BACOLOD CITY – The business community in Escalante City, Negros Occidental has vowed to fight the extortion activities of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) during a peace awareness seminar held recently at San Marino del Norte Resort and Hotel in Barangay Alimango.
In a statement on Monday, Mayor Melecio Yap Jr. said the business sector is vulnerable and has fallen victim to the extortion activities of the CPP-NPA.
“In our desire to be insurgency-free, we will educate and empower them to stop providing material, financial, and moral support to the communist-terrorist group,” he said, adding that this will also make the business sector responsive to their commitment to help the government end insurgency.
During the activity facilitated by the Philippine Army’s 79th Infantry Battalion (IB) with the Local Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (LTF-ELCAC) on May 14, about 25 business owners and proprietors in the northern Negros city took a pledge of commitment not to extend any assistance to communist-terrorists and reaffirmed their full support to the government programs to eradicate insurgency.
They were oriented primarily about the insurgency and threat situation as well as the deception and recruitment strategies of the communist-terrorist group.
“We will support the government’s aim to put an end to communist-terrorists in northern Negros and will not commit to give assistance or any type of support to the CPP-NPA terrorists in their terroristic activities nor aid to the doing of the same,” the pledge stated.
Escalante was once a hotbed of communist insurgency in Negros Occidental, but 14 of its villages have been recently declared as insurgency-cleared.
These are Barangays Alimango, Binaguiohan, Buenavista, Dian-ay, Japitan, Langub, Libertad, Mabini, Malasibog, Paitan, Pinapugasan, Rizal, Udtongan, and Washington.
Lt. Col. Gerard Alvaran, commanding officer of the 79IB, lauded the initiatives of the Escalante City TF-ELCAC to achieve lasting peace and development.
“We will continue to do our respective tasks and joint endeavors inspired by the spirit of ‘bayanihan’ or the whole-of-nation approach in ending the local armed conflict. Every sector of our society plays a vital role in this effort,” he said.
Alvaran added that the task force’s continuous information awareness and concerted efforts in sectoral engagements would lead to the realization of sustainable peace and development and insurgency-free community.
Troops of the Philippine National Police-Special Action Force’s 65th Special Action Company, 6th Special Action Battalion also took part in the activity.
The CPP-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines. (PNA)