Thursday, July 15, 2010

NPA Election Related Activities,National and Local Elections of 2010

The NPA, or "New People's Army" is a Maoist organisation founded as the armed wing of the CPP,or"Communist Party of the Philippines."Both entities being the handiwork of former U of P (University of the Philippines) professor, Jose Maria"JOMA"Sison.Sison, a native of Luzon founded the NPA in 1969 and it was not until 1971 and the dawn of President Marcos' Martial Law that the group truly branched out to Mindanao.

Philosophically the group offers very little original ideology,strictly patterning itself after Mao in all key areas.Juxtapose 95% of orthadox Maosim with Sisonian ideology and you have a perfect fit.Needless to say I will go into great detail about the organisation and its beliefs in future entries,for now I am just trying to catalouge all recent events,especially with regard to the 2010 Election this past May 10th.

To the NPA's credit it does not overtly interfere in election related goings on but does take a very proactive stance with regard to candidates.This year,as in elections past,the group has"sold""PTCs" (Permits to Campaign).A PTC enables a candidate who buys one to campaign relatively worry free in the NPA's AOR (Area of Responsibility,in this case synonymous with Area of Operations).Contrary to AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) claims,there was no evolution this year towards a"PTW,"or"Permit to Win."The AFP claimed that this year,instead of PTCs the NPA was selling their services to ensure that a given candidate would win a particular office by mobilising their"mass base of support"(civilian supporters).For candidates unwilling to pay the relatively steep fee (a minimum of 50,000 Pesos,roughly 1,000 Euros),they risked having their security details disarmed at gunpoint,weapons taken and for a recalcitrant few,they risked kidnapping.

The NPA's AOR on Mindanao is almost entirely in the northeast and the Davao Region,connected by the Diwata Mountain chain from Surigao del Sur Province down through ComVal (Compostela Valley Province) with a strong pocket in N.Cotabato Province towards the Bukidnon provincial line.The following incidents all took place in the northeast, unless otherwise noted.A note,the title"Ka"is idiomatically akin to"Comrade"and is a unisex appellation.A"Front"is equivalent to a military company and they operate within a given geographical zone.

Valentine's Day in the Philippines is all about hearts,candy and love...unless you happen to live on Mindanao. On our island it is one of many times each year when specific insurgent groups make regularly timed attacks. Valentine's' because it is of course associated with the Catholic faith,the dominant religion of the Philippines,is a day on which the MILF/BIAF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front/Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces),and to a lesser extent ASG (Abu Sayyaf Group) go on rampages.This Valentine's however the culprit was the NPA who launched a tactical operation in Barangay Sibahay in the town of Boston in Davao Oriental Province.Unfortunately,an innocent bystander, 13 year old Memilyn Moreno,was shot and killed.

March 11,2010 at 230PM in Davao City's Paquibato District,an NPA stronghold,an advance team for candidate Prospero Nograles was forced to stop at an NPA checkpoint.Although the occupants of the SUV were unarmed,in accordance with the COMELEC Election Season Weapons Ban,the team was made to exit their vehicle and walk out of the outlying district on foot.All campaign materiels which included personalised bottles of liquor with Nograles' face imprinted upon the label were"confiscated"by the guerillas (hiccup) from the NPA's Pulang Bagani Company 1 (PBC1),the company sized formation belonging to one of the oldest NPA Fronts on Mindanao,Front 53.

After proving their point,whatever that"point"may be,the NPA surrdendered the SUV at 8PM that evening,notifying 1 of Nograles' campaign workers where they could pick up the SUV which had been left in satisfactory condition.

The AFP's (Armed Forces of the Philippines) 69IB (Infantry Battalion) rationalised the incident as primarily being the fault of Nograles' advance team.Why?The workers didnt coordinate their movements prior to entering the sector, as all candidates and supporters are advised to do,so says the 69th's CO (Commanding Officer),Col.De Mesa.

On March 22, 2010,in the town of Sapang-Dalaga in Misamis Occidental Province,incumbent Mayor Donjie"Dondon"D'lonso Animas was stopped at an NPA checkpoint and found his security detail disarmed of four 45 caliber pistols.

