Author Archives: Philippine Peace Center

Peace spoilers block crucial talks; but provoke greater clamor for genuine peace

Rey Casambre – Philippine Peace Center
December 29, 2018

Photo: Raymond Panaligan/Altermidya

AS THE YEAR draws to an end, the militarists, hawks, and peace spoilers are celebrating and congratulating themselves for a string of major victories and accomplishments this past year.

It was in mid-June when they succeeded in aborting the resumption of the 5th round of formal talks between the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP)

In the nick of time, they blocked the signing of the Interim Peace Agreement (IPA), a breakthrough and unprecedented deal that would have included a presidential proclamation or general amnesty for political prisoners, an agreement on coordinated unilateral ceasefire, and agreements on Agrarian Reform and Rural Development (ARRD) and National Industrialization and Economic Development (NIED), the two most crucial sections of the CASER (Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms).

The agreement would have led to the release of the 500+ illegally arrested and unjustly detained political prisoners, as well as an Interim Joint Ceasefire which the GRP had long demanded as an “enabling environment”. Likewise, the IPA would have started the formal talks on political and constitutional reforms.

The two negotiating panels had managed to craft and initial tentative drafts of the IPA and its three components in discreet backchannel talks held from March to June 2018. This by itself was remarkable considering that Pres. Duterte had issued months earlier Proclamation 360 declaring the termination of peace negotiations with the NDFP, and Proclamation 374 declaring the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and New People’s Army (NPA) terrorist organizations in accordance with the Human Security Act.

After postponing and eventually cancelling formal talks, the GRP imposed preconditions for its resumption: the talks should be held in the Philippines with no foreign third party, the NPA should stop its attacks and collection of revolutionary tax, and should be confined to “areas of stay” even without a ceasefire agreement, and there should be no demand for a coalition government. All those preconditions are in violation of the 1992 The Hague Joint Declaration, and were aimed at scuttling the peace negotiations itself.

Pretending to pursue the talks on another track, the GRP used as pretext for postponement the need to “review the drafts and documents”, and “engage the bigger table of stakeholders,” e.g. local communities, LGU’s and CSO’s (civil society organizations). Local peace talks will be prioritized over national talks.

The same pretext was resorted to by the Arroyo government in 2008 and by the Aquino III government in 2014. In 2008, the GRP announced it was shifting to a “new framework” — disarmament, demobilization-reintegration (DDR). In 2014, GRP said it “was no longer willing to return to the regular track,” referring to talks in accordance with The Hague Declaration. In both instances, the GRP suspended and never returned to negotiations on CASER.

The real intent was to terminate the negotiations de facto and revert to the pre-1992 counterinsurgency framework. Military pressure and psywar will be employed to divide and weaken the “rebel” forces and entice them to lay down their arms and surrender.

At this point the peace spoilers and wreckers appear to have dealt the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations a decisive, lethal blow.

With initiative and momentum on their side, they launched in July a renewed and more vicious campaign of demonization and crackdown on the legal democratic movement. A long-discarded and discredited murder case against progressive leaders Satur Ocampo, Liza Masa, Rafael Mariano, and Teddy Casino was revived. All former Party List Representatives, they allegedly ordered the NPA in 2001 to assassinate their political rivals. The case was quickly dismissed after the judge who ordered their arrest inhibited herself amid universal disbelief and outrage. But it served as a stark omen and a grim warning of things to come.

A wider but less publicized net of redtagging had been cost earlier in February. The DOJ filed a petition in court to proscribe the CPP and NPA as terrorist organizations listing 650 plus names of alleged officers and members of the CPP and NPA. Topping the list were the NDFP chief political consultant Prof. Jose Ma. Sison, negotiating panel senior adviser Luis Jalandoni, four members of the negotiating panel, and several consultants directly participating in the negotiations. Thrown in were scores of leaders of people’s organizations and well known progressives including the UN special rapporteur for indigenous peoples and other officers of international agencies. The list was bloated by names of long-dead persons and hundreds of aliases.

The actual crackdown on the legal democratic movement came in September. The red-tagging was escalated to a terrorist-tagging hysteria. The AFP “exposed” an alleged Red October plot to oust Duterte. Prominent peace advocates Satur Ocampo and Rey Casambre were singled out as orchestrating the ouster plot supposedly hatched by the CPP. The AFP fabrication was so ludicrous and baseless that Department of National Defense (DND) Sec Lorenzana’s and Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Albayalde’s initial reactions were that they had no intelligence verification of the alleged plot.

