Sison not covered by amnesty, says Esperon

By Cynthia Balana
Last updated 04:59am (Mla time) 09/06/2007

MANILA, Philippines — Self-exiled communist leader Jose Maria “Joma” Sison may not be covered by an amnesty proclamation for communist rebels which Malacañang will issue soon, according to Armed Forces Chief of Staff Gen. Hermogenes Esperon.


Interviewed by the Philippine Daily Inquirer during the celebration of the 50th National Day of Malaysia on Tuesday night, Esperon said he doubted if Sison himself would avail of the amnesty proclamation.


Esperon pointed out that Sison was being tried in The Netherlands for ordering the assassination in the Philippines of his former comrades, a crime under Dutch law.


“I think he will not be covered. It’s The Netherlands that is charging him with felonious acts. He may not be covered,” Esperon said.


Asked if Sison’s alleged crimes in the Philippines would be covered, Esperon quipped: “I think that’s something for the legal minds to study. Probably yes, but he is now facing charges in the Netherlands. So our amnesty will not cover any laws of other lands.”


US assistance


Sison, 68, founder of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), was arrested by Dutch police on Aug. 28 and ordered detained by a judge in The Hague.


A statement by Wim de Bruin, spokesperson of the Dutch national prosecutor’s office, said Sison was suspected of giving orders, from the Netherlands, to murder former communist associates Romulo Kintanar and Arturo Tabara.


The CPP and its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA), have been listed as terrorist organizations both by the European Union and the United States.


US Ambassador to the Philippines Kristie Kenney has said that Washington is willing to help the Dutch government prosecute Sison if the latter would seek US help.


AFP backs amnesty


At the Malaysian reception, Esperon said he expected more legal questions to crop up on the qualifications of applicants for amnesty once the proclamation was released and submitted to Congress for concurrence.


Esperon said the Armed Forces of the Philippines fully supported the amnesty proclamation as long as the rebels would return to the mainstream. He said the military was part of the discussions when the amnesty proposal was being considered.


Legal loopholes


“It’s OK with us if they come to the mainstream, except of course for certain crimes like rape, and crimes not in connection with political beliefs. Otherwise, we will go for that,” he stressed.


Former President Fidel V. Ramos, who also attended the Malaysian affair, said he, too, was for giving amnesty to rebels except for crimes committed not in furtherance of political beliefs.


Ramos urged Malacañang to carefully study the parameters of the amnesty program to avoid legal loopholes.


The National Security Council the other day approved the grant of amnesty to communist rebels willing to lay down their arms, in a move it hoped would hasten the conclusion of the stalled peace negotiations with the communist National Democratic Front (NDF).


The amnesty could also cover party-list representatives charged with rebellion for their alleged involvement in a conspiracy to overthrow the government in February 2006, Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza and National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales said.


Administration ploy


Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Satur Ocampo described the amnesty offer as “malicious … (and) consistent with the Red-baiting tactics of Malacañang against progressives.”


Ocampo reminded Gonzales and Dureza that the Makati Regional Trial Court had already dismissed the “Palace-fabricated” rebellion cases against him and 50 other co-accused.


“The trumped-up rebellion case against us has long been dismissed by the Supreme Court,” said Gabriela party-list Rep. Liza Maza.


Ocampo said amnesty “is a standard counterinsurgency ploy in light of the government’s declared goal to finish (off) by 2010 the Left insurgency (by) strategically defeating the New People’s Army.”


