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NTF-ELCAC to NUPL: No distortion of facts

Press Statement of NTF-ELCAC Executive Director, Undersecretary Ernesto C Torres Jr.

The National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) strongly condemns an attempt by the National Union of Peoples' Lawyers (NUPL) to distort the facts about the legitimacy of the recent Bohol encounter which resulted in the death of at least five communist terrorists and a brave policeman.

Such disinformation being peddled by the group to the media and therefore the public not only violates the lawyer’s code of ethics and professional responsibility but also a deliberate travesty of justice.

No less than the father of Hannah Jay Cesista, Mr. Eutropio Cesista, unequivocally confirmed that his slain daughter was, in no uncertain terms, a member of the National Union of Peoples' Lawyers (NUPL).

To quote Mr. Cesista: “Isa lang alam ko, member siya ng NUPL, other than that blanko ako. Pero noong before mag-enter siya as member ng NUPL, ipinaliwanag niya yung duties and responsibilities as a member of NUPL.”

“Na-convince, oo, na sumali siya. Tapos nagtiwala ako kasi mga lawyer daw, asosasyon daw iyon ng mga lawyers.”

Read between the lines, indeed. The radicalization and recruitment of Cesista into the NPA underwent a premeditated and arduous ideological indoctrination by communist front organizations (CFOs).

On Friday morning, February 23, 2024, our state forces from the military and police engaged the rebel group at around 6:50 a.m. in Sitio Matin-ao 2, Barangay Campagao in the town of Bilar. Our soldiers and policemen went to the rebels’ hideout to serve a warrant of arrest for Domingo Jaspe Compoc alias Silong, a known leader of the New People’s Army (NPA). Compoc was wanted for a string of criminal cases like rebellion, homicide, multiple murders, and robbery and had a P2.6 million government bounty for his capture.

Killed during the firefight was Police Corporal Gilbert Amper. Patrolman Gerard Rollon was wounded. On the NPA side, Compoc perished along with Parlito Segovia alyas Aldrin, Marlon Omosura alyas Darwin, a certain Juaning, and surprisingly, Hanna Joy Cesista alyas Maya/Lean, a bar passer and NUPL member.

Data showed the recovery of high-powered firearms such as an M653, R4, and M16 assault rifles and 3 cal. 45 pistols, all from the communist terrorists.

These glaring facts cannot be distorted through disinformation by the NUPL claiming that no encounter happened but the arrest, torture, and killing of the 5 fully armed terrorists.

NUPL’s unfounded accusation is not only preposterous but also a deliberate attempt to cover up one of its members as an armed NPA combatant.

We challenge NUPL to explain to the legal community, in particular, and to the Filipino people, in general, why one of its members was a communist terrorist. The burden of proof rests on them. There is no amount of disinformation and deception to obfuscate the evidence that one NUPL member died during a legitimate encounter between government troops and the NPA.

How many more promising lawyers like Cesista will be wasted in an obsolete and senseless protracted war being waged by the Communist Party of the Philippines-NPA-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF)?

These Communist Front Organizations (CFOs) have to take responsibility as what Mr. Cesista would want to convey to them, and I quote: “Masasabi ko lang, sana ang anak ko na ang huli, huling biktima, ‘yun lang.”

The NTF-ELCAC reiterates its call to individuals to refrain from joining the NPA. This ineffectual communist insurgency must be put to an end that has already cost us countless lives and setbacks to our country's progress.

It's time to break free from the futile cycle of rebellion and embrace the path of dialogue, reconciliation, and lawful engagement to address grievances and build a truly peaceful and inclusive society.

Joining the NPA not only perpetuates violence but also undermines efforts towards achieving lasting peace and prosperity.

Furthermore, people who continue to be involved with the NPA run a great chance of becoming involved in illegal activities and being exposed to dangerous situations that could endanger their lives. By opting for peaceful avenues of engagement and seeking solutions through lawful channels, individuals can safeguard their well-being and contribute to the overall stability of our nation.

We at the NTF-ELCAC stand in solidarity with the families of those who have lost their lives in the line of duty, including Corporal Amper, the brave policeman who made the ultimate sacrifice to protect our communities from the scourge of terrorism. Let us honor their memory by collectively rejecting the false promises of the communist terrorist groups (CTGs) and working together towards a future where all Filipinos can live safely, with dignity, and harmony. (PR)

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Jerome Carlo Paunan



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