Ka Juanito Magbanua, hero of the people and the revolution

This article is available in BisayaHiligaynon

Revolutionaries may fall in battle, but the flame of revolution can never be extinguished especially in the midst of extreme permanent crisis generated by the rotten semi-feudal and semi-colonial ruling system and the moribund global capitalist system it is adjunct to.

The Negros Island Regional Party Committee, all its Party cadres and members, the commanders and Red fighters under the Apolinario Gatmaitan Command-New People’s Army Negros Island Regional Operational Command (AGC-NPA) and the revolutionary forces on the island offer our highest tribute to Comrade Romeo Nanta, widely known by his nom de guerre Ka Juanito Magbanua, who was the erstwhile spokesperson of AGC-NPA. We extend as well our sympathies to the bereaved family of Ka Juanito and the toiling masses of workers and peasants who cherished him.

Ka Juanito Magbanua, 64 years old, fondly referred to by the masses as Ka Juaning, was a member of the regional Party committee on Negros Island. He was murdered in cold blood by fascist 94th Infantry Battalion soldiers after he was captured and tortured on October 10 in Sitio Medel, Barangay Carabalan, Himamaylan City, Negros Occidental.

The ailing Ka Juaning was barely armed and not in the position to give battle. He was hors de combat. As per International Humanitarian Law (IHL), he should have been treated as prisoner of war and afforded the full range of rights in accordance with Protocol I of the Geneva Conventions.

For years, he endured severe arthritis, hypertension and scores of other serious illnesses while performing various tasks and responsibilities in the revolutionary movement.

To justify his summary execution, the 94th IB under direct supervision of 303rd Brigade fascist chieftain and fake news maker BGen. Inocencio Pasaporte employed the hackneyed fake encounter script.

Preceding Ka Juaning’s murder was the botched raid of 94th IB troops of an MCC (Mount Cansermon Command) unit bivouacked in the area on October 6. The said NPA unit engaged the attacking state force in a 30-minute gun battle and killed at least six enemy soldiers. While Red fighters suffered no casualties or even slight damage and managed to break out from military encirclement safely.

The 94th IB was further humiliated when one of its pursuing columns was ambushed by an NPA unit killing two soldiers and wounding six others as reported by the media and even admitted by Pasaporte himself. But according to witnesses, eight soldiers were killed in that offensive, two of whom died on the spot and the rest upon arrival in the hospital.

To save face, BGen. Pasaporte shamelessly used the death of Ka Juaning as war trophy and prated nonsensically on the supposed “impending collapse” of the NPA in Negros as a result.

The death of a leader or cadre is indeed a big loss to the revolutionary movement, however the revolution is the undertaking of the masses and revolutionaries in greater numbers will rise to carry forward the unfinished mission of fallen comrades like Ka Juaning and advance the people’s war to new and higher levels.

Ka Juaning was born on May 29, 1958 in Proper Tabaw, Valladolid, Negros Occidental. His family subsisted on a meager income from selling locally grown coffee and baked rice cake. When he was young, he dreamt of becoming an architect but his family was too poor to be able to sustain his education.

He enlisted in the Philippine Navy as a Marine and was stationed in Mindanao but he quit after three years fed up with the decadence, corruption, lack of democracy, abuses and fascist culture and practices so prevalent in the military institution.

Back in his hometown, the anti-Marcos sentiments was strong and many of his close friends were members of Kabataang Makabayan (KM). Ka Juaning participated in educational discussions and joined local protests against the fascist dictatorship. These sharpened his political conviction and strengthened his commitment toward revolutionary social transformation.

He joined the Party in 1983, in the thick of the brewing anti-fascist storm that three years later deposed the dictator, Marcos Sr, in a popular people’s uprising. In the late 80s, he joined a partisan unit operating in Bacolod City. His unit was among the first who responded to the call of the Party for rectification. He became an NPA full-timer based in the countryside by 1994.
Over-all, he dedicated 28 years of his life as Red fighter and commander, and Party member and cadre for 39 years.

Starting 2000, he served as commanding officer of South Central, North and Southwest Negros guerrilla fronts. Later, he was assigned as in-charge of ordnance and training in the Regional Military Staff. And in 2010, he was appointed as the spokesperson of AGC-NPA.

His revolutionary work was briefly interrupted when he was arrested in Cadiz City in 2011. After he was released from jail, he immediately returned to the main flow of struggle and resumed work.

As Red commander, he led several tactical offensives. Most notable among them were the ambush of CAFGU foot patrol in Sitio Namulo, Barangay Santol, Binalbagan, Negros Occidental in February 2000 wherein two CAFGU and one Army regular were killed-in-action and one CAFGU member was wounded-in-action; the ambush in Sitio Bulod, Barangay Carabalan, Himamaylan City in August 2000 that killed 17 enemy soldiers; the raid against RPA bandits in Brgy. Biao, Binalbagan in 2002; and the raid of Barangay Mahalang, Himamaylan City CAFGU detachment in February 2004 that yielded four high-powered firearms.

As regional spokesperson, Ka Juaning endeavored to expose, isolate and engage in tit-for-tat the zealots and spin doctors of the US-Duterte regime especially in Negros Island. With equal fervor, he also elucidated to the Negrosanons their sufferings rooted in the basic problems of Philippine society—US imperialism, feudalism and bureaucrat capitalism—that are very glaring in the monocrop sugar economy of Negros.

Ka Juaning earned the ire mostly of fascist officials of the Philippine Army Visayas Command, 3rd Infantry Division and its brigades and battalions due to his dauntless propaganda offensive on their disinformation campaigns and psychological warfare. He clashed head-on with reactionary mouthpieces and was vehement against human rights violations especially of peasant killings in Negros.

Ka Juaning may be tough as an NPA spokesperson, but among comrades and the masses, he was jovial, down-to-earth and approachable. Any comrade can easily confer or engage in conversation with him on any matter. He was always caring and concerned with their well-being and unfailingly found ways to help whatever and whenever he can. He was a cook, an electrician, acupuncturist, musician, among others to the masses.

Our firmest red salute to Ka Juanito Magbanua, a hero of the Negrosanon and Filipino people. His life dedicated to the revolution and service to the people will forever be our inspiration in the fight for national liberation and social emancipation.

Carry forward the people’s war inspired by our revolutionary martyrs and heroes!
Long live the Communist Party of the Philippines!
Long live the New People’s Army!
Long live the National Democratic Front of the Philippines! Long live the oppressed and exploited masses!

Ka Juanito Magbanua, hero of the people and the revolution