police profiling.

Parlade already drew the wrath of senators, who censured him in April after he called lawmakers stupid for seeking to defund the NTF-ELCAC.

National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr also issued a gag order against him after red-tagging community pantries.

However, the government’s refusal to remove him from NTF-ELCAC has disappointed critics, including Senator Panfilo Lacson, who said it was arrogant for the task force to retain Parlade as spokesperson.

OPAPP kicks off distribution of rice to IDPs

From the Philippine Information Agency (May 19, 2021): OPAPP kicks off distribution of rice to IDPs (By Lou Ellen L. Antonio)

MARAWI CITY, May 19 (PIA) -- As part of its support to the conduct of Marawi Week of Peace and its continuing social and peacebuilding activities, the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) started the distribution of 50 kilos of rice to internally displaced persons (IDPs) of this City, Tuesday, May 18.

OPAPP targets to distribute rice to a total of 1,440 households. Of this, 320 are from Rorogagus Transitory Shelter Site, 710 from Boganga Transitory Shelter Site, 160 hostage survivors and 250 Daesh rebel returnees.

“Itong rice distribution ay bahagi pa rin sa patuloy na pagsuporta sa TFBM particularly under Subcommittee on Peace and Order,” said Vannesa Pallarco, Director of OPAPP’s Social Healing and Peacebuilding (SHAPE) Program.

[This rice distribution is still part of the ongoing support for TFBM particularly under the Subcommittee on Peace and Order.]

Pallarco emphasized the commitment of OPAPP continues while there are still challenges brought about by the pandemic.

“Para sa ating mga beneficiaries, andito parin ang OPAPP para suportahan at tulungan ang IDPs. Meron lang talagang challenges brought about by pandemic. InshaAllah kapag medyo namitigate ang areas, namanage ang cases ay paunti-unti makakabalik na sa old normal na pagconduct ng solidarity activities,” she added.

[For our beneficiaries, OPAPP is still here to support and assist IDPs. There are challenges brought about by pandemic. if Allaw wills it, when the areas are somewhat mitigated, when cases are managed, we will gradually return to the old normal conduct of solidarity activities.]

Aisah Mansalulud from Rorogagus Shelter Site expressed her gratitude for the assistance given to them.

“Para sa amin malaking tulong ito lalo na sa shelter. Nagpapasalamt kami sa OPAPP, sa natatanggap namin,” Mansalulud said.

[For us, this is a big help, especially to those who are in the shelter site. We are grateful to OPAPP, for what we receive.]

OPAPP also partnered with the Philippine Army to ensure peace and order during the distribution. (LELA/PIA ICIC)

Former rebel says ‘No to ELCAC defund’

From the Philippine Information Agency (May 19, 2021): Former rebel says ‘No to ELCAC defund’ (By Jocelyn Alvarez)

IPIL, Zamboanga Sibugay, May 19 (PIA) – A former rebel (FR) and farmer in Siay town calls on national government for the continuous implementation of the Barangay Development Program (BDP) as one strategy to end local communist armed conflict in the country.

“Dismaya lang mi pagkadungog namo nga ang ELCAC walaon ang pondo. Luoy kaayo mga tawo nga nanginahanglan pa og tabang sa goberno,” (we were disappointed upon hearing of the call for defund of ELCAC. It’s such a pity for people who still needs the government’s help), says Regite Bonalo, former rebel and president of a farmer’s association in Siay, Zamboanga Sibugay province.

He feels sorry for his comrades and others who are still up in the mountains, citing they could be “snatched” of the opportunity to live a new life should ELCAC defund happen.

“Luoy kaayo mga tawo nga wala pa mi surrender, nga maka avail unta sila sa ELCAC na tabang,” (it’s such a pity for those who have not yet surrendered, their opportunity to avail of help through ELCAC).

Regite recounted how his life made a paradigm shift with the government’s massive intervention as embodied in the E.O 70 or the End Local Communist Armed Conflict (ELCAC) chaired by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte himself.

“Dako kaayo ang kausaban. Nagpasalamat mi sa gobyerno nga nakadawat mi nila ug cash assistance, livelihood training,”(There is a big change. We are thankful to the government for the cash assistance and livelihood training.)

He said, ELCAC played a big role in his surrender, in his going back to mainstream society.

He attested that government assistance and services were made possible and delivered thru ELCAC, that is why, he, along with his entire family are able to enjoy the benefits brought about by sincere implementation of the programs under ELCAC.

“Gawasnon na mi tungod sa ELCAC,” (We are finally set free, because of ELCAC) he said. (EDT/JPA/PIA9-Zamboanga Sibugay)

BDP should be seriously sustained, says N. Samar board member

From the Philippine Information Agency (May 19, 2021): BDP should be seriously sustained, says N. Samar board member (By Ailene N. Diaz) 

CATARMAN, Northern Samar, May 19 (PIA) -- The Barangay Development Program (BDP) of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) should be seriously sustained.

This was the strong statement expressed by Provincial Board Member Florencio “Fawa” Batula, chair of the Peace and Order Committee of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, former PNP Regional and Provincial Advisory Council chair and an advocate of peace and development.

“I am thankful to the national government for correctively looking its best solution in addressing insurgency problem and attain sustainable peace and development through the Barangay Development Program tailored from President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s EO 70,” said Batula.

“With the limited resources and IRA of LGUs, definitely, they cannot afford to give its 100 percent solution to insurgency concern which subsequently is the root cause of poverty.”

“With the BDP, all recipient barangays are empowered to exercise their leverage to identify what really is the priority needs of the barangay and its constituents and implement such accordingly,” Batula further said.

“The BDP that provide funds for the barangays influenced by the NPAs, should be seriously sustained backed by local government units being the main actors in the implementation of every phase of RCSP processes. The whole-of-nation approach of EO 70 must be observed,” Batula reiterated.

The provincial government under the stewardship of Governor Edwin Marino Ongchuan is in full support of the national program NTF-ELCAC, in fact, the Local Social Integration Program initiated by the provincial government is in full swing and working hand-in-hand with the E-CLIP of the national government, geared towards strengthening the implementation of ELCAC at the local level.

Quoting Mother Theresa, BM Batula shared, “We cannot end war by thousand of bombs but by love and compassion.” (ADiaz/PIA, N. Samar)

Kinaray-a News: P40M nga pondo ginpain para sa ELCAC barangay sa Antique

From the Philippine Information Agency (May 19, 2021): Kinaray-a News: P40M nga pondo ginpain para sa ELCAC barangay sa Antique (By Pilar S. Mabaquiao)

SAN JOSE, Antique, Mayo 19 (PIA) - - May kabilugan nga P40 milyones nga pondo halin sa Local Government Support Funds (LGSF) para sa mga ginaduso nga mga proyekto kang darwa nga napili-an nga barangay sa probinsya kang Antique sa idalom kang Support to Barangay Development Program.

Suno kay DILG-Antique Information Officer Judy Mae Magdato-Sajo, ang Barangay Bulan-bulan, San Remigio nga may P20 milyones nga alokasyon, magapakid-an karsada paagto sa andang barangay, paagi sa dya nga programa.

DILG Provncial Director Cherryl Tacda (nagatubang sa tunga) naga hinun-anun sa mga opisyales kang barangay Cabladan, Sibalom kag Bulan-bulan, San Remigio. (DILG/PIA-Antique)

Ang barangay Cabladan, Sibalom nga nakabaton man kang pareho nga kantidad nga nagabalor P20 milyones anda man diya gamiton sa pagpakid-an kang eskwelahan, karsada, kag pagtukod kang poste kang kuryento kag mga linya kang tubig.

Ang diya nga barangay darwa sa 74 ka mga barangay sa Western Visayas nga benepisyaryo kang LGSF-SBDP kag dya sanda ginpili nga lugar para
ipatuman ang EO70 o ang Whole-of-Nation approach to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (ELCAC).

Ang Barangay Bulan-bulan kag Cabladan magabaton kang anda pondo direkta halin sa Bureau of Treasury paadto sa Gobyerno Probinsyal.

