'RETURN JOMA.' Anti-communist groups, including former members of the New People's Army (NPA), hold a rally condemning the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP)-New People’s Army (NPA) at the Shrine of Mary, Queen of Peace, Our Lady of EDSA in Quezon City on Thursday (December 26, 2019). These groups demand the return of CPP-NPA-National Democratic Front (NDF) founder Jose Ma. Sison to the Philippines to face charges against him. (PNA photo by Joey O. Razon

MANILA – More or less 8,000 rallyists belonging to various multisectoral groups on Thursday gathered in different areas in Luzon to denounce the atrocities of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) as the CPP marks its 51st year on Dec. 26.

The protesters, numbering to about 8,700, converged in five areas in Metro Manila and two others in Laguna and Angeles, City Pampanga, calling on the government to start the extradition treaty between the Netherlands and Philippines, in a bid to send exiled CPP founder Jose Maria "Joma" Sison back home.

"Joma doesn't have any status in the Netherlands anymore. He has no passport and visa so why is he still being coddled there?," said Arlene Escalante, League of Parents in the Philippines (LPP) spokesperson, referring to Sison who has been in self-exile in the Netherlands since 1987.

CPP-NPA members, she said, should not have its 52nd anniversary.

“This communist group is nonsense. It's just a waste of battle and killing of our citizens and children (persists) for over 50 years. It should be stopped now," she said, adding that Sison's return to the Philippines could help stop the terroristic attacks perpetrated by the communist terrorist groups.

She added the groups will continue to stage rallies in front of the Dutch Embassy as a show of force for the Dutch government to act on the extradition.

RALLY VS. CPP-NPA. Southern Police District (SPD) Director Nolasco Bathan paints on the face of Jose Ma. Sison, founder of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army (CPP-NPA), during a rally against the communist group participated in by almost 300 civilians including former rebels in Baclaran, Paranaque on Thursday (December 26, 2019). The group condemned the atrocities of the CPP-NPA, which is marking its 51st anniversary today. (PNA photo Avito C. Dalan

At the EDSA Shrine, protesters, which included former members of the NPA, wore masks of Sison and Bayan Muna Party-list Rep. Carlos Zarate with devil horns, as they demanded the return of the CPP founder to the Philippines to face charges against him.

In Parañaque City, Southern Police District (SPD) Director Nolasco Bathan painted on the face of Sison, as protesters rallied the public to support the government counterinsurgency campaign.

The protesters, who staged simultaneous rallies at Bonifacio Monument, Liwasang Bonifacio in Plaza Lawton, along Service Road corner Roxas Blvd in Parañaque, EDSA Shrine corner Ortigas Avenue in Pasig City, Commonwealth corner University Avenues in Diliman, Quezon City, Crossing in Calamba City, Laguna, and Salakot, Balibago in Angeles City, Pampanga, also raised their concerns about the recruitment schemes by militant youth groups in schools.

"Many of our youths have been recruited and are being sent to the mountains," she said.

Meanwhile, the mothers of recruited students decry the activities communist-front groups, begging the latter to return the children back to their families.

Escalante assured that the LPP will fully support the government's campaign to end the more than 50 years of communist armed conflict.

For country, children

"10 years from now, I hope and I pray there will be no more CPP-NPA members celebrating another anniversary. The insurgency must be stopped now. We're not just fighting for our country, we're also fighting for our children," she said.

The CPP-NPA-NDF is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines. (PNA)