Archive for the ‘philippine revolution’ Category

NPA leader: Military behind daughter’s slay

March 9, 2009

Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 05:55:00 03/09/2009

ka-parago

DAVAO CITY—If the killers of elementary teacher Rebelyn Pitao wanted to shatter her father, Commander Parago of the communist New People’s Army’s Pulang Bagani Command, they apparently failed.

Parago, whose real name is Leoncio Pitao, said the killing of his daughter might have devastated him but did not weaken his cause—the “revolution of the people who have been suffering from the hands of an oppressive government.”

Pitao granted selected journalists an interview in an upland village known to be an NPA stronghold in southern Mindanao on Sunday—three days after the body of his daughter was found in an irrigation ditch in Carmen town, Davao del Norte province.

Wearing a Mao cap and the NPA’s signature black shirt, Parago appeared calm but his eyes were somber. He exchanged jokes with NPA cadres.

The military has consistently denied involvement in Rebelyn’s abduction and killing.

“What they did to my daughter was painful but we must not stop. I am here not only as a father to her but a father to many other poor daughters and sons of the oppressed. Am I devastated? I am not. I am even inspired by her death to be relentless in fighting for the freedom of the poor,” Parago said.

He added: “I will not abandon the people because of this loss. Instead, I will continue the people’s revolution.”

His oldest son, Ryan, also an NPA cadre, said the death of his sister was unacceptable. But like his father, Ryan said, Rebelyn will now become their source of courage and strength to move forward.

“She is now our inspiration to broaden the democratic people’s revolution. My sister will now always be with all of us as we struggle against a bankrupt government,” said Ryan. He joined his father after surviving an attack of suspected government agents three years ago.

Parago said he had expected the military to target his family as government forces continuously failed to capture him. He claimed that the 10th Infantry Division’s military intelligence group was behind the abduction and killing of Rebelyn.

“No one has the intention, motive and track record of the MIG [military intelligence group]. They did this to my brother. They almost got my son. My other daughter, Rio, was tailed by elements of MIG when she was still studying and this continued even when she was already working. It was the 10th ID who said they wanted to get me … now who has the desire to see me weakened or dead?” Parago said.

But he said the NPA would not retaliate and follow the approach of the military. He, however, said that time will come for those who were behind the killing of Rebelyn to pay for their debts.

Rebelyn, 20, was on her way home on board a tricycle from St. Peter’s College in Toril District when she was snatched by armed men. She was forced into a white van and was overheard by the tricycle driver as screaming for help.

Her body bore torture marks and five stab wounds. Rope marks were also found around her neck, which could mean she was strangled.

The medico legal also found injuries in her genitals, believed to have been caused by a hard object.

The militant women’s group Gabriela took the killing as the government’s gift to them on International Women’s Day.

“She becomes the symbol of the entire Filipino women whose equal footing with men has been undermined by the Arroyo regime,” said Gabriela Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan.

“What made it more outrageous was the fact that Rebelyn Pitao has dedicated her life to teaching, a profession that President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has taken for granted over the years,” Ilagan said.

“Her only fault was being her father’s daughter,” Ilagan said.

In Manila, Anakpawis party-list Rep. Rafael Mariano in a statement blamed the President, specifically her anti-insurgency program, Oplan Bantay-Laya on the murder of Rebelyn. Jeffrey M. Tupas with reports from Germelina Lacorte, Inquirer Mindanao, and Gil Cabacungan Jr. in Manila

Ka Oris: Global financial crisis will strengthen Communist Party

January 23, 2009

By Grace S. Uddin
Davao Today

Agusan del Norte– “If America coughs, the Philippines gets tuberculosis,” said Jorge “Ka Oris” Madlos, the Mindanao spokesman of the National Democratic Front (NDF), described how the current US financial crisis will affect the Philippines.

He was referring to the subprime securities mess in the US that sent the financial markets around the world crashing in October, and which is expected to send the global economy in deep recession next year. Ka Oris said that if America is in crisis, her “semi- colonies” like the Philippines will suffer more.

The Mindanao Communist revolutionary talked to the media somewhere in the hinterlands of Agusan del Norte on December 26, the 40th CPP anniversary.

“The Arroyo government is lying when it said the Philippines will not be affected,” he said, “The economic recession in the US will affect the Philippines double, triple, and quadruple times.”

The head of the CPP-Mindanao Commission who called himself “Ka Puman,” said the deep economic crisis of capitalist countries like the US is a “favorable opportunity” to strengthen the Communist Party and to raise the people’s struggle to a “higher level.”

The current crisis in the global economy will increase the number of people suffering from poverty and people will take the final option which is the revolution, according to Ka Oris.

George “Ka Oris” Madlos, the Mindanao spokesperson of the National Democratic Front.(davaotoday.com photo)

He said the membership of the Communist Party in Mindanao increased by five percent this year compared to last year and so is its armed wing, the NPA.

NPA guerilla units can now be found in more than 2,000 barrios in 200 municipalities and cities in the 19 provinces of Mindanao. NPA guerilla fronts also increased from 35 to 39 this year, he said.

The NPA launched more than 300 attacks last year, seizing more than 200 high-powered firearms, and holding some “prisoners of war,” from the ranks of soldiers and paramilitary forces.

Ka Oris vowed to ensure one NPA platoon in every town and three platoons (or one company) in every guerilla front.

The government earlier targeted to end the Communist insurgency in the Philippines by 2010 through its Oplan Bantay Laya campaigns. But CPP-Mindanao claimed the AFP failed to wipe out them out.

Ka Oris said, however, there’s no telling yet when the CPP will finally win the war.

“It is the real conditions that will dictate,” he said. “We cannot tell whether the revolution will win in the next 10 years or so, but revolutionaries should continue their work as long as they know that their work is correct,” said Ka Oris.

Ka Oris will be turning 60 next year but he belied accusation that he could no longer go on with his work because he’s already old.

“As one gets older, one gets weaker but it doesn’t mean that he will lose his capacity to serve the people,” he said. “I can still go on for many more years. Many Ka Oris will follow, some of them will even be better than the real Ka Oris,” he said. (Grace S. Uddin/ davaotoday.com)

40 years and counting: The communist movement in Mindanao

January 13, 2009

Written by Edwin G. Espejo
Monday, 29 December 2008
var sburl2669 = window.location.href; var sbtitle2669 = document.title;var sbtitle2669=encodeURIComponent(“40 years and counting: The communist movement in Mindanao”); var sburl2669=decodeURI(“http://zumel.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=563”); sburl2669=sburl2669.replace(/amp;/g, “”);sburl2669=encodeURIComponent(sburl2669);The ride was rocky and uphill.  In another place and time, the roar of motorcycle engines used to ferry visitors and select members of the Mindanao press for 24 hours non-stop would have easily given away that something big is going on in the mountains just a handful of kilometers from the national highway connecting the cities of Butuan and Surigao.

It was the 40th founding anniversary of the Communist Party of the Philippines and an endless stream of visitors and supplies are being ferried deep into the jungles of a Mindanao town where at least 200 fully armed regulars of the New People’s Army, the armed wing of the communist rebel movement, have assembled themselves to celebrate the four decades of “armed revolution” in the countryside.

Unlike previous celebrations and press conferences of the Mindanao Commission of the CPP, the ride was not easy and worry-free.  For only a little over a week before, some 60 fully armed rebels stormed a police headquarters in nearby Tubay town in Agusan del Norte and a mining company owned by Rep. Edilmero Amante.

Just forty five minutes into the back-breaking ride, we arrived at a makeshift stage hastily prepared for the occasion and for a press conference called by the communist leadership in Mindanao – all muddied and wet.

Instead of arriving at the appointed time of nine o’clock in the morning amid intermittent drizzle and heavy downpour, the last batch of press people did not arrive at the rendezvous point until past noon, our supposed schedule to leave the area.

Interestingly, the press people did not see any of the visitors who arrived the day and night before even as residents near the area said they have not seen them leaving the area.

The customary handshakes and greetings were brief.

Jorge Madlos, a.k.a. Ka Oris, apologized for the bad weather and offered us lunch consisting of rice, slice of roasted pig, pork adobo, beef stew and menudo all neatly packed in separate cellophanes.

We were also handed out kits that include a green sweatshirt with sticker announcing the 40th anniversary of the CPP and logos of the New People’s Army and the National Democratic Front – the same sweatshirts worn by young NPA regulars who were racing up and down the road, or shall we say a trail, in the middle of the thick vegetation.

Also inside the neatly arranged press kit were an MTV of revolutionary songs, a planner (revolutionary in theme – of course), and a 2008 first quarter copy of Pasa Bilis, the “people’s magazine” of the Southern Mindanao Region Party Committee of the communist rebel group.

Another leap forward

At 59 years old, Madlos, a member of the CPP Mindanao Commission and Mindanao spokesperson for the National Democratic Front (NDF), still carries the zeal of a man on a mission who has seen the ebb and flow of “people’s war” in Mindanao.

Himself a veteran of almost four decades of life in the underground movement spiked by several years of detention under the Marcos dictatorship and Aquino regime, Madlos read a four page statement of the rebel movement in Mindanao and later held a press conference with invited select members of the press from all over the island.

“We are on the verge of entering a new stage of our revolutionary struggle and have fully recovered from our debacle in the mid-80s,” he told reporters.

He said the CPP-NPA has re-established strong presence in “more than 2,000 barrios (villages) of 200 municipalities in 19 provinces in the island.”

They have also added four new guerilla fronts this year, bringing the total to 39 fronts and did not lose a single guerilla zone in 2008.

In addition, Madlos said the communist rebel group was able to launch more than 300 tactical offensives (up from last year’s 190 NPA-initiated attacks) and seized over 200 high-powered firearms throughout the island.

“All these are signs of the growth of people’s war (in Mindanao),” Madlos quoted one Ka Puman who signed the CPP-Mindanao Commission’s statement on the occasion its 40th anniversary.

They can now again mobilize large formations of up to a battalion of NPA regulars if the target so requires and if conditions call for it, according to him.

“It is a case to case basis.  If there is a subject that needs battalion size formation, we will do that,” he said.

But he also quickly added that the NPA, the military wing of the CPP, has no plans of organizing regular battalions.

“What the NPA is doing right now is to organize a minimum of at least one platoon in every guerilla front, and three platoons or equivalent of one company in every region,” Madlos further explained.

He said at least a company of NPA guerillas was involved in the simultaneous raids on the Tubay police headquarters in Agusan del Norte and on the San Roque Mining Incorporated, a company owned by Rep. Edilberto Amante, where they burned heavy equipment.

The rebel spokesman said they are now setting their sights on entering the advance sub-stage of the strategic defensive stage of their revolutionary struggle.

Debunked

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) however quickly belied claims made by Madlos.

AFP Chief of Staff Alexander Yano said the government is right on target in reducing the NPA into irrelevance by 2010, the year President Arroyo said the communist movement will be decisively defeated.

“Defeating and reducing them into irrelevance is the same.  We are on pace,” Yano said in a mobile phone interview.

The general said the communist rebels will no longer be treated as a national security threat by 2010 and would be reduced into a matter of police concerns.
Major Gen. Armando Cunanan, commanding general of the Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom) of the AFP, on the other hand, said the number of armed NPA guerillas dropped by four per cent this year.

Eastmincom spokesperson Major Randolph Cabangbang placed the total strength of the NPAs in the island at no more than 1,400 armed regulars.

“They have been reduced to criminal activities, preying on helpless businessmen,” Cabangbang quoted Gen. Cunanan as saying.

In October, defense chief Gilberto Teodoro Jr. said the CPP-NPA has been reduced to holding criminal activities.  He said the communist movement in Mindanao is extorting money from small scale miners and large mining companies.

Major Cabangbang said the NPAs are generating at least P20 million a month from miners and mining companies in the Diwata ranges in Compostela Valley alone.

“This money is being used to finance the expenses of members of the central committee of the CPP,” Cabangbang added.

The military also said the number of tactical offensives launched by the NPAs in 2008 is misleading.  Cabangbang said more than half of them cannot be even considered harassment activities.

And although he conceded that the NPAs may have seized over 200 rifles, these were allegedly taken from “soft targets” like security guards and government militiamen.

The AFP chief of staff however conceded that the increase in armed activities of the NPA was due to the AFP’s shift in the focus of its military operations to the MILF with whom the NDF has forged a tactical alliance.

Otherwise, Yano said, the rebel group has reportedly suffered huge losses in personnel and territories in Northern and Central Luzon.

The AFP chief likewise said the number of guerilla fronts in Mindanao can be misleading.
“They can easily split their fronts with just a skeletal organization to present some semblance of strength,” he added.

But the AFP chief also conceded that the NPAs are most active in the Davao and Northern Mindanao regions.

Reinventing the NPAs

Madlos said the CPP and the NPAs have learned their lessons in the debacle of the 1980s.

They have abandoned the prolonged encampment of large formations which took its toll on their “mass base” and exposed their supporters to counter offensives from the military.

Instead, they have deployed their armed guerillas in their base areas and directed them to engage in production and political, organizational and ideological work.
Still, Ka Oris said they won’t shy away from inflicting damage on government troops if the situation warrants.

The Mindanao Commission also gave standing orders to all NPA units not to open fire on military targets who are in the company of civilians or inside civilian houses and on private vehicles and public transport with civilian passengers.  Corollary to that, the NPA has abandoned its military policy of providing room for civilian casualties during
tactical offensives.

But he hastened to add that it will be impossible for NPA units to determine the presence of civilians in military installations and encampments at all times.

“That is why we are enjoining civilians to refrain from living inside military camps and riding in military vehicles because these are legitimate targets of the NPA,” Ka Oris said.

“Where before we allow ‘budget’ for civilian casualties, all guerilla commanders and political officers will now face stiff sanctions for any civilian collateral damage,” said Ka Don, an aide to Ka Oris.

But the CPP-NPA said they will continue to mete out “capital punishment” to military personnel, government officials and civilians who have incurred blood debts “against the people.”

“We are the army of the masses.  They run to us to get justice where our bourgeois courts cannot give them.  It is our duty to implement the verdict of punishment by death if it so warrants,” Ka Oris said.

But he also explained that the CPP-NPA has now been very judicious in meting out its brand of justice, described by the military as a “kangaroo court.”

All indictments and decisions by the “people’s court”, he added, will undergo thorough review from the highest territorial units of the CPP-NPA in the area depending on the gravity of the “crime” and the person involved.

The struggle lives on

Ka Oris said the resiliency of the communist movement will allow it to ultimately achieve its objective of “establishing a national democratic government with socialist perspective.”

He said the conditions are ripe for the “revolution’ to move forward and inflict more damage on the Arroyo government.

He likewise warned that any effort to extend the term of Arroyo beyond 2010 will only strengthen the CPP-NPA.

If that happens, he said, Arroyo will go down in history as the “greatest recruiter” of the NPA.