Ang mga natungdan nga mga alkalde nga amu kanday Mar Mission kang San Remigio kag Carlo Gian Occena kang Sibalom nagtugro kang anda suporta sa pag-implementar kang gina-prayoridad nga proyekto.

Suno man kay DILG Antique Provincial Director Cheryl P. Tacda, ang diyang hirukuton sangka katumanan kang malawid run nga handum kang mga
katawhan kang Barangay Bulan-bulan.

Para naman sa Barangay Cabladan, ang proyekto ginhimo para taw-an kang katumanan ang buhay run nga ginahandum kang mga katawhan.

Ang DILG nagalaum gid nga ang pondo magamit kang insakto kag mapatuman kang husto ang mga proyekto. (JBG/PSM/PIA-Antique).

74 WV conflict-free villages get project support

From the Philippine Information Agency (May 19, 2021): 74 WV conflict-free villages get project support (By Liez'l Marie Lamasan) 

ILOILO CITY, May 19 (PIA) -- A total of 74 barangays in Western Visayas were identified as beneficiaries of the Support to the Barangay Development Program (SBDP) this year, under the Local Government Support Fund (LGSF).

Project Development and Monitoring Unit Chief Mossad Vincent Araneta of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) 6 cited that the SBDP, which is anchored on the implementation of the Executive Order No. 70, aims to provide the support such as infrastructure and social services for barangays that have lagged behind in terms of development.

“The SBDP identifies the priority projects, programs and activities to address existing issues and development gaps in the barangay,” Araneta said during the virtual Provincial Levelling Session of barangay officials for the provinces of Antique and Capiz.

Support to Barangay. DILG-6 PDMU Chief Mossad Vincent Araneta tackles the various programs and projects implemented under the SBDP. (PIA6-LML)

Some 314 projects amounting to P1.48 billion will be implemented in the provinces of Antique, Capiz, Iloilo, and Negros Occidental, and the cities of Bacolod, Iloilo, Cadiz, San Carlos, Himamaylan, Victorias, and Escalante.

The project scopes included farm to market roads, schools buildings, health stations, assistance to indigent families, water and sanitations systems, electrification, agricultural, livelihood technical trainings, COVID-19 vaccination and health-related projects, and reconstruction projects in connection with the occurrence of natural disasters and crises resulting from insurgencies.

Araneta shared that the barangays shall submit their requests along with the documentary requirements to the Regional Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (RTF-ELCAC) for assessment.

“The RTF ELCAC will endorse the eligible and compliant requests from the barangays to the Department of Budget and Management (DBM). The DBM will process the release of fund upon the endorsement of the RTF-ELCAC. Funds shall be released by the Bureau of Treasury to the provincial/city governments where the barangays are situated,” he explained.

Araneta clarified that should the provincial or city government be technically incapable to implement the projects, it will be assumed by the national government or the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Engineering Brigade.

To note, the government has earmarked P16.44 billion in 2021 for the realization of the barangay’s plans and programs. (LTP/LML-PIA6)

Say no to NPA recruitment, finish studies, ex-rebel tells youth

From the Philippine News Agency (May 19, 2021): Say no to NPA recruitment, finish studies, ex-rebel tells youth (By Annabel Consuelo Petinglay)

ASSISTANCE FOR FRs. Three former rebels (front row) in the municipality of Sibalom receive assistance to individuals in crisis situation (AICS) worth PHP5,000 each during the distribution held in Sibalom, Antique on Tuesday (May 18, 2021). An additional PHP5,000 AICS was also extended by the provincial government. (PNA photo by Annabel Consuelo J. Petinglay)

SAN JOSE DE BUENAVISTA, Antique – Recruited into the armed movement while still a public school student in a remote barangay of Sibalom, Antique, a 22-year-old surrenderer has advised the youth to finish their studies so as not to experience the hardships of hiding in the mountains.

A former rebel said he joined the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) out of frustration for failing in Science.

“I was not able to finish my Grade 10 because of that failure,” he said in an interview on May 18.

He momentarily stopped school until he was lured by his friends in Barangay Imparayan to join the rebel group.

At first, he just wanted to experience the life of a rebel but later on, he realized that he could no longer get out of the communist movement.

“I was with the CPP-NPA for five years based in Igbaras, Iloilo province,” he said, adding that his family tried to find him.

The youngest of nine siblings, he said his older brother tried joining the CPP-NPA last year to be able to locate him.

However, they failed to cross paths as he was assigned in Miagao while his brother was in Igbaras.

“I felt so lonely being away from my family for five years and having no contact with them. The hardships I experienced for not being able to sleep well at night made me finally decide to contact my brother who had just gone out of the CPP-NPA last month,” he said.

He was motivated to surrender when he heard of the news about the other former rebels in Antique who yielded through Executive Order 70 or End Local Communist Armed Conflict (ELCAC).

“I surrendered only to the Sibalom Police Station last April 27 this year,” he said, adding it was his brother who coordinated with the Sibalom Police Station for him to yield.

On Tuesday, he and two other surrenderers receive assistance from the Antique provincial government and the local government unit of Sibalom.

“I am thankful that through the EO 70 I was able to receive assistance for my surrender,” he said.

Sibalom Mayor Gian Carlo Occeña welcomed the rebels' surrender being the key to peace and order in his municipality.

“The LGU is giving aid to individuals in a crisis situation (AICS) in the amount of PHP5,000, a sack of rice and livelihood to the Former Rebels (FRs),” he said during the program.

He said that Sibalom has already welcomed back 13 former rebels to the fold of law since October 22, 2020.

Through the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office, the Antique provincial government also extended food packs and PHP5,000 AICS to every surrenderer.

The 13 surrenderers in Sibalom will also receive PHP20,000 assistance each under the Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP) of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

Raymund Cervantes, DSWD-SLP Project Development Officer II, said they are now processing the SLP of the three recent surrenderers while they are still waiting for the Joint Philippine National Police-Armed Forces of the Philippines Intelligence Certificate (JPIC) of the 10 others.

“The JPIC is a certification that the FRs (former rebels) have no pending case in the court and is a requirement for them to receive the SLP,” he said.

NPA rebel falls in Bulacan drug buy-bust

From the Philippine News Agency (May 19, 2021): NPA rebel falls in Bulacan drug buy-bust (By Manny Balbin)  May 19, 2021, 4:12 pm

BUY-BUST. Lt. Col. Jacquiline Puapo, Malolos City police chief (left), examines the confiscated pieces of evidence from Dionisio Evangelista (seated), an active member of the CPP-NPA who was arrested in a drug buy-bust operation on Tuesday (May 18, 2021) in Barangay Anilao, City of Malolos, Bulacan. Seized from the possession of the suspect were five pieces of heat-sealed transparent plastic sachets containing shabu, seven bullets, buy-bust money, and other subversive items. (Photo courtesy of Malolos PNP)

CITY OF MALOLOS, Bulacan – A member of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) was arrested in a buy-bust operation by joint police and military forces in Barangay Anilao, this city on Tuesday.

The arrested suspect was i
dentified as Dionisio Evangelista, also known as Ka Diony, 68, driver, and resident of Infanta Street in the said village.

In an interview on Wednesday, Lt. Col. Jacquiline Puapo, Malolos City police chief, said the Station Drug Enforcement Unit of Malolos and 70th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army conducted a buy-bust operation against the suspect around 4 p.m.

She said Evangelista was under police and military surveillance for three months prior to the operation due to information that apart from being involved in illegal drugs, he is also an active member of the communist organization, joining activists in protest actions against the government.

“The suspect admitted during interrogation that he was an active member of the CPP-NPA in 2005 when he went to Bataan to join the rebels,” Puapo said, adding that Evangelista came down from the mountains after contracting malaria in 2010.

Confiscated from the suspect were five pieces of heat-sealed transparent plastic sachets containing shabu, seven Carbine bullets, buy-bust money, two NPA books, three pieces of planners, two Kenwood two-way radios, subversive leaflets, several pieces of military uniform, and one motorcycle.

