Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade, Jr., AFP Southern Luzon Command chief, CHR Commissioner Karen Gomez-Dumpit and Philippine Ambassador to the UN in Geneva Evan Garcia

It perplexes Southern Luzon Command chief, Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade, Jr., on why a ranking human rights official belittled a United Nations (UN) resolution endorsing support for ongoing government efforts to improve its human rights and accountability mechanisms. 

From what pedestal was CHR Commissioner Karen S. Gomez-Dumpit speaking at an interview by the ABS-CBN News Channel (ANC) saying that the United Nations formal statement “ran short of expectations of the human rights community”?

The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) issued a resolution last October 7 recognizing the Philippines’ domestic accountability institutions to address cases of human rights violations alleged by activists and interest groups following the accurate portrayal of the country’s human rights situation by international organizations led by Philippine Permanent Representative to the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva Ambassador Evan P. Garcia.

Contradicting the United Nations acknowledgment of her government’s human rights institution-building , Gomez-Dumpit said, “There has been no marked improvement of the human rights situation on the ground,”

“Other than the obvious political agenda of the CHR, what is the beef of Commissioner Karen S. Gomez-Dumpit for speaking against the findings and report of the UNHRC? Are they threatened that the CHR will soon be rendered irrelevant?” Parlade asked.

He added that CHR official need not be threatened by irrelevance because even as the government bureaucracy makes improvements on its human rights advocacy and performance, the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) still exists and is an endless source of acts of terror against the Filipino people.

“Why is Commissioner Dumpit having a hard time accepting the fact that the Philippines’ human rights situation has improved and is continuously improving?” Parlade said in a statement Sunday.

He also asked what the basis is for Gomez-Dumpit’s claims of lack of improvements on the ground.

“What is her basis for saying that nothing much has improved on the ground? Are they too dependent on what Chairperson Chito Gascon has been telling them? Have they become the mouthpiece for the lies of the Kamatayan (Makabayan) bloc and its allies like Karapatan?” he said.

He added that maybe what the CHR does is just merely take in all the “lies and fake reports of these ‘interest’ groups” whose goal is to destroy the image of the government and the country.

Parlade questioned the CHR’s refusal to meet and listen to the victims of NPA atrocities like the parents whose children were recruited by the communist terrorists and the Indigenous Peoples whose leaders were killed by the insurgents.

“The government through our permanent representatives in Geneva, led by Ambassador Garcia did a wonderful job at presenting the real score about the human rights situation in the Philippines. Instead of congratulating them, the CHR continues to cast doubt on the government’s ability to observe International Conventions on Human Rights and the International Humanitarian Law. Why does the CHR do this?” he said.

Actions like these, he said, could be likened to termites that actively destroy our homes while from under. “Who benefits when they do this? Certainly not the country but its enemies, the CPP-NPA and its allies?”

He also asked who benefits from efforts aimed at discrediting the government.

“And maybe at some point, Chito Gascon will find the courage to speak for the commission he heads, the CHR and not the subalterns he sends to the front lines to take the heat he ought to be taking. It just sounds so familiar- this cowardice,” he said.

Another Gabriela amazon falls

I felt an awful lump on my throat this morning when I read news that another Gabriela activist, Justine Ella Vargas, alias Star, died in an encounter in Mindoro with government forces. Vargas was with Platoon Serna, KLG, MAV, SRMA 4D of the New Peoples’ Army, a listed terrorist organization by the United States, European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines.

Justine Ella Vargas meets a violent death, fighting for the NPA, as Ka Star.

But not everything has gone hunky-dory.

Parlade, who is also a spokeman for the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), reports that the communist NPAs in Albay and Mindoro ambushed Philippine National Police (PNP) personnel recently. They also killed two Indigenous People (IP) leaders who were known rabid anti-communist advocates in Surigao.

These are isolated incidents and have been part of a bigger Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) plan, which they failed to execute for more than 10 months now, thanks primarily to the support of the people to the efforts of NTF-ELCAC.

According to Parlade, the incidents were virtually statements: “Bago man lang tayo malaos na nang husto, makabawi man lang kahit papaano.” (Before we really become so outdated dated, let’s eke out some little gains).

Actually, this is what the droves of surrenderees are saying. “Wala na ang dati naming suporta mula sa masa.” (Gone is the support we used to enjoy from the masses). Laying down of arms, no longer individually in unison of three or more, shows many of these fighters are convinced that they are a dying breed, and that now is the time to return to the fold of laws.

From covert to overt

While the attacks of underground units are waning, however, the efforts of the communist cadres aboveground persist, out of desperation to keep the movement afloat.

CPP cadres Ka Satur Ocampo, Representatives Carlos Zarate and Eufemia Cullamat, and the “Kamatayan” bloc reinforced by Karapatan, continue with their attacks on the bureaucracy keeping hostage government agencies’ budget at the Congressional hearings. After the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO), and the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency’s (NICA) came turn in the devil’s brew.

NICA chief Alex Monteagudo has minced no words that the Kamatayan bloc are members of the Communist Party of the Philippines.

