DAVAO CITY, Philippines – For the New People’s Army (NPA) in Southern Mindanao Region, the declaration of local governments naming communist rebels as “persona non grata” in different provinces is only a “mere public relation stunt” by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
Rigoberto Sanchez, spokesperson of NPA- Southern Mindanao Regional Operations Command, in a press statement on Friday, March 1, said that these declarations are “the product of the relentless psywar and intimidation campaign” of “peace and development outreach programs” of the counter-insurgency campaign Oplan Kapayapaan.
“In Southern Mindanao and elsewhere in Mindanao, they are in fact mere PR stunts which hold neither a grain of truth nor reflect the sentiments of thousands of Lumad who continue to be victimized by the US-Duterte regime’s hated martial law and hold the revolutionary movement in high esteem, especially the NPA as their true people’s army,” Sanchez said.
Sanchez added that the AFP is “wasting” taxpayers’ money in conducting peace-building seminars and other similarly “ludicrous” activities to give credence to the implementation of counter-insurgency programs.
He also called the government’s Enhanced-Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) “corruption-laden.”
AFP-Eastern Mindanao Command Chief Maj. Gen. Felimon Santos Jr. has called on to the leadership of the NPA to surrender after more communities and LGUs were reported to have declared members of the rebel group “persona non grata.”
“The people believe in the government’s resolve to address their issues and concern and socio-economic changes that are being pushed and that they do not want this to be hampered and stalled,” Maj. Gen. Santos said.
The AFP said that the CPP-NPA-NDPF were barred by LGUs including in Davao Oriental, Compostela Valley, Municipality of Kapalong in Davao del Norte, Sibagat in Agusan del Sur, and Bukidnon province.
But Sanchez countered: “The peasants and Lumad know that behind the veil of the AFP and PNP’s civic-military activities, these rabid dogs of the US-Duterte regime seek to destroy the masses’ way of living, sell their ancestral land to capitalist greed and exploitation and threaten or kill whoever stands in their way.”
In Davao Oriental, Sanchez said, that Governor Nelson Dayanhirang admitted that NPA units continue to launch tactical offensives against AFP and PNP, despite declaring the province as “insurgency-free” in 2016.
“Like most bureaucrat capitalists in the region and the ruling class which he represents, Dayanghirang conveniently glosses over the incontrovertible fact that the masses continue to embrace the NPA and the revolutionary armed struggle as the sole means to attain social justice and emancipation from the rotten semi-feudal and semi-colonial system,” Sanchez said.
He added that the military, and paramilitaries like the Alamara and Bagani and Lumad “dealers” “browbeat Lumad councils and members to attend these so-called peace-building seminars, force them to get in line and hold anti-insurgency placards in rallies and strong-arm them into signing declarations and such.”
The NPA also warned about the red-tagging against legal organizations, progressive party-lists, and non-government institutions that support the rights of peasants and Lumad, placing them in what they described as AFP’s “hit list.”
“To be sure, these ‘declarations’ are portent and justification of more arbitrary arrests, extra-judicial killings, indiscriminate shelling and bombing and all-around wanton violations of human rights against civilians, activists and mass leaders in the region,” Sanchez emphasized.
Meanwhile, the rebel group said that President Rodrigo Duterte is “desperately capitalizing” on these counter-insurgency activities to campaign his senatorial candidates “composed of plunderers, liars, fascists and murderers” in areas in the region “where his popularity has suffered immense backlash following his anti-poor policies and fascist attacks against the people.”
“If anything, the desperate US-Duterte regime and its fascist dogs in the AFP are the real ones who are unwelcome not only in the countryside but in the rest of the country as well. So let them pretend their “declarations” and other such non-sense actually amount to anything. The steady advance of the revolutionary armed struggle and the people’s war will render these machinations as false and futile time and time again,” Sanchez concluded. (davaotoday.com)