Evangelista will be charged for violation of Section 5 (Sale of Illegal Drugs) and Section 11 (Possession of Illegal Drugs), Article II of Republic Act 9165, the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.

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.

20 ex-rebels complete biz dev’t training

From the Philippine News Agency (May 19, 2021): 20 ex-rebels complete biz dev’t training (By Nanette Guadalquiver)

BIZ TRAINING. Provincial Administrator Rayfrando Diaz II speaks before former RPA-ABB rebels attending the Business Development Seminar-Workshop at the Negros Residences in Bacolod City. The two-day training, which ended on Tuesday (May 18, 2021), was facilitated by the University of St. La Salle-Bacolod Graduate School and Continuing Education in collaboration with the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process and the Province of Negros Occidental. (Photo courtesy of Benja Lucasan)

Some 20 former rebels under the Rebolusyonaryong Partido ng Manggagawa ng Pilipinas/Revolutionary Proletarian Army-Alex Boncayao Brigade (RPM-P/RPA-ABB) Tabara-Paduano Group (TPG) have been trained to improve their entrepreneurial and management skills to help with their businesses.

The former rebels attended a two-day Business Development Seminar-Workshop facilitated by the University of St. La Salle-Bacolod Graduate School and Continuing Education and ended on Tuesday afternoon.

The training, held in collaboration with the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process and the Province of Negros Occidental, was held at the Negros Residences here.

In a statement on Wednesday, Provincial Administrator Rayfrando Diaz II said the provincial government headed by Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson recognizes the commitment of the participants to engage in productive endeavors.

“We assure them of the province’s continued support to their peace and development projects for their respective communities,” he added.

The training was attended by participants from Barangay Dulao, Bago City, and Barangay Tabigue, E.B. Magalona, the two chapters of the six identified Peace and Development Communities of the RPM-P/RPA-ABB TPG now known as the Kapatiran Para sa Progresong Panlipunan Inc.

The RPM-P/RPA-ABB TPG took on the name Kapatiran as part of its institutional transformation.

The participants are currently engaged in social entrepreneurial activities, which are hollow blocks-making for the Tabigue Chapter, and vegetable farming and poultry raising for the Kapatiran Farm Workers of Dulao Chapter.

They have been allowed to improve their business and management skills and strengthen their business processes through discussions on Organizational Transformation and Development, Business Registration, Basic Accounting, orientation on Cooperative Development Authority accreditation, Basic Entrepreneurship, and Value-Chain Analysis.

The RPA-ABB, a breakaway group of the New People’s Army (NPA), and its political wing, the RPM-P, signed a peace agreement with the national government in December 2000.

It later split into two – the TPG led by Veronica Tabara and Stephen Paduano, and the Nilo de la Cruz Group.

Only the TPG continued the process of finalizing a draft closure agreement with the government.

DFA rejects China's unilateral 'fishing ban' in South China Sea

From the Philippine News Agency (May 19, 2021): DFA rejects China's unilateral 'fishing ban' in South China Sea (By Joyce Ann L. Rocamora)

Department of Foreign Affairs façade (File photo)

The Philippine government on Tuesday night firmly rejected China's unilateral fishing ban in the South China Sea, saying it violates Philippine sovereignty and sovereign rights.

The supposed moratorium runs from May 1 to August 16 and covers "waters north of 12 degrees north latitude," which encroaches areas on Philippine territory and exclusive economic zone (EEZ), including the Bajo de Masinloc.

In a statement, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) told China that it cannot legally impose or enforce such a ban in the West Philippine Sea.

"China's annual fishing moratorium extends far beyond China's legitimate maritime entitlements under UNCLOS and is without basis under international law," it said.

"The Philippines strongly urges China to desist from any action and activity that infringes on Philippine sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction, in contravention of international law."

The UNCLOS or the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea is an international treaty that provides a regulatory framework for the use of the world's seas and oceans to ensure the conservation and equitable usage of resources and marine environment.

The DFA said with the new Chinese Coast Guard law, which effectively grants the latter freedom and authority to use force within what it considers its maritime jurisdiction, the fishing ban puts "at risk the legitimate rights of Filipino fishermen" to fish in Philippine territorial waters and EEZ.

It underscored that the 2016 Arbitral Ruling has reaffirmed Filipino fishermen's traditional and legitimate fishing rights in the area.

"According to Paragraph 716 of the Award of the South China Sea Arbitration rendered on 12 July 2016, China, by promulgating its moratorium on fishing in the South China Sea, 'without exception for areas of the South China Sea falling within the exclusive economic zone of the Philippines and without limiting the moratorium to Chinese flagged vessels, breached Article 56 of the 1982 UNCLOS with respect to the Philippines' sovereign rights over the living resources of its exclusive economic zone,'" the DFA said.

The department fired off the diplomatic protest against the Chinese fishing moratorium on May 17.

SAF chopper pilots 'ready for action' by July: Eleazar

From the Philippine News Agency (May 19, 2021): SAF chopper pilots 'ready for action' by July: Eleazar (By Christopher Lloyd Caliwan)

MISSION-READY SOON. PNP chief Gen. Guillermo Eleazar (center) takes a look at the training plan of Special Action Force (SAF) pilots at the Camp Crame Transformation Oval on May 10, 2021. Eleazar said the initial pool of SAF's helicopter pilots will be mission-ready by July. (Photo courtesy of PNP Logistics Support Service)

The initial pool of Philippine National Police Special Action Force (PNP SAF) helicopter pilots will be mission-ready by July this year, the country's top cop said on Wednesday.

Gen. Guillermo Eleazar said seven PNP SAF pilots are undergoing transition training on the single-engine light utility Airbus H-125 helicopter while three other pilots have officially started their training on Wednesday.

"They will be mission-ready by July this year. The flight instructor from Airbus helicopters recommended an additional flight time for our pilots to build up more experience and confidence,"
Eleazar said in a message to the Philippine News Agency (PNA).

The SAF currently has nine helicopters in its inventory -- seven Airbus H-125 units and two Robinson R-44 training helicopters.

"The R-44 (is) used primarily for basic helicopter pilot training," Eleazar said.

He added that there is also an ongoing basic helicopter pilot training for 15 student pilots.

"And they are currently in their flight phase," Eleazar said.

In a separate message, PNP Directorate for Logistics director Maj. Gen. Angelito Casimiro said the transition training course for the Airbus H-125 consists of eight months of actual flight and ground training while basic helicopter training will take another eight months.

Casimiro also said 10 police pilots are now ready to be deployed as co-pilots after their graduation from Airbus H-125 transition training.

"(They are) just waiting for Airbus Certification and for a license as pilot-in-command," he added.

Casimiro added that out of the SAF's helicopters, four Airbus H-125 units and an R-44 helicopter are currently on stand-by while three H-125 units and another R-44 helicopter are undergoing annual maintenance.

NPA owes billions in indemnities, NTF-ELCAC spox says

From the Philippine News Agency (May 19, 2021): NPA owes billions in indemnities, NTF-ELCAC spox says

Undersecretary Severo Catura (File photo)

The New People’s Army (NPA), and officials of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), collectively referred to as a Communist Terrorist Group (CTG) may be compelled to indemnify victims of their human rights abuses and atrocities in the number of billions, a spokesman for the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) said on Wednesday.

Undersecretary Severo Catura, Executive Director of the Presidential Human Rights Committee Secretariat (PHRCS), said under existing local and international laws, particularly the International Humanitarian Law (IHL), parties that are found guilty of such abuses and atrocities committed in a situation of internal armed conflict may be compelled by the courts to indemnify their victims.

Under Section 14 of Republic Act No. 9851, or the "Philippine Act on Crimes Against International Humanitarian Law, Genocide and Other Crimes Against Humanity" signed into law on Dec. 11, 2009, Catura said the courts follow the principles relating to reparations, including restitution, compensation, and rehabilitation, and determine the amount of the same based on the scope and extent of damages inflicted.