The AFP’s Red October tall tale supposedly involved a broad range of personages (including senators, congressmen and a former Chief Justice), organizations from nearly the entire political spectrum and broad alliances. The common denominator was opposition to the Duterte government’s policies, programs and conduct, especially the rising tyranny and continuing martial law, rampant extrajudicial killings, disappearances, illegal arrest and detention perpetrated with impunity in relation to the anti-drug war and COIN campaigns, etc. But the DND/ AFP and the DILG/PNP focused their red-tagging and terrorist-tagging on the national democratic organizations of workers, peasants, youth, women, indigenous peoples, church people and various professionals, Trade unions, schools and universities. Even churches and hospitals were marked as recruiting ground for the “communist terrorists”.

In the final quarter of the year, the AFP/ PNP went on a rampage arresting NDFP peace consultants and their companions at the time of arrest in flagrant violation of the GRP-NDFP Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG). All arrests were conducted using spurious search and arrest warrants and illegally planting firearms and explosives to serve as evidence of criminal non-bailable offenses.

In November, even NDFP negotiating panel senior adviser Luis Jalandoni and Panel Chairperson Fidel Agcaoili were threatened by DILG Sec Ano with arrest should they arrive in the Philippines for a scheduled meeting with the new Norweigan Ambassador and to attend to NDFP JMC (Joint Monitoring Committee) matters. This despite the fact that there is no standing case against Agcaoili in the Philippine courts.

All these underscore the GRP’s blatant intent to go to all lengths to totally wreck the peace negotiations.

Also in November, the Sagay massacre and Talaingod incident showcased how government agencies such as the DSWD and DOJ are being harnessed to support the counterinsurgency operations including the crackdown and attacks on legal and unarmed personalities, organizations and legitimate protest actions and other activities. Top AFP generals have also routinely been appointed to head civilian agencies upon retirement from military service.

All these are in line with the National Internal Security Plan (NISP) 2018 aiming purportedly to “end the communist insurgency” along the “whole of nation approach” by mid-2019. Part of the plan is to junk the peace negotiations. By their measure, the peace wreckers are on track and right on schedule.

Who are they kidding?

Every top AFP and PNP general, especially the authors of NISP 2018, knows that there is nothing really new in their strategy. They were commissioned as fresh lieutenants when the Marcos dictatorship was at its dying throes. And rose up the ranks implementing one failed counterinsurgency campaign after another.

What they seem not to realize nor comprehend is that every single “victory” they celebrate is bound to backfire on their objectives. Their lies, either out of sheer arrogance or desperation, are so blatant they only ultimately serve to surface and highlight, by contrast, the truth. Every human rights violation raises calls for justice. Each drop of blood spilt by the victims makes fertile the ground for resistance against tyranny and oppression.

Contrary to AFP claims ad nauseam, the NPAs are not “surrendering in droves”. Forced to admit that their reported figure far exceed their own data on NPA strength, the AFP lamely clarified the “surrenderees” were not all NPA fighters but supporters or members of their mass base. Even that claim has been widely exposed as farce, and the AFP perpetrators are the first to know this.

The much-ballyhooed “local peace talks” or talks with local NPA commands on the ground never materialized. Not a single local command heeded the GRP call for talks to “address the roots of the armed conflict on the ground”. On the contrary, several NPA commands issued statements rejecting the GRP call.

As state forces heighten repressive measures with impunity, vested interests are emboldened to ram through more anti-national and anti-people programs. The continuing TRAIN law, Charter Change, martial law extension and the extrajudicial killings are only the most recent examples. All largely unpopular, they undo and reverse hard-fought democratic and patriotic gains achieved through people’s struggles. They push the country’s politics and economy deeper into crises that no amount of suppression can contain nor deception can conceal.

What’s in store for the peace talks in 2019?

Despite the GRP’s abandonment and scuttling of peace negotiations, the crying need for upholding, protecting and defending human rights and international humanitarian law, basic social, economic, political and constitutional reforms to attain a just and lasting peace shall continue to remain high on the national agenda and discourse.

Peace advocates, including the entire legal democratic movement in calling for the resumption of peace talks, honoring all agreements and addressing the roots of the armed conflict. They are undaunted and unfazed by all the red-tagging, terrorist tagging and repressive attacks. They continue to hold the high moral ground and gain more adherents.

The GRP is bound to reconsider as it is incessantly confronted and besieged in all possible arenas of struggle, both armed and unarmed. The negotiating table will increasingly become a palatable and practical option.

The NDFP has repeatedly and consistently declared it remains open to the resumption of talks provided these are in accordance with The Hague Joint Declaration and all other prior agreements and shall seriously negotiate basic reforms.