He said they have no illusions that a comprehensive political settlement and lasting peace will be achieved under the Arroyo administration.

He accused the government of continuously undermining the possibilities of the resumption of the peace negotiations.

But also said the CPP-NPA-NDF is not closing its door to the resumption of the peace talks provided the government dropped all preconditions it has imposed on the rebel group.

He also said that before any peace negotiations could proceed, the government must reiterate its commitment to honor the The Hague Declaration.

The Hague Declaration, also known as the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect of Human rights and International Law (Carhiil) signed by the NDF and the Philippine government under the Ramos administration, was a historic piece of document which should be the basis for further talks between the rebel group and the government, according to Ka Oris.

Otherwise, he said, the NDF is willing to wait for a new government to replace the Arroyo administration and see if the peace process could move forward.

In the meantime, the NDF said it will continue to implement its own brand of agrarian reform in the countryside and wage its armed struggle “even if it takes another four decades to achieve complete victory.” mindanews.com

RP-US WAR GAMES CPP urges attacks on Balikatan in Bicol

January 12, 2009

By Delfin Mallari Jr.
Southern Luzon Bureau
First Posted 08:29:00 01/12/2009

Filed Under: Guerrilla activities, Military

MANILA, Philippines—The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) has ordered its armed wing, the New People’s Army, to attack Filipino and American military forces that will be conducting joint military exercises in three Bicol provinces—Albay, Masbate and Sorsogon—in April.

“NPA units in Bicol are specifically instructed to launch as many tactical offensives as they can in many areas of the region in mockery of the Balikatan exercises and to prevent the US military from strengthening its foothold in the region,” the CPP said in a statement sent to the Philippine Daily Inquirer Sunday.

The CPP instructed all communist guerrilla units across the country as well to continue to stage tactical offensives against state security forces.

The current NPA strength has been pegged at 5,239 armed men by the military.

40th anniversary

The CPP celebrated its 40th year on Dec. 26 with the unveiling of a five-year plan to step up the insurgency and move closer to its goal of toppling the government to establish a Maoist state.

The communists have been conducting guerrilla warfare the past four decades against the government.

The rebel group urged the Filipino people to expose and protest the deployment of US troops to more areas of the country, including the Bicol region, by using the Balikatan joint exercises as a pretext.

The CPP said the plan to conduct the annual Balikatan joint military exercise not only in Bicol but in other parts of the country signaled heightened US military intervention in the local civil war.

“In doing so, the US seeks to pave the way for the future regular access of troops to guerrilla fronts in the Bicol region where the NPA operates,” the CPP said.

US spy planes

The CPP claimed that in the past three years, there have been several sightings of US spy planes in the vicinity of NPA guerrilla fronts in Central Luzon, southern Tagalog, Bicol, northeastern and southern Mindanao.

“Recently, US troops have become increasingly active and visible in the AFP’s (Armed Forces of the Philippines) combat operations against the NPA in Mindanao,” the CPP said.

Last week, Capt. Kelly Schmader, commander of the 30th Naval Construction Regiment, visited the Bicol region to see to the final stages of surveying and planning for the scheduled Balikatan (meaning shoulder to shoulder), which is now on its 14th year in the country.

Last year’s Balikatan was held in Mindanao.

The Balikatan is part of the mutual defense treaty between the Philippines and the United States. Its primary objective is to improve the “interoperability” of the two countries’ armed forces for mutual defense.

According to Schmader, some 400 American doctors, engineers and nurses, belonging predominantly to the military, will join the month-long exercise to provide humanitarian aid to depressed areas in the three Bicol provinces.

A military report deemed these provinces as hotbeds of the communist insurgency in the Bicol region.

Military officials in the region have assured the public that the aims of the exercises were “peace and development” and there would be no war games with US forces, only humanitarian projects in the form of medical missions and engineering works.

But the CPP dismissed the “no military exercise and only humanitarian works” as “pure hogwash.”

Specific objectives

“The US military does not carry out any operation or mission by any name without specific military objectives. Joint military exercises and humanitarian missions only serve as cover for US troops to gain access to the guerrilla fronts to carry out physical and social terrain mapping, conduct surveillance, recruit local agents and influence the local governments and social infrastructure,” the CPP said.

According to the CPP, retired Gen. Edilberto Adan, head of the RP-US Visiting Forces Agreement Commission, had already admitted that in conducting the forthcoming Balikatan exercises in the Bicol region, the US military has a specific objective of familiarizing its forces with guerrilla conditions and learning jungle combat operations in the area.

Tribute to Rachelle Mae Palang (1986-2008), press freedom fighter and nurse for the people

December 22, 2008

After getting her nursing license Mae-Mae immediately volunteered for a three-month medical mission to the hinterlands of Negros.  Mae-Mae barely finished her volunteer work in Negros when her dreams died with her.

Mae-Mae was killed by elements of the AFP on September 18, 2008 in an alleged encounter with New People’s Army rebels. Her face was barely recognizable; she was shot at point-blank range. Her feet and legs were black and bruised, signs of torture evident elsewhere in her beaten body.

— from the CEGP statement

Rachelle Mae Palang

http://www.arkibongbayan.org/2008-11Nov28-Maemae/cegp_small.jpg

September 24, 2008

PRESS STATEMENT

Justice for Rachelle Mae Palang (1986-2008),

press freedom fighter and nurse for the people

The College Editors Guild of the Philippines, in behalf of its National Office, regional formations and chapters, all member publications and affiliate organizations nationwide and across the globe, expresses its most heartfelt condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of Rachelle Mae Palang (1986-2008).

Rachelle, or Mae-Mae to her closest friends and colleagues, was beloved to the Guild for her bubbly, tongue-in-cheek demeanor. She graced the Guild’s gatherings with her easy banter and infectious smile, but was always brisk and business-like in her leadership. She has served as a valuable pillar and driving force in all of the conventions and gatherings she has attended and helped organize. To most Guilders, she was not only a colleague but a precious friend and confidante.

Shock for her untimely demise are evident in her Friendster and Multiply accounts, riddled with comments ranging from disbelief, grief, and even anger – all directed at her, as if to attest that even at the time of her death her friends and colleagues still go to her for conciliation.

Such was Mae-Mae’s legacy and brand of leadership. She has always been easy to approach, a rational adviser and generous in her time and efforts.

Mae-Mae was also an outstanding student at the Velez College in Cebu City where she took up and finished her nursing degree. She became editor-in-chief of Vital Signs, the official campus publication. As campus journalist and student leader, she exemplified deep commitment to uphold press freedom, freedom of speech and students’ democratic rights and welfare. She is respected by her fellow campus journalists nationwide for her wit, intelligence and sharp grasp of issues.

She was elected as Vice President for the Visayas during CEGP’s 67th National Student Press Convention and 33rd Biennial Student Press Congress held in Albay, Bicol in 2005.  She served her term for three consecutive years before she finally relinquished her post May of this year. The CEGP will without end be honored and grateful to have had someone as dedicated as Mae-Mae as one of its leading officers.

Mae-Mae worked hard to help re-open closed campus publications, establish student papers in universities who had none, and expose and fight campus press freedom violations as well as other forms of campus repression nationwide.  She led, organized and participated in countless poetry readings, cultural nights, Writers’ Trips, journalist skills workshops and protest actions and activities. Even after her stint as VP for the Visayas, she proved instrumental in gathering and collating cases of campus press freedom violations in the region for CEGP’s quarterly digest.

Mae-Mae had to cut short her attendance in CEGPs’ 68th National Student Press Convention and 34th Biennial Student Press Congress in Davao City for her scheduled nursing licensure exams in May 2008.  She passed with flying colors and eventually became a registered nurse. Even before she left, she announced to the Guild her desire to pursue an alternative medical career, one that she would devote to the less-privileged. Mae-Mae also took and passed the National Medical Admission Test. She dreamt of becoming a doctor.

It therefore did not come as a surprise to the Guild to learn that upon achieving her nursing license Mae-Mae immediately volunteered for a three-month medical mission to the hinterlands of Negros.  Mae-Mae barely finished her volunteer work in Negros when her dreams died with her.

Mae-Mae was killed by elements of the Armed Forces of the Philippines on September 18, 2008 in an alleged encounter with New People’s Army rebels. Her face was barely recognizable; she was shot at point-blank range. Her feet and legs were black and bruised, signs of torture evident elsewhere in her beaten body.

Mae-Mae’s untimely demise reminds the Guild all too painfully of the same fate that another CEGP alumna suffered under the hands of the AFP.

In April 2002, Benjaline ‘Beng’ Hernandez, former CEGP Vice-President for Mindanao and a human rights volunteer, was murdered by the military while conducting a fact-finding mission in Cotabato province. Investigations revealed that the AFP, after wounding Beng, raped and shot her at close range. The AFP later on insisted that Beng was an NPA rebel.

Beng, like Mae-Mae, was also only 22 years old when she died.

The CEGP condemns in strongest terms accusations and insinuations by the AFP that Mae-Mae was armed and a combatant. She was in Negros in her capacity as a registered nurse and circumstances surrounding her brutal killing should be independently investigated.

The CEGP, in this regard, welcomes initiatives by the Commission on Human Rights Regional Office to conduct an investigation on Mae-Mae’s case.

The CEGP is also reviled at the AFP’s gall to celebrate Mae-Mae’s death by bestowing incentives and acclaim to her killers. It is an awful and terrible reminder of the state and characteristic of our security forces. They who are supposed to protect civilians are the main enemies of human rights defenders and social workers.

The CEGP also condemns in strongest terms the AFP’s malicious attempts to malign the Guild’s name through red-tagging and nasty insinuations. It is precisely this kind of twisted mentality that gives license to the military to repress, harass, silence and kill with impunity. Journalists are easily treated and branded as rebels simply because they are exposed to the ills of society.

The CEGP calls on all its member publications and fellow journalist organizations nationwide and abroad to collectively wield their pens and raise their voices to denounce Mae-Mae’s killers.

The CEGP regards the likes of Beng and Mae-Mae as heroes of the present generation, young martyrs who have chosen to exchange their lives of comfort for their noble convictions.

Highest tribute to Rachelle Mae Palang!

Justice for Beng and Mae-Mae!

Reference:

Vijae Alquisola, National President, 09162034402

Pamilya ng Desaparecidos para sa Katarungan
2/floor Erythrina bldg., #1 Maaralin cor. Matatag sts. Barangay Central, Quezon City
25 September 2008
Reference: Mary Guy Portajada,
Desaparecidos Spokesperson
Telefax 4342837

Impunity reigns as three disappeared in six days
Suspected military men abduct 2 peasant organizers in Bataan

Suspected military men abducted two peasant organizers in two separate incidents in Bataan province on September 21 and 22, bringing to 199 the number of disappeared under the Arroyo regime.

Nelson Balmaña, 29, a resident of Area H, Sapang Palay, San Jose del Monte, Bulacan was abducted Sept. 21, while Florencia Espiritu, 46, of Brgy. Santisima Trinidad, Malolos, Bulacan was abducted Sept. 22. Both are volunteer-organizers of the Sto. Niño Lubao Farmers’ Association (SLFA). The two victims have been organizing peasants from Lubao, Pampanga an adjacent barangay to Hermosa, Bataan .

The two victims were supposed to meet on Sept. 21 at a house in Purok 2, Brgy. Daan Bago, Dinalupihan in Bataan , but Nelson texted Florencia that he could not make it and would meet her the following day instead.

On September 22, Florencia left the house at 10:30 am and was boarding a tricycle, when at least six armed men believed to be elements of the 24th IB PA took her and forced her into a white L300 FB Mitsubishi. Four of the men were armed with .45 caliber pistols, while one carried an armalite.

The abductors fled towards the direction of Pampanga-Metro-Manila. After Florencia’s abduction, several people reported that a man fitting Nelson’s description was abducted at 5 PM the day before at the same spot, and was taken by the same getaway vehicle.

On Sept. 17, another victim, James Balao, 47, of the Cordillera People’s Alliance disappeared in Baguio City . James left his home in Fairview , Baguio City to go to La Trinidad, Benguet at 7am and was not heard of since.

“In a span of six days, three victims were disappeared. The Armed Forces of the Philippines clearly shows that it is untouchable, and continues to carry out enforced disappearances, even after the Court of Appeals had ruled that it is guilty of the disappearance of Sherlyn Cadapan, Karen Empeño and Manuel Meriño,” said Mary Guy Portajada, spokesperson of the Families of Desaparecidos for Justice, or DESAPARECIDOS.

Another victim, Elmer dela Cruz was reported missing on August 23 in Hermosa, Bataan . He is still missing as of this writing.

“We call on the people to be vigilant because this government does not sleep as it commits human rights violations. Impunity reigns as Gloria Arroyo and her military remain unpunished for its crimes,” said Portajada. ###

Rachelle was an intelligent student. She graduated Valedictorian at Mandaue Science High School. While a student she was active in rallies

Photo, rights, shows Rachelle Mae raising her clenched fist at the May 2007 miting de avance of the Kabataan Partylist, Bayan Muna, Anakpawis, and Gabriela in Cebu City

“Fil-Am Youths Pay Tribute to Fellow Youth/Fallen Nurse”

Jersey City, NJ – Last September 18, 2008, Anakbayan NY/NJ, LA and Seattle led Fil-Am and Filipino immigrant youths from coast to coast in the making of a protest video against the ongoing and escalating political repression in the Philippines, particularly those violations against the youth. Members from HabiArts, Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment (FiRE), Sandiwa, Kappa Pi and Pugadlawin, and several supporters including some nurses, and nursing students all coordinated with Anakbayan to make a tribute video for Rachelle Mae Palang who is the most recent victim of the military’s aggressive persecution of student activists and progressive youths in the country.

Rachelle, or Mae-Mae as her friends call her, recently finished her Nursing studies at the Velez College in Cebu and successfully passed the Nursing Licensure Exam in June 2008. Her passion, however, was to become a physician so she can better serve the poor and the oppressed. In pursuit of this dream, she took and successfully passed the National Medical Admissions Test. Sadly, the world will never see a Dr. Rachelle Palang; the Philippines lost one more vessel of hope and righteousness.

In July of this year, Mae-Mae asked her parents’ permission to go to Negros Oriental for a three-month medical mission. Her goal while in the hinterlands was to promote health, treat the sick and to investigate the causes of the people’s demise. Unfortunately, In September 18, 2008 at Dauin town, Negros Oriental, that mission was cut-short. Mae-Mae was shot and killed by elements of the Armed Forces of the Philippines during an encounter with the New Peoples Army. She was shot at the back of her head at point-blank range; her face was barely recognizable, the rest of her body bruised as evidence of torture. According to the AFP, Mae-Mae was a member of the NPA, and was said to be carrying and using an M-16 during the fight. This claim however, came as a shock to those who are very close to Mae-Mae.