On Saturday, April 10, 2010 at 420 PM in Sitio Kalayan in Barangay Malixi near the border of Barangay San Vincente in the municipality of Tagbina in Surigao del Sur Province,Tagbina's Vice Mayor Jessie Callano who was running for mayor was stopped at an NPA checkpoint by 30 guerillas from Front 14 led by Ka Tata.Ka Tata demanded that Callano, who had been resistant up until then,finally buy a PTC for P50,000 (1,000 Euros).Callano sent for the money and once it was received,in approximately 30 minutes,he and his entourage were released.Two 45 pistols were captured by the NPA.

That same day in in Barangay Mabuhay in the town of Tandag which is also in Surigao del Sur Province,incumbent Mayor Alexander"Ayek" (not "Ike" as it is usually listed by the media) Pimentel,the brother of the governor and running unopposed in Tandag,had his security detail disarmed at an NPA checkpoint manned by 100 guerillas but was released after 30 minutes.

On April 15,2010 in the municipality of Gigaquit which is ALSO in Surigao del Sur Province,Mayor Caloy Egay had his security detail disamred at an NPA checkpoint.One KG 9 and one 45 caliber pistol were captured.

On April 20,2010 in the town of Sibagat in the province of Agusan del Sur,Mayor Dr.Thelma Gonzaga Lamanilao had her detail disarmed as well at an NPA checkpoint.One KG 9,two 45 caliber pistols,one 9MM and two 38 caliber revolvers were captured.

April 22,2010 in Barangay Santa Juana in the town of Tagbina in Surigao del Sur Province,incumbent Mayor Donnel Villaluz Polizon and 4 of the Sangguniang Bayan (Town Council) found themselves and their very large security detail disarmed at an NPA checkpoint.No inventory of divested weapons available.

Sunday,April 25,2010 in Sitio Paklap in Barangay San Vincente in Bislig City in Surigao del Sur Province,200 NPA guerillas from Front 14 under Ka Dino stopped the 2 SUVs of Provincial Council candidates Natciso Curalde and Gertrude Cabatingan who were travelling in tandem for safety.The 2 candidates were en route to a rally in Hinatuan's Barangay Tidman but never made it though they were released unharmed after 3 hours,and after paying for PTCs.

Speaking of Hinatuan,on April 26,2010 a well known supporter of incumbent Mayor Candelario J.Viola Jr. was stopped at an NPA checkpoint manned by 60 guerillas from the afore mentioned Front 14,this time under the command of Ka Juniel.The mayor himself was returning from a rally in Barangay San Vincente but intelligently took an alternate route upon leaving the gathering.When it was discovered that the supporter was not with the mayor the disappointed guerillas allowed the man to leave unmolested,albeit after a stern dressing down.

On April 28,2010,Wednesday,on Road #13 in Sitio Mamparasan in Barangay San Roque in Bislig City in Surigao del Sur Province,at 11AM,incumbent Mayor Alberto M.Tan was stopped and had himself and his security detail disarmed at an NPA checkpoint.

That same day,at 2PM in Sitio Cadlum in Barangay Kabangahan in the municipality of Tago in Surigao del Sur Province, a political rally for incumbent Congressman Philip Pichay,Tago's outgoing Mayor Hermenegildo Pimentel Jr.and the man running to replace him,Henrich Pimentel was interrupted by 30 NPA guerillas from Front 30,under Ka Puma.The guerillas quickly disarmed the extra-large security detail and managed to capture four AK47s,three M16s and 1 each of the following pistols:45 caliber,9MM, and 40 caliber.Congressman Pichay,who rarely travels in his own district says that he was so shaken up that he will now pay the PTC in any future candidacies.

On May 1,2010,early Saturday morning in the town of Malimono in the province of Surigao del Sur,incumbent Mayor Teodoro Sinaca's home was surrounded by well armed gunmen who then proceeded to strafe it with M16s for about 30 minutes.Malimono's MPO (Municipal Police Office,as in PNP station) responded in force and an intense firefight ensued for another hour before the gunmen withdrew into the bush.3 members of the mayor's family were moderately wounded in the gunbattle.