What could be truer than this truth? As head of the repository of all intelligence of every government agency, he should know. Monteagudo is the most credible person to affirm what PCCO Undersecretary Lorraine Badoy and all have been saying all along.

One cannot be nominated by the CPP to any of the Kamatayan bloc party-list if they are not card-carrying members of this terrorist organization.

As members of the CPP they are responsible for everything that the terrorist NPA has done like the recent killing of IP Mandatory Representative to the municipal council Hawudon Jumar S. Bucales in Sitio Mamprasanon, Barangay Banahaw, Lianga, Surigao del Sur.

Datu Bucales was a former NPA member but who had become a staunch critic of the Communist insurgents for their exploitation of the Lianga people, helping many NPA rebels return to the fold of the law and live peaceful lives.

Earlier, the NPAs dragged Datu Bernardino Austidillo,73, a Manobo tribal chieftain and Zaldy Ibañez, 52, a Cebuano married to a Manobo tribe member, outside of their respective homes in Barangay Magroyong, San Miguel town, also of Surigao del Sur, bludgeoning them to death with a machete in front of their respective families.

It is not NICA or any of the government officials who red-tagged them; they are simply echoing what used to be their own had acknowledged and sworn to, that needs to be known by our people in order to protect their children from the exploitation of these groups, as well as prevent the indigenous peoples from further exploitation and harm.

These IP leaders have been instrumental in exposing the real agenda of the CPP alternative learning schools like Tribal Indigenous Peoples Surigao Sur (TRIFPSS) which were eventually closed by the Department of Education.

The counter-revolutionary acts of the two IP leaders so enraged the CPP/NPA that their kangaroo courts sentenced them to die, adding to the thousands of victims of CPP/NPA attacks in the past years.

Terror representation in parliament?

Parlade confronts  Partylist representative Bai Eufemia Cullamat to comment on these IP killings. She is the first Lumad member of the Philippine Congress, herself a Manobo from the mountains of Barangay Diatogon in Lianga, Surigao del Sur.

“Can she justify the pattern of killings of her constituents? Or will she be mum about this, knowing that her own siblings who are NPA members, or her husband who is also facing criminal cases, are responsible for the gruesome murders?”

Parlade also confronts representative Zarate, saying “when you invoke Republic Act 6713, and require public officials like DG Monteagudo of NICA, to act with professionalism and the highest degree of integrity, should that not in fact remind you that we are all in the same boat?

“Shouldn’t it tell you that as elected officials, even if nominated by the CPP, you should do what you can to protect our citizens from the atrocities being committed by the NPA? Shouldn’t it be your job too, to expose the identity of these terrorists who pose a big threat to our children? To our IPs? To the poor and marginalized?

“If you don’t because of your oath to the Communist Party of the Philippines, then you will be liable under Section 15 of the Anti-Terrorism Law for grave misconduct and disloyalty to the Republic and the Filipino people.”

Let the Kamatayan bloc, who are elected officials, explain their involvement in the CPP. Their membership in the CPP is legal so why deny it? But does it justify as well the illegal, murderous actions of the CPP/NPA?

These members of the Kamatayan bloc have forgotten that they too are public officials who have sworn allegiance to the Philippine flag. Their duplicity, however, requires them to take an oath too to the CPP constitution, with an M16 bullet gripped in a closed fist, to signify that they embrace the use of violence to achieve their end: to overthrow our democratic government and supplant it with a “democratic dictatorship” (CPP Constitution Art 3 Sec 7).

So with Satur Ocampo, who have time and again sat as part of the Kamatayan Bloc!

In hisAt Ground Level” column (Philippine Star, Oct.3, 2020), he asserted that the NTF-ElCAC is the prime purveyor of tagging activists and progressive people’s organizations as terrorists and enemies of the state. He leans on the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet’s deep concern about these incidents (red tagging leading to the killing of targeted individual groups or organs).

But with his involvement in the CPP underground, Ka Satur ought to know that all of these tagged organizations are indeed red, and armed and dangerous whether by guns or by conspiracy of propaganda and militant action.  

By virtue of their plans and actions, Parlade said, they all conspire to commit terrorist action and violate Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Law (ATL). The Kamatayan bloc all incite to commit terror acts by their speeches, writings, banners, in violation of Section 9 of the ATL. They also know they are guilty of violating Section 10 — recruitment to a terror organization.

All of them also know that most of the fabricated information provided to the UN came from CPP affiliates in the International League of Peoples’ Struggle, including Ibon Foundation and Karapatan, the objective of which is to continue to project that the Philippine government displays a consistent pattern of gross, flagrant abuse of authority — a tyrant.

“Towards what end”, Parlade asks “for Jose Ma Sison to invoke non-refoulement and evade the possibility of being sent home to answer for his continuing crimes of genocide and murder?”

Karapatan called on the AFP, PNP and NTF-ElCAC to disclose the advocacy groups and the Facebook accounts they are supporting, asking, “how much of peoples’ taxes they are spending on government fake online prop machinery taken down by Facebook.” Cristina Palabay of Karapatan has heaps of issues to explain about NPA violations of human rights.

Meanwhile, Parlade invites them to an open debate within the Philippines’ free democratic space.

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