“However, regardless of the amount that shall be determined and demanded by the courts, it cannot equal the pain and suffering brought about by past and present human rights abuses and atrocities perpetrated by the CTGs,” said Catura, also NTF-ELCAC spokesperson on Human Rights, Peace Process and international Engagements.

CPP-NPA atrocities

Catura said it is high time that the CTGs be held accountable for their “spate of willful killings, their destruction of government and private property, their use of children as combatants, their internal purges, and their wanton disregard for human rights”.

“Already, the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) has submitted a list of CPP-NPA atrocities and the same shall be judiciously acted upon,” Catura said. "And we shall likewise refer the matter to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) that has ably guided our Armed Forces in the strict observance of IHL in their line of duty.”

The ICRC is a major partner of the Philippine government in the EO 134 Ad Hoc Committee for the State’s continued observance of IHL, co-chaired by the Department of National Defense and the Department of Foreign Affairs.

“Likewise, we shall inform the appropriate United Nations body, through the UN Resident Coordinator and the Senior Human Rights Adviser in the Philippines of this development,” Catura said.

He reminded that no less than the UN Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights, in its report on the human rights situation in the Philippines, mentioned human rights abuses and atrocities committed by the NPA.

The Palace official’s pronouncement came as the AFP-Center on the Laws of Armed Conflict (AFP-CLOAC) revealed last Monday that the CPP-NPA was responsible for a staggering 1,506 atrocities and IHL violations recorded from 2010-2020.

AFP-CLOAC Director, Brig. Gen. Jose Alejandro S. Nacnac, told newsmen that this proves without a doubt that there is "a nationwide pattern of organized, orchestrated, continuing, deliberate, and systematic scheme perpetrated by the Communist Terrorist Group which justifies their designation as a terrorist organization”.

532 incidents of destruction

The AFP has consolidated 532 incidents of destruction of civilian-owned properties by the CTGs.

An example of which was the attack in Taganito Mining Corporation in Claver, Surigao Del Norte in 2011 resulting in the destruction of the facilities and several pieces of equipment.

Another group of rebels attacked the nearby Platinum Metals Group Corp. also in Claver. Three hours later, another mine site operated by another Taganito company, Taganito HPAL Corporation, was also attacked by the rebels.

Then Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo estimated the damage at USD1.5 billion (PHP72 billion) while some news reports claimed that actual damage could run up to as high as USD3 billion. This is besides the 4,000 to 5,000 employees who were affected by the attacks.

Recently, a total of 289 incidents of willful killing were consolidated by the AFP-CLOAC. These killing incidents committed by the CTGs during the 10-year period caused the deaths of 77 soldiers and 296 innocent civilians or a total of 373 victims of assassinations.

“Members of the CTGs should face charges for violating Republic Act 9851. They are not only criminally liable but also civilly liable for damages,” Nacnac pointed out.

Meanwhile, Catura said the whole country, not only the victims, should ask the CPP-NPA to account for their abuses and compensate their hapless victims.

Recruitment of child warriors

Aside from conducting terrorist attacks, records show that the communist group was responsible for the recruitment of 464 child warriors who were rescued by government troops from their hellish plight.

The highest number of children forcibly taken by the NPA was from Region 11 with a total of 141 incidents.

Of the 464 child warriors who were rescued, 25 were abused by their NPA captors, Nacnac pointed out.

Aside from these grave violations of IHL, the NPA also indiscriminately used "anti-personnel mines" which, according to Nacnac, is also a violation of the Geneva Convention and other international treaties.

He said there were a total of 141 recorded incidents involving production, stockpiling, transporting, and use of these illegal mines which caused 224 casualties, including injuring or killing dozens of civilians.

The NTF-ELCAC officials said the first three categories of IHL violations were already submitted to the Commission on Human Rights and to other agencies which promised to conduct motu propio investigations.

In April this year, the NPA disrupted an ongoing farm-to-market road project in Surigao City by torching the contractor’s heavy equipment.

Surigao City Mayor Ernesto U. Matugas Jr. condemned the attack, adding that “it has also disrupted the progress that we have made so far as building concrete roads for easy transport of the people and goods from the barangays to the city and vice-versa.”

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.

AFP sees no problem with PRRD gag order on WPS

From the Philippine News Agency (May 19, 2021): AFP sees no problem with PRRD gag order on WPS (By Priam Nepomuceno)

Photo courtesy of NTF WPS

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Wednesday said it does not see any problem with President Rodrigo R. Duterte's order preventing other members of the Cabinet from publicly discussing the West Philippine Sea issue.

"We do not have any issue with the President’s express directive to the Cabinet. In so far as the AFP is concerned, we are better silently but faithfully performing our mission," AFP spokesperson Marine Maj. Gen. Edgard Arevalo said in a message to reporters.

He, however, added that the order does not stop them from protecting the country's territory.

"We were not ordered to stop or will neither renege from performing our constitutional mandate to ensure that our people enjoy what our EEZ (exclusive economic zone) provides nor cease patrolling our seas defending our territory," he added.

Meanwhile, AFP chief Gen. Cirilito Sobejana said Duterte's directive which only allows Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque and Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. to speak on the issue is very clear.

"Meanwhile, the AFP shall continue to support the maritime activities of NTF WPS (National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea) in the territorial waters and EEZ of our country across the western frontier," he added.

Panelo exempted from gag order over WPS issue

From the Philippine News Agency (May 19, 2021): Panelo exempted from gag order over WPS issue (By Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos)

Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo (File photo)

President Rodrigo Duterte is also authorizing Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo to issue statements on the Philippines’ long-standing dispute with China in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).

This, after Duterte on Monday barred Cabinet secretaries, except Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque and Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr., from commenting about issues related to WPS disputes between Manila and Beijing.

During his commentary show “Counterpoint,” Panelo said Duterte’s latest gag order does not apply to him.

Panelo said Duterte had told him he has the “legal” capacity to speak on Duterte’s behalf with regard to issues surrounding WPS.

“Sabi niya, ‘Sal, as Chief Presidential Legal Counsel, mag-issue ka ng statement sapagkat iyan ay legal (He said, ‘Sal, as Chief Presidential Legal Counsel, issue a statement because that is legal),’” Panelo said, quoting Duterte.

Duterte’s gag order also covers the National Task Force on WPS (NTF-WPS), which releases statements and photos of Chinese ships encroaching into the Philippine waters.

Roque, in a virtual presser on Tuesday, said the inputs of NTF-WPS will now be covered by “executive privilege”.

Sovereign rights over WPS won’t be compromised

Amid issues concerning WPS, Duterte intends to resolve the sea dispute with China through a diplomatic approach, Panelo said.

Panelo said Duterte’s independent foreign policy of “being friend to all, enemy to none” still stands.

He also assured the Philippines’ sovereign rights over WPS won’t be compromised.

“Ang posisyon ni Presidente, lahat ng bagay, puwedeng pag-usapan, maliban sa sovereignty, hindi ito puwedeng i-kompromiso iyan. Ipaglalaban iyan (The President’s position is all issues can be solved through negotiations. However, we will not compromise our sovereignty. He will fight for it),” Panelo said.

Duterte, Panelo said, is willing to be an “enemy” of any country that will attempt to assault the country’s sovereignty.

“Maliwanag po yun. Kaibigan ko kayong lahat pero pag kayo, isa, dalawa sa inyo, kahit na kayong lahat pa, pinagkaisahan niyo na sisirain ninyo ang aming soberenya, magkakamatayan tayo dito, Pagtatanggol ko iyan (That is clear. All nations are his friends but if one or two of them would try to assault our sovereignty, he will fight for it and is even willing to die),” Panelo said.

On May 13, Duterte told China that the Philippine vessels would “not move an inch backward” from WPS, even if Manila’s friendship with Beijing would be at stake and his order would cause his death.

The Philippines on July 12, 2016 won its petition against China before the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague, Netherlands, after the court ruled that Beijing has no basis to claim historic rights over nearly the entire South China Sea.

China has repeatedly refused to acknowledge the 2016 PCA ruling, while the Philippines has sought to address the maritime dispute in a peaceful and diplomatic manner.