Peace advocates and all peace-loving people share this confidence, optimism and aspiration for a truly free, democratic, and just Philippine society.

Rey Casambre is the executive director of the Philippine Peace Center and a consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) Negotiating Panel for the peace negotiations. He was arrested along with his wife Cora by operatives of the Crime Investigation and Detection Group of the National Capital Region on several trumped-up charges. He is currently detained in Camp Crame.

Gov’t urged to resume peace talks with Reds

Jeannette I. Andrade, Marlon Ramos
Philippine Daily Inquirer
05:35 AM December 10, 2018

Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano on Sunday said the Duterte administration’s decision to forgo the possibility of forging a peace agreement with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) was tantamount to “abandonment of duty.”

“The government must never say that they are hopeless about peace. It is an abandonment of duty to resolve social ills that led the insurgents to incite protests,” Alejano said in a statement.

Alejano, a former Marine captain, said the national government should hear the valid concerns of insurgents and deal with these without resorting to violence.

“We should not set aside peace talks because it involved the overall security of the people,” the Magdalo representative said.

Major differences

After initially accommodating the CPP and members of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, its political wing, President Rodrigo Duterte opted to pull the plug on the peace negotiations between the two groups due to major differences in pursuing the peace process.

The President, who had previously openly praised the CPP, also lambasted its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA), for attacks on government troops as he threatened to form his own “Duterte death squad” to kill communist rebels.

As the government remained firm on its rejection of any truce for the holidays, the Philippine National Police on Sunday said the communist rebel leadership was “out of touch with what’s happening” in declaring its own ceasefire.

No ceasefire

In a radio interview, Chief Supt. Benigno Durana Jr., PNP spokesperson, maintained that the unilateral ceasefire declared by the CPP central committee is a mere “propaganda” and is another deception by the revolutionary organization.

For his part, Col. Noel Detoyato, Armed Forces of the Philippines public affairs office chief, reiterated that the military would not declare a ceasefire for the holidays.

Arrest of peace worker dooms talks with Reds

Delfin T. Mallari Jr.
Philippine Daily Inquirer
07:26 AM December 09, 2018

LUCENA CITY — The arrest of National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace consultant Rey Casambre is another nail in the coffin of the peace talks between the government and the communist rebels.

NDFP chair Fidel Agcaoili said on Saturday that Casambre was the fourth NDFP consultant to be arrested this year.

“The Duterte regime’s unjust arrest of Casambre on ludicrous charges virtually closes the doors to any possibility of resuming the peace negotiations,” Agcaoili said in a statement.

Casambre, 67, and his wife Patricia Cora, 72, were arrested in Bacoor, Cavite, on Friday while on board their car on the strength of a warrant for murder and attempted murder issued by a regional trial court in Lupon, Davao Oriental.

Peace worker

He is also the executive director of the nongovernment Philippine Peace Center, and his wife a translator for the group.

Both suffer from diabetes.

Police claimed they recovered from Casambre a .45-caliber pistol, a fragmentation grenade, detonating cord and several bullets.

“As was done to the other arrested NDFP consultants, the arresting team planted firearms, ammunition and explosives in the Casambre’s vehicle to ensure their prolonged and unjust detention,” Agcaoili said.

The crime of murder is ordinarily nonbailable, unless the court finds weak evidence to warrant prosecution.

Bigger plan

Illegal possession of firearms, however, is ordinarily bailable under Republic Act No. 10591, but the possession of explosives or any of its parts is nonbailable under Republic Act No. 9516.

Agcaoili said three other NDFP consultants—Vicente Ladlad, Adelberto Silva and Rafael Baylosis—were also arrested on similar charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives.

All of them are still detained pending the resolution of their cases.

Silva was arrested with four others in Santa Cruz, Laguna, on Oct. 15, while Baylosis was arrested in Quezon City, on Jan. 31.

Agcaoili said the arrests were part of a bigger plan to harass people who contributed to the peace negotiations.

The Communist Party of the Philippines said the harassment signified President Rodrigo Duterte’s “worsening fascist clampdown and de facto martial law rule” to suppress opposition groups.


‘Reign of terror’: Peace advocate, wife arrested

Delfin T. Mallari Jr., Maricar Cinco
Philippine Daily Inquirer
07:03 AM December 08, 2018

CLAMOR FOR PEACE / NOVEMBER 25, 2018
Peace advocates gather at a forum “Clamor for Peace, Defend Human Rights: A gathering calling for the release of detained peace consultants, the resumption of the GRP-NDFP peace talks” held in Quezon City. The group wants to strengthen the call for the government to pursue just and lasting peace.
INQUIRER PHOTO / NIÑO JESUS ORBETA

SAN PEDRO CITY—A group of peace advocates described as a “bleak time for peace” the arrest of Rey Claro Casambre, a consultant of communist rebels in peace talks with the government, and his wife on what the group said were fabricated charges.