Her friends unanimously expressed disbelief in the AFP’s report. They said Mae-Mae was outspoken but she would never have thought of using a gun. Her weapon of choice was the pen as evidenced by her commitment as the editor of their school paper in Velez College. In 2005, she was elected as Vice President for the Visayas during the College Editors Guild of the Philippines’ (CEGP) 67th National Student Press Convention and 33rd Biennial Student Press Congress held in Albay, Bicol. She relinquished her position last May after three consecutive years of faithful service. Accordingly, she endeavored to reopen closed college publications and established student publications in schools that have none. Her work focused on student rights violations in campus. Her knowledge of the society was further honed when she participated in a Basic Mass Integration (BMI) program of the CEGP where she experienced the forms of oppression endured by the masses.

“What was once called youth activism and nationalism is now labeled as threat to national security by the government. When a young person like Rachelle wishes to genuinely contribute in uplifting the downtrodden and the oppressed, the fascist government led by Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo deal with it as if idealism is a menace,patriotism is a plague and serving the people a high crime,” said Kathleen Dy, member of Anakbayan NY/NJ.

In conformity with this recent surge of repression and oppression, the military has invaded the campuses of politically-involved universities. Military personnels are now a common sight in the country’s most prominent colleges and universities particularly in the University of the Philippines, Diliman (UPD) and Polytechnic University of the Philippines, Sta. Mesa (PUP).

Bea Sabino of Anakbayan NY/NJ and a nursing student expressed her concern as well, “We observed an increase of political harassment lately and one would think that this was a consequence of the newest impeachment complaint filed versus Gloria Arroyo after the one-year ban.” This latest impeachment complaint which was submitted in October 13, 2008 is already the fourth for GMA. Keen observation supports the hypothesis that the increased militarization right before the endorsement of impeachment was not a coincidence but a calculated move by the administration to scare off the opposition. Regrettably, they did not just scare off Rachelle, they killed her.

In their press release, the CEGP asserts that “the act of the military in linking Rachelle with the New Peoples’ Army is a desperate attempt to shadow the real reason why she went to Negros, that is to help the oppressed farmers. We are deeply insulted when the military praised and showered Mae-Mae’s killers with gifts and recognitions. The CEGP admonishes these inhumane and insulting actions of the military, as well as the brutal treatment of her body. We condemn the malicious attempt of the military to mislead the people from the real issue.”

Rachelle was an ordinary person who chose the road less travelled. Yes, she could have chosen a different path and lived to be a hundred but she did not. She chose to become an epitome of a student leader who struggles for genuine freedom and democracy for the people and for that, she will always be remembered.

“In memory of Mae-mae and countless other victims of state terrorism, we, the youth, reaffirm our commitment in the struggle against Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s tyranny and against the oppressive system that continue to burden our people. As long as our brothers and sisters in the Philippines are harassed, repressed, disappeared and killed the powers that be can expect more militant actions from the youth to come,” said Yves Nibungco, deputy secretary general of Anakbayan NY/NJ.

tioInstead of a Eulogy
Posted by: karlo mikhail on: September 24, 2008

One of the things I do very early in the morning when I wake up is to read the local news posted in the Internet. I don’t read everything and most of the times I just end up skimming through the mass of headlines lined up on my screen.

Like any other morning, I also went over all the headlines last Monday morning. One item that caught my attention was the news of an armed encounter between the military and alleged communist insurgents. It was titled “3 killed in Negros Oriental clash.”

http://www.arkibongbayan.org/2008-11Nov30-maemae2/doc/news/from%20misreadings/mutiparty-mitng-de-avanse-041.jpgNot that I felt it was something special, I am after all, like most people in this information-saturated society, desensitized to most accounts of violence. It was the proximity of the said event, the conflict occurring only an island away from Cebu, that “seduced” me to read the article anyway.

When I read the news item, I was surprised. I was shocked for I personally knew one of the names listed as casualties in the encounter.

Happier times.

Happier times: Rachelle Mae Palang in the May 2007 electoral campaign.

The front page of the local paper’s hard copy version even carried a different headline of the same story, “Cebu student killed in clash.” I knew Rachelle Mae Palang from two years ago when I was still chairman of the UP Cebu Student Council and later on with the Kabataan Partylist for the 2007 Elections.

Rachelle Mae was a stout, bubbly, but outspoken nursing student who was editor of Velez College’s school publication, Vital Signs. She was also an officer of the College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP) – a national organization of campus journalists.

Needless to say, reading the news was depressing. After all, we were together in several causes – especially those related to students’ rights and the educational system.

The last time we saw each other was during the opening of the school yearhttp://www.arkibongbayan.org/2008-11Nov30-maemae2/rachelle_small.jpg in 2007 at the Arts and Sciences Lobby of the UP Cebu College. She was returning the book about how to write press releases that I lent her.

I cannot say that the military’s insistence on Rachelle’s brandishing of long arms in Negros is true. After all, it is characteristic for contenders of any armed conflict to ornament the truth for their own ends. The news of her unexpected death makes me sad. She was only twenty one.

[Photo] Rachelle Mae raising her fist during the May 2007 multiparty miting de avance of the Kabataan Partylist, Bayan Muna, Anakpawis, and Gabriela at Colon St. That’s me in the extreme left.

But what if the military is right: what if Rachelle really carried an M-16 rifle? This hypothesis leads us to question what made her forgo a successful career ahead of her to go to the countryside and take up arms against the State. What made some of today’s youth give up on peaceful means for the attainment of social change?

The lamentable state of the nation is such that our youth either, like most, join the diaspora to other lands or, like a few, are led to believe that the only solution is heading for the hills.

On the November Elections and the Next Steps in Building the Anti-Imperialist Movement in the U.S.

December 4, 2008

In January, Barack Obama will become the 44th Commander-in-Chief of the U.S government, which controls and protects an empire of corporations, banks, military bases and occupying armies all around the world. Obama has reached this position by loyally serving this bipartisan system in the U.S. Senate and by being vetted, tested and auditioned over the past two years in running for the presidency. In the course of this, Obama convinced the majority of the U.S. capitalist class (his campaign contributions from Wall Street were twice as big as McCain’s) that he was the best candidate to take the reins of empire at a time when the U.S. is bogged down in two wars in the Middle East, and is in the midst of the biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression, with the worst effects on the lives of working people here and around the world yet to come.

BY DAVID PUGH
Collision Course Media
INTERNATIONAL
Posted by Bulatlat

On Nov. 4, 2008, millions of new voters stepped into political life with the hope that the traditional (as many put it) rich-white-male-Christian cultural monopoly on political power would no longer determine the conditions of life in the United States. These millions who stepped forward to be counted — young, poor, women, people of color, the wronged and abused, the falsely accused, sick and disabled, atheists, Muslims, Buddhists, and progressive Christians, displaced, evicted, and laid-off, and other “outcasts” and have-nots — were repelled by that de facto oligarchy, which had, they felt, excluded them. The Bush regime had arrogantly and unsuccessfully led that traditional elite for 8 years of widening wars and monstrous economic crises, which drew widespread domestic and global anger and condemnation. With high hopes, the millions of new voters were joined by millions of others who were trying to find a way out of the mess that this system has been making of their lives and of the world. Black people, Latinos, other people of color, workers, and youth stepped out of the shadows of solitude and “making do” and into political life, albeit within the confines of a presidential election.

By and large, these millions are responding to the promise of access, of open doors. They bring with them the worries and concerns and angers of their lives—of the wars being waged on false pretenses, of the worsening conditions of life. These are the issues they bring with them, though solutions to these issues were not on the electoral table.

On the night of November 4, hundreds of thousands in cities around the U.S. celebrated their success in electing the first Black president and the fact that millions of whites moved past the racist fears and codewords that have habitually set the boundaries of political life.

But to move forward, celebrations must turn to sober, straight talk.

The interests around which Barack Obama and the Democratic Party leadership have coalesced, despite the campaign banner of “change”, are the interests of the rich and the privileged, even as more wars are looming and the economics of the capitalist system here and worldwide are dragging the lives of millions into deeper crisis.

In January, Barack Obama will become the 44th Commander-in-Chief of the U.S government, which controls and protects an empire of corporations, banks, military bases and occupying armies all around the world. Obama has reached this position by loyally serving this bipartisan system in the U.S. Senate and by being vetted, tested and auditioned over the past two years in running for the presidency. In the course of this, Obama convinced the majority of the U.S. capitalist class (his campaign contributions from Wall Street were twice as big as McCain’s) that he was the best candidate to take the reins of empire at a time when the U.S. is bogged down in two wars in the Middle East, and is in the midst of the biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression, with the worst effects on the lives of working people here and around the world yet to come. For them, Obama is a reliable and safe bet to protect their interests. The fact that Obama will be the first Black president is an undeniable asset for the rulers of the U.S. It symbolizes a shift in the overtly racist practices of the country, but not one substantive enough to overcome the built-in tilt and nature of the system.

In fact, while millions have stepped forward under the banner of “Change”, these millions have the challenge to shape the political terrain for the period ahead. Because if left to Obama and the Democratic Party, the base of support for imperialism will not be challenged, but broadened.

What can we expect from an Obama administration? Will Obama be a new face on the same old stuff, or will there be substantial differences?

The capitalist system requires more than a new face. From it’s new CEO and Congress, the system will require more regulation, more government intervention, more international coordination and multilateral, not unilateral, aggression and occupations. It needs more “partnerships” with compliant regimes in semi-colonies and dependent countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Therefore, we should:

• Expect a U.S. military surge into the killing fields of Afghanistan to protect a government of US-backed warlords from rival fundamentalists, and another surge across the border into Pakistan. This is one promise that Obama is not likely to break.

• Not expect the return of US troops from Iraq, though there will be “redeployments” and further privatizations of the military. Barack Obama has backtracked from his anti-war promises early in the campaign. He will keep tens of thousands of military advisers, trainers, contractors and bases in Iraq, with large numbers of combat troops stationed in neighboring countries. Obama will send US troops from Iraq to Afghanistan.

• Not expect the withdrawal of U.S. troops, advisers and military
bases from the Philippines, Colombia and other global hotspots where
the U.S. imperialists have important economic and strategic interests.

• Expect an Obama presidency–as he pledged to AIPAC– to continue all-out U.S. support for the state of Israel and its brutal military occupation of the land and people of Palestine.

• Not expect the dismantling of the newly formed U.S. military command for Africa (AFRICOM), which is headed by a Black general. Expect expansion of this invasive hegemonic re-colonization program.

Expect that even with a Black president at the helm, there will be no high level assault of the myriad forms of white supremacy that are woven into the capitalist system. Police brutality and the criminalization of Black youth, unemployment rates of 20% and higher in Black communities, re-segregation of schools, ICE raids and deportations aimed at Mexican and other immigrant communities–all of this will continue and even worsen no matter who is president. During his campaign, Barack Obama even denied that the system of white supremacy exists. In an attempt to prevent severe disruptions and the unraveling of the imperialist political-economic-social order, President Obama will promote a seemingly “post-racial” “multi-cultural-ism” that dismisses the profound oppression and exploitation of millions of Black and Latino people as a thing of the past—or as a product of their own making and failings. And he will couple this with a xenophobic appeal that “we’re all in this together”, and blame the crisis that “we Americans” suffer, on the people of the world.

• Expect continued class polarization. Obama’s support for the $700 billion bailout of banks and financial institutions is a clear indication of where his class loyalties lie. More multi-billion dollar bailouts for banks and big corporations lie ahead. With foreclosures, evictions, credit card defaults, unemployment and poverty on the rise, Obama and the Democrats are talking about palliative measures that will not even begin to address the depths of the crisis.

• Expect austerity programs and cuts in social spending in the years ahead. It will be Obama’s job to sell them to Black, Latino, Asian and white working people in the name of national unity and shared sacrifice.

• Not expect strong support for same sex marriage or women’s rights. Barack Obama is opposed to same sex marriage. Obama supports Roe v. Wade but is trying to find “common ground” with anti-choice activists. We cannot expect Obama’s nominees to the Supreme Court to be jurists who take a firm stand for a woman’s right to an abortion unless there is a determined mobilization by pro-choice and progressive forces to make him and the Democrats do so.

On the positive side, this presidential campaign has swept a new generation into political life and has remade the political stage in many ways. Particularly among this new generation, the Obama campaign and election has generated great hopes and expectations, but inevitably the orientation of the new administration toward politics acceptable to the privileged will heighten the burden on the broad masses of Blacks, Latinos/Chicanos and whites, workers and youth.

As this happens, those who have indulged in uncritical exuberance at the election, will come to realize that the “Obama checks” they have written are being returned for “insufficient funds.”

In the meantime, anti-imperialists must resolve to not give the new administration a pass or a honeymoon. The times require us all to focus and develop the People’s Agenda for educating, organizing and mobilizing in the period ahead, including these issues:

The struggle against War and Empire—from Iraq to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Philippines and Colombia, to ending the thousand US military bases around the world, ending the occupation of Palestine, and upholding the sovereignty of all indigenous and colonized peoples. Support people’s struggles against displacement & for the right to return—in the Gulf Coast, the inner cities, and around the world!

The struggle for Justice—from demanding privacy rights, to demanding full rights for immigrants and organizing to stop ICE raids, to ending the criminalization of youth and the massive imprisonment of millions, to defending the reproductive rights of women, the human rights of LGBTQ communities (people with all sexual orientations), and ending forever the policies of torture, indefinite detentions and rendition. Stop police abuse and racial profiling! Free All Political Prisoners!

The struggle for decent lives—demand complete and universal health care, education, housing, and decent jobs for all. Fight all layoffs, deportations, evictions, foreclosures and utility shutoffs. Demand rollbacks in the price of food, rent, and fuel. Fight for unhindered rights of access to technology, to people’s history, people’s culture, and complete and unrestricted rights to organize, to associate, to protest, to travel–and for the right to organize for self-defense against the rising “backlash” and ongoing tide of racist attacks.

Tremendous challenges and opportunities await struggling people throughout the United States. We must join together to overcome the challenges ahead and seize the opportunities to create the just world we need. Posted byBulatlat.com

NPA rebels hold Army commander captive Rebel spokesman says rebels are respecting First Lt. Vicente Cammayo’s rights as prisoner of war

November 17, 2008

By Al Jacinto, Correspondent

ZAMBOANGA CITY: A commander of the Army’s elite Special Forces, who went missing last week after a fierce firefight with communist rebels, is being held captive in Mindanao, a rebel spokesman said Sunday.

Rigoberto Sanchez, a New People’s Army (NPA) spokesman, said rebel forces are holding 1Lt. Vicente Cam-mayo, commander of the 11th Special Forces Company. “He was taken as an NPA prisoner of war,” Sanchez said, adding, the Alejandro Lanaja Command is holding Camayo captive.

Cammayo’s group clashed with rebels on November 7 in Compos-tela Valley’s Monkayo town that left two army soldiers and a government militia dead in the village of Casoon.