House adopts amnesty resolutions for rebel groups

From the Philippine News Agency (May 19, 2021): House adopts amnesty resolutions for rebel groups (By Filane Mikee Cervantes)  May 19, 2021, 6:35 pm

The House of Representatives on Wednesday gave its concurrence to President Rodrigo Duterte's proclamations granting amnesty to members of four major rebel groups.

During the plenary session, the chamber adopted House Concurrent Resolutions 12, 13, 14, and 15 with votes of 192-0-1, 195-2-1, 197-0-1, and 191-7-1, respectively.

The resolutions, authored by Speaker Lord Allan Velasco, concur with Proclamation Nos. 1090, 1091, 1092, and 1093, all dated Feb. 5, 2021, granting amnesty to members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), Rebolusyonaryong Partido ng Manggagawa ng Pilipinas/Revolutionary Proletarian Army/Alex Boncayao Brigade (RPMP-RPA-ABB), and former rebels of the Communist Terrorist Group (CTG), who have committed crimes punishable under Act No. 3815 or the Revised Penal Code, and special penal laws in furtherance of their political beliefs.

Velasco said the House adoption of these concurrent resolutions is a "significant milestone" toward reconciliation and lasting peace in the country.

"Accepting these rebels back into the folds of the law through amnesty and eventually providing them access to government's existing socioeconomic services are essential to attaining peace and reconciliation in the country," he said.

Velasco said the granting of amnesty is proof of the government’s sincerity and determination to attain sustainable peace in the country.

“Both Houses of Congress recognize that transforming MNLF members from armed combatants to productive citizens and peace partners is necessary to achieve the paramount ends of the peace process—national unity, solidarity and progress for all Filipinos,” he said.

Majority Leader Martin Romualdez, for his part, said the adoption is expected to enhance the Duterte administration’s reconciliation and peace building efforts by welcoming rebels who will lay down their arms and return to the fold of the law.

“I now appeal to our brothers and sisters who are eligible to avail of this amnesty offer. It is high time to abandon the armed struggle and take advantage of the amnesty program offered by the President,” Romualdez said.

Romualdez argued that returning to the fold of law does not mean giving up their ideals, as these will be achieved under the amnesty program being implemented by the government.

"A home in your own parcel of land. Free education for your children. A stable job to feed your family,” Romualdez said.

In his proclamations, Duterte said the government’s peace policy is to nurture a climate conducive for peace, as well as to implement programs for reconciliation and reintegration of rebels into mainstream society.

“There is a need for the government to act on former combatants request for the grant of amnesty so that they may live in peace in the pursuit of productive endeavors without prejudice to any legal arrangement that may result from a negotiated settlement which the government is pursuing with the various rebel and insurgent groups,” the proclamations read.

According to the presidential proclamations, the grant of amnesty in favor of the former rebels will “promote an atmosphere conducive to the attainment of a just, comprehensive, and enduring equanimity.”

Granting amnesty is also in line with the government’s call for peace, unity, and reconciliation to bring closure to past enmity, rancor, and bitterness that has stymied lasting amity among Filipinos, the proclamations said.

The amnesty will not be granted to those who have been proscribed or changed under the Human Security Act of 2007 or Republic Act 9372 or the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 or RA 11479.

The proclamations note that the crimes committed in pursuit of a political belief include “acts and omissions performed or undertaken as part of a plan, a program of action or strategy decided by the rebel leadership to overthrow and replace the National Government, any of its political subdivisions, or duly constituted authority, with or without the use of arms.”

The amnesty granted shall not cover kidnap for ransom, massacre, rape, terrorism, and other crimes committed against chastity as defined in the amended Revised Penal Code, crimes committed for personal ends, violation of Comprehensive Dangerous Act of 2002 or RA 9165, and grave violations of the Geneva Convention of 1949.

Other crimes not covered by Duterte’s amnesty are those identified by the United Nations that can never be amnestied such as genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, torture, enforced disappearances, and other gross violations of human rights.

If granted amnesty, former rebels will be able to restore their civil or political rights suspended or lost by virtue of criminal conviction, based on the proclamations.

The amnesty will also extinguish any criminal liability for acts committed in pursuit of political beliefs, without prejudice to the grantee’s civil liability for injuries or damages caused to private persons whose right to be indemnified is fully recognized.

An Amnesty Commission shall be created to receive and process applications for amnesty and determine whether applicants are entitled to reprieve under the proclamations.

Gov’t readies fresh charges vs. IP kids’ abductors

From the Philippine News Agency (May 19, 2021): Gov’t readies fresh charges vs. IP kids’ abductors

The National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) rebuked the Communist Party of the Philippines and its military wing, the New People's Army (CPP-NPA), for gloating too much over the dismissal of criminal cases filed against seven of their comrades who were arrested during the rescue operations for Indigenous People (IP) students inside a Cebu City university earlier this year.

Lawyer Marlon Bosantog, NTF-ELCAC spokesperson for Legal Affairs and IP Concerns, said the government is readying charges against these same individuals for violation of Republic Act No. 8371, otherwise known as the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act of 1997 (IPRA), that will "amplify the case" during a virtual conference with the parents and tribe leaders of the abducted students in Tagum City on May 18.

"This is a separate and distinct offense. Separate special offense from the (original) criminal case," Bosantog said in a news release on Wednesday.

Earlier, the Provincial Prosecutor’s Office dismissed the kidnapping, serious illegal detention, human trafficking and child abuse charges against Chad Errol Booc, Segundo Lagatos Melong, Benito Dalim Bay-ao, Moddie Langayed Mansimoy-at, Esmelito Paumba Oribawan, Roshelle Mae C. Porcadilla and Jomar Benag.

Bosantog added that the dismissal was due to a lack of jurisdiction.

He clarified that there were findings in the prosecutor’s resolution that the elements of the crimes were actually committed, “it just so happens that the crimes committed were out of jurisdiction of Davao del Norte, so the filing of the case is improper."

He added that the crimes were committed while transporting the 19 IP students from Davao del Norte to the University of San Carlos in Cebu City.

He laid out the legal options after hearing the sentiments of the parents and tribe leaders of Talaingod, Davao del Norte during the conference. They said the abducted minors were taken by the communist group without their consent to be trained as "child warriors."

Meanwhile, Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Undersecretary Lorraine Badoy, NTF-ELCAC spokesperson for Social Media Affairs and Sectoral Concerns, said they will continue fighting the case by filing a motion for reconsideration aside from the new IPRA violations charges mentioned by Bosantog.

"This is only the first round, and we’re sure to win this, the resolution said there were crimes committed and it’s just a question of jurisdiction. That's a very big win for us," she said.

She added that the claims of the communist group that the cases were dismissed for being baseless is a "big lie."

"Baseless is template responses of CPP-NPA. They are the ones who committed terrible crimes," Badoy said.

In December 2017, President Rodrigo Duterte declared the NPA and the CPP as terrorist organizations.

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.

The Anti-Terrorism Council of the Philippines created under the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 designated the CPP-NPA as terrorist organizations in the Philippines on December 9, 2020.

Suga lauds PRRD's stand on arbitral ruling in 75th UNGA

From the Philippine News Agency (May 19, 2021): Suga lauds PRRD's stand on arbitral ruling in 75th UNGA (By Azer Parrocha)

Japanese Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide (Anadolu photo)

Japanese Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide has lauded the Philippines’ “principled position” on the 2016 arbitral ruling that President Rodrigo Duterte uttered at the High-Level General Debate of the 75th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in September last year.

Suga conveyed his appreciation in a “productive” 20-minute phone conversation with Duterte on Wednesday.

“Prime Minister Suga, meantime, expressed appreciation for the Philippines’ principled position clearly articulated by President Duterte during the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly on the 2016 Arbitral Ruling,” the Office of the President (OP) said in a statement.

Duterte stressed the need for nations to cooperate on promoting maritime domain awareness, maritime security, and safety, freedom of navigation and overflight, and maritime connectivity and commerce.

