Duterte mulls ceasefire termination after alleged NPA attacks

PRESIDENT RODRIGO R. Duterte is considering the termination of the unilateral ceasefire with the communist faction after the alleged attacks carried out by its armed groups on Dec. 23, the first day of the two-week truce, according to Senator Christopher Lawrence Go. “We have a problem right now. President Duterte heard about the encounter or ambush… if there is a violation, you can’t blame the President if he terminates the ceasefire on the part of the government,” Mr. Go, previously a long-time assistant of Mr. Duterte, said in mixed English and Filipino during an interview on Dec. 25 at an event at the Southern Philippines Medical Center in Davao City. The police and military reported that a soldier was killed while eight others were wounded in separate attacks allegedly carried out by the New People’s Army (NPA) in Camarines Sur and Iloilo. The NPA has denied the attacks, saying these were defensive actions. Mr. Duterte is still verifying the details of the incidents, according to Mr. Go. The government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) announced the unilateral and reciprocal ceasefires on Dec. 22 in observance of the Christmas and New Year holidays as well as pave the way for the resumption of peace talks.

Meanwhile, anti-communist rallies were held in various parts of the country on Thursday as the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) celebrated its 51st founding anniversary. In Davao City, rallyists carried placards with messages such as: “Stop the CPP-NPA-NDF,” “Stop recruiting our children (written in vernacular),” and “NPA pests.” The NDFP-Southern Mindanao also issued a statement lambasting Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio after the latter voiced her objection to the resumption of the negotiations between the government and the rebel group. The statement, signed by spokesperson Rubi del Mundo, said Ms. Carpio, daughter of the President, “displays a bent to rule with impunity, to subjugate the people’s will under the auspices of the fascist AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) and their imperialist masters by negating peace negotiations.” It added that the mayor “wrongly blames the alleged failure” of the talks on the rebels when it should be the military that should be blamed for tis “fascist forays into hinterland areas that violated (the government’s) ceasefire declarations which forced NPA units to engage in self-defense.” — Maya M. Padillo and Carmelito Q. Francisco

Guevarra says BuCor chief’s allegations not an ‘actionable offense’


JUSTICE SECRETARY Menardo I. Guevarra said on Thursday that the allegation of Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) Director-General Gerald Q. Bantag that most prison personnel are corrupt “does not constitute an actionable offense.” “DG Bantag’s statement that 95 percent of BuCor personnel are corrupt may have offended the sensibilities of those employees who are honestly performing their jobs in the bureau,” Mr. Guevarra told reporters in a text message. BuCor employees wrote an open letter to President Rodrigo R. Duterte asking him to fire Mr. Bantag for committing graft and corrupt practices, and also took exception to his claim. Mr. Guevarra said the “that statement by itself, in my opinion does not constitute an actionable offense, much less under the anti-graft law.” Nonetheless, Mr. Guevarra assured that the Department of Justice will continue “to monitor very closely both the BuCor’s rank and file (for any corrupt practices) and the management (for any abuse of authority) and take such action as may be appropriate.” Mr. Bantag was appointed in September by Mr. Duterte to replace Nicanor E. Faeldon, who stepped down following the controversy on the premature release of convicts of heinous crimes based on good conduct. BuCor spokesperson Gabriel Chaclag, meanwhile, said the open letter is “self-serving, — full of lies and false narratives,” and claimed that it was actually coming from just an “individual” who failed to get into “the good graces” of Mr. Bantag. “Where is corruption when all the DG wants is only good governance? Where is corruption when DG Gerald Bantag demanded honesty and love of country when doing your work?” he said in a mobile-phone message. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas