BACOLOD CITY, Negros Occidental, Philippines – Former New People’s Army national operations cadre Jeffrey Celiz and former Cabinet member Lorraine Marie Badoy came out strongly against a Negros bishop who had earlier issued a statement calling for the release of political prisoners, among them former priest Frank Fernandez who headed the Communist Party’s Regional Executive Committee before he and his wife were arrested four years ago.
“Excuse me, Bishop Alminaza, Frank Fernandez had ordered the killing of many soldiers, policemen, and civilians when he headed the Negros island CPP-NPA-NDF with his wife, Cleofe Lagtapon,” Celiz said in Filipino in today’s live airing of Laban Kasama ang Bayan that he co-hosts over the SMNI News Channel.
Alminaza, head of the Roman Catholic diocese that covers several towns where the New People’s Army admitted to have gone on a killing spree of civilians, said the release of political prisoners, as said by oeace advocates, should be on top of the list of concerns of the government.
The statement, which Celiz called a pastoral exhortation, was reported by some local news outfits here (DNX not included), and cited Fernandez as one of the political prisoners whom he described as a “frail and elderly consultant” of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) who was in Luzon for medical consultation and treatment when he was arrested.
The NDFP is the “political arm” created by the Communist Party of the Philippines and represents it in talks with the government.
Both the CPP and NDFP have been designated as terrorist groups by the Philippine Anti Terrorism Council but a Manila court dismissed a petition by the justice department last year seeking to formally declare these as terrorist organizations under the old Human Security Law.
“Who gave you the right to exonerate this butcher of the CPP-NPA-NDF?” Celiz charged as he scored Alminaza for seemingly indicating in his statement that government forces planted evidence against Fernandez.
Celiz also assailed the claims of Alminaza that there are 200 political prisoners in Negros island and that civilians are being killed here by military forces.
“Where is your proof, bishop?” Celiz asked as he inquired some more if Alminaza had police blotters or reports that government forces are abducting people.
“What you are doing is dangerous, bishop for while you are destroying the image of the military and the police you are praising killers of the CPP-NPA-NDF,” Celiz added.
Amid the call of Alminaza for the resumption of talks, Celiz said “you copied it so well, bishop, this is the line of the Central Committee of the CPP, the one you are yapping about.”