“(For) amnesty to be meaningful, (it) must form part of a comprehensive peace agreement and not a unilateral act of government in an ongoing armed conflict,” he said. With a report from Christian V. Esguerra



baby.jpgFAREWELL KISS. Navy Ensign Jeffrey Legaspi, 27, kisses his 4-month old son Genesis Matthew before deployment to Basilan with the 1st Naval Mobile Construction Battalion and the 355th Aviation Engineering Wing of the Philippine Air Force as part of the government’s humanitarian offensive. INQUIRER/REM ZAMORA

Activist’s Protest

protest.jpgNO, YOU DON’T. A police officer stops activist youth from staging a lightning rally in front of the US Embassy in Manila, to protest what they see as American intervention in the arrest of Communist Party of the Philippines founder Jose Ma. Sison by Dutch authorities. INQUIRER/REM ZAMORA

Soldiers discover 2 abandoned NPA camps

By Delfin Mallari Jr.
Southern Luzon Bureau
Last updated 06:51pm (Mla time) 09/02/2007

LUCENA CITY – Two abandoned camps, suspected to have been used by the New People’s Army, were discovered by government forces in the mountainous areas of Mansalay, Oriental Mindoro and General Nakar town in Quezon

In a report that reached Camp Nakar here, Major General Fernando Mesa, commander of the Army’s 2nd Infantry Division, said that on August 31, 2007, at 5:15 pm, a combat patrol led by one Lt. Arreola found the deserted rebel camp at Sitio Kulitob, Barangay (village) Balug, Mansalay, Oriental Mindoro.

Report said the camp estimated to accommodate more or less 100 people was abandoned just a few days ago.

The military said the camp maintained its own supply of electricity with the discovery of a spot where a power generator was believed to be previously placed.

Mesa disclosed that three days ago, a concerned Mangyan community leader informed government troopers that they were hearing sounds from a power generator coming from the direction of the campsite during night time.

The military decided to conduct operation and found the abandoned camp.

Another report to Lt. General Rodolfo Obaniana, commander of the military’s Southern Luzon Command, stated that on Saturday morning, government soldiers led by one Lt. Bermundo discovered another abandoned NPA camp located in the remote village of Umiray in General Nakar.

Report said the camp could accommodate about 100 rebels in its 10 huts of different sizes.

The area had six electric posts, 25-meter firing range, and a basketball court, which served as a lecture area.


Prior to the discovery of the rebel camp, soldiers from the 11th Special Forces Company, Special Forces Regiment (Airborne) of the Army’s Special Operations Command (SOCOM) led by one Staff Sergeant Tiauso raided a suspected rebel safehouse owned by a certain Bimboy Cantong at Sitio Campo also in Umiray

The raid resulted in the recovery of an LCD projector with accessories and a DVD player.

NPA rebels in disarray due to Sison’s arrest — military

By Christine Avendaño
Last updated 08:35pm (Mla time) 09/02/2007

MANILA –Military officials declared on Sunday that the arrest of communist founder Jose Ma. Sison in the Netherlands placed in disarray the New People’s Army after troops discovered in the past two days two large and recently abandoned NPA camps in Mansalay, Oriental Mindoro and in General Nakar, Quezon.


They also claimed that two days ago, 100 NPA members surrendered to authorities in Anabel in Sarrangani and turned in more than 100 firearms.


The first NPA camp, which could house 100 people, was discovered last Friday by the reconnaissance platoon of the Army’s 4th Infantry Battalion at Sitio Kulitob in Barangay Balug, Mansalay, Oriental Mindoro, according to a report by Maj. Gen. Fernando Mesa, commanding general of the Army’s 2nd Infantry Division.


The troops went to the area after they were tipped off three days ago by a “concerned” Mangyan community leader in the area upon hearing sounds coming from a generator from what turned out to be an NPA camp.


Mesa said the camp seemed to have been abandoned by the rebels just a few days ago.


The second camp was discovered Saturday at Barangay Umiray in General Nakar, Quezon by Army Scout Rangers, according to AFP Southern Luzon Command chief, Lt Gen. Rodolfo Obaniana.


Like the first camp, this camp could accommodate more or less 100 rebels.


The camp had 10 huts of different sizes, six electric posts, 25-meter firing range, a basketball court that also served as a lecture area, according to an Army report.


The discovery of the camp came days after a group of Special Forces raided an NPA safehouse in Sitio Vampo, barangay Umiray in General Nakar, Quezon.


Lt. Col. Ernesto Torres, the Army spokesperson, said the camp could have been used by NPA spokesperson Gregorio “Ka Roger” Rosal.


