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‘Bare hit list of 235 most-wanted Reds’

Activists want list scrapped; Palace slams NPA attacks POLITICAL and human rights activists have started to complain of renewed intense surveillance and harassment from government forces and to fear the revival of the “hit list” following the Aquino administration’s termination of its peace talks with the communist rebels. Lawmakers belonging to the Makabayan group pressed Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II and Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin to make public the “235 wanted communists” with a total monetary reward of P466.88 million under the military and police’s order of battle. The activists described the list as a “hit list.” In other developments: • The attack by the communist rebels on a mining compound in Negros Occidental on Friday and an encounter that killed at least five soldiers on Saturday showed the communists’ insincerity, deputy presidential spokeswoman Abigail Valte said. But she said the Armed Forces remained ready to protect the citizenry. “They showed their insincerity when it comes to talking peace and wanting to come to the negotiating table,” Valte said. “They say they want to talk peace but it seems they never stop attacking our countrymen.” • The threat of Jose Maria Sison, the founding chairman of the Communist Party of the Philippines, to launch widespread attacks against the government is likely to be in vain because of the internal rifts with the organization, sources said. They said the rift between Sison and party Vice Chairman Benito Tiamzon was weakening the movement making it difficult for the communists to present a common strategy. The polarization of the pro-Sison and pro-Tiamson groups was caused primarily by Sison’s refusal to convene a national congress for fear he would be unseated and his inclination to abandon the armed struggle in favor of a parliamentary approach. •  Soldiers on Sunday captured three communist rebels and recovered seven high-powered firearms and explosives in a raid of a their safe house in Pagbilao, Quezon. Kabataan president Terry Ridon said four military men stalked him from his house in Quezon City in broad daylight up to a rally site in Mendiola during the Labor Day rallies. He said they also feared intensified militarization in the countrysides, with women and children directly affected. The Makabayan bloc has filed House Resolution 2927 seeking a probe on the “very dangerous list” resulting from the Joint Order No. 14-2012 of the Defense and Interior Departments. “This list should be scrapped. This list is essentially telling state security forces that the policy of neutralizing and eliminating activists and communists remain,” said Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares, a member of the Makabayan bloc. She said the members of legal organizations and party-list groups might have been included in the list as the government continued to file and pursue fabricated charges and violate due process. “One very frightening consequence of this list is that certain military officials might resort to tracking, arresting or killing fall guys and producing fake surrenderees in order to get the money reward,” Colmenares said. Ridon said the human rights group Karapatan had already recorded 137 victims of summary killings, 72 victims of torture, 498 cases of illegal arrests, and 30,260 victims of forced evacuation under President Benigno Aquino III. “Recently, the Aquino administration has announced its termination of the peace talks with the NDF, which could also be an indication that it is planning to intensify military offensives and step up its attacks against activists,” Ridon said. “His government’s sabotage of the talks show Aquino’s insincerity in pushing for genuine reforms necessary to solve the root causes of the insurgency—landlessness, oppression and poverty—and attain just and lasting peace.” Lawyer Edre Olalia, secretary general of the National Union of Lawyers of the Philippines, said they found it anomalous that the Defense and Interior Departments issued the joint order when the power to make arrests rested with the police. “We must note at the outset that it is quite odd that the order was jointly issued by the DND and the DILG when in fact it is the civilian authorities, through the Philippine National Police and the National Bureau of Investigation, and not the military, which is primarily authorized by law in effecting any arrests,” Olalia said in a letter to Roxas and Gazmin. “As such, while the amount of the bounty as well as the number of those in the list is publicly known, the public is totally left in the dark on the details of the said order especially with respect to the names of those included in the list and the basis, if any, for their inclusion.” Gabriela Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan deplored the government’s scrapping of its peace talks with the rebels. “If the Philippine government’s intent is to genuinely seek avenues for peace, then it must pursue further negotiations so that it can find ways to address the roots of the armed conflict,” Ilagan said. “Unfortunately the Philippine government’s attitude has been the exact opposite.” With Francisco Tuyay and Florante S. Solmerin
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