AFP Chief meets with Muslim leaders in Metro Manila to discuss anti-terrorism efforts

Aileen Cerrudo   •   October 27, 2020   •   175

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief Gen. Gilbert Gapay met with Muslim leaders in Metro Manila to discuss anti-terrorism efforts in the country.

Gapay said the meeting aims to join the forces of the military and Muslim leaders to curb terrorism and other criminal activities that plague the country.

“Our common aspiration is for the good of everyone. Peace, development, security and stability for our country is our primordial concern,” he said.

The AFP official also said the military wants to boost communication with all communities to give the public a better understanding of the military’s goals, especially when implementing anti-terrorism guidelines.

He also wants to further protect schools and orphanages against possible terrorist group recruitment.

“It is also our common aspiration to protect and shield the educational institution, including madaris (Islamic schools) from unscrupulous sectors of society,” Gapay added. AAC (with reports from Lea Ylagan)

No holiday truce with communist rebels, AFP says

Robie de Guzman   •   December 3, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Thursday said it will not recommend to President Rodrigo Duterte a ceasefire with the communist rebels this holiday season.

In a statement, AFP spokesperson Major General Edgard Arevalo said that many times in the past, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA), have shown its “incapacity for sincerity” as they allegedly continue with their hostile acts despite the ceasefire declaration.

“This was the AFP’s painful experience where the communist terrorist group reneged from their own ceasefire declaration by attacking and killing soldiers on humanitarian and peace and development missions,” Arevalo said.

“During the incumbency of a truce, these terrorists continued their extortion activities and committed crimes of murder, arson, and the likes,” he added.

The military official said the communist rebels only venture on peace talks to “give themselves the chance to regroup, refurbish, recruit new members, and recoup their losses.”

Arevalo also claimed that Luis Jalandoni, a National Democratic Front negotiator, had supposedly declared that they push for peace negotiations not really to bring peace but to pursue armed struggle.

“And with these many hard lessons of the past, we will not allow them to trample upon our people’s bona fide desire for peace – not this holiday season – not until we have decisively defeated this menace to society,” he added.

Arevalo, however, said that the AFP would support the decision of President Rodrigo Duterte despite their position on the matter.

Last year, the government and the CPP-NPA both declared a truce during the holiday season, from December 23, 2019 to January 7, 2020.

Bayan Muna lawmaker condemns ‘desecration’ of daughter’s remains

Aileen Cerrudo   •   November 30, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Bayan Muna Party-list Rep. Eufemia Campos Cullamat condemned what she called a “desecration” of her daughter’s remains by the military.

Cullamat’s 20-year-old daughter, Jevilyn Cullamat was killed in an encounter between the military and the New People’s Army (NPA) in Surigao del Sur.

The lawmaker reiterated that she respects her daughter’s decision to join the NPA but slammed the military for taking a photo of Jevilyn’s remains along with other paraphernalia recovered by soldiers.

“Mariin kong kinokondena ang ginawang pambabastos at pambababoy sa labi ng aking anak. Hindi siya bagay, hindi siya isang tropeo na ipaparada para lamang sa propaganda ng militar (I strongly condemn the desecration and disrespect toward my daughter’s remains. She is not an object or a trophy that will be paraded for military propaganda),” she said in a statement.

Kilusang Mayo Uno also condemned the “desecration of the dead” and has appealed to the media to stop posting the images.

“We appeal to the media to refrain from posting pictures of what is clearly the military’s desecration of the dead,” their statement reads.

Meanwhile, the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NPA-ELCAC) has sent its condolences to Cullamat’s family.

Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana also called on the other members of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and NPA to surrender to the government.

“The death of 22 year-old armed rebel Jevilyn Cullamat during an encounter between the New People’s Army (NPA) and government forces is a grim reminder of the effects of the fruitless armed coflict perpetrated by these communist terrorist groups,” he said.

“We call on our representatives in the Makabayan Bloc and all those who condone the atrocities committed by the NPA to denounce the divisive ideology that destroys lives and property,” he added. AAC

AFP, PNP: Tiamzons’ conviction a victory for Reds’ victims

Robie de Guzman   •   November 27, 2020

Wilma and Benito Tiamzon

MANILA, Philippines – Military and police officials on Friday lauded the conviction of Benito and Wilma Tiamzon on charges of kidnapping and serious illegal detention, calling it a victory for the victims of the communist group.

In a statement, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesperson, Major General Edgard Arevalo said the court’s decision is “a victory for the many victims of atrocities of the NPA particularly orders to conduct murder, arson, extortion, ambushes, bombing and the like that they orchestrated.”

“They were convicted ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ by the Regional Trial Court 216 of Quezon City for the crime of kidnapping and serious illegal detention,” he said.

The Tiamzon couple is believed to be ranking officials of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF).

The Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 216 found the couple guilty of kidnapping and serious illegal detention. They were sentenced to reclusion perpetua or up to 40 years of imprisonment.

The Tiamzons were also ordered to pay damages and civil indemnity to the complainant amounting to P225,000.

“The AFP will continue to hunt them down after they have violated the provisions of their temporary liberty by virtue of their being nominated as consultants in the peace negotiations with the government. They refused to submit themselves to the government after the peace negotiations did not prosper,” Arevalo said.

He also vowed that the AFP would continue to strengthen its resolve to bring other criminals to justice in honor of the victims of the violence perpetrated by the CPP-NPA.

Meanwhile, the Philippine National Police (PNP) called the conviction of Tiamzon couple a triumph of justice.

“It is also another success story on the efficiency of our prosecutors of our investigators who secured the validity of evidence presented during trial. Of course, it is also a manifestation of the sins committed by the communist terrorists against our people,” PNP spokesperson Brigadier General Ilbrandi Usana said in a statement.

Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año also lauded the conviction of the Tiamzons, recalling the efforts to track down and arrest the couple when he was just a military captain.

“I’m very happy malaki kasi yung hirap ko diyan sa paghuli niyan I was the chief of ISAFP (Intelligence Service of the AFP) when they was arrested in March 2014. I just cannot recall the exact date March 20 or 21, I spent half of my career looking for this couple started I was Captain,” he said.

The couple was arrested in 2014 in Cebu City after many years of hiding. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Dante Amento)

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