122 NPA members surrender to authorities in Bicol region

Marje Pelayo   •   October 10, 2018   •   7874

Rebel returnees surrender their arms for a new chance at a better life.

BICOL, Philippines (UPDATED) — A total of 122 members of the New People’s Army (NPA) have surrendered to authorities in Masbate.

They belonged to the rebel units operating in the areas of Sorsogon and Masbate.

They were presented to Secretary of National Defensse Delfin Lorenzana during the ceremonial granting of livelihood assistance to former rebels on Tuesday (October 9) under the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) of the Duterte administration.

“Target namin kasi dito i-improve ang peace and order. Iyan talaga all over. Actually iyon naman ang kanyang utos not only in one province kundi all over the country,” Lorenzana said citing the directive from President Rodrigo Duterte.

Female returnees were given sewing machines while male returnees received welding machines for their start up business.

They will get training from the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) on welding machine skills, small engine operations for males and rug-making for females.

The local government, meanwhile, announced that rebel returnees who are members of the E-CLIP will have their respective housing units by next year.

“If these things will materialize we can achieve peace not only in the province but in the entire country,” said Governor Antonio Kho Jr. of Masbate.

Among the rebel returnees was “Lyn” who had been a member of the NPA for two years.

She recalled how miserable her life was when she started serving the communist group at the young age of 14.

Because she is a natural achiever, she had once been entrusted with the group’s budget.

“Kalimitan po pinagbabawalan at saka pinagduduhan po ang bawa’t isa sa amin,”she said.

“Lyn” said she is now enjoying her new-found freedom though she regrets losing a part of her youth to communist service.

“Dito po nagagawa ko yung nagagawa ko pero po doon hindi po kasi… nagsisi rin ako don kasi hindi ako nakapag-aral,” she lamented.

Temporarily, all 122 rebel returnees are staying in halfway houses located within the compound of the Masbate Provincial Police Office.

Based on national statistics, the Bicol region holds the second largest number of rebel returnees in the country next to Davao province in Mindanao. — Marje Pelayo (with reports from Allan Manansala)

Lorenzana tells UP officials: Explain deaths of UP students in military ops vs NPA

Marje Pelayo   •   January 20, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana expresses the government’s willingness to negotiate over the termination of the 1989 pact with the University of the Philippines (UP) barring state forces from entering university premises.

However, the Defense chief said the University must first explain the number of students being killed in military operations against the New People’s Army (NPA).

“I am open to dialogue with them. Pero sagutin muna nila kung bakit namatay ang mga taong ito kasama ng NPA. This is a list of students of UP from all UP campuses na namatay during the encounters with the Armed Forces,” Lorenzana said referring to a list of UP students who were killed in encounters fighting by the side of the NPA.

“Explain to me bakit nangyari ito sa kanila. Why did they fail to protect this young kids enjoining this organization?” the official added.

Without an acceptable explanation from the UP officials, Lorenzana said there is no reason for dialogue.

“As a parent, I really feel sad na mamatay sila ng ganito. So explain nila iyan. If they can explain that we will talk. If not then forget it,” he added.

Lorenzana said their decision to end the UP-DND pact is not only to protect the students from being lured by the NPA but also to implement equal protection of the law.

The Defense Secretary also stressed that it was not to curtail the students’ right and freedom of expression. 

“We do not suppress legitimate dissent. This morning when you wake up nakakapag tweet kayo. You can form demonstration there. Nobody will touch you,” Lorenzana said.

“Ang ayaw namin ay itong mga nagtatago dyan at nagre-recruit ng mga bata, binibigyan ng baril at makikipaglaban against the government,” he added.

Meanwhile, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Spokesperson MGen. Edgard Arevalo said he doesn’t see any violation of the law with the termination of the accord.

The Supreme Court defines academic freedom as the academic institution’s freedom to choose and accept instructors, design their own curriculum and manner of teaching, and who can enroll into the university.

“Academic freedom is enshrined in the Constitution not in this agreement,” Arevalo stressed.

The UP administration is yet to issue a statement on the issue. MNP (with reports from Lea Ylagan)

Duterte backs Lorenzana ending accord with UP; alumni air side

Marje Pelayo   •   January 19, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte supports the decision of Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana to terminate the decades-long agreement with the University of the Philippines (UP) prohibiting the entry of state forces inside its campuses without prior coordination with the school administration.

