P/Insp. Rex Cuntapay and PO1 Marvin Agasen both used to view the communist-led New People’s Army (NPA) in a bad light. Captured last Jan. 3 together with PO1 Alberto Umali after their unit’s encounter with guerrillas belonging to the NPA’s Narciso Antazo Aramil Command (NAAC), which operates in Rizal (a province southeast of Manila), they were held as prisoners of war (POWs) for almost three months. They were released on March 27, very near the place where they were captured. The three policemen had only kind words to say about their former custodians.
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Does Leoncio Pitao, alias Commander Parago of the New People’s Army (NPA), have enough reasons to believe that the military is behind the abduction, torture and killing of her daughter Rebelyn? Those whose family members became victims to get back at them or to force them to capitulate think so. They believe it is part of the military’s dirty tactics, which the military has been employing since the time of the Marcos dictatorship.
Human rights group Karapatan raised alarm over the new surge in extrajudicial killings.
Marie Hilao-Enriquez, Karapatan secretary general, noted, “The killings are picking up again at an alarming rate of one victim per week. This is almost the same scenario in 2006, if not worse.”
Evalyn Ursua, whose services as lawyer of Subic rape victim “Nicole” were recently terminated, says she was prepared for such a possibility. Still, she went on, and credits her erstwhile client for sticking it out “during the (most) difficult period.”
A National Artist for Literature, the star witness in the National Broadband Network scam, and the mother of a missing activist are among the conveners of the recently-launched Junk VFA Movement. The Junk VFA Movement describes itself as “a broad initiative that calls for the assertion of national sovereignty and the termination of the VFA (Visiting Forces Agreement).” It also calls on the Arroyo administration to regain custody of US Marine L/Cpl. Daniel Smith.
There may be more to the Balikatan military exercises which are set to be held in the Bicol Region this coming April than the much-vaunted “humanitarian missions”. The participation of an overwhelmingly large number of US troops indicates a high likelihood of combat operations during the exercises, said the spokesperson of a Bicol-based anti-Balikatan alliance.
About 30 million Filipinos living below the poverty-line hound the urban scene of modern-day Philippines. In the heart of Tondo, Manila, one can easily be acquainted with the images of destitute lives of thousands of men, women and children struggling amid the ever worsening situation.
There is still a month before the Balikatan exercises begin in Bicol, but already, preparations for these have claimed the life of a one-year-old girl and brought about US military intervention – with US troops manning checkpoints that have been set up across the region, most notably those in Pili, Camarines Sur and Matnog, Sorsogon.
A woman doing multiple odd jobs, another managing a small variety store and selling newspapers, the poorest, a scavenger – these three women from poor families are finding it increasingly difficult to make both ends meet. Family survival is a daily struggle for them, and yet, they never lose hope and they always find time to fight for genuine change.
An independent research institute said that Filipino women are most affected by the economic crisis.
Amid snowballing calls for the termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), Malacañang through one of its spokespersons has argued that the said pact cannot be abrogated since doing so would affect the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) between the Philippines and the US. But lawyer Neri Javier Colmenares, secretary-general of the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL), disagrees.