REPASO 2018: Dengvaxia scare, communist terrorism and the Martial Law

Marje Pelayo   •   January 1, 2019   •   2491

 

The trauma of the controversial Dengvaxia vaccine has caused the government the public’s trust to its other vaccination programs.

Measles cases in the country soared by more than 300% last year, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

This was because of the public’s fear of having the same fate as the alleged Dengvaxia vaccinees whose death remain uncertain to this day, according to Health Secretary Francisco Duque III.

“There is a significant drop in the confidence of our people in the immunization program of the DOH from 92% to measly 33%. Ang laki ng bagsak talaga,” Duque said.

It was a “lesson learned the hard way”, the DOH said, referring to the impact of the Dengvaxia controversy.

That’s why the agency wants to change how the public views of the agency.

 

A hearing on the controversial dengue vaccine

“Kung mag-i-introduce ka ng new health program, mag-i-introduce ka ng bagong bakuna,  bagong intervenyion kailangan talaga pag- aralan mo. Kailangan kompleto talaga ang iyong ebidensya. Kailangan alam mo ang magiging resulta. You have to communicate it properly doon sa mga recipients, kailangan naitindinhan din ng recipients kung ano iyong tinatanggap nila,” explained Health Spokesperson Undersecretary Eric Domingo.

But aside from the health concerns, the government also faced challenges in security this year.

President Rodrigo Duterte once again requested Congress to extend the declaration of Martial Law in the province of Mindanao for another year or until December 31, 2019.

IMAGE_UNTV_NEWS_110117_Marawi City

FILE PHOTO: Marawi City ruins (UNTV News)

According to Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, the extension is needed as terrorist groups like Abu Sayyaf, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighter (BIFF), Daulah Islamiya and other terrorist groups sowing fear in the region.

“We cannot turn a blind eye to the reality that Mindanao is still in the midst of rebellion,” Medialdea said.

Several lawmakers opposed the proposal but later on, martial law was extended for the third time in Mindanao since it was declared on May 2017 when the Maute terror group conquered Marawi City.

The communist New People’s Army (NPA) also remains a challenge to the Philippine government.

 

FILE PHOTO: New People’s Army in formation

The military revealed an alleged ‘Red October’ plot, an oust-Duterte movement allegedly formed by the communist rebels backed by opposition groups.The two groups denied the allegations but according to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), they have recovered documents in some encounters with NPA proving that they were plotting a destabilization against the government.

Meanwhile, the government did not declare a ceasefire this year even after the communist group announced their declaration of a unilateral ceasefire.

According to the Department of National Defense (DND) and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) they did not recommend to reciprocate the communists’ ceasefire declaration because leftists were not sincere of their intention and they would just use the ceasefire to strengthen their arms.

Meanwhile, a resolution was submitted to Congress calling the President to revive the peace negotiations with the Reds.

But the President remained cold towards the proposed resumption of peace talks.

Instead, he said he preferred to create a hit squad to match the NPA’s sparrow unit.

“So mag-create ako ng sparrow (unit), Duterte death squad against the sparrow,” the President said.

In December, the President issued Executive Order 70 which created a National Task Force tasked to eliminate the rebel group.

This, despite the continuous surrender of NPA members in different parts of the country through the efforts of military on localized peace talks. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Aiko Miguel)

Lacson advises DND, UP to set boundaries after pact abrogation

Robie de Guzman   •   January 19, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Senator Panfilo Lacson on Tuesday advised the Department of National Defense (DND) and University of the Philippines (UP) administration to come up with an agreement on boundaries to be observed following the termination of the 1989 deal banning the entry of state troops without prior coordination.

In a statement, Lacson said this is to “prevent the move from negatively affecting the culture of academic freedom in the state university.”

“Once the pact is terminated, what will the security sector do? We don’t know that yet. Probably they could come to an agreement that there are boundaries to be observed,” Lacson said.

He also warned the security sector that it might be “overstepping its bounds if the move is designed to muzzle the academic and other freedoms enjoyed by the UP community.”

“If it is designed to muzzle the academic and other freedoms being enjoyed by UP in general, you can describe it as that — overstepping,” he said.