“The smashing blow the Alejandro Lanaja Command of the NPA delivered on an enemy unit touted as the regime’s elite combat forces is a testament to the increasing military capabilities of the New People’s Army. It is an apt punishment to the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the fascist and corrupt Arroyo regime for the grave atrocities it has committed and continues to commit against the Filipino masses,” Sanchez said.

Army Maj. Gen. Jogy Leo Fojas, commander of the Army’s 10th Infantry Division, said the offensive against the NPA would not stop until the rebel group is neutralized.

“Our troops will not get tired of running after the New People’s Army bandits,” he said. “We will never stop until we get hold of Camayo and return him to his loved ones.”

Sanchez warned any rescue attempt would put Cammayo’s life in peril. “The only cause of POW [Prisoner of War] Cammayo’s safety being imperiled emanates from the 10th Infantry Division’s futile attempt to mount a rescue operation,” he said.

Cammayo is being interrogated for possible human rights violations and other crimes related to operations of the Special Forces in Mindanao.

Sanchez said rebels are respecting Cammayo’s rights as a prisoner of war.

“His rights as a POW are guaranteed in consonance with the New People’s Army’s Three Rules of Discipline and Eight Points of Attention and Protocol II of the Geneva Convention,” he said. “We assure his wife and family that he is well and is adapting to the guerrilla conditions of his captivity.”

The rebels also seized an M60 machine gun and one M14 and two M16 automatic rifles from Camma-yo’s unit during the fighting.

Aris Francisco, spokesman of the New People’s Army’s Alejandro Lanaja Command, accused the Third Special Forces Battalion to which Cammayo’s unit belongs, as responsible for the series of violations on human rights, protocols of war and international humanitarian law in Compostela Valley province.

Francisco said the Special Forces masterminded the June bombing in Nabunturan town that wounded several innocent civilians. “The bombing was a desperate and fascist attack in response to the sparrow operations of the New People’s Army which killed two of their soldiers at that time,” he said.

The New People’s Army also tagged Special Forces members as behind the brutal murder in June of a peasant leader Noli Llanos in Nabunturan’s Mipangi village, where rebels killed three government soldiers; and also the killing of farmer Diego Encar-nacion in the village of Linda in Nabunturan town in July. Both farmers were accused by the military as communist rebel supporters.

The New People’s Army, the armed wing of the outlawed Communist Party of the Philippines, is fighting the government the past four decades for the establishment of a Maoist state in the country. (ManilaTimes)

Inquirer Mindanao NPA loses ‘mother of all mothers’

October 7, 2008

By Jeffrey M. Tupas
Mindanao Bureau
First Posted 00:20:00 10/05/2008

DAVAO CITY, Philippines—Lola emerged from the tent, complete with matte-finished cheeks, lips in strong pink and a sky-blue choker to match the shirt. Although everyone was busy for the big day, they never failed to notice Lola whose flamboyance, many would say, was so contagious even in the least demanding times.

That day, Lola was to officiate at a wedding in a hinterland village of Compostela Valley. And when much of the attention was showered at the bride and the groom, Lola effortlessly took a generous part of it from the indigenous peoples, the farmers and the visitors who had traveled far to witness and celebrate the union.

Puzzling for outsiders to see was how Lola was getting all the fuss, but it was understandable, really, for someone who hooked the world’s admiration (and criticisms) when Lola married a young man in an elaborate and controversial ceremony three years ago.

Lola is Valerio Mante Jr. or Ka Richard, a gay communist fighter who, for more than 10 years, surrendered himself to the embrace of a “people’s revolution.” He was one of the top leaders of the New People’s Army in Southern Mindanao who took up the fight of peasants and indigenous peoples against oppressive forces.

Mourners from mountains

And when he passed away recently, a throng of mourners from the same sectors swelled into Davao City—never mind if it would show a bit of heart toward the revolutionary movement.

On board trucks and braving military checkpoints, hundreds of people went down the hills of Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental to say goodbye to Val. He was buried on Sept. 30.

Val, 57, died from blood infection that resulted in kidney failure, a day after he was finally confined in a city hospital or more than 14 hours after his comrades brought him on a crude stretcher down the mountains of Compostela Valley. It was a week after his health deteriorated rapidly.

Rubi del Mundo, spokesperson of the communist-led National Democratic Front of the Philippines in Southern Mindanao, said Val, to the very end, chose to stay at their base.

“He did not mind the intermittent fever he was suffering from and instead told the comrade-medics not to fuss over him because he was just fine. After so much convincing, he finally allowed himself to be brought to a hospital in Davao,” Del Mundo said.

Before his death, Del Mundo said, Val was even making everyone in the hospital room happy and made a list of those who would be invited to his wake, “playfully reminding us that even in his death, there are people to organize and mobilize.”

Active

Val’s involvement as an activist and a guerrilla started when he was an active worker of the Catholic Church, even long before the dictator Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law in 1972. During the First Quarter Storm, he joined Khi Rho, a mass organization working among peasants.

He was detained for more than a year at the now-defunct Philippine Constabulary Barracks in Tagum City. After his release, he went back to Davao City and directed a Lakbayan protest march from Tagum to Davao against massive landgrabbing.

During martial law, Val became the chair of the Citizens Council for Justice and Peace (CCJP) and later joined the Nationalist Alliance for Justice, Freedom and Democracy. He also became a member of the Freedom from Debt Coalition in the early 1990s and head of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan in Southern Mindanao from 1996 to 1998.

Val was the “darling of the press,” working from one sector to another. Antonio Ajero, a veteran journalist, said Val gained the respect of the media during his time for being “amiable and sincere to what he’s saying.”

“I could remember him as someone very personable and sincere. He was very articulate and had a good relationship with the media because he was never arrogant, and had good answers to every question,” Ajero said.

Joining the NPA

His friends recall that Val’s decision to join the NPA became a topic for discussion among them.

Nick David, one of his closest friends, said he had a debate with Val over his joining the underground movement because of Val’s age. (At that time, Val was 47, fresh from heading Bayan.) “He was already too old to join the movement,” David said.

But then when David visited Val in the mountains, he realized how Val loved the people and how he was being loved in return. “He loved the farmers so much. During dinners, he would carefully pick crumbs because in producing rice grains, farmers have to go through a difficult experience,” he said.

Journalist Carlos Conde, another friend of Val’s, wrote in his blog: “To be sure, many would scoff at Val’s decision to become an NPA and the things he stood for, dismissing this as stupidity, a mindless commitment to an ideology long discredited.”

“But Val, during the times when we interacted while he was already with the NPA, would often impress on me that this ‘dead ideology’ is far from deceased in the poor rural areas where peasants are locked in a never-ending struggle with their landlords. In areas, for instance, a real agrarian-revolution was taking place, supplanting the bogus one being implemented by the government,” Conde added.

Rural reach

In his journal, Val expressed that his decision to join the armed revolution came after he desired to expand his reach to the people in the rural areas.

“At the height of my activism, I decided to join the NPA. My decision elicited various reactions from the people close to me. Some were happy, some were skeptical. This did not affect my decision,” he wrote.

“It was a product of a long and painful struggle against selfishness, individualism and pride. I gave up a comfortable lifestyle, left my family and relatives and evaded close friends. It was the harshest yet the best decision so far I’ve made in my life,” he added.

Sama Sulong, a “lumad” leader from Boston town in Davao Oriental, said Val would always be remembered as the “inahan sa tanang inahan (mother of all mothers).”

“Lola treated us as his real children. The grandmother of the lumad people … the hero of the oppressed,” Sulong said.

Death of an NPA guerrilla

October 6, 2008

The last time I saw him in Davao City about four years ago I think, he looked gaunt. Too gaunt, in fact. He had just come down from the mountains and, as he would often do, was touching base with friends, many of them journalists like me who had covered him and the progressive movement when he was the secretary-general of the leftist Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan or New Patriotic Alliance) in Southern Mindanao.

His skin also grew darker, and I joked that Biolink, a skin-whitening lotion, hadn’t done much for him. How could it? he said. In the mountains, where Val Mante Jr. had repaired to after years and years of being the public face of the Left in Davao, the last thing you cared about is your skin.

Val, you see, was a New People’s Army guerrilla. After legally fighting the government on the streets, he probably figured that a more meaningful struggle — albeit underground and fraught with danger — could be fought to protect the welfare of poor Filipinos who eke out a miserable living in the countryside, where the defenseless and voiceless needed intellectuals from the middle class like himself to counter a state that was becoming more and more oppressive.

It seemed as though becoming an NPA guerrilla was inevitable for Val, an expression of a higher level of commitment to a cause, if ever there was one. It was a decision that did not shock his friends. To us, it was simply a matter of time before Val decided to bear arms.

To be sure, many would scoff at Val’s decision to become an NPA and the things he stood for, dismissing this as stupidity, a mindless commitment to an ideology long discredited. Perhaps. But Val, during the times that we interacted while he was already with the NPA, would often impress on me that this “dead ideology” is far from deceased in the poor rural areas where peasants are locked in a never-ending struggle with their landlords. In these areas, for instance, a real agrarian-revolution was taking place, supplanting the bogus one being implemented by the government.

As I have personally seen in the many years that I covered the communist movement in the Philippines — and having actually camped with Val one time to do this story — this “dead ideology” is the one thing that gives many of these abused masses the hope that they couldn’t find elsewhere — hope for justice, for a decent life, and for an existence free from the abuses of the state.

Val didn’t harbor any illusion that he and his fellow communists would take over the country anytime soon. “It will probably not happen in my lifetime,” he told me once years ago. It didn’t matter to him whether the revolution would succeed or fail; as far as he was concerned, it was the right thing to do.

Whether one agrees with Val’s ideology or not, nothing can dispute the fact that, in the past three decades, the absence of good governance and the overwhelming dominance of abuse, corruption and hunger in our national life have pushed many poor Filipinos in the countryside and elsewhere to seek refuge in the bosom of the revolution, into the arms of comrades like Val And for 10 long years, Val was with them, right to the very end.

Val Mante Jr. died of a kidney illness on Sept. 22. He was 57.

Rubi del Mundo, spokesperson of the National Democratic Front in Southern Mindanao issued a statement about Val on Wednesday. It read in part:

Coming from lower middle class origins, Ka Val was a consummate activist, instructor, organizer, untiring mass leader, poet, literary writer, a friend, comrade and a dedicated member of the Communist Party of the Philippines. Having spent more than half of his life aboveground as an activist — from being a progressive seminarian and youth activist in the turbulent 1970s to being a human rights worker in the 1980s and as secretary general of the militant Bagong Alyansang Makabayan in Davao City, Ka Val decided to move on from the boundaries of legal democratic struggle.

Ka Val joined the New People’s Army in the late 1990s and spent a decade full of hard struggle, in loving and earnest service with the masses of Southern Mindanao. Ka Val, ever the practical and hardworking cadre, did not mind the intermittent fever he was suffering since last week and instead told comrades — who were worried and who were pressing him to seek medical treatment — not to fuss over him because he was fine. Ka Val finally relented, endured almost 14 hours of travel atop a hammock carried by comrades, and finally sought medical treatment at a hospital in Davao City Sunday (Sept. 21). He never fully recovered. The next day, after three attempts of resuscitation, doctors declared him dead.

The revolutionary movement and the masses would surely miss Ka Val, whose life was a stark example of loving sacrifice and whose death is as heavy as the mountains in the countryside. PinoyPress.net/Bulatlat

Museum puts a face on little-known martial law martyrs

September 21, 2008

By TJ Burgonio
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 01:51:00 09/21/2008

MANILA, Philippines—There are only close-up pictures lifted from yearbooks and family albums, and yet this gallery contains the official records of some of the countless people who died fighting the Marcos dictatorship.

President Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law 36 years ago on Sunday.

In his picture, Emmanuel Lazo of Nueva Vizcaya sports a thick head of hair and looks like someone in his 20s.

But Lazo’s profile offers startling information: As a student of the Central Luzon State University in 1985, he joined the League of Filipino Students, and took part in the five-day “Lakbayan” march to Manila. He was fatally shot in the head on Taft Avenue in Manila on Oct. 21, 1985.

He was 17—the youngest of the 52 young martyrs profiled in the gallery.

And Lazo was not alone.

University of the Philippines economics student Dennis Rolando Deveraturda, who worked with farmers in his home province of Zambales, was abducted from the family home in February 1972.

His bullet-riddled body was found days later. Hundreds of people attended his funeral. He was 19.

High school student Delia Cortez, who led women and youth in rallies against factory pollution and later went to the countryside to help tend to the sick, died from a shot in the back in Bataan on Jan. 23, 1977. She was 19.

In the flush of youth

And then there were the brothers Romulo and Armando Palabay, 22 and 21, both UP students who organized anti-Marcos campaigns in their home province of La Union, and who were killed separately by military and paramilitary units.

“It’s clear many of the martyrs were the young ones,” said museum director Carolina “Bobbie” Malay. “In Philippine revolutions, many of our heroes were in their teens.”

Opened in February at the year-old Bantayog ng mga Bayani Museum, the Hall of Remembrance helps flesh out the more than 170 martyrs (those who disappeared and died before 1986) and heroes (those who survived beyond 1986) of martial law and puts their heroism in context.

In this gallery, the visitor gets acquainted with the youth, educators, farmers, activists, artists and public servants who resisted the dictatorship through black and white photos and brief profiles mounted on floor-to-ceiling panels.

Until February, people knew most of them only by their names engraved on the black granite Wall of Remembrance beneath the 35-foot bronze sculpture inside the Bantayog Memorial Center in Quezon City.

Most are smiling in their palm-sized pictures, but the accompanying vignettes inform the visitor of their violent end.

“I wanted to give them a face, what were their advocacies, and how they died,” said Felissa “Fei” Supapo, who mounted the exhibit as part of the requirements for her master’s degree in cultural heritage at the University of Santo Tomas.

Prominent names

Her inspiration was the Holocaust Museum in the United States.

In the shrine one cannot miss the prominent personalities who stood up to President Ferdinand Marcos from the time he declared martial law on Sept. 21, 1972, until he was toppled by a bloodless people’s revolt in February 1986.

They were the likes of Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr., Jaime Cardinal Sin, Lorenzo Tañada, publishers Joaquin Roces and Jose Burgos Jr., poet Emmanuel Lacaba, and student leaders Lean Alejandro and Edgar Jopson, among others.

How it started

Supapo, 32, and the museum staff mounted the exhibit in a small room on the second floor of the Sen. Jovito Salonga Building to mark the anniversary of the February 1986 “people’s revolt.”

The museum decided to make it permanent, for obvious reasons.

(“This is very interesting, and very informative,” National Transmission Corp. engineer Juanito Santos mused on his first visit to the gallery on Thursday morning.)

The museum, which opened in August 2007, keeps some files of pictures and personal data of only a number of the heroes and martyrs. Supapo found these insufficient and decided to write letters to the families, requesting materials about their sons and daughters.

