Former NPA member Jeffrey “Ka Eric” Celiz. (Screengrab from Senate hearing live video)
MANILA – A former New People’s Army (NPA) member slammed the group’s “hypocrisy”, claiming that it twists the International Humanitarian Law (IHL) to its advantage.
”Kaya nga po nasasabi ko ipokrito ang CPP-NPA-NDF (Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front) kasi we speak of International Humanitarian Law pero ang mga bala at armas naming mismo ay nasa loob ng bahay ng masa (This is why I’m saying that the CPP-NPA-NDF is a hypocrite because we speak of the Internal Humanitarian Law but our bullets and weapons are stored in the houses of the masses),” said former NPA cadre turned government security consultant Jeffrey “Ka Eric” Celiz during his attendance in the hearing of the Senate Committee on National Defense and Security, Peace, Unification and Reconciliation on Tuesday.
He added that they do not use the term (improvised explosive device) as it is prohibited under the Geneva Convention.
Instead, he claimed they use the term “command detonated explosives (Codex)” for landmines.
“We do not tie down our rules to the IHL. We only use the IHL when it is convenient,” said Celiz, who admitted to having been with the CPP-NPA for 27 years.
NPA, he said, recruits children as young as seven to 10 years old in rural areas to join their armed struggle.
He added that a part of the NPA’s strategy is for their members to mingle with the mass base where they later on become a regular sight in these areas.
Aside from barrio recruitment, one may also join the group through open front organizations.
Celiz said he was recruited in 1991 when he was 18 years old and a student at the Western Visayas State University in Iloilo City where he had been a member of the College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP) by NDF consultant Randy Felix Malayao, who was killed last year.
He was subsequently invited to a meeting of the Kabataan Makabayan (KM).
”KM is the first step to the CPP,” he said.
He claimed that while the military is prohibited from staying in houses, chapels and schools terrorist rebels are not hindered by the same prohibition.
The recruitment process, Celiz said, involves no direct recruitment to the CPP-NPA-NDF but must go through open organizational fronts.
He revealed that members of these open fronts are indoctrinated in key narratives, firstly on national history with these concepts:
• That the country is wealthy but is suffering;
• The communist version of national history on foreign domination and the fight for independence; and
• Imperialism, feudalism and bureaucrat capitalism and ultimately the narrative that a popular armed revolution is the sole path to escape the ills of society.
He said after being approved as a candidate member who has no voting rights, one is eventually recruited into the CPP as a party member.
He also confirmed incidents of sexual abuse of recruits but said that the offense is penalized with execution except when the offender is an influential official.
Meanwhile, other key government officials who appeared in the Senate hearing disputed claims of “red-tagging” as an official policy of the government in combating communist terrorist groups (CTGs).
“I’ve never engaged in red-tagging and I take my duty very seriously which is to defend and protect our children from terrorists,” Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Undersecretary Lorraine Badoy said, replying to questions by committee chair Senator Panfilo Lacson on whether she has engaged in red-tagging.
Badoy also clarified that “red-tagging is not a covered provision under IHL because it is not about armed conflict”.
The IHL or the law of war is a set of rules that seek to limit the effects of armed conflict. It protects persons who are not or are no longer participating in the hostilities and restricts the means and methods of warfare.
“There is no such word in any dictionary, this came from them (CPP-NPA-NDF) and it’s a tool they use to silence anyone who tells the truth about them,” Badoy said.
National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr., meanwhile, noted that “red-tagging” was something apparent from the acts of the parties involved who openly associated themselves with communist terrorist groups along with pronouncements made by CPP-NPA-NDF founding chair Jose Maria Sison.
Esperon added that in January 2019, the groups now accusing the government of falsely accusing them of ties with terrorist groups, were in attendance at the International League of People’s Struggles led by Sison.
“They were all there declaring their support for communism,” he said.
Esperon also noted known figures from the left interfering in the government’s action to close NPA-run schools.
The so-called Salugpungan schools were ordered closed by the Department of Education for failing to meet the DepEd curriculum and for teaching terrorist principles including the armed overthrow of the government.
“They were recruiting 13 to 15-year-olds to turn them into NPA rebels,” Esperon said. “We need not think far, they are the ones who are identifying themselves (with communist terrorist groups).”
These groups, he added, are out to “oust the government” and should not be allowed to do so. (PNA)