“Si Sec. Lorenzana is an alter ego of the President. Of course, the President supports the decision of Sec. Lorenzana,” Roque said.

According to Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, the government welcomes any appeal to reconsider the decision. However, it will depend on how UP President Danilo Concepcion justifies the matter.

Meanwhile, a group of students in UP Diliman campus staged an indignation rally on Tuesday (January 19) to condemn the Department of National Defense’s (DND) decision to end the accord.

Among those who joined the protest were members of the College Editors Guild of the Philippines, students and members of AnakBayan.

The group claims such a decision is a clear suppression of their rights and freedom.

“Nangangamba po kami kapag na-abrogate itong UP DND Accord ay mas mawala ang proteksyon ng aming campus para pasukin ng mga militar at pulis at magkaroon sila ng mga operasyon sa loob, at siguro arestuhin kung anuman gawin nila sa aming mga estudyante sa loob,” said UP student Vincent Empal.

“Nandoon nga po ang pagtutol dahil siempre gusto po natin ng espasyo na malaya tayong makipagtalakayan, malaya tayong mag manifest ng ating kritisismo,” said Esmer Dansel, also a UP student.

Meanwhile, UP Diliman student Council Chairperson Froilan Cariaga claims many times that the state forces did violate the provisions of the accord such as the arrest of 8 students in UP-Cebu while in a demonstration inside campus.

Some alumni also expressed their side on the issue.

Sorsogon Governor Chiz Escudero said the DND is ‘barking at the wrong tree’ with its decision and that the government should learn to ‘fight a good fight.’

Former UP professor Danilo Arao, for his part, challenged his fellow alumni and colleagues who are members of the Duterte Administration to condemn the termination of the agreement.

Vice President Leni Robredo, meanwhile, slammed the DND for unilaterally terminating the 1989 agreement and claimed it was meant to “sow fear” and “silence criticism.

“Clearly, then, this is not a practical gesture, but a symbolic one. One designed to sow fear. One designed to discourage dissent. One designed to silence criticism,” Robredo said.

Despite the outrage, Lorenzana maintains that the decision to end the UP-DND accord of 1989 aims to carry out the state security forces’ mandate of protecting UP students and the general public from the influence of the ‘enemies of the state’ particularly the Communist Party of the Philippines – New People’s Army (CPP-NPA).

UP President urges DND to reconsider scrapping UP-DND agreement

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 19, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — University of the Philippines (UP) President Danilo Concepcion has urged Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana to reconsider the termination of the UP-DND agreement.

Concepcion on Tuesday (January 19) lamented that the DND did not consult the UP administration regarding the termination of the agreement which he said has a ‘chilling effect’ on the students.

Syempre maging mahirap iyong mayroon silang pangamba na baka mayroong bigla na lang aaresto sa kanila or makikialam sa ginagawa nila (Of course being worried about sudden arrests or having someone interfere with their activities is always hard), he said.

“May I urge you, therefore, to reconsider and revoke your abrogation, and request further that we meet to discuss your concerns in the shared spirit of peace, justice, and the pursuit of excellence,” Concepcion added.

Lorenzana said UP is becoming a ‘safe-haven’ for enemies of the state, making it necessary to terminate the UP-DND agreement. This also hinders the government in protecting students from the recruitment of leftist groups.

“During  the life of the agreement the University of the Philippines has become the breeding ground of intransigent individuals and groups whose extremist beliefs have inveigled  students to join their ranks to fight against the government,” he said in a statement.

Meanwhile, the Philippine National Police (PNP) assures proper coordination with the UP administration will be done before police personnel enters the school premises.

PNP Spokesperson Ilderbrandi Usana also said the national police also aim to protect students from criminal activities, including drug syndicate.

“The PNP seeks to build stronger collaboration among stakeholders to protect campuses against criminal activities, drug syndicates, and shadowy organizations that promote and espouse Local Communist Armed Conflict against government thru force and violence.” he said.

The UP-DND Accord was launched in June 1989 during the term of former President Corazon Aquino. It is also known as the Soto-Enrile Accord which was signed by student leader Sonia Soto and former Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile, following the incident of the disappearance of student activists inside the UP campus during martial law. -AAC (with reports from Lea Ylagan)

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