“At the same time, he (Duterte) underlined the need to recognize and work for the peaceful settlement of disputes, stating that the Asia-Pacific region cannot afford conflicts between neighbors,” the OP statement read.

Duterte added that alliances and partnerships must redound to greater stability in the South China Sea and uphold the broader collective interest of the Asia-Pacific region.

“While recognizing the importance of the Arbitral Ruling, Prime Minister Suga also expressed concern over developments in the East and South China Seas,” the OP said.

Both leaders agreed to work closely to ensure security and stability in the region under the rule of law.

To secure the area against piracy, terrorism, and other transnational crimes, Duterte stressed the importance of continuing cooperation in the Sulu and the Celebes Sea.

The two leaders then stated their intent to ramp up cooperation in these waters.

In his maiden speech before the UNGA virtual high-level meeting, Duterte affirmed the Philippines’ commitment on the peaceful settlement of the South China Sea dispute in accordance with the 2016 Permanent Court of Arbitration’s (PCA) ruling that rejected China’s expansive maritime claims in the disputed territory.

Duterte said the PCA ruling “is now part of international law, beyond compromise and beyond the reach of passing governments to dilute, diminish or abandon.”

“We firmly reject attempts to undermine it,” Duterte said.

His speech was praised by current and former Cabinet members and government officials as well as critics.

Covid-19 first

Amid the prevailing health crisis, Suga also conveyed his regrets on the postponement of his official visit to the Philippines due to Japan’s domestic Covid-19 situation.

Last month, Suga announced that he has decided to postpone his visit to the Philippines to focus on a recent surge in Covid-19 cases in his country.

Duterte expressed full support of the decision and stressed that the Philippines stands in solidarity with the Japanese people in facing the pandemic.

He also thanked Japan for its generous Covid-19 assistance to the Philippines, including 20 billion yen approval out of the 50 billion yen Post-Disaster Standby Loan and 1 billion yen more for cold chain development assistance.

Suga recognized and expressed support for the Philippine Government’s efforts to address the pandemic.

Both leaders also reaffirmed commitment to further strengthen bilateral ties and build on the achievements of 65 years of normalized relations and 10 years of Strengthened Strategic Partnership between the Philippines and Japan, two milestones set to be celebrated this year.

Partner for dev’t

In the same phone call, Duterte said Japan’s increased engagement in the Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-the Philippines East Asean Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) is key to revitalizing socio-economic growth and promoting security in the Sulu and Celebes Seas.

He described Japan as an “unrivaled partner for peace and development in Mindanao” and thanked Japan’s support for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Mindanao transition process, stating further that joint socio-economic development initiatives will benefit peace-loving Mindanaoans.

Duterte also thanked Suga for his support in the Build, Build, Build program which the latter described as “a lasting legacy to be remembered for years to come.”

Suga said Japan will continue this key area of partnership with the Philippines, recognizing Duterte’s assertion that projects such as the first Manila Subway will significantly improve the quality of life and productivity of Filipinos.

Both leaders expressed concern over developments in Myanmar and agreed to work closely together to support efforts to improve the situation in the country.

Duterte and Suga said they looked forward to seeing each other in Manila as soon as circumstances allow to renew and reaffirm the Philippines-Japan Strategic Partnership and valuable ties of “friends closer than brothers.”

Kalinaw News: 48 Former Rebels received initial Cash Assistance from Government

Posted to Kalinaw News (May 19, 2021): 48 Former Rebels received initial Cash Assistance from Government

Maco, Davao de Oro – A total of 48 rescued personalities who were former members of the Communist Terrorist Groups (CTGs) received initial financial assistance from the Provincial Government of Davao de Oro in the town of Monkayo on May 18 2021, Tuesday.

Each personality received Ten Thousand Pesos (P10,000) as initial assistance over and above their entitlements from the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (ECLIP). Out of the 48 rescued personalities, 13 have recently completed the Healing and Reconciliation Program conducted by the Provincial Social Welfare and Development of the province in line with their de-radicalization.

This is a part of the assistance offered by the government through ECLIP – a program for the deceived personalities who signified their intention to return to the folds of the law. Rescued individuals are given a chance to redeem themselves, and reconcile with the government in order to prepare them for their re-integration to the mainstream society.

Jived with the activity is the Graduation Ceremony of 15 rescued individuals from Electric Installation and Maintenance NCII conducted by TESDA, Davao de Oro. Skills development training is very necessary especially for the rescued individuals who were deprived of liberty to self-development and livelihood opportunities for years.

Alyas Yeng, one of the rescued individuals said, “Grabe ang doktrina sa kalihukan, daghan naguba ang panginabuhian. Daghang estudyante ng naguba ang pag eskwela sa dihang na organized sa NPA. Dako among pasalamat nga naay gobyerno mitabang sa amoa sa amoang paglingkawas sa walay kagawasan nga sistema sa kalihukan. Dugay na unta gyud mi mo surrender apan gi-doktrina mi na pasakitan ug i-torture sa mga sundalo, apan sa among pqgsurrender, lahi diay kaau ang doktrina -bakak ra diay ang tanan. Sa tanan nga surrenderee, atong gunitan tanan ang mga gitudlo sa atoa ug gihatag nga kahibalo sa gobyerno sa atoa. Atong nang gunitan alang sa atong pag lambo.” (The doctrine inculcated in us in the armed movement is harsh, our livelihoods were destroyed. The future of the students who get organized were also destroyed. We are very thankful to the government who came to our aid, for our liberation from the NPA. We were indoctrinated that once we surrender, we will get tortured by the Army, but these were all lies. To my fellow rescued former members of the NPA, I encourage all of you to hold on to the learnings that the government has taught us. Hold on to it for our self-sustenance and self-development.) Alyas Khan, former leader of the dismantled Guerilla Front 33 expressed his gratitude for the assistance extended to them by the government. “Kaning programa sa gobyerno mao ni ang usa gyud sa makapiang sa kalihukan, kay nakita gyud namo ug sa katawhan ang ka seryoso sa gobyerno. Kaning Healing and Reconciliation, mao ni ang nitabang sa amoa alang sa pagbalik namo sa sabakan sa gobyerno nga adunay lig-on nga pamilya ug dunay kahadlok sa Dyos. Daghan kaayong salamat sa makanunayon nga suporta ngadto sa mga pareha namo nga mga nailad sa sayop nga tinuohan ug idolohiya,” (This program of the government that we have today will surely crumble the Armed movement because of its sincerity.

This Healing and Reconciliation Program helped us a lot in our preparation to reintegrate with the society. It taught us to be family-centered and God-fearing citizens. We thank you [government] for your continuous aid to people like us who were deceived by wrong ideology and belief.), he said. Meanwhile, Col Glenn Jun C Calambuhay, Deputy Brigade Commander of 1001st Infantry (PAG-ASA) Brigade congratulated the rescued personalities for accepting the golden opportunity to live peaceful lives together with their respective families. “Not only the government is winning in this endeavor, but you who are former members of the CTGs. We welcome you all in your reintegration to the society. I encourage you to make use of your training from TESDA. With the skills that you now possess, we are sure that you will live fruitful and peaceful lives,” Col Calambuhay said.

The rescued personnel were all enrolled to the ECLIP and their entitlements are currently being processed.

[Kalinaw News is the official online source of information on the pursuit for peace in the Philippines This website is a property of the Civil-Military Operations Regiment, Philippine Army located at Lawton Avenue, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City. Contact us:]

CPP/NDF-CPDF: Several MP residents refuse to be vaccinated

Posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) Website (May 18, 2021): Several MP residents refuse to be vaccinated


MAY 18, 2021

Read in: Iloco | Pilipino

In an information gathering done by the Cordillera People’s Democratic Front – Mountain Province, it was discovered that not only a few have refused to be vaccinated with anti-COVID vaccines due to several reasons. Many have refused the vaccine, particularly senior citizens, after some reports of its adverse effects and its effectivity.

