BACOLOD CITY, Negros Occidental, Philippines – A key witness in the Duterte government’s campaign against Communist terrorists in the country has cried foul over detention by the House of Representatives as he claimed that the real targets of the “persecution” are sitting Vice President Sara Duterte and his father, the former president, Rodrigo.
Jeffrey Celiz, former chairman of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) in Panay island before he was promoted to the national staff of the New People’s Army, told DNX his “persecution” by the House of Representatives led by Speaker Martin Romualdez is an indirect way of hitting the Dutertes who have both fought Philippine Communists.
Celiz, speaking for a limited time by phone to DNX from his detention center inside the Batasan Complex, accused Romualdez of “colluding” with urban Comunist operatives of the Communist Party of the Philippines, National Democratic Front, and the New People’s Army.
The House Franchise Committee had ordered the detention of Celiz after he refused to name his source on his report over news channel SMNI that Romualdez spent at least P1.8 billion in travel funds.
A part of a statement from Celiz, reads:
The guarantee of Free Speech and the Freedom of Expression as well as the Freedom of the Press are inviolable rights of the people guaranteed by the constitution; and such are the bedrock of democracy in a democratic republican government.
These are the rights that Ka Eric stood strongly and continues to stand in the face of scandalous abuse of power by the members of House of Representatives who are acting as criminal prosecutors, judges and executioners of the resource persons duly invited in their hearing.
This is no longer an issue of legislative franchise regarding SMNI TV network; this is now a clear and categorical issue of scandalous violation and abuse of power by the House of Representatives in the guised of Committee hearings but in truth and reality, are instruments of political persecution, harassment and intimidation which are manifest signs of creeping martial law inside congress which are being weponized in the form of the political interest of abusive politicians who are now in cahoots with the CPP-NPA-NDF Urban Operatives.
Celiz had earlier named representatives of Bayan Muna, Kabataan, and ACT Teachers partylists as among the urban Communist operatives.
Celiz also told DNX the move against SMNI is part of a planned campaign against anti Communist advocates as the Marcos government readies to resume talks with Communists after six years of hiatus after being suspended by then President Duterte.
The former president was once a former ally of the Communists and enjoyed a cozy relationship with them early into his term but suspended talks with them after an attack on his security convoy in 2017.
A year later, Duterte signed Executive Order 70 that institutionalized the whole of nation approach against the insurgency and established the National Task Force-End Local Communist Armed Conflict.
Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr, a cousin of House Speaker Romualdez, had sent a delegation last month to Oslo, Norway to discuss resumption of talks with the rebels.
Sara Duterte and Romualdez are widely reported to be both eyeing the presidency in 2028 when the term of Marcos ends.
The younger Duterte’s confidential fund for the Office of the Vice President also came under scrutiny from the House.
She eventually dropped her bid for the P650 million fund in the 2024 budget.