PH Army accuses NPA of violating ceasefire deal

Robie de Guzman   •   December 26, 2019   •   294

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Army is accusing the New People’s Army (NPA) — the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) — of violating the ceasefire agreement following reported attacks on government troops this week.

Philippine Army Commanding General Lt. Gen. Gilbert Gapay called the attacks “senseless” and slammed its timing when the nation is celebrating the holiday season.

The Philippine government and the CPP declared a ceasefire beginning midnight on December 23, 2019 until January 7, 2020 as part of the possible resumption of the stalled peace talks between the two parties.

“We are one with the government and the people’s desire to a just and lasting peace in the entire country. In light of this development, other means of peaceful resolution such as localized peace talks need to be considered,” Gapay said in a statement

“We just hope that the CPP-NPA will not miss this opportunity by staging these senseless attacks, especially during a time when the nation celebrates the season of love, peace and unity,” he added.

The Army chief said separate attacks believed to have been perpetrated by the NPA were launched in Camarines Norte and in Iloilo just after the declaration of holiday ceasefire.

He said troops belonging to the 92nd Division Reconnaissance Company in Labo, Camarines Norte were on their way back to their base in observance of the Suspension of Military Operations when they were ambushed.

Minutes later, a police patrol vehicle was attacked using improvised explosive device in Tubungan, Iloilo.

The attacks left one soldier dead, and eight other security forces injured.

The CPP and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines earlier insisted they have not violated the ceasefire deal, and assured to check the veracity of the reports on the supposed ceasefire violations.

SC prohibits police from surveilling family of alleged NPA member

Robie de Guzman   •   February 27, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court has banned the Philippine National Police (PNP) from monitoring or surveiling the family of an alleged member of the New People’s Army (NPA) who was killed in San Jose, Antique in 2018.

The Supreme Court en banc, voting 8-5-1, granted the petition for review on certiorari filed by Vivian Sanchez assailing the 2018 decision of the San Jose Regional Trial Court (RTC) to deny her petition for writ of amparo.

In a 19-page ruling promulgated on October 15, 2019, the SC issued a permanent protection order prohibiting members of the PNP to monitor Sanchez and her children, and reminded respondent police officers to uphold the citizens’ rights, and conduct investigations according to their manuals.

In August 16, 2018, Sanchez learned that her estranged husband, Eldie Labinghisa, was among the seven alleged NPA members who were gunned down by the police in Barangay Atabay.

She said that when she first went to the funeral home to verify the news, she was unable to identify her husband’s body as police officers stationed there took her photos without her permission.

When she went back the next day, police allegedly threatened to arrest and charge her if she refused to answer their questions. She claimed that police officers even showed up at her house and tailed her even after confirming that the body was of Labinghisa.

The court also said that Sanchez’s 15-year old daughter categorically stated that police cars have frequently driven by their house.

On August 24, 2018, Sanchez filed a petition for writ of amparo before the San Jose RTC, alleging that the police officers’ constant surveillance of her and her family made them fear for their safety.

The RTC issued the writ of amparo and a temporary protection order but was later lifted after the judge found during summary hearing that she was unable to specify acts that threatened her security and liberty.

The lower court’s decision prompted her to bring the case to the Supreme Court.

In its ruling, the SC concluded that Sanchez did not merely imagine the threats against her and her family.

“The totality of obtaining circumstances likewise shows that Vivian and her children were the subject of surveillance because of their relationship with a suspected member of the New People’s Army, creating a real threat to their life, liberty or security,” the court said in a decision penned by Associate Justice Marvic Leonen.

The court considered Sanchez’s apprehension at being targeted as a suspected NPA member as palpable and understandable, causing her to “act suspiciously” as claimed by the respondent police officers, who subjected her to threats and accusations.

In deciding whether or not Sanchez was able to prove with substantial evidence her entitlement to the privilege of a writ of amparo, the SC found that the totality of her evidence undoubtedly showed that she became a person of interest after she had first visited the funeral home, where her photo was taken.

“Whether [Vivian]’s photo was actually posted and distributed at the police station or was just taken for future reference, the taking of the photo bolsters [Vivian]’s claims that she was being monitored by the police,” the court said.

“While pursuing rebels is a legitimate law enforcement objective, the zeal of our police must be bound by the fundamental rights of persons, especially the loved ones of persons in interest. After all, the values we have in our Constitution are what differentiate us from lawless elements,” the court further stated.

Army and BAVI set livelihood and job opportunities for retiring soldiers

Aileen Cerrudo   •   February 10, 2020

The Philippine Army together with the Bounty Agro Ventures, Inc. (BAVI) has set livelihood and job opportunities for retiring soldiers.

During their meeting on February 6, BAVI and the Philippine Navy’s Army Personnel Management Center (APMC) discussed job vacancies for retiring soldiers in their companies which include safety officers and farm managers.

“They are willing to hire the qualified retirees and retired soldiers provided they pass the hiring process,” according to the Philippine Army in a statement.

“BAVI also mentioned about poultry contract growing as small scale business opportunity for the soldiers who are about to bow out from the service,” the statement further reads.

APMC Director Col. Eliglen F. Villaflor said even retired soldiers can be great assets to any organization.

“Aside from the training, military schooling and other skills our army personnel acquired while in the service, our army soldiers are also very disciplined, loyal, and dedicated to the duty or task given to them,” he said.—AAC

Army provides assistance to Taal eruption-hit areas

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 13, 2020

The Philippine Army provided assistance to residents in areas of Batangas and Cavite that are affected by the Taal Volcano eruption.

The Philippine Army Headquarters sent around 20 military vehicles and 120 personnel to assist residents while units of the 2nd Infantry “Jungle Fighter” Division and the 202nd Infantry “Unifier” Brigade are placed on red alert.

Commanding General Philippine Army Lt. Gen. Gilbert Gapay said medical teams, signal capabilities, and ready reserve units from the National Capital Region (NCR) are all on standby for further deployment.

“We assure the people that the Philippine Army is fully able and ready to help in this time of need. Along with our partner agencies, we will do everything we can and employ our capabilities to bring the affected families to safety,” he said.—AAC (with reports Lea Ylagan)

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