Thus, between January and February, graduation and group pictures culled from yearbooks and family albums, as well as mementos, such as letters, books, and even clothes, arrived at the museum by mail or personal delivery.

“What made it tough was the dearth of materials,” Supapo said on the phone Friday morning from the Polytechnic University of the Philippines in Manila, where she teaches interior design. (She holds a degree in interior design from UST.)

“[But] the families were very happy to share the materials because they wanted their children to be remembered, too,” she said.

Rare pictures

With a P70,000 budget from the museum, Supapo scanned the pictures and reduced each to a standard size of 4 cm x 6 cm, and wrote the profiles based on museum files and recollections of the living family members.

Still, one would notice that some lacked pictures. Malay said this was hardly surprising because families then would burn pictures of their children who were on the military’s “wanted list” lest these end up in soldiers’ hands.

“The military would come barging into your home to ask for pictures of your children who are involved in the resistance. Many families burned and disposed of their children’s pictures. What we have here are rare pictures,” she said.

Sketches took the place of some nonexistent pictures, as in the case of Macli-ing Dulag, a respected Kalinga elder who was shot dead by government agents on April 24, 1980, after fiercely opposing the Chico Dam that threatened to inundate homes, terraces, orchards and graveyards in the Cordillera.

In response to Supapo’s request, many families brought not only an album of their children’s pictures but also personal items.

The family of Fr. Nilo Valerio Jr., SVD, brought his favorite striped T-shirt, the one he was wearing when he and community organizers Resteta Fernandez and Soledad Salvador were beheaded by soldiers in Bakun, Benguet, on Aug. 24, 1985. Their heads were tied to poles and paraded in the villages.

Valerio was then 33.

His shirt, washed clean of the bloodstains, and some letters of activists to their families are on display in a glass case in the middle of the gallery.

There is also the compilation of “propaganda songs” recorded by student activist Ishmael Quimpo before he was shot to death, and a narration of poems by Francisco “Soc” Rodrigo, which one can listen to on an MP3 player installed at the gallery entrance.

“It was a learning experience,” said Supapo, who was born in 1976 and grew up in Blumentritt, Manila, in a time of midnight curfew.

“I came to know our heroes, especially the students who were willing to sacrifice their lives to right wrongs for the good of our country,” she said.

NPA abduct 2 cops in Compostela Valley

September 2, 2008

By Abigail Kwok
INQUIRER.net, Mindanao Bureau
First Posted 01:26pm (Mla time) 09/02/2008

TAGUM CITY, Philippines — Alleged members of New People’s Army (NPA) abducted two (not three as earlier reported) police officers early Tuesday morning after setting up checkpoints and burning a government-owned dump truck in Mt. Diwalwal, Monkayo, Compostela Valley province.

Earlier, officials, including Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Eastern Command spokesman Major Armand Rico, said the rebels had seized three policemen when they set up checkpoints.

However, Compostela Valley police director Superintendent Ronald dela Rosa, Compostela Valley police director, said only two policemen — Police Officers 3 Raymund Quinsang and Jerry Realino

Earlier, Rico and Mt. Diwata barangay (village) captain Franco Tito said that, aside from Realino, the rebels had also seized Police Officer 3 Rogelio Estrata and Police Officer 2 Hector Culaste.

Dela Rosa said Quinsang and Realino were in separate vehicles that passed the roadblock set up by as estimated 30 guerrillas on the highway in Sitio (sub-village) Unggoyan, midway between Diwalwal and Monkayo town proper.

The two police officers, he said, were taken to a still undetermined location.

Tito said the rebels also burned a truck of the Philippine Mining Development Corp. (PMDC), a state-owned company overseeing government mining operation in the gold-rush area, before they fled.

Police and military troops are pursuing the rebels who took the two policemen.

The Mt. Diwata incident took place a day after the National Democratic Front (NDF) on Mindanao called on the NPA to launch tactical offensives against the government as an expression of support to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

Jorge Madlos, NDF Mindanao spokesperson, said escalating military attacks against the MILF, which have resulted in the massive displacement of Muslim and non-Muslims civilians in Central Mindanao, warranted the communist rebels’ intervention.

Madlos, also known as Ka Oris, said the Communist Party of the Philippines was committed to the Moro armed struggle and the Bangsamoro people’s quest for self-determination.

“As an obligation to our commitment to the MILF and the Bangsamoro struggle, the NPA must launch tactical offensives on a wider and more intensive scale in Mindanao and in the whole country,” Madlos said in a statement, a copy of which was received by the Philippine Daily Inquirer (parent company of INQUIRER.net) Tuesday.

He said the NPA offensives “would be a great help to the Muslim insurgents to overcome the brutality and superiority of the military forces going after them.”

Madlos also faulted the government for the resumption of hostilities in Mindanao.

He said the government always wanted to “frustrate the MILF’s aspiration for a Bangsamoro homeland” because it did not have any intention of signing the memorandum on agreement on ancestral domain (MOA-AD).

“In peace negotiations, the US-Arroyo regime, like all previous reactionary regimes, cannot be trusted to honor a signed agreement. It [MOA-AD] was designed to provoke the MILF and thus create a flimsy excuse to use brute force to frustrate the aspirations for a Bangsamoro homeland,” he said.

Madlos meanwhile cautioned the MILF to “adhere to international laws of war and the protocols of internal armed conflict to win the people’s sympathy and support to their cause.”

“The legitimacy of the Moro People’s armed struggle for the right to self-determination should not be undermined by the negative impact of the destruction to properties and death to civilians,” he said.

Frinston Lim, Franklin Caliguid, Dennis Santos, Inquirer Mindanao

Sergeant Manero gets conditional amnesty

August 26, 2008

By Ben O. Tesiorna


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DAVAO CITY — The New People’s Army (NPA) released retired Master Sergeant Jose Manero on Sunday evening after 103 days in captivity.

Manero is the elder brother of Norberto Manero alias Kumander Bucay, the controversial convicted priest killer.

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The freed sergeant was reportedly turned over by the rebels to Fr. Ronnie Lomata on August 24 around 10 p.m.

The group of Kumander Parago abducted Manero on May 11 from the farm of his employer Raffy Lorenzo. Lorenzo was also taken by the rebels but was released soon after in an area not far from his Calinan farm.

Manero is said to be in his house in Calinan. He is now resting and reunited with his family.

The NPA’s Merardo Arce Command meantime said that Manero was granted a “conditional amnesty,” thus his release from custodial detention by the 1st Pulang Bagani Company.

“This grant of conditional amnesty is based on his (Manero) admission of guilt and issuance of a public apology for the crimes and serious violations of human rights he committed against the people and the revolutionary movement,” the NPA said in a statement.

“These crimes and violations were committed when he was still on active duty as an enlisted personnel of the Philippine Army-Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and acted as detachment commander in various areas in Davao City and elsewhere, particularly in Barangay Callawa, Davao City,” it added.

The NPA said Manero vowed to abide by three conditions that led to the grant of the amnesty. These are:

1. He would not undertake any act that would harm the people, cause damage to their lives and livelihood and violate basic human rights, especially to workers and peasants.

2. He would no longer engage in armed and other hostile actions against the NPA and the revolutionary movement, whether individually or jointly with the AFP, PNP (Philippine National Police), Intelligence and paramilitary units of the GRP (Government of the Republic of the Philippines).

3. He would be truthful to his admission of guilt and issuance of public apology hereinafter.

“In the event that Jose Manero deliberately and directly violates any single provision of this conditional amnesty, the same shall be automatically revoked. And as a consequence, his name shall be reinstated in the NPA’s standing order for his re-arrest, trial and subsequent imposition of appropriate penalties consistent with the revolutionary legal system and judicial processes of the People’s Democratic Government,” the rebel group said.

With Manero’s release, the rebels said they hope he would now lead “a life respectful of human rights, remold himself and disengage from further anti-people and counter-revolutionary undertakings.” (Sun.Star Davao/Sunnex)

NPA executes suspected informer

August 21, 2008

NAGA CITY — The James Balaquiao Command of the New People’s Army based in the second district of the Camarines Sur has admitted to the killing of one Ramon A. Arias, 43, of Calabanga, Camarines Sur early this month.

In a communication sent to Bicol Mail dated August 6, 2008, Maria Lorena Mendoza, public information officer of the rebel command, said that Arias has been meted to die because of political crimes he committed against the movement and the people.

They accused the victim of being an agent of the Military Intelligence Group 5 of the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

Arias allegedly spied on the movement to help flush out rebel comrades and sympathizers under the military’s “Oplan Bantay Laya II,” a government campaign aimed at stamping out insurgents in the countryside.

They also accused Arias of being a party to political killings as evidenced by the secret mission orders they allegedly found in his possession when snatched by the armed insurgents.

Such mission orders, according to Mendoza, were signed by Lt. Col. Andrew Castelo, PA group commander, for the months of July-August 2008.

The rebel communication, however, did not state Arias’ actual date of execution and where.

Arias’ wife Melinda had accused the rebels of taking away even the victim’s personal belongings which the rebel command dismissed as lie. “Kinumpiska lamang ng mga kasama ay pawang gamit militar at may kaugnayan sa paniniktik [at] gamit sa kontra-rebolusyaryong gawain nito (the rebels confiscated only the things related to the military and his [Arias’] anti-rebel mission),” the statement signed by Mendoza said.

Confiscated from the alleged military agent were a cal. 45 pistol, a Garand rifle, and clips of ammunitions.

The rebel statement said affected residents were relieved that peace and means of livelihood were restored in their area with Arias no longer around.

The rebels, meanwhile, warned the Calabanga police and the hired AFP paramilitary units from abducting for interrogation minors and innocent civilians in the government’s stepped up war against the rebel movement.

They said such harsh tactics are against the provisions of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law where the Philippine government is a signatory.(BicolMail)

NPA renews offensive, 9 soldiers killed in Abra, Kalinga

August 19, 2008

BAGUIO CITY — Two commands of the New People’s Army in two Cordillera provinces staged ambuscades on July 30 and August 1 where at least nine government soldiers were killed instantly and a score wounded.

Six army soldiers were killed and nine others were reportedly wounded when the Agustin Begnalen Command (ABC) of the New People’s Army (NPA-Abra) engaged a platoon of operating troops of the Bravo Company, 41st Infantry Brigade of the Philippine Army on August 1 at Barangay Duldulao, Malibcong, Abra.

Two of the wounded soldiers later died in a hospital, the ABC statement said.

Earlier on July 30, another NPA squad in Kalinga ambushed the 34-member Charlie Company of the 21st Infantry Brigade in Balbalan, Kalinga. The three-hour firefight killed three soldiers and wounded two more, one died later, according to the NPA’s Lejo Cawilan Command (NPA-Kalinga).

Reports reaching the national media, however, quoted Lt. Eduard Sia-ed, 41st IB public information officer as saying the army company had only two casualties and two wounded. He identified the fatalities as Privates First Class Aurelio Begtang and Jones Andrade.

Sia-ed named the two wounded soldiers as 2nd Lt. June-mar Tutoy and Cpl. Oscar Cagurangan.

“The Red Guerillas used a command-detonated claymore mine and safely withdrew,” ABC said. It claimed a company-sized composite contingent of the Bravo and Charlie Coys is “currently terrorizing the people of Malibcong Poblacion, Duldulao, and Bayabas, and is forcing the people to allow the establishment of detachments in the municipality.”

ABC claimed the overwhelming majority of the people, however, opposed the 41st IB plan.

The ambush lasted only five minutes, according to ABC, but Sia-ed said the firefight with about 20 rebels lasted for about three hours.

The communist rebels claimed no casualty but Sia-ed said according to community reports, “at least five rebels were either killed or wounded.”

“Impositions of the Arroyo regime and the big mining companies will only fuel protests and unrests, and militarization will only intensify armed resistance from the people,” the ABC said in a statement. It professed support to the people’s opposition to large scale mining and all its disguised forms, and vows to frustrate all military and PNP operations to impose alleged development projects and in accordance with Oplan Bantay Laya 2. # Northern Dispatch

4 Army soldiers wounded in NPA ambush

August 12, 2008

By Delfin Mallari Jr., Roy Gersalia
Southern Luzon Bureau
First Posted 00:27:00 08/12/2008

LUCENA CITY – Four Army men were wounded when suspected New People’s Army rebels ambushed a group of soldiers from the 16th Infantry Battalion aboard a military truck traveling along the highway in Barangay Llavac, Real town in Quezon province on Monday, the spokesperson of the Army’s Southern Luzon Command said in a report.

Army Capt. Leah Santiago said that at about 2 p.m., an undetermined number of NPA rebels fired at the soldiers while on the way to position themselves as a blocking force to the escaping guerrillas that earlier attacked the town hall in the island town of Panukulan.

A few minutes later, the reinforcement team from the same battalion chanced upon another group of NPA rebels in Barangay Lubayat also in Real.

The firefight was still ongoing as of press time, Santiago said over the phone.

Capt. Peter Garceniego Jr., 16th IB spokesperson, said the four soldiers only suffered minor wounds and were being treated in a hospital in the area.

“The harassment being waged by terrorist communists was only meant to divert attention from our ongoing operations,” he said over the phone.

He claimed that aside from acting as a blocking force to the Panukulan raiders, the Army soldiers were also part of the government forces that were engaged in a major operation against NPA rebels in northern Quezon.

Earlier that day, the NPA rebels attacked the Panukulan town hall and took at least nine firearms from the police station.
A Panukulan policeman said more than 30 guerrillas launched the attack while the local government employees were reciting a prayer during the flag-raising ceremony held at the plaza fronting the town hall.

The raiders seized eight short firearms, one long firearm and several rounds of ammunitions, said the policeman who requested anonymity as he was not authorized to talk about the incident.

“The attack was over in about 10 to 15 minutes. We were not able to put up a fight for fear that many civilians might be caught in the crossfire. There were also many students around because the town hall is near the school,” said the lawman.

The informant said the NPA rebels also partially burned the generator set of a Globe relay station located in the mountainous area of the place.

He said the leader of the NPAs even made a short speech before the assembly of government employees and also talked to Panukulan Mayor Rogel Portos.

“The speech was interrupted several times by shouts of ‘Mabuhay ang NPA’ coming from the rest of the rebels,” said the policeman.

He said the NPA rebels escaped aboard several motorized boats and headed toward the town of General Nakar at the foot of Sierra Madre.

Santiago said at least four Air Force helicopters had been dispatched to track down the escaping rebels.

“This attack was an act of desperation of the terrorists to negate the success of military forces in our counterinsurgency. They want to impress to the public that they are still a force to reckon with despite their losses in the battlefield and declining support from the masses,” she said.

On Friday night, two more cell sites of Globe Telecom were attacked by suspected NPA rebels in Sorsogon province.

One of the cell sites was in Barangay Aguada Norte, a kilometer away from the Magallanes town poblacion, while the other site is located in Barangay Sogoy, Castilla town.

