DAVAO CITY – More former top-ranking cadres of the New People’s Army (NPA) have exposed the lies and deceit committed by the communist terrorist group (CTG) in their “tell-all” to the public during a virtual press briefing on Tuesday.
Roberto Rosete Jr., alias Ka Bobby, who spent 32 years of his life in the communist movement, eventually becoming the commanding officer of the Pulang Bagani Command 3, said the claim of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) - NPA of winning the war against the government is a lie, realizing that there is no chance of winning its revolutionary war.
“I became a member of the Southern Mindanao Regional Command in 1990. In 2010, I already doubted the direction we are taking because nothing has really happened in waging war with the government. They said we will win against the government. It is not true at all because we really can’t,” Rosete said.
He recalled that he wanted to return to the fold of the law in 2010 but was afