MANILA – Returning to the fold of the law may be an ultimate resort to live a peaceful life, but some former high-ranking leaders of the New People’s Army (NPA) in Southern Mindanao have other plans beyond surrender to help the government they once condemned and wanted to overthrow.
In an extraordinary plenum held this month inside a camp of the Army’s 10th Infantry Division (10ID) in Mawab town, Davao de Oro, 12 former leaders of the NPA Southern Mindanao Regional Committee (SMRC) converged in the hope of making it up with people affected and deceived by the farce communist ideology as part of a “total exposure” against SMRC and allied organizations of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) – NPA – National Democratic Front (NDF).
Arian Jane O. Ramos alias Marikit, former secretary of NPA Guerrilla Front 55, Southern Regional Committee (SRC), SMRC, lauded the government’s current initiatives to end the insurgency.
“Mas maganda na ngayon ang ginagawa ng gobyerno at natutulungan ang masa dahil ang insurhensiya ay labanan naman talaga ng kung sino ang may hawak sa masa. Dahil dito, nailalantad ang hungkag na layunin ng teroristang CPP-NPA-NDF at mga alyadong grupo nito sapagkat ang kanilang propaganda ay hindi naman talaga nakatuon para paunlarin ang bansa kundi pabagsakin ito gamit ang masa at sistema ng gobyerno (Government’s initiatives benefit the masses. It has exposed the true color of terrorist CPP-NPA-NDF and allies whose propaganda is not really for the country’s peace and development but to overthrow the government),” Marikit was quoted in a 10ID press release dated Aug. 23.
Ivan Conan S. Cael alias Mackoy/Raprap/Greg, former secretary of SRC3, SMRC shared Marikit’s sentiment on the group’s strategy as former members of tye communist terrorist group.
“Kailangan nang tuldukan ang mga walang kwentang armadong pakikibaka sapagkat nagbago na ang pananaw ng taumbayan, mas nakatutok na sila sa pagpapaunlad sa kanilang lugar at sila na rin ang nagrereport sa mga presensya ng mga terorista (We need to stop a worthless armed conflict because the people’s behavior has changed. They are more concerned with the development of their communities. They are even the ones reporting the presence of communists in their localities),” Mackoy said.
Former 1st deputy secretary of NPA Far South Mindanao Region Noel M. Legazpi alias Jeffrey said their meeting is based on the lessons learned from their experiences in the communist group.
Admitting that communist terrorism will never succeed in the country, he said the noble intention of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) dismantled several guerrilla fronts nationwide.
“Sana isabatas na ang EO 70 upang lalo pang sumigla ang daloy ng mga programang magbibigay-seguridad sa mga mamamayan. Tamang edukasyon at impormasyon ay ilan lang sa mga dapat tutukan ng pamahalaan upang wala ng malinlang ang CPP-NPA-NDF (It is hoped that Executive Order 70 be enacted into law to further invigorate the flow of programs further invigorate the flow of programs that will pave the way for the security of the people. Proper education and information will prevent citizens from being deceived by the CPP-NPA-NDF),” he added.
For Roberto O. Rosete, Jr. alias Alex Bobby/Barley, former commanding officer of NPA Pulang Bagani, SMRC, Executive Order 70 signed by President Rodrigo R. Duterte in 2018 is proof of a reformed government wherein all agencies have come together to bring about development and end the more than 50 years of communist armed conflict.
“Ang Executive Order 70 ng Pangulo ay patunay lamang ng pagbabagong anyo ng ating pamahalaan, ang dating pagkakanya-kanya ngayon ay may iisang direksiyon na at nagtutulungan pa upang buwagin, basagin, at tapusin ang local communist armed conflict,” Bobby said.
In strengthening the government’s anti-insurgency initiatives, the former NPA leaders committed to becoming partners of the Army’s 10th ID in exposing the corruption at SMRC, failure of leadership, and internal squabbles over financial matters.
Other former NPA leaders during the plenum that aims to bring peace and order, development in areas they used to operate in include: Joy James A. Saguino alias Che/Amihan -- deputy secretary of SRC1, secretary of SRC1 peasant bureau; Christian B. Pastor alias Khan – commanding officer of Weakened Guerrilla Front 33, SRC 4, SMRC; Eddie S. Genelsa alias Lando Pahak/Brad/Jimbo – vice commanding officer of Regional Operations Committee, SMRC, and NDF consultant; Paulette M. Santos-Castillo alias Ella/Yellla/Ba-i/Donna -- regional coordinator of Rural Missionaries of the Philippines, Regional Peasant Secretariat, SMRC; Priel Booc alias Yano – trade union, south/courier organizer; Daniel Louis S. Castillo alias Steven -- 2nd political instructor of Guerrilla Front 55, SRC 5, SMRC; Pedro B. Arnado alias Benoy – regional chairperson of Kilusang Magbubukig ng Pilipinas (KMP) - Southern Mindanao Region, national treasurer of KMP and member of Kalumaran-Mindanao; and Kurt Russel O. Sosa alias Ugnay – secretary of WGF 3 and deputy secretary 1 of SRC1, SMRC.
The meeting kicked off a series of former rebels' summits in Eastern Mindanao to give a voice to former members of communist terrorist groups and involve them in government activities for the country’s peace and development.
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.
The NDF has been formally designated as a terrorist organization by the Anti-Terrorism Council on June 23, 2021, citing it as “an integral and separate part” of the CPP-NPA created in April 1973. (PNA)