High-ranking NPA leader killed in clash with military in Compostela Valley

Robie de Guzman   •   November 28, 2019   •   1101

MANILA, Philippines – A high-ranking leader of the New People’s Army (NPA) was killed in a clash with government troops in Compostela Valley on Wednesday, the military said.

The NPA official, identified as Marjun Taba or “Hiker,” was killed in a brief firefight with forces from the 10th Infantry Division and personnel from the Philippine National Police Laak.

The military said Taba resisted arrest when government troops served him six warrants of arrests in his safe house in Barangay Kapatagan.

Taba earlier “refused negotiations” with local government units and government troops for his peaceful surrender, the military said.

“Notwithstanding the local government, our units on the ground, and his family’s efforts for him and his NPA cohorts to surrender, they continued to be with the terrorist group and continuously terrorize communities in the boundaries of Compostela Valley, Agusan del Sur, and Davao del Norte,” Lt. General Felimon Santos Jr., Commander of Eastern Mindanao Command was quoted as saying in a statement.

“We are offering them to peacefully surrender, if they refuse and continue with their violent means, we will employ all legal means to run after them. They can never run away from the long arm of the law, more so with the strong resolve of the government to end the armed conflict,” he added.

Taba was the deputy secretary of the CPP-NPA’s Sub-regional Committee 4, Southern Mindanao Regional Committee. He faced arrest warrants for murder, attempted murder, rebellion, serious illegal detention, double murder, and double frustrated murder.

Military recovered from the encounter site Taba’s caliber .45 pistol, and two International Humanitarian Law banned anti-personnel land mine.

The report comes after the arrest of another top NPA leader Jaime Padilla while seeking a medical treatment in a hospital in San Juan City.

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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