“At first, I am really considering to be vaccinated. But after I have known that there can be side effects like sudden increase in blood pressure, I am now afraid to be vaccinated,” said Manang Eva*, a senior citizen and resident of Besao. Manang Lou*, a resident of Tadian, said that during their barangay meeting on the vaccination program, all of the senior citizens present did not volunteer to be vaccinated. Some backed out to be vaccinated after the Department of Health announced that the anti-COVID vaccines will not really prevent the human body from acquiring the virus, but will only minimize the symptoms. “Why bother be vaccinated if you will still get sick after?” said Manang Mel*, a resident of Sagada. These sentiments were reinforced after the report that several health workers from the neighbouring province of Kalinga still got positive for COVID-19 even after being vaccinated.

Amidst the widespread doubt and distrust on the anti-COVID vaccination among the i-Montanyosa, the CPDF MP is ever determined to campaign for the vaccination along with the campaign to strengthen community health systems and people’s resistance against any virus. “This widespread doubt on the vaccination is due to the severe lack of information dissemination among the people. Revolutionary mass organizations in the barrios will amplify its information drive regarding the COVID-19,” the CPDF MP said. According to an article dated March 2021 in Dangadang, the revolutionary publication in Ilocos-Cordillera, vaccines will help produce anti-bodies to counter particular kinds of virus. The article also explained the importance of having the majority of the population vaccinated and acquire the capacity to produce anti-bodies against the COVID-19.

Meanwhile, Leonardo Pacsi Command (New People’s Army – Mountain Province) continue to provide medical services to the village folks while facing focused military operations. “It is quite saddening, but also enraging, that the Duterte regime is more focused in crushing the revolutionary movement than seriously solving this pandemic. Our medical units shall continue its health work among the people even if we are under the attacks of the AFP and PNP. Free, accessible, and quality health is a basic right of the people,” said Magno Udyaw, spokesperson of the NPA MP. “Along with our medical work, we will also intensify our programs in agrarian revolution, like increase in food and herbal medicine production in the barrios, as part of our campaign against COVID-19,” Udyaw added. Lastly, the CPDF MP reiterated that the people have the right to safe and effective vaccination, and military and anti-insurgency funds worth billions of pesos should be rechanelled to health and other basic social services.#

*Their real names were undisclosed for security reasons

NPA-Leyte dismisses AFP claim about ties to warlord’s goons

Posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) Website (May 18, 2021): NPA-Leyte dismisses AFP claim about ties to warlord’s goons


MAY 18, 2021

The New People’s Army in Eastern Visayas today dismissed allegations by the Armed Forces of the Philippines saying that goons whom state forces killed in April and serve a warlord politico in Leyte have connections to the NPA.

The Efren Martires Command (NPA-EMC) said that Nicolas “Botoy” Ibañez, who was killed by joint AFP-PNP elements about to serve a search warrant in Carigara, had been an armed goon for Leyte 3rd district representative Vicente “Ching” Veloso III since 2011. He served as security guard for Veloso’s hacienda, and led the representative’s private armed group which killed his numerous political opponents, including ex-mayor Calao Larrazabal. Ibañez also had connections to the drug lord Kerwin Espinosa. The NPA-EMC said that for a time Ibañez was platoon leader for the NPA, but upon working for Veloso he severed connections with the revolutionary movement.

Meanwhile, the criminal element Marlon Mendoza, who was the subject of the search warrant, was part of Ibañez’s armed group. He and Ibañez are suspected of killing a certain Arnel/“Garnet” who was also involved in illegal drugs. The alleged NPA member Juanito Silleza Jr. is also not part of the NPA but works for Veloso.

“These criminal elements have no connections to the NPA,” said Ka Karlos Manuel, spokesperson for the NPA-EMC. He chided Brig. Gen. Zosimo Oliveros of the 802nd Infantry Brigade for fabricating lies to malign the NPA and associate it with criminal activity.

“The AFP is trying to project its own anti-social activities onto the NPA, even though it is the AFP who has historically close ties to criminal warlords such as Veloso,” Manuel said.

Under former commander Brig. Gen. Lope Dagoy, the 802nd IBde colluded with Veloso to offer ‘relocation’ and ‘surrender benefits’ under E-CLIP to peasants in San Isidro and Calubian towns, so that despotic landlords and bureaucrat-capitalists such as Veloso can seize their lands. Elements of the 802nd IBde also served as security forces for Veloso’s ecotourism project covering parts of Matag-ob, Merida and Villaba towns.

Manuel cautioned the public against believing the AFP and its “fake news” factory, and urged them to expose its lies. “Oliveros and his ilk are desperate to keep in their hands the military bonuses rewarded to them as they maintain the illusion that Leyte is ‘insurgency free.’ Thus, they resort to cooking up lie after lie against the revolutionary movement,” he ended.

CPP/NPA-EVROC: AFP squanders funds for relentless combat ops in Borongan

Posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) Website (May 18, 2021): AFP squanders funds for relentless combat ops in Borongan


MAY 18, 2021

The New People’s Army in Eastern Visayas today blasted the Armed Forces of the Philippines for squandering public funds to conduct relentless military operations and helicopter overflights in Borongan City, Eastern Samar this month.

The Efren Martires Command reported that at least 90 AFP troops conducted combat operations in Brgy. San Andres, Borongan City last May 3. The AFP then conducted helicopter overflights over the area for two days.

Operating attack helicopters, for example a UH1J Huey helicopter, can cost the military up to P110,000/hour.

Prior to this, a hundred troops of the 78th Infantry Battalion and 46th Infantry Battalion conducted combat operations in Borongan and in nearby San Julian town from March 24 to 27. On March 26, a team of Red fighters harassed a column of enemy troops in the forested area near Brgy. San Andres. The soldiers fled for their lives to the barrio.

Borongan is one of several municipalities in Eastern Visayas under focused military operations (FMO.) Operational costs for FMO in one region can cost up to P200 million a year. At least seven barangays in Borongan are also under sustained Retooled Community Support Program operations by combined elements of the AFP-PNP.

“The AFP’s military operations against the NPA are useless and wasteful. With less than two years left before its 2022 deadline, it has yet to make true to its pronouncement of dismantling a single guerrilla front in the region. It succeeded in wasting billions of pesos to terrorize peasant communities in the midst of the pandemic,” NPA-EMC spokesperson Karlos Manuel said.

Manuel also chided the 78th IB commander Lt. Col. Oliver Alvior for suggesting that the people of Borongan can be bought into participating in their counter-insurgency campaign through a “community outreach activity,” which is actually part of their psychological warfare operations and surrender program meant to take advantage of the people’s grave economic hardship and hunger.

“No kind of ‘sugar-coated bullets’ can buy off the people’s contempt of the fascist AFP troops. The people can never forget the countless abuses they suffered in the hands of the 78th IB. In July 2020, soldiers strafed at seven civilians, including two children, in Borongan City. In May, they arrested a resident of Brgy. Roxas, Giporlos and forced him into joining their operations,” he added.

Manuel urged the people to expose and oppose the wasteful combat operations of the AFP. “The futile and terrorist counter-insurgency campaign of the Duterte regime does not deserve a cent of the people’s funds. Their operations only disturb the peasants who are trying to make a living in the midst of grave crisis. Their funds should be spent towards a more effective government response against COVID-19 and as aid for the poor,” he ended.

CPP/NPA-Albay: Shutdown ng Power Supply sa Rapu-rapu at iba pang bayan sa Albay, EPIRA ang dapat sisihin!

Posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) Website (May 18, 2021): Shutdown ng Power Supply sa Rapu-rapu at iba pang bayan sa Albay, EPIRA ang dapat sisihin!


MAY 18, 2021

Ang malaking suliranin ng mga taga Rapu-rapu, Albay sa pagkawala ng suplay sa kuryente ay hindi hiwalay sa mas malaking problema ng mamamayang Pilipino pagdating sa mabilis na pagsirit ng presyo ng kuryente sa buong kapuluan. Kahit saang anggulo tingnan, hindi naging sagot ang Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) sa patuloy na pagsirit ng presyo ng kuryente, taliwas ito sa inaasahan ng karamihan na ito ang kasagutan upang mapigilan ang ganitong tunguhin.