Having been assigned to the area before, Torres said he got information that the camp was where Rosal held “plenums” and large-scale training of rebel troops.


He also reported the surrender of 100 NPA rebels in Anabel, Saranggani, and the turnover of 100 firearms to authorities.


“Now we got the camp that they had used for their training. So we can say that they are in disarray and probably, the rebels were finding life difficult in the mountains and that was why many of them are now going down,” he said.


Asked whether this had to do with Sison’s arrest in the Netherlands last week, Torres said this was possible.


Capt. Carlo Ferrer, spokesperson of the Army’s 2ID, said the arrest of Sison prompted rebels to abandon their camps. He said the “dwindling support from the people” as well as the “relentless pursuit by government forces” combined with Sison’s arrest to demoralize rebel troops.

Reb leader’s widow: ‘I hope Sison is finally punished’

By Carla Gomez
Visayas Bureau
Last updated 02:13am (Mla time) 09/03/2007

BACOLOD CITY — The widow of slain rebel leader Arturo Tabara said she was “overjoyed” by the arrest of Jose Maria “Joma” Sison, founder of the Communist Party of the Philippines, in the Netherlands.


Veronica Tabara said the arrest of Sison on Tuesday and his trial in The Hague were the first steps in her “long and difficult quest” for justice for her husband and the “hundreds of others” whom Sison allegedly ordered killed over the years.


“I hope Sison who has seemed untouchable for so long will finally be punished for the death of my husband and so many others,” she said on the phone from somewhere in Metro Manila on Saturday night.


But Tabara acknowledged Sison’s right to due process.


She said she and Gloria “Joy” Kintanar, widow of Romulo Kintanar, filed the charges against Sison in The Hague last year for ordering the murders of their husbands.


The filing of the charges in the Netherlands was facilitated by the Department of Justice because Tabara said she did not have the resources to do it on her own.


Sison, who has been in exile in the Netherlands since 1987, was arrested at his home in Utrecht for allegedly ordering the assassinations of Romulo Kintanar and Arturo Tabara.


Tabara, chair of the breakaway Revolutionary Proletarian Army-Alex Boncayao Brigade (RPA-ABB), was killed by New People’s Army (NPA) hit men in Quezon City on Sept. 26, 2004, along with Stephen Ong, the boyfriend of Tabara’s daughter.


Kintanar, a former member of the CPP Central Committee and chief of its armed wing, the NPA, until his arrest in 1991, was shot dead on Jan. 23, 2003, in a Japanese restaurant, also in Quezon City.


The CPP has claimed responsibility for both killings, saying Tabara and Kintanar were engaged in “criminal and counterrevolutionary activities.”


Ideological differences


Tabara and Kintanar were erstwhile top communist rebel leaders who broke away from the CPP-NPA in 1992 over ideological differences with Sison.


Tabara formed the RPA-ABB in 1998 and entered into a peace agreement with the government under the administration of President Joseph Estrada in 2000.


Tabara’s widow said her husband, Kintanar and many of their comrades became disillusioned with the Stalinist approach of Sison that saw violence as an option for change.


She said she was aware that the day she and her husband, and many of their other comrades left the CPP-NPA, their lives were all in danger.


In fact, she said, she knew that her life remained in danger and that she had been taking security precautions against NPA hit men.


The widow said she was overjoyed to hear that Sison had finally been arrested because it brought a glimmer of hope that she would attain justice for her husband.


“Sison has been mainly responsible for ordering the elimination of those who have opposed his leadership,” she said.


The widow said it was also “hypocritical for the CPP-NPA to invoke human rights violations, when they have actively violated and failed to respect the basic rights of others.”

Camp of communist army

basketball.jpgNPA BASKETBALL COURT. Colonel Jorge Segovia shows to media the basketball court/conference area of an abandoned communist New People’s Army camp in Sitio Madarik, Umiray village, General Nakar town, Quezon province. PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER/RAFFY LERMA