Casambre, 67, was the fourth consultant of National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) in peace negotiations to be arrested this year.

He is also executive director of nongovernment group Philippine Peace Center (PPC) where his wife, Patricia Cora, a 72-year-old retired math teacher, is a translator.

Both suffer from diabetes.

Persecution

Bishop Reuel Marigza, of United Church of Christ in the Philippines and also organizer of the group Pilgrims for Peace (P4P), said the only reason he could think of for Casambre’s arrest was “he is being persecuted for his involvement in the peace process by a government that seems no longer interested in peace but only wishes to wage a brutal war against the people.”

“It is a bleak time for peace as a reign of terror is engulfing the whole country with attacks on human rights taking a toll on human rights defenders, community leaders and peace advocates,” he added.

Kristina Conti, of Public Interest Law Center (PILC), said the Casambres were on their way home to Bacoor City, Cavite, when their car was stopped on Molino Boulevard in the village of Niog a little past midnight on Friday.

The couple had come from the wake of geologist Rolando Peña at the University of the Philippines Diliman in Quezon City.

Quoting Casambre, Conti said the couple were, at gunpoint, asked to step out of their car as police searched the vehicle.

Police report

A police report said Rey had a warrant for arrest for murder and attempted murder issued by Judge Emilio Dayanghirang III of the Regional Trial Court Branch 32 in Lupon, Davao Oriental.

“Incidental in the service of the warrant of arrest” was the seizure of a .45-caliber gun, a fragmentation grenade, a detonating cord and several bullets, the police report read.

The couple were detained in Camp Crame, the Philippine National Police headquarters.

Conti said the recovered firearms were planted.

The PNP, said PILC managing counsel Rachel Pastores, “aids and abets the scuttling of peace talks” by rounding up NDFP consultants, “harassing those involved in peace negotiations and demonizing them unnecessarily.”

Police had arrested other NDFP consultants Rafael Baylosis, Adelberto Silva and Vicente Ladlad.

Rey Casambre was a political detainee in the early 1990s and had been active in back-channel talks with the Duterte administration for a peace pact.

Peace role

Bishop Marigza, in a statement on behalf of P4P, said Casambre’s role in peace talks was just to “rally the participation of the primary stakeholders—labor, peasant leaders, activists and human rights defenders in the discourse.”

The statement said the arrest of Casambre and other peace advocates showed an “intent to silence dissent” and “deprive the people of their capacity to resist government policies that are detrimental to their interests and the interest of our nation as a whole.”

The charges against Casambre, the P4P statement said, “defy common sense.”

Edre Olalia, NDFP legal consultant, said in a statement that the arrest was “predictable, baseless and treacherous.”

Contrived

Olalia said the arrest of the Casambres had again proven that the Duterte administration “cannot be trusted.”

Olalia maintained that Casambre is covered by the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees.

“As contrived as expected, a roving firearm and a rusty grenade were again routinely planted to make the arrest appear aboveboard for good measure,” said Olalia.

“Nobody would ever believe such false narrative,” he said.

“All these would boomerang in the long run,” Olalia added.

Free the Casambres! Free all political prisoners!

Submitted on Sat, 12/08/2018 – 12:10

Another peace consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) was illegally arrested on the evening of December 7, 2018. Peace consultant Rey Casambre, 67, was arrested along with his wife, Patricia Cora Casambre, 72, while on their way home in Cavite. Both were brought to the Philippine National Police (PNP) headquarters at Camp Crame, Quezon City. Rey Casambre is the 7th NDFP peace consultant arrested under the Duterte regime.

FREE REY AND CORA CASAMBRE! HANDS OFF PEACE ADVOCATES!

Statement of AGHAM
(Advocates of Science and Technology for the People)
December 8,2018

AGHAM condemns the treacherous arrest and continuing unjust incarceration of our fellow S&T and peace advocates Rey Claro Casambre and his wife, Patricia Cora Casambre. The elderly couple were on their way home in the wee hours of December 7th from a tribute paying homage to their friend and fellow scientist for the people Rolando Pena at the UP National Institute of Geological Sciences when they were forced off their vehicle by 11 heavily armed men on 5 separate vehicles. They were slapped with malicious trumped-up charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives, with Rey later outrageously charged with murder, and remain in the custody of the PNP-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) in Camp Crame.