The two incidents were the eighth and ninth in a series of harassments on Globe cell sites in the Bicol region since July 31.

Duterte will ask rebels to stop harassing traders

August 3, 2008

MAYOR RODRIGO Duterte will ask the leadership of the New People’s Army (NPA) to stop harassing  businesses in the city.
In a consultation with members of the business sector, Duterte admitted the rebels have intensified their activities in relation to its revolutionary tax activities to get more funds for their operations.
However, the mayor said he could not discuss with the rebels, particularly the Pulang Bagani Command 1 under Leoncio Pitao alias Kumander Parago. The mayor used to meet Parago.
“I can’t talk to them about policies. I have to go up to the Commission in Mindanao – their pulit-buro,” he said. But Duterte said his efforts could only reach a certain level because it is a nationwide concern which the national government must address.
He said the activities of the NPA and those of other groups are beyond his control. Had they been criminals, he could “eradicate them in 24 hours,” he said, although he added there are rules to be followed
“The NPAs, I can’t control them including terrorists. I can’t solve it myself. I can only take care of the criminals,” he added.
Duterte said the government could not also harm the members of the rebel movement who are in the legal fronts or those in the “white area.” He said doing this would change the equation and would make the city once again as a killing field.
Simeon Marfori II, Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry president, said the business sector is grateful that the city government has been pushing for the peace and order situation to be maintained. He said because of this they were able to thrive well in the city.
Marfori said they are willing to cooperate with Duterte in keeping the good climate of the city especially with the recent attacks of NPA which could greatly affect the city’s image.
He said investors will most likely shy away in investing here if a lot of security and peace and order problems are being disseminated.
The recent attack of the group was last Wednesday night in Tigatto, Buhangin District where the member’s of Parago’s group burned four heavy dump trucks and two heavy equipment owned by Lapanday Development Corporation. The report of the military said the 15-men group also strafed the hangar of the company.(MindanaoTimes)

NPA rebels attack farm in Davao

August 1, 2008

DAVAO CITY — Suspected members of the New People’s Army (NPA) attacked a farm in Tigatto, Buhangin District in Davao City Wednesday night, military said Thursday.

According to reports from the Eastern Mindanao Command (EastMinCom), the attackers belong to the NPA’s Pulang Bagani Command 1 under Leoncio Pitao alias Kumander Parago.

Arroyo Watch: Sun.Star blog on President Arroyo

The military said the attackers burned four dump trucks and two heavy equipment. They then disarmed the security guard of the banana farm.

EastMinCom reports said that around 6:15 p.m., at least 50 heavily armed NPA men onboard an L-300 and Starex vans attacked the farm of Nonong Rodriguez. They were led by Kumander Bungot.

The farm’s security guards reportedly tried to drive back the rebels but they were overpowered.

The .9mm gun of one of the security guards, Antonio Espinas, was taken while another guard was divested of his shotgun.

The group also carted away the cellular phone of the unarmed guard.

The rebels destroyed the door of the Rodriguez’s residence and tried to barge inside. Two of the security guards were held hostage as they retreated. The two were released later.

The Starex van with plate number LWW 201 fled towards the direction of Callawa while the L-300 van, with plate number LCV 581, stopped in front of the Lapanday airstrip hangar.

The armed group open fired at the airstrip hangar in Lapanday.

The rebels abandoned the van on Km. 13 in Mandug and boarded a yellow public utility jeepney (PUJ).

The group also abandoned the PUJ at the Mandug barangay hall and boarded a Toyota Prado that sped towards Callawa. The vehicle was found on Km. 15.

The attackers were believed to have fled on foot towards the hinterlands of Callawa.

A pair of rubber slippers found inside the Toyota Prado was believed to be owned by one of the suspects.

The NPA rebels also wrecked havoc at Cabaguio Farm in sitio Fatima, Barangay Mandug, burning four dump trucks and two backhoe heavy equipment owned by Ruben Quigue, a resident of Flores Village in Bangkal, Davao City.

Investigation conducted by the Buhangin police showed that the L-300 van was owned and driven by Charlie Cortez while the Starex van was under the name of Benito Sabido.

The two vehicles were reportedly rented earlier in the morning by Danilo Burlat, a resident of Davao Empress, Panacan for a trip to Pindasan, Davao Oriental. The owners and the renter agreed to meet at Victoria Plaza in Bajada.

Upon reaching the place, a man and a woman ordered the vehicles to be brought to Acacia, Buhangin where a group of armed men wearing fatigue uniforms were waiting.

The vehicles used by the group in their attack are now under the custody of the authorities.

Police and military authorities are hunting down the suspects as of this writing Thursday.

Wednesday’s attack is the latest in the series of attacks perpetrated by communist rebels in the city that is slowly getting nearer the downtown area.

Several weeks ago, rebels also raided a firm in Bunawan district. (BOT/RCO/Sun.Star Davao/Sunnex)

War vs communists must be won with ‘military force’–Teodoro

July 26, 2008

By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 12:23:00 07/25/2008

MANILA, Philippines — Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. said the war against the communist insurgency should be “won with military force, not without,” as he rejected anew a military proposal to declare an “indefinite” ceasefire with the rebels to revive peace negotiations.

But at the same time, Teodoro played down his and General Alexander Yano’s contradicting positions, saying only President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo would have the “last word” on the matter.

“I know what’s always said, the cliché that you cannot win it by military force alone, but it should be won with military force, not without, or else you will not be able really to have a clear settlement of the problem,” Teodoro said in an interview with reporters in Camp Crame on Friday.

Teodoro was asked if sustained military offensives were necessary to meet the President’s 2010 deadline to defeat the nearly four-decade-old communist insurgency.

In a statement, Yano said: “Until an official policy is given on the matter, the AFP [Armed Forces of the Philippines] will not waver on its campaign to reduce the insurgency problem to an inconsequential level by 2010.”

Yano reiterated his position that a ceasefire would in fact “enhance” the counter insurgency campaign since the rebels would be given the choice to “take the better option” of “talking peace.”

But with or without a ceasefire, Yano said the AFP was “on track” to meet the President’s deadline.

Teodoro said the military offensives would not be “on a grand scale” but troops would apply “increased pressure” on the NPA that would lead to the dismantling of guerilla fronts.

“What I’m saying is until such time that there is a definite policy on the ceasefire, there is no ceasefire to talk about,” he said.

The defense chief said that Yano could have been “baited” by media into proposing a long-term ceasefire with the communist insurgents.

“I know him to be a professional officer, perhaps his views may not coincide with mine. That’s fine. We’re both professionals and we follow the directives to us,” Teodoro said.

Peace talks between the government and the communist rebels have been stalled since 2004 after the insurgents protested the government’s alleged inaction in having them removed from the terrorist lists of the United States and the European Union.(PDI)

Defense chief downplays NPA attacks in south

July 26, 2008

By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 12:25:00 07/25/2008

MANILA, Philippines — Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro played down the attacks of communist rebels on mines and communication facilities in the south, saying these are not signs of their growing strength.

Over the past weeks, the New People’s Army (NPA) has burned mining equipment and attacked telecommunication towers in Central and Southern Mindanao, in an attempt to extort “revolutionary tax” from businessmen.

“The area is really conducive for NPA activity because there are a lot of potential profit-making activities in the area. [It is] very easy to extort from miners,” Teodoro told reporters in Camp Crame.

Asked if the attacks showed that the rebels were gaining ground, Teodoro said: “Hindi naman [not really]. They are concentrating in one area because they are being cleared from other areas. They are concentrated there, and they want to create, perhaps, their last stand there.”

Teodoro acknowledged that it was “difficult” to secure businesses in far-flung areas, especially cell sites, so it is important for the military, the police and local government units to “fuse” their security efforts.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff, General Alexander Yano, “has called the attention” of military commanders over the attacks, Teodoro said.

“Not to intensify offensives, but to intensify attention to the problem. If offensives are necessary, then it should be done,” he said.

On Sunday, a Mechanized Infantry Battalion composed of roughly 500 troops with two dozen tanks, and two 100-man Field Artillery batteries armed with grenade launchers were deployed to the Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom) area to thwart the NPA attacks.

The reinforcements were stationed at 1001st Brigade headquarters in Compostela Valley province.

But on Thursday morning, the rebels struck again and burned equipment at a facility of Dole Philippines in Makilala town, North Cotabato province.

On the same day that the reinforcements arrived, the rebels torched a drilling machine of the Sagittarius Mine in Davao del Sur province.(PDI)

No ceasefire with communist rebels

July 26, 2008

By Gil C. Cabacungan Jr., Alcuin Papa, Nikko Dizon
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 22:09:00 07/25/2008

MANILA, Philippines—Malacañang on Friday ruled out a ceasefire with the Communist Party of the Philippines or its 5,000-strong armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA), and pledged a robust response to escalating guerrilla attacks on businesses.

“There is no change in the President’s policy,” President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s spokesperson Jesus Dureza told reporters.

Dureza said there were no talks with the CPP or the NPA, who had been waging a 39-year Maoist guerilla campaign.

The clear statement from the Palace regarding its position on the matter should put an end to the clash between Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro and Armed Forces Chief of Staff General Alexander Yano who each in recent days in public offered conflicting views on how to deal with the communist insurgency.

Yano had declared that the military was gearing up for an indefinite ceasefire with the rebels, a position that was quickly refuted by Teodoro, who claimed that the government was “on track” in fulfilling its goal of licking the insurgency problem by 2010.

The clash on Friday prompted former Armed Forces Chief of Staff and now Senator Rodolfo Biazon to urge President Arroyo to put her foot down to stop the public debate between the two top security officials.

“(The decision) cannot be made by the Secretary of National Defense, by the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines or even the Presidential Peace Adviser, Gen. Hermogenes Esperon,” Biazon said.

“The national policy of pursuing either a ceasefire, peace talks or military actions can only be made by the President and, of course, after listening to her advisers. But the pronouncements to the public must be clearly a decision of the President, the Commander in Chief,” he said.

Biazon said the open display of clashing opinions between the government’s top defense and military officials only showed that the insurgency solution was “not well ‘strategized’ but is characterized by confusion among the decision-makers, program and policy implementers of the country.”

He said the dispute not only created uncertainty but might also cause demoralization in the military.

Teodoro on Friday restated his position, saying military force was the means to be taken to finally defeat the insurgency.

Rejecting Yano’s proposal to declare an “indefinite” ceasefire with the rebels to revive peace negotiations, Teodoro said the war with communist insurgents should be “won with military force, not without.”

“I know what’s always said, the cliché that you cannot win it by military force alone. But it (communist insurgency) should be won with military force, not without, or else you will not be able really to have a clear settlement of the problem,” Teodoro said.

He added that sustained military offensives were necessary to meet the President’s 2010 deadline of defeating the rebels.

For his part, Yano on Friday stood by his earlier statement that a ceasefire would hasten the government’s objective of ending the insurgency problem.

“The idea of a ceasefire will enhance the AFP offensive, allowing the CPP/NPA to take the better option of helping the country move forward by talking peace, thereby fast-tracking the ultimate resolution of the problem,” Yano said in a statement.

But Yano added, “Still, until an official policy is given on the matter, the AFP will not waiver on its campaign to reduce the insurgency problem to an inconsequential level by 2010.”

“We are on track and we can reduce the insurgency problem to a mere police problem,” Yano said.

On Thursday, Yano was asked by reporters if he agreed with former Armed Forces Chief and now presidential adviser on the peace process Hermogenes Esperon Jr., who earlier proposed a three-year ceasefire with the communist rebels to revive the government’s stalled peace talks with the National Democratic Front (NDF), the political arm of the CPP-NPA.

The question was asked after a breakthrough in the negotiations between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) was reached last week that could pave the way for the resumption of the peace negotiations, which also ground to a halt because of the contentious issue on ancestral domain.

Peace talks between the government and the communist rebels have been stalled since 2004 after the CPP-NPA protested their inclusion on the list of terrorists groups of the United States and the European Union. Leaders of the CPP also said the government did nothing to take the organization out of the lists. With a report from Agence France-Presse(PDI)

Insurgents in Mindanao vow to launch more offensives against govt, military targets

July 25, 2008

ZAMBOANGA CITY: Suspected communist rebels on Friday vowed to launch more attacks against government and military targets in Mindanao even as thousands of troops were sent to the strife-torn region to fight insurgency.

The New People’s Army (NPA) said the deployment of military forces in Mindanao would give the rebels opportunities to carry out more “telling tactical offensives.”

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said the deployment of more troops in the southern region was in response to growing NPA attacks in the provinces.

Marco Valbuena, a rebel spokesman, said the NPA forces have launched hundreds of successful tactical offensives since last year. The more recent, he said, was the raid on a drilling site of the Sagittarius Mines in Kiblawan town, Davao del Sur on July 19 where rebels carted away a dozen of firearms from the firm’s arsenal.

But police and military also blamed communist rebels for the killing of a government militia in a landmine attack Thursday that also wounded three others in Makilala town in North Cotabato province where NPA gunmen raided a banana plantation owned by Dole Philippines.

Valbuena said the deployment of additional troops would not affect rebel offensives in Mindanao. “The deployment of troops will in no way hinder the advance of the armed revolutionary movement. On the contrary, by pouring in more fascist troops and brutalizing more and more people in its campaigns of suppression, the AFP succeeds only in teaching the people the need to wage an armed revolutionary struggle against the reactionary regime,” he said.

“The redeployment of AFP troops allows the armed revolutionary forces in other guerrilla fronts greater leeway to step up their revolutionary work and continue tactical offensives against small and isolated enemy units.”

Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro said the government operations against the NPA are ongoing, despite a proposal by AFP chief Alexander Yano to forge an “indefinite cease-fire” with rebels to pave the way for the resumption of suspended peace talks with communist leaders.

Rigoberto Sanchez, another rebel spokesman, downplayed the presence of huge government forces in Mindanao, saying, it is no match to the guerrilla warfare the NPA is campaigning in the south.

“A display of superior armament and troop strength by the AFP is inconsequential to the New People’s Army. While tanks and artillery are important weapons in conventional war, they hardly play a significant role against a mass-based army waging guerrilla warfare.”
— Al Jacinto(ManilaTimes)

Half of Army force sent to Mindanao

July 23, 2008

MANILA, Philippines – Hundreds of soldiers have been sent to Mindanao to tackle a rapid rise in communist guerrilla attacks on civilian targets, the military said Tuesday.

A battalion of mechanized infantry – about 500 soldiers with tanks and armored vehicles – plus two field artillery batteries of about 200 gunners were deployed to Mindanao on Sunday, said the region’s military spokesman, Maj. Armand Rico.

The transfer of soldiers previously assigned to the North was in “response to the clamor of governors and mayors of (the region) to stop the criminal and terroristic acts of the godless communist terrorists,” Rico told reporters.

Eastern Mindanao had seen “more than 100” attacks by the New People’s Army (NPA) against mining firms, telecommunications towers and banana plantations in the first half of the year.

In the past year the 5,000-member Maoist guerrilla force had also attacked a resort island, two prison facilities and municipal police posts in eastern Mindanao as it stepped up its campaign to seize weapons and raise funds through extortion.

Last weekend, the NPA set fire to a drilling rig at the Tampakan copper mining project of Anglo-Swiss mining giant Xstrata plc.

Rico said the military figures excluded the rebels’ unreported extortion efforts.
Four infantry divisions – nearly half the Philippine Army – are already deployed in Mindanao, with about half assigned to deal with the NPA threat to the north and east of the country’s second largest island.

Western Mindanao is also a hotbed of a decades-old Muslim separatist insurgency, though a ceasefire is in effect amid peace talks.

Rico said the reinforcements would allow the military to field more mobile and more powerful units against the NPA in the gold-rich Compostela Valley region and around Davao City, center of commercial farming.

He warned there was a danger of a “possible return of the chaotic situation during the 1980s,” when the NPA operated out of the slums of major Mindanao cities and launched assassination campaigns against soldiers and policemen.

The NPA, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, has been waging a 39-year armed campaign across the country. AFP

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My Take:

Attention CHR Chair de Lima!

A number of human rights violations directed to civilians will soon swell on this part of our country!

NPAs raid Davao police station

July 4, 2008

By Edith Regalado
Friday, July 4, 2008

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DAVAO CITY – Suspected New People’s Army (NPA) rebels swooped down on the police station of Banay-Banay town in Davao Oriental yesterday morning, carting away several firearms and ammunition.

The guerrillas, numbering about 50, reportedly posed as rallyists applying for a permit and arrived in front of the Banay-Banay town hall at about 8:30 a.m. on board two Elf trucks and a Mitsubishi van, Chief Superintendent Andres Caro II, Southern Mindanao police director, said.

The rebels disarmed some of the lawmen guarding the town hall and then ransacked the police armory, taking six M-16 rifles, two 9-mm pistols and a caliber .22 revolver.

Other police officers put up a fight, later reinforced by government troops. A certain PO3 Pesian was reportedly wounded in the 30-minute firefight.

Caro said the rebels belong to the Front Committee 18 of the NPA’s Pulang Bagani Command led by a certain Danilo Nodalo, alias Kumander Benjie.

Caro said elements of the 1106th Regional Mobile Group and the Army’s 67th Infantry Battalion are pursuing the raiders.

Davao Oriental and the neighboring provinces of Compostela Valley, Davao del Norte, Agusan del Sur and Surigao del Sur are considered to be NPA strongholds in this part of the country.

The NPA rebels have intensified their attacks against police and military personnel in the region in the past six months.

NPA rebels were also suspected to be behind a grenade explosion in Nabunturan, Compostela Valley past midnight yesterday, killing at least three people and injuring 11 others.

Last week, insurgents raided two town halls and police stations on Siargao Island in Surigao del Norte, stealing firearms and communication equipment, but soldiers caught up with them, killing 15 and capturing a dozen others.

Meanwhile, the military discovered late Tuesday the shallow grave of Josefino Estaniel, a pastor of the Seventh Day Adventist Church who was kidnapped by the NPA in May, a regional military spokesman said.

Estaniel was “tortured before he was executed and buried,” said Lt. Col. Kurt Decapia.

Civilian informants led the military to the grave on the outskirts of Davao City.

The pastor was apparently killed because of NPA suspicions he was helping the military with its anti-insurgency operations, Decapia said.

In Cagayan Valley, Army units have been placed on heightened alert in the wake of intelligence reports, corroborated by seized documents, that NPA rebels would launch attacks and other terrorist acts starting this month.

The Army’s 5th Infantry Division based in Gamu, Isabela said the alert came after guerrillas torched a Globe Telecom cell site in remote Barangay Kabayabasan in Lallo, Cagayan last Saturday.

“It (cell site burning) was (perpetrated) by seven armed men. That is their handiwork and they made the burning of cell sites simultaneous with other (attacks elsewhere in the country),” said Maj. Gen. Melchor Dilodilo, chief of the 5th ID which has jurisdiction over the Cagayan Valley, Cordillera and Ilocos regions. With Charlie Lagasca(PhilStar)

Randy Felix Malayao: Jailed But Still Defiant

June 19, 2008

Randy Felix Malayao, political and peace adviser of the National Democratic Front (NDF) in Cagayan Valley, was illegally arrested, tortured, detained and slapped with a string of criminal charges. For four days and four nights of relentless interrogation, Malayao told his captors, “Pipiliin ko na lang hukayin ang sarili kong libingan. Wala kayong makukuha sa akin.” (I’d rather dig my own grave. You will get nothing from me.)

BY RONALYN V. OLEA
Bulatlat
Vol. VIII, No. 19, June 15-21, 2008

TUGUEGARAO CITY, CAGAYAN (440 kms. North of Manila) – Randy Felix Malayao, consultant of the National Democratic Front (NDF) in Isabela province has been detained at the district jail in this city for almost a month.

Malayao was abducted on May 15, around 9 p.m. That day, Malayao just alighted from a G-Liner bus in front of a mall in Cainta, Rizal when six unidentified men who came from different directions abducted him. Two immediately handcuffed him. The rest held both his feet and forced him inside a vehicle. One of the armed men quickly covered Malayao’s eyes, first with a pair of goggles and then with a scarf.

The account of Malayao’s arrest was based on his affidavit and on statements issued by human rights group Karapatan-Cagayan Valley.

For four days and four nights, Malayao’s relatives and friends searched for him. On the fifth day since his disappearance, the 5th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army surfaced him at the Camp Melchor dela Cruz in Gamu, Isabela.

During the gathering of Free Randy Malayao Movement and Friends of Randy at the San Pablo Church in Isabela, June 8, elder sister Perla related, “Ilang gabi akong hindi makatulog. Iyon pala, nakakaranas na ng physical at psychological torture ang kapatid ko.” (I had sleepless nights. Later, I learned that during the same time, my brother was being subjected to physical and psychological torture.)

Tortured

During the visit of Malayao’s relatives, former classmates and friends on June the same day, Malayao was asked about the torture he endured. He said, “Relentlessly, talagang na-interrogate ako nang apat na araw, apat na gabi. Deprived ako ng tulog. At siyempre, may mahalagang impormasyong gusto nilang alamin. Sabi ko, pipiliin ko na lang hukayin ang sarili kong libingan… Kilala n’yo na ako. ‘Yung mga nalalaman ko, dadalhin ko na lang sa hukay.” (Relentlessly, I was interrogated for four days and four nights. I was deprived of sleep. Of course, they wanted to extract important information from me. I told them, ‘I’d rather dig my own grave. You already know who I am. I will just bring everything I know to the grave.)

Malayao’s affidavit details the kind of torture he went through, “My captors covered my head with a plastic bag which caused me to suffocate. I was made to lie down on bare cement purportedly to simulate how it feels dying that way. On several occasions, they forced me to raise my two feet while sitting on a chair until my feet got stiff and my muscles tired and ached. I was never allowed to sleep during the entire duration of my captivity except for the couple of hours they allowed me to take a nap so that my eyes would not appear puffy when presented to the media during the press conference. On those occasions when I seemed to doze off, they would repeatedly slap or box my shoulders and upper torso or continuously beat my legs with a flat wooden stick which caused pain on those parts of my body; But so as not to leave any mark of injury, the interrogator’s companions would massage the parts of my body that were either slapped, boxed or beaten.”

Each interrogation session usually lasted for two hours. During 30-minute breaks though, Malayao was treated to what he calls ear-drum shattering sounds from a speaker placed just beside him. There were times when wiretapped conversations of people were played. Karapatan-Cagayan Valley Secretary General Neil Galoy said that the song Impossible Dream was played repeatedly.

Malayao was also subjected to extreme temperatures. “My captors would turn off the air conditioner and cover me with blankets, making me sweat profusely. Then, they would set the unit in extremely cold levels and send me freezing to the bones.”

Not a criminal

Malayao was charged with murder for the killing of the late Congressman Rodolfo Aguinaldo and his close aide, and with frustrated murder of Aguinaldo’s secretary. He was also charged with murder for the ambush of some military personnel in Balgan, San Mariano, Isabela; for allegedly killing three more men including a barangay (village) captain of the same town, Benjamin Olalia, Jr. of Ilagan, Isabela and an Army personnel in the same place.

Malayao said, “Wala naman silang ebidensya. Puro imbento lang. Baka nag-iimbento pa sila ng iba pang kaso, di ko pa alam.” (They have no evidence. Everything is just made up. They may be inventing other cases, I still don’t know.)

Manang Perla, as what Randy calls his elder sister, could not believe the charges filed against her brother. She described her brother as thoughtful, caring, obedient and industrious. She said that an early age, Randy helped the family by selling ice candy in the neighborhood.

At the San Pablo Church in Isabela, Manang Perla told the crowd, “Talamak ang graft and corruption sa gobyerno kaya maraming katulad ng kapatid ko. Ipinaglalaban lang niya ang karapatan ng mga inaapi. Saludo ako sa kanya.” (Graft and corruption is rampant in government that is why there are many activists like my brother. He is only fighting for the rights of the oppressed. I salute him.)

Manang Perla works as the municipal development officer under the regional office of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).

Raymund Villanueva, Randy’s childhood friend and colleague at the College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP), depicted Randy as a good and brilliant son of San Pablo (Randy’s hometown).

In his speech, Bayan Muna Representative Teodoro Casiño Jr., said, “Kung may maituturing mang kasalanan si Randy, iyon ay ang pagtulong sa kapwa.” (Randy’s only crime is that he helped others.)

Casiño and Malayao met during their college days. When Casiño was elected CEGP national president, Malayao served as the Guild’s vice president for Visayas. “Magaling na organizer si Randy. Bilang vice president for Visayas, halos mag-isa niyang itinayo ang mga chapter sa maraming probinsya ng Visayas.” (Randy is a good organizer. As vice president for Visayas, he organized – almost single-handedly – the chapters in many provinces in the Visayas.)

Casiño revealed that Randy’s favorite song is You’ve Got to Do More than That. “It became his personal slogan. Para sa kanya, hindi sapat na tayo ay naaawa, nagagalit. Kailangang may aktwal na pagtulong.” (For him, it’s not enough that we sympathize or we are enraged. We must concretize this with acts of helping.)

What is more telling though is the influx of Malayao’s visitors. The Tuguegarao City District Jail was swamped with more than a hundred relatives, former classmates and friends on that Sunday afternoon. Some of his visitors came all the way from Quezon City. Each set of ten to twenty visitors was given ten minutes to talk to Malayao.

When egged on to sing, Malayao sand his favorite song You’ve Got to Do More than That. He was smiling and laughing during most of the short visit. When childhood friend Raymund handed over books, a MP4 player and magazines, Malayao jokingly said, “Gusto n’yo atang tumagal pa ako rito ah.” (It seems you want me to stay here longer.) He quickly added that he spends his day reading most of the time.

Defiant

On a serious tone, Malayao said, “Ang pagkabilanggo ay isang hamon. Susubukin ang katatagan ng aking pananaw. Ipinapangako ko sa inyo na kung ano ako ngayon ay panghahawakan ko. Lagi’t lagi, ang aking pinapanguna ay ang interes ng sambayanan bago ang interes na pansarili.Doon ko ibabatay ang lahat ng aking mga hakbangin.

(Detention is a challenge. It will test the firmness of my principles. I pledge to you that I will hold on to what I am now. I will always prioritize the interest of the people before my own interests. That is the basis of all my actions.)

In his message read by Villanueva at the gathering of Free Randy Malayao Movement, Malayao criticized himself for his laxity in security that led to his arrest. He called it a temporary setback.

But he quickly added, “Hindi titigil ang pagmumulat, pag-oorganisa at pagpapakilos sa kilusang bayan dahil nasawi o nadakip ang isang kasama. Ang bawat martir ay magsisilbing inspirasyon para sa ibayong pagkilos samantalang sa pagkakabilanggo, tanging pisikal na katawan ang nakapiit, ang diwa’t kamalayan ay lubos na malaya’t lumalaban!” (The mass movement will not stop raising the awareness of, organizing and mobilizing the masses just because a comrade died or was captured. Every martyr serves as an inspiration for continuing the struggle. While in detention, only the physical body is confined, the consciousness remains free and fighting.)

Malayao thanked all who have supported him. He asked them to support other political prisoners. The last part of his message reads, “Release Elizabeth Principe! Surface Leo Velasco!”

Malayao never missed the chance to give tribute to the late Anakpawis Representative Crispin Beltran. He called Ka Bel as an outstanding representative of the toiling masses and a great leader of the Filipino workers.

He also never forgot to mention the Arroyo regime. “Sa gitna ng tumitinding kahirapan, kaliwa’t kanang korapsyon at katiwalian, walang humpay na karahasang militar at pasistang pananalakay, lalo lamang nag-aalab ang paglaban ng mamamayang Pilipino. Sa malao’t madali, walang ibang tunguhin ang rehimeng Arroyo kundi ang kanyang pagkabagsak.” (Amid the worsening poverty, widespread corruption and irregularities, relentless military violence and fascist attacks, the resistance of the Filipino people ignites even more. Sooner or later, the Arroyo regime would face its downfall.) Bulatlat

Ka Bel: Proletarian internationalist, hero of the working class and the Filipino people

June 6, 2008

Message of the Central Committee
of the Communist Party of the Philippines

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) pays the highest tribute to Crispin “Ka Bel” Beltran, a great hero of the international proletarian movement, the international anti-imperialist movement, the militant workers’ movement in the Philippines, the toiling masses and the Filipino people. The entire CPP and the revolutionary movement it leads salute him as a fine and valiant proletarian leader.

His death on May 20, 2008 at the age of 75 is mourned by the oppressed. Along with the rest of the Filipino people, the CPP conveys its deepest sympathies to his bereaved wife Ka Osang and his family, friends and comrades in the struggle. The Filipino people likewise celebrate the victories they have won with Ka Bel. These triumphs provide great inspiration, strength and enthusiasm to carry on with the struggle.

In the veins of Ka Bel flowed the blood of Gat Andres Bonifacio and all the Filipino revolutionary heroes. Like our revolutionary ancestors, Ka Bel laid down his life for the cause of the toiling masses and the entire people against oppression, exploitation, plunder and bondage by foreigners, tyrants and rapacious elements. He offered his life and talents in advancing the struggle of the working class, the toiling masses, the Filipino people and the peoples of the world.

In the face of myriad sacrifices and trials, his steadfastness and enthusiasm never waned in championing the interest of his class and of the Filipino masses, in pursuit of a sovereign, just and prosperous future. Be it in the picket lines or in the halls of Congress, in the streets or in peasants’ fields, in rallies or in gatherings, Ka Bel had always been a true fighter who stood firm, daring and vigorous in waging the struggle for national liberation, democracy and socialism.