This incident has been pawned off on the NPA by the AFP and PNP,but of course it is entirely not the modus operandi of the NPA to surround a home and just shoot 3 round bursts for a half hour.For one thing,the NPA pays P40 to 50 Pesos per round (1 Euro,more or less) and otherwise depends almost entirely upon captured ammunition.That is purely from a common sensical point of view.More to the point,though its SPARU squads (incorrectly spelled as "Sparrow," assasination squads,"Special Partisan Armed Units") would never place themselves in such a jeapourdising position, neither do they operate in larger than 5 man contingents and almost always in 3,composed of 1 shooter,1 back -up and 1 look out.Almost certainly this was entirely related to a competitor who I will leave to the imagination owning to the very strict libel laws we enjoy here in the Philippines).

On Wednesday,May 5,2010 as the sun rose over Agusan-Davao National Hiway,Lingig Mayor Roberto"Jimmy"Luna Jr.and his 4 man security detail pulled up to what they believed was a PNP Checkpoint in Barangay Pasi-an in the town of Monkayo in ComVal (Compostela Valley) Province,not too far from Trento on the Agusan del Sur Provincial Line and Agusan Marsh.Much to their suprise however,the checkpoint was manned by the NPA guerillas who disarmed the 4 man detail (2 AFP soldiers and 2 PNP officers) and kidnapped all 5 men,seizing both their SUVs.

The mayor,who was en route to Davao Doctors Hospital to visit an ill son was"charged"by the NPA with a variety of offences:

1) Murdering his predecessor,Mayor Amerosin V.Onsing in 2001

2) Murdering the Suazo brothers in 2007 in his town's Barangay Union

3) Burning out squatters on a 30 hectare plot of land in Barangay Pagbacatan

4) Doing the same on a smaller plot on Dahican Island

5) Embezzling 26 million Pesos from a Land Bank Loan to improve irrigation in his municipality.The 2009 loan is now wrapped up in legal proceedings with government prosecutors charging him as well so the headaches just keep piling up for Mayor Luna.

He and his detail,2 Pfcs from the 58IB:

1) Arnel Dizon

2) Jon Rey Abao

along with 2 Lingig PNP officers:

1) PO2 Boy de Castro

2) PO3 Alan Dapitanon

were moved 5 times during their 8 days of captivity but were treated fairly well they all say,and were released in a carefully orchestrated propaganda exercise on May 13, 3 days after the election.

On May 8,2010,Saturday,11AM on the Hinatuan-Bislig City Boundry Road, in Sitio Tandawan in Barangay Loyola on the Bislig side.Outgoing Governor Vincente Pimentel Jr'sconvoy of 3 SUVs was stopped at an NPA checkpoint manned by 90 guerillas.The Governor's security detail then proceeded to get into a heated argument with the guerillas as they were being divested of weaponry and the scene could have easily turned into one giant blood bath.Instead the guerillas captured four M16s,one MP5 and two 45 caliber pistols and allowed the convoy to proceed.

They had been coming from a meeting about Lingig's afore mentioned Mayor Roberto"Jimmy"Luna Jr. who had just been kidnapped days before.It is also worth mentioning that the Governor,who has reached his term limit was campaigning for the mayoralty of Carrascal in Surigao del Sur Province,and later ended up winning that election.

In Davao Oriental Province's municipality of Lupon on Sunday,April 11th,2010 at 3 PM,mayoral candidate Arfran Larrobis Quinones who had served as mayor in the past as well,was en route to a campaign meeting with supporters to Sitio Tiombokan in Barangay Marayag and had just entered Sitio Calatagan in that same barangay when 30 NPA guerillas from Front 18 under Ka Benjie stopped them at a checkpoint.At 6PM all except Quinones and Barnagay Chairman/Captain Pedro Rosito were released.The 2 were kidnapped victims were then released as ComVal Governor Arturo Uy began negotiations for their release.Both were released in good condition on April 13th at 8PM in that town's Barangay Kalatagan.

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