Rey and Cora were both scholars of the then National Science Development Board (NSDB) – now known as the DOST – at the University of the Philippines with Cora taking up Mathematics in 1966 and Rey, Physics in 1971. They were also co-teachers at UP Baguio where Cora was teaching Mathematics after previously teaching in UP Tarlac, and Rey was teaching Physics after his time with the Philippine Atomic Energy Commission in Diliman.

Not content with studying and teaching Physics and Math, the Casambre couple were fervent students of the fermenting social realities at the time, and were eager to help enunciate the role of science and technology (S&T) amid a backdrop of a backward and pre-industrial economy. Both were in the first National Conference on the State of S&T in the Philippines held around 1971 in UP Baguio. Rey would be later present in the forum-launching of Luis Jalandoni’s State of S&T in the Philippines in 1997.

At the time of their arrest, Rey and Cora were both tireless workers of the Philippine Peace Center (PPC), where Rey serves as Executive Director. Since the signing of The Hague Joint Declaration in September 1992, which served as the framework agreement on peace negotiations between the Philippine government (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), Rey has been active in the peace process, and can be seen in different fora and media platforms pushing for the successful continuation and completion of the GRP-NDFP peace talks. In the past year, he has been active in pushing for the signing of agreements under the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms – what could have been a landmark document that would have spelled significant reforms such as agrarian reform and rural development, and the development of Philippine national industries that would vastly benefit the S&T sector in the country.

That is why we find it outrageous that the two steadfast peace advocates are slapped with outlandish charges of illegal possession and murder. Only peace spoilers eager to peddle their fantastic narrative would find logic in the couple having in their possession a caliber 45 pistol with magazine and live ammunition and a fragmentation grenade. It is even more outlandish to believe that Rey is involved in murder more than 1,000 kilometers away in Davao Oriental.

AGHAM joins the calls of fellow peace advocates for the immediate release of Rey and Cora Casambre. We call on the dismissal of their ludicrous trumped-up charges, and urge the Duterte administration to pursue the path of peace instead of harassing, red-tagging, vilifying, and persecuting peace advocates and scientists for the people.##

PPC Executive Director Rey Casambre and Wife Arrested! Free The Casambre Couple!

Arkibong Bayan:  A few hours before they were arrested on their way home, peace consultant Rey Claro Casambre and wife Patricia Cora Casambre had attended the program at UP celebrating the life of S&T friend, Rolando Peña, chair of the Geology Board of Examiners.

 

Both studied at the University of the Philippines as scholars of the National Science Development Board (now DOST) — Patricia, Mathematics, 1966; and, Rey, Physics, 1971, respectively. Patricia taught Mathematics first at UP Tarlac and later at UP Baguio; Rey, taught Physics at UP Baguio after a short stint at the facilities of the Philippine Atomic Energy Commission in Diliman. Both participated in the first National Conference on the State of Science and Technology in the Philippines in UP Baguio in 1969.

 

When arrested on the evening of December 6, both have been working at the Philippine Peace Center (https://philpeacecenter.wordpress.com/). Rey is the Executive Director while Cora works as translator and researcher. They are long-time peace advocates who have closely monitored the peace process between the GRP and NDFP. Rey has been a frequent speaker in many fora organized by groups pushing for the peace talks. He has also granted media interviews on the same issue.

 

 

Karapatan Urgent Alert:  Peace consultant and Philippine Peace Center Executive Director Rey Casambre, 67, and wife Patricia Cora Casambre, 72, were arrested last night. The two were brought to the PNP CIDG-NCR Office in Camp Crame, Quezon City. Their lawyers have not been given information on the charges against the couple. #StopTheAttacks

 

PILC:  The illegal arrest of the fourth peace consultant in 2018, Rey Casambre, together with his wife Cora, by peace spoilers betrays the government’s insincerity in the peace negotiations.

We now fear for the safety of others involved in the peace talks. Among them, clients Alexander and Winona Birondo who were part of the NDFP delegation and whose cases were recently dismissed by a Quezon City trial court. The Birondo spouses have reported intense surveillance and harassment.

By rounding up all peace consultants, harassing those involved in the peace negotiations, demonising them unnecessarily, the PNP exploits their badges as law enforcers, and aids and abets the scuttling of the peace talks. It has become nothing more than an instrument of repression.

Reference:
Atty Rachel F. Pastores, managing counsel, PlLC (counsel for the Casambres)
09279219539