Sa ilalim ng EPIRA, sistematikong binitiwan ng reaksyunaryong estado ang pagbibigay ng abot-kayang serbisyo ng isang napakabatayang yutilidad. Sa ilalim din ng itinutulak ng liberalisasyon ng EPIRA, nakontrol ng kartel ang produksyon, transmisyon at distribusyon ng kuryente. Nagsisilbing tagapagtanggol na lamang ng mga burukrata kapitalistang may hawak ng mga malalaking kumpanya ng kuryente ang nakatayong Energy Regulatory C (ERC). Ang pagtutol ng mamamayan sa EPIRA ay kaakibat din ng kanilang pagtutol sa sunod-sunod na kagustuhan ng IMF-World Bank sa pribatisasyon, denasyunalisayon, deregulasyon at liberalisasyon.

Hindi nagamot ng pagsasapribado ng Albay Electric Corporation (ALECO) ang napakataas na bayarin sa kuryente. Tumaas ang singil sa kuryente pero hindi natigil ang brown-out sa ilalim ng Albay Power Electric Corporation (APEC). Sa panahong ito, tigil ang ekonomya hindi lamang sa Albay kundi sa buong bansa. Lugmok ang kabuhayan at balisa sa kanilang pang-araw-araw na pagkukunan ng makakain, pinarusahan pa ng APEC ang kanyang mga konsumer.

Ang APEC ay bahagi ng San Miguel Global Power Holdings na pinamumunuan ni Ramon Ang – kroni ni Duterte. Habang nalulunod ang mamamayan sa krisis ng Covid-19 at militaristang lockdown ni Duterte, lalong tumaas ang kita at tubo ng SMC. Kaya hindi totoong nalulugi ang pamumuhunan nito sa industriya ng kuryente. Nabawi na ng APEC ang inisyal nitong pamumuhunan sa ALECO dahil sa napakataas na presyo ng kuryente nitong mga nagdaang taon. Sukdulang pamimiga na lamang ito ng kanilang kaganidan sa tubo.

Ang tanong, anong meron sa bayan ng Rapu-Rapu na pinag-iinteresan at kutsabahan ng mga malaking burgesya kumprador at ni Duterte. Tumataas ang value ng ginto at iba pang mineral sa pandaigdigang pamilihan.

Panawagan ng Santos Binamera Command – NPA Albay (SBC – NPA Albay) sa mamamayan ng Rapu-Rapu at mamamayang Albayano, maging mapagbantay at mapanuri sa pambabraso ng mga multinasyunal na korporasyong ito sa isla ng Rapu-Rapu.

Sa mamamayang Albayano, hindi lamang EPIRA ang kailangan tapatan ng pakikibaka. Bahagi lamang ito ng mga patakarang neoliberalismo na ipinapataw ng IMF-WB na mismong ang rehimeng US-Duterte ang tagapagtaguyod.

Sa mga kagawad ng midya, ilantad ang tunay na dahilan ng power shutdown sa Rapu-Rapu at iba pa.

Labanan ang mga patakarang neoliberal ng rehimeng US-Duterte!
Ibalik ang power supply ng Rapu-Rapu at iba pa!
APEC, ganid sa tubo!

CPP/NPA-STROC: Pasismo ng PNP, magpapatuloy sa ilalim ni Eleazar, bagong hepe ng PNP

Posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) Website (May 18, 2021): Pasismo ng PNP, magpapatuloy sa ilalim ni Eleazar, bagong hepe ng PNP


MAY 18, 2021

Mukha lamang ang ipinalit subalit nananatiling bulok, pasista at kriminal ang PNP. Hindi magbabago ang imahen ng Philippine National Police (PNP) sa pagpalit ni Guillerno Eleazar bilang bagong hepe ng PNP matapos ang pagretiro ni Debold “Mañanita” Sinas.

Mananatili ang mersenaryo at anti-mamamayang tradisyon ng PNP kahit palitan ito ng nagpopusturang malinis na bagong hepe ng PNP sa katauhan ni Eleazar na nangangakong rerepormahin ang hanay ng kapulisan. Tulad ng mga nauna sa kanya, ipagpapatuloy niya ang mersenaryo at madugong rekord ng pasistang institusyon gaya ng kabi-kabilang pagpatay at iligal na pang-aaresto. Sa ilalim ng kanyang pamumuno sa National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO), nanatiling talamak ang pamamaslang sa mga pinaghihinalaang adik at tulak ng droga sa Oplan Tokhang.

Nais bigyan ni Eleazar ng maamong imahen ang PNP sa mata ng mamamayan sa kanyang unang kautusan na hindi dapat saktan o parusahan ang mga inaarestong lumalabag sa health protocol at curfew. Subalit sino ang maniniwala na sa isang iglap ay magbabago ang imahen ng PNP na mula’t sapul nang itinatag ito ay kabilang na sa marahas na instrumento ng mga naghaharing-uri sa pagsupil at pagsasamantala sa mamamayan?

Pugad ng mga sindikatong kriminal, mamamatay-tao at mapang-abuso sa kapangyarihan ang PNP. Sa mersenaryo at pasistang oryentasyon nito, hindi ito aasahang magtatanggol sa interes ng mga api’t pinagsasamantalahan dahil tagapagpatupad ito ng mga kontra-mamamayan at kontra-demokratikong mga batas ng mga naghaharing uri sa lipunang Pilipino. Sa bawat naitatalang krimen ay may pulis na kasangkot. Mga matataas na upisyal ng pulisya hanggang sa karaniwang raso, ang utak at sangkot ng mga sindikatong kriminal sa iligal na droga, ismagling, gun-for-hire, kidnap-for-ransom, protection racket sa mga prostitusyon at iligal na pasugalan, kotong at marami pang iba.

Kaya asahan ng mamamayang Pilipino na magpapatuloy ang mga karumal-dumal na krimen at patong-patong na mga kaso ng PNP sa bayan. Kailangang patuloy na labanan ng mamamayang Pilipino ang kriminal at bulok na PNP. Panagutin nila ito sa mga kasuklam suklam na krimen nito sa bayan.

Makakaasa ang mamamayang Pilipino sa rebolusyonaryong kilusan at NPA na gagawaran ng rebolusyonaryong hustisya ang mga sagadsarin at pasistang kasapi ng PNP at pagbabayarin ang mga ito sa kanilang krimen sa bayan.

Sa pagwawagi ng demokratikong rebolusyong bayan, dudurugin at wawakasan ang marahas na instrumento ng estado—tulad ng PNP at AFP—laban sa mamamayan. Sa pagtatayo ng tunay na gubyerno ng mamamayan, itatag ang mga institusyong tunay na naglilingkod at nagtatanggol sa mamamayang Pilipino.###

CPP/CIO: Ka Joma et al are not in UN Security Council’s list

Posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) Website (May 17, 2021): Ka Joma et al are not in UN Security Council’s list


MAY 17, 2021

Gen. Hermogenes Esperon is misleading the public in his repeated claims that Prof. Jose Ma. Sison and the peace consultants of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) are in the “terrorist listing” of the United Nations Security Council.

A visit to United Nations Security Council Consolidated List webpage ( will show that neither Ka Joma, nor the CPP and NPA are in its list.

We maintain, however, that the United Nations Security Council “terrorist listing” is a tool being used by the United States government to press its armed interventionism against countries or movements that oppose its interference.

We also maintain that the “terrorist designation” of Ka Joma and several NDFP consultants and known revolutionaries by Duterte’s Anti-Terrorist Council is arbitrary and malicious. Gen. Esperon has completely no basis to claim knowledge of the identity of the CPP leadership.

It is an act of complete contempt of peace negotiations and imperils possibility of future resumption of talks.

It is a desperate act to vilify the national democratic cause as “terrorism” and seeks to justify the use of armed suppression against organizations and individuals that espouse national freedom and social justice.

We further maintain that the CPP and the New People’s Army are revolutionary organizations and that the biggest crimes of terrorism in the Philippines are perpetrated by the ruling state military and police forces.