Young NPA fighter thankful for being saved by the ‘enemy’

Marje Pelayo   •   November 6, 2019   •   939

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines — Rebel combatant alias ‘Kent’ was lost for words over his experience in the hands of his “enemies” – the soldiers of the 29th Infantry Battalion – after an encounter in San Isidro, Santiago, Agusan del Norte.

‘Kent’ sustained three gunshot wounds during the crossfire on November 2.

The soldiers captured him as he could no longer walk due to his injury.

He thought that was the end for him.

“Naka-set na sa isip ko na papatayin ako talaga kasi susuko (I set my mind that I would be killed if I surrender),” he said in his local dialect.

“Ang sabi nila kapag may giyera, papatayin ka kapag nahuli ka ng Army (They say in war, you will be killed if the Army captures you),” he added.

But to his surprise, the soldiers brought him to a nearby hospital and while gasping for air, he heard the soldiers telling him to hold on and try to survive.

The young NPA fighter is now recovering from his wound while the military is working on the possible assistance he may receive once he officially decommissions from the rebel group.

“Ang una nating ginagawa ngayon ay maka recover muna siya (What we are focusing on first is his recovery),” said Maj. Francisco Garelllo, the spokesperson of the 402 Infantry Brigade, Philippine Army who handles the case of alias Kent.

‘Kent’ was recruited to the New People’s Army (NPA) when he was only 16 years old.

He realized he spent his two years fighting for the wrong side.

He said he has decided to return to the government and start a new life with his family.

 “Sinasabi naman nila sa akin na, ‘Dapat mabuhay ka kasi sisikapin naming mabuhay ka,’” Kent said of the soldiers who rescued him.

“Kaya pinilit ko ring maka-survive,” he concluded. – MNP (with reports from Dante Amento)

Duterte threatens to declare martial law if NPA attacks continue

Marje Pelayo   •   April 24, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte emphatically threatened to declare martial law if ‘lawlessness’ and attacks by New People’s Army (NPA) will continue against government forces escorting aid distribution in villages amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis.

In his public address aired on Friday (April 24) the President said he is directing the military and police for that matter.

“I am now warning everybody and putting notice to the Armed Forces of the Philippines and police. I might declare martial law and there will be no turning back,” President Duterte said.

Army officials have reported recent attacks by NPA rebels on government relief operations such as in Aurora province and in Davao City, killing two soldiers and wounding two others, respectively.

According to the Constitution, any part of the country may be placed under military or martial rule “in case of invasion or rebellion, when the public safety requires it.”

On April 16, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), the political arm of the NPA, announced that it was extending the unilateral ceasefire with government forces until the end of April to give priority to COVID-19 response. MNP (with inputs from Rosalie Coz)

READ: Ceasefire extension with NPA up to Duterte, anti-insurgency task force – Palace

Palace condemns NPA violation of ceasefire amid COVID-19 truce

Aileen Cerrudo   •   March 30, 2020

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo

Malacañang has condemned the New People’s Army (NPA) for violating ceasefire amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) threat in the country.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) reported a clash between the military and the NPA in Rodriguez, Rizal on Saturday (March 28). One soldier and one fighter of the NPA were reportedly killed during the encounter, while two more soldiers were injured.

“This armed attack by the NPA against our soldiers exposes the insincerity of the former in declaring a ceasefire as well as their blatant disregard of the welfare of the Filipino people they claim to fight for,” according to the statement of the Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo.

The Palace warned enemies of the state against violating the law.

“The constituted authorities are equipped and ready to repel any and all transgressions of law and crush any armed attack against our soldiers and civilians with ferocity and might,” Panelo said.

READ: Joma Sison concedes to UN’s call for a global ceasefire

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) has ordered all commands and units of the New People’s Army (NPA) to observe a nationwide ceasefire with the government amid the growing COVID-19 threat.

The said truce began on March 26 and supposed to last until April 15.

The United Nations (UN) called for a global ceasefire on March 23 so the world can focus on fighting the coronavirus pandemic. AAC

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.

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