The Department of National Defense unilaterally ended the 31-year-old agreement with UP, citing information that the New People’s Army is recruiting students inside UP campuses.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana explained that the deal is ‘obsolete’ and that UP has become “a breeding ground” and “a safe haven for enemies of the state.”

Lacson noted that during the Senate hearings on red-tagging, it was established that students are being recruited to the NPA not only inside UP but in other universities, to the point they are being killed in encounters.

For Lacson, a former police chief and current chair of the Senate committee on national defense, the DND’s move made sense as universities such as UP and the Polytechnic University of the Philippines have become a “hotbed of recruitment.”

“To join the militant organizations, that’s fine. You can protest all you want. But when you bear arms against government and you are very young, you are vulnerable, you are easily radicalized, and the hotbed of recruitment would be UP, PUP and other universities, then I think the security sector has studied all the factors involved before they acted on the matter,” he said.

But he added the termination of the pact will affect the culture of academic freedom in UP, whose community is known to be independent and involved in political issues.

“UP is known to be independent and they are involved in so many political issues. They enjoy so much freedom. And then all of a sudden you take it away from them, that really hurts,” he said.

“Definitely there will be outcry, protests and disagreements. Let’s see how it shapes up in the future,” he added.

Lorenzana earlier called on the UP community to “work together to protect our students from extremism and destructive armed struggle.”

Alleged NPA rebels killed in Rizal part of Joma Sison’s ‘death squad’, DILG says

Robie de Guzman   •   January 5, 2021

Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founding chairman Jose Maria “Joma” Sison

MANILA, Philippines – The five suspected members of the New People’s Army (NPA) killed in a shootout in Baras, Rizal in December 2020 were part of the death squads allegedly deployed by Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Maria “Joma” Sison, Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año said on Tuesday.

Año said the slain group of rebels were deployed in Southern Luzon to assassinate top national and local government leaders, and police and military officers over “blood debts.”

“We can now confirm that the five NPA members killed in Barangay San Juan, Baras, Rizal were part of a death squad that was supposed to carry out the directive of Joma Sison to assassinate government and civilian leaders,” the DILG chief said in a statement.

“Isang tagumpay para sa atin na napigilan ang mga ganitong mga operasyon ng NPA lalo pa’t ito’y isang tuwirang pagbabanta sa buhay ng mga pinuno ng bansa at maging ng mga sibilyan,” he added.

The shootout allegedly occurred as government troops were about to serve a warrant of arrest against Antonio “Dads” Cule for frustrated murder charges issued by the Regional Trial Court branch 65 in Infanta, Quezon Province.

Cule was tagged as the finance officer of an NPA unit that collected revolutionary taxes in Southern Tagalog.

CPP Central Committee Information Officer Marcos Valduena earlier said that “there is a standing order for the NPA to form partisan teams to meet out punishment against enemy units and officers who have committed bloody crimes against the people.”

Año said Sison’s move to deploy communist death squads to urban areas “intends to bring the NPA’s reign of terror in the countryside to the cities. “The PNP and AFP will do its utmost to protect the people from these terrorists in sheep’s clothing. We will crush these urban terrorist cells before they can begin their reign of terror,” he said.

The DILG chief urged the Commission on Human Rights and even the so-called Makabayan Bloc to condemn the deployment of NPA death squads in urban areas to prove that they are truly not members or fronts of the Communist Party.

He said that assassinations perpetrated by the NPA Death Squads are clearly extra-judicial killing “which the CPP is now bringing to the urban areas after decades of perfecting armed terrorism in the mountains.”
Año said the supposed deployment of NPA partisan units is a “clear and convincing proof that the Anti-Terrorism Council did the right thing in designating CPP and NPA as ‘terrorist organizations.’”

“Ngayon ay hindi na nila maikakaila ang kanilang tunay na kulay at motibo. Sila ay mga terorista na kailanman ay hindi naghangad ng kapayapaan kundi ang maghasik ng kaguluhan, pumatay ng mga puwersa ng gobyerno, para pabagsakin ang gobyerno,” he said.

In the 1980s, the CPP-NPA first deployed its “sparrow units” in urban centers and murdered hundreds of policemen, military officers, and civilians in Metro Manila, Cebu, Davao, Iloilo, and other areas to speed up its protracted people’s war, sow chaos, and bring down the government, the DILG said.

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

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