Armed lumad group warns media from covering CPP anniversary

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 26 Dec) – An alleged leader of the armed group Magahat Bagani Force warned journalists to refrain from covering the 47th founding anniversary of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) on Saturday.

Every December 26, the CPP in Mindanao would usually invite a large number of journalists to cover its anniversary in the mountains.

“Maayong adlaw sa tanang media sa Mindanao, among ipahibalo nga kung kinsa man ang magtambong sa anibersaryo sa CPP/NPA/NDF nga taga media among apilon ug ambush. (Good morning to all media people in Mindanao. We would like to inform you that whoever joins the anniversary of the CPP/NPA/NDF we will include in the ambush),” said a certain Bobby Tejero, who claimed to be a commander of the armed lumad group, in a text message on Friday.

He said that they will consider the media practitioners covering the celebration as among the members of the NPA.

“Kay kun mutambong sa maong anibersaryo nagpasabot nga linya sa NPA, mao ng kinahanglan walay magtungas nga media arun dili maapil sa gira (Because if you attend the anniversary, that means to say you are with the NPA. That’s why, it is necessary that none of you will go up the mountains, so that you won’t be caught in the crossfire,” he said.

Some media practitioners in Davao City received that same message.

Tejero claimed there is an ongoing spat between their group and the New People’s Army (NPA).

“Gira nga NPA batok sa armadong lumad MAGAHAT. Walay labot ang kasundalohan ug mga police kay amo ra kining bangi TRIBU bersus NPA. Daghan salamat!! (This is war between the NPA and the lumad group Magahat. The military and the police are not involved because this just between us tribes and the NPA. Thank you very much!” he added.

12-day ceasefire

Last December 15, the NPA declared a 12-day ceasefire from December 23 until January 3 in its war against the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Philippine National Police (PNP), and other paramilitary and armed groups attached to the government of the Philippines.

Aside from observing the Filipinos’ traditional celebrations during Christmas and New Year’s Day, the rebel group declared ceasefire to execute “mass assemblies and public demonstrations to mark the 47th anniversary of the CPP and celebrate revolutionary victories of the past year.”

In a statement, the NPA said it has implemented a ceasefire to support the efforts of peace advocates who want Philippine Government and the NDFP to return to the peace table on the basis of The Hague Joint Declaration, the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) and the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL).

“The revolutionary movement calls for the release of all political prisoners including 17 NDFP consultants in accordance with the CARHRIHL and the JASIG,” the statement added.

“Personnel of the AFP and PNP who have no serious liabilities other than their membership in their armed units shall not be subjected to arrest or punitive actions. They may be allowed individually to enter the territory of the people’s democratic government to make personal visits to relatives and friends,” it stated.

EastMinCom’s wish

The AFP’s Eastern Mindanao Command, in a statement issued during the CPP anniversary Saturday, said it wishes “that the CPP-NPA-NDF come to the realization that the armed struggle it is pursuing has only brought untold sufferings and miseries to the people. ”

“EastMinCom also wishes for the Filipino people to strongly assert their rights and desires for peace and an end to terror and violence brought about by the armed struggle being carried out by the CNN’s [CPP-NPA-NDF] armed wing; the New People’s Army,” the statement said.

The military said that the communist operations in Mindanao hampered the government’s delivery of services and “causing insecurities to the communities.”

“The wish is for CNN to stop creating an environment which is detrimental to the security of the people in Eastern Mindanao and other parts of the country, by secretly or discreetly mobilizing them for the armed struggle through deception, threats, intimidation and manipulation,” it said.

The military also wanted the NPA “to tread along the peaceful path to change through the democratic space being provided to them, to heed the call of the people for just and lasting peace and join the mainstream Filipino society.”