At a young age, he served as a courier for the patriotic guerrilla forces fighting the Japanese occupation during the Second World War. In his youth, he farmed and eventually found work as a janitor, gasoline boy, messenger, bus driver and taxi driver. At the age of 20, along with his fellow drivers at the Yellow Taxi Driver’s Union, Ka Bel staged a strike opposing the company’s unjust policies. Three workers were mercilessly killed and many others wounded when police forces brutally dismantled their picket line.

His fellow workers recognized Ka Bel’s bravery, strength and militancy and elected him union president. Ka Bel was among the pioneer organizers of Amalgamated Taxi Drivers Federation, and served as its president from 1955 to 1963. During the time of intense anti- communist witchhunts and repression of the legal democratic movement in the 1950s, Ka Bel stood strong in defense of the oppressed.

From 1963-1972, Ka Bel served as vice president of the Confederation of Labor Unions of the Philippines (CLP) that he founded with Felixberto “Ka Bert” Olalia, Feliciano Reyes and Cesar Lacarra, all militant labor leaders. He was also one of the founders of the Philippine Workers Congress, Katipunan ng Samahan ng mga Manggagawa (KASAMA), PACMAP and other workers’ organizations. The workers under their leadership relentlessly fought against capitalist oppression and exploitation as well as Marcosian repressiveness until martial rule was declared.

Ka Bel stood unfazed by the reign of state terror under the USMarcos dictatorship. He played a significant role in the formation of the Federation of Unions in Rizal and of the Philippine Nationalist Labor Organization (PANALO) that was later transformed into the Alliance of Nationalist Genuine Labor Organizations (ANGLO). These were all part of the preparations for the establishment in 1980 of a center for a genuine, fighting, anti-imperialist and militant labor movement in the Philippines—the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) or the May First Movement. Ka Bel served as the first secretary general of KMU and Ka Bert Olalia, the chairperson. In the 1980s, KMU’s membership swiftly ballooned from 100,000 to half a million workers.

Marcos felt seriously threatened by the growing strength of the KMU and the labor movement it headed. He attempted to suppress the KMU. In August 1982, he ordered the arrest and detention of Ka Bel and Ka Bert. They, however, remained symbols of the genuine, patriotic and militant labor movement, and even behind bars, stood as strong symbols of the opposition against the US-Marcos dictatorship.

Ka Bel manifested his bravery and resistance to the Marcos dictatorship when he managed to escape from his military guards in November 1984. He joined the armed revolutionary movement in Central Luzon where, as a member of the New People’s Army, he vigorously aroused, organized and mobilized farmers in the countryside. “Ka Anto” was his nom de guerre, drawn from the nickname of Crisanto Evangelista, a great labor leader and founding chair of the Communist Party of the Philippines in 1930. Ka Bel contributed immensely in forging a stronger worker-peasant alliance in the area.

When Marcos was ousted and the political situation turned relatively favorable for the open mass movement, Ka Bel surfaced and became active once again in KMU. He took over as chairperson following the brutal killing by the military in November 1986 of Rolando “Ka Lando” Olalia.

Ka Bel was also one of the founders of Partido ng Bayan (PnB) or People’s Party under which he ran for senator in 1987. Amid the repressive terror campaign and massive poll fraud by the ruling rotten politicians and the military forces, Ka Bel and the rest of the slate lost in the elections. He was also a National Council Member of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) or the New Patriotic Alliance which he chaired from 1993 to 1999.

Ka Bel remained KMU’s chairperson until 2003, after which he was proclaimed KMU’s Chairman Emeritus in recognition of his remarkable leadership and the inspiration he provided the workers.

As a labor leader, Ka Bel was active in supporting the workers’ struggles and championing the cause of the oppressed people in the country and abroad. He was frequently invited to participate in conferences in a number of countries and international forums. He persevered in the struggles of the world proletariat and the international solidarity of oppressed peoples against imperialist plunder, bondage and oppression. Ka Bel was the first chairperson of the International League of Peoples’ Struggle and its International Coordinating Committee in 2001 and became its Chairman Emeritus in 2004.

Ka Bel also served as vice president of Bayan Muna (BM) party from 2001 to 2003 and sat as one of its representatives in Congress after BM got the most number of votes in the party-list elections. Ka Bel likewise became the chairperson of Partidong Anakpawis upon its founding in 2004, and consequently became its representative in Congress from 2004 to 2007 and again from 2007 until his death.

As a representative in Congress, Ka Bel along with other progressive representatives was famed for his relentless criticism of the rotten ruling system and corrupt rule, in drafting bills and resolutions that promoted the national and democratic interests of the toiling masses and the Filipino people.

Foremost among the bills he filed was one calling for a P125 increase in the daily minimum wage of workers that was approved by Congress in 2007 after seven years of struggle. This was, however, later blocked by Gloria Arroyo and returned to Congress for the final kill by her minions.

Until his last days, Ka Bel pursued this bill especially in the face of the worsening poverty and hunger caused by the regime’s proimperialist and antipeople economic policies. On the day he died, Ka Bel, together with the other progressive solons, were preparing to pass a resolution calling for the removal of the EVAT from electricity charges. He was likewise active in pushing for the passage of the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill and deterring the Arroyo regime’s maneuver to extend the bogus and pro-landlord Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).

Within and outside the halls of Congress, Ka Bel was relentless and vigorous in his conviction to fight the rotten and puppet Arroyo regime. He was among the active proponents of the impeachment case against Arroyo in 2005. In October 2007, Ka Bel exposed the bribery attempt by members of Gloria Arroyo’s party on him and other oppositionist solons. They were offered several millions of pesos to support the fake impeachment case that was aimed at sabotaging the filing of the genuine and new impeachment case against Arroyo. He always joined rallies and similar protests in the streets, especially for the welfare of the workers and the toiling masses.

Ka Bel was awarded the title Filipino of the Year in 2002 by the Philippine Graphic Magazine in recognition of his tireless support for the welfare of the majority of power consumers and other of impoverished Filipinos. The same title was awarded to him by the Philippines Free Press in 2003 in his determination to take on the interest of the toiling masses. Every year, he was chosen as the Most Outstanding Congressman from 2002 until 2005. In 2006, he was included in the Congressional Hall of Fame.

In spite of the countless awards he received, Ka Bel remained an honest and humble worker, servant and people’s warrior. Inside an institution of the rotten system filled with billionaires and crooks plundering the nation’s wealth, Ka Bel took home not a single centavo for himself. In the Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth he submitted as a Congressional representative, he declared as personal “assets” his two barong tagalog, a few other clothes, a pair of eyeglasses and cabinets. He died the poorest among all congressmen.

Because of the militancy Ka Bel and the other progressive representatives displayed in the streets, in various arenas of protests, and even within the halls of Congress, Malacañang never stopped persecuting them by filing trumped-up charges against them.

The Arroyo regime arrested Ka Bel on February 25, 2006 and detained him for one and a half years. His body was weakened by incarceration and state repression so he was transferred to hospital detention. Ka Bel was only freed after 15 months when the Supreme Court junked the baseless rebellion cases filed by the regime against him and over 50 other progressive leaders and activists.

Upon his release and return to Congress, Ka Bel did not waste a single day and continued his fight against the Arroyo regime and the rotten system and in championing the cause of the toiling masses.

Ka Bel died in the midst of intense struggle and tireless resistance against repression, bondage and cruelty under the US-Arroyo regime and the entire semicolonial and semifeudal ruling system. In spite of his age and weakened constitution, Ka Bel remained very active in attending conferences and meetings here and abroad to strengthen the unity of the Filipino people and raise their militant consciousness and determination to end the rule of the puppet, brutal and rotten Arroyo regime.

He left us a golden legacy of militant struggle. Like his predecessors Ka Bert Olalia, Ka Lando Olalia, Ka Amado Hernandez, Ka Crisanto Evangelista and Ka Isabelo delos Reyes and other Filipino labor leaders, the memories and spirit of Crispin “Ka Bel” Betran will forever remain etched in the Filipino people’s collective memory.

His story is a wellspring of inspiration. His humility and simple living, courage and determination to fight marked his unwavering service to the masses in his desire to change, end exploitation and advance the struggle for national liberation and democracy.

Like many others from the toiling masses, he died while repairing his humble abode. In life and in death, he was a model of simple and dignified living and faithfulness to principles and struggle.

With clenched fists, the hundreds of thousands of members of the Communist Party of the Philippines, Red fighters of the New People’s Army and the millions of revolutionary people in the cities and countryside accord the highest tribute to Ka Bel.

Long live the memory, aspirations and struggles of Ka Bel!

Long live the working class!

Long live the toiling masses!

Love live the Philippine revolution!

Assassination by Hired Killers Failed Twice

June 3, 2008

The Philippine government tried to get rid of Communist leader Jose Maria Sison in Utrecht. The Philippine government sent hired killers to The Netherlands to kill the Communist Sison. Details are coming out now

BY FOLKERT JENSMA
NRC.NEXT
Posted by Bulatlat
Vol. VIII, No. 17, June 1-7,2008

The Hague.  They stayed in the Amsterdam budget tourist hotel Tourist Inn at the Spui [downtown Amsterdam], the members of the Filipino ‘hit team’ which came to The Netherlands in October 1999 in order to perpetrate a political murder. Their target was Jose Maria Sison, the rather elder Filipino Communist leader who has resided in Utrecht as an exile since 1987. Two men, with several thousand dollars cash and travelers  checks. They had landed in Frankfurt and travelled by train to Amsterdam.  There they bought two prepaid mobile cards and rented a car at Avis.

But the assassination of Sison was not committed. A second attempt with a second team, a few months later, also failed. The aspirant-killers first had difficulty in finding Sison. When they had found out his home, office and routes, they almost came into action twice. One time against the wrong person.  another time they got afraid and withdrew because Sison was walking, holding a child. Their rented car was also broken into – luggage gone. They gave a notification of this to the local police because of the insurance.

The killing was supposed be carried out with a knife and an axe. But it took so long  The teams lost courage, felt literally cold in The Netherlands and they got worried about home. They also found that they were conspicuous. The Utrecht people walked around in the cool spring weather just in T-shirts. They had thick jackets. And they had to hide therein the axe. Why did Manila anyway want that it had to be done with a knife? A real gun, that’s what they wanted!

The details come from the interrogation conducted by the Nationale Recherche [National Criminal Investigation] in the end of February 2008 at the American army base, Clark, in the Philippines with Jose Ramos (53). This person stayed for weeks over seven years ago in The Netherlands with the objective to kill Sison. He dropped out because he heard that back home he had been put on record as “deserted” [AWOL “away without leave”]. That made him afraid. He feared that the secret service would kill him after the assassination.

Sison himself had in the meantime found out about everything. His sources in Manila had informed him by letter. And he gave a detailed notification to the Utrecht police. This latter warned the AIVD [General Intelligence and Security Service], and after this everything remained still. No one was arrested. “Too few reference points,” says the Public Prosecutor’s Office later.

Until last week. Then the current lawyer of Sison, Michiel Pestman, came back from vacation. He found six new folders with testimonies on his desk. It looked like “the nth installment” in the procedure of the Public Prosecutor’s Office to get Sison in jail for a double murder in the Philippines. For against Sison there are the necessary complaints (see sidebar). But in the dossier there was a little gift: the curious declaration of Ramos – who appeared to incriminate himself, and so delivered the first proof that the attack [assassination attempt] earlier was real.

Ramos had kept the hotel bill and gave this willingly to the Nationale Recherche. The witness Ramos had contact with the [Philippine] secret service, from whom he received money and travel papers. And thus there was a connection with the Philippine government. Even a failed attempt at political assassination, according to Pestman, is a violation of the Dutch sovereignty by a foreign power.  Since when does a friendly country send death squads, to Utrecht, by the way?

The new information is for him also a chance to give a new turn to the Sison case. This Ramos and his travel companions must be extradited to The Netherlands. Or at least, in his estimation, they should be prosecuted in the Philippines. The Public Prosecutor’s Office says that the assassination was not carried out and thus it is not criminally punishable. But Pestman rejects the juridical argument of ‘voluntary withdrawal” [“vrijwillige terugtred”].  A ‘defective attempt’ remains criminally punishable if it is a grave crime which is committed ‘in association’. That was the case here. He now demands criminal prosecution.

In the dossier there was still something crazy. In one of the murders of which Sison is suspect, the police have discovered another suspect. A certain Edwin Garcia, also with connections to the secret service, who was supposed to also be in Utrecht. This man is supposed to have been recognized at the assassination of a renegade member of the party of Sison, a certain Kintanar. This person had gone over to the government side and appears to have organized the attack in Utrecht.

In that way, the ‘James Bond film’ was complete. The killing of Kintanar in the Philippines  could have been organized in order to put the blame on Sison. Sison is supposed to then have a double motive. Revenge against a traitor from one’s own circle who also tried to kill him in Utrecht.

Did Sison really do it or was he caught? There is no concrete proof for this. Only indications. Pestman points to official Philippine requests to The Hague to have Sison prosecuted. The suspicion against Garcia precisely takes the burden off his client. Just like the attack [assassination attempt] in Utrecht, it proves that the Philippine state wants to go very far to put Sison out of the way. However, the Public Prosecutor’s Office sees no connection between the cases.

Pestman calls the whole case a “stinking game” [“onwelriekend spel”]. Pestman is still making complaints against all the steps that the Public Prosecutor’s Office takes against Sison. Up to now, he is declared correct by the judges.  Against Sison there were insufficient serious complaints to seriously consider him a suspect. Pestman thinks that the case of the state is so weak that he would consider an interim dismissal disappointing. He prefers most a complete acquittal.

On June 10 the judge will issue a ruling on his complaint against the ‘notice of further prosecution’. Depending on that, the spokesman of the national office of the prosecutor says, “we are again evaluating the case”.

Sison on the EU-terror list

Jose Maria Sison causes a headache to the US and the Philippines already for decades. Since last year, the national office [of the Public Prosecutor] in Rotterdam tried to get Sison behind bars for the killing of two renegade members of his party in the Philippines.

The national office acknowledges that Sison was not in the Philippines during the time of the killings and that he has not spoken with the actual perpetrators. But because of his leading political role, it finds Sison to be a ‘functional perpetrator’ [‘functioneel dader’].

The Nationale Recherche, with American and Philippine support, carried out extensive investigation in the Philippines. Sison is since 2002 on the US and EU terror list. His bank account was blocked.

The EU Court of First Instance, part of the European Court of Justice, decided in 2007, that the listing on the terror list is unjust. The Council of Ministers however keeps him [on the list]. Sison was refused asylum in The Netherlands, but is tolerated because he cannot be expelled. Posted by Bulatlat

* This article is an unofficial translation sent to Bulatlat of an article that was published in a Dutch news magazine NRC.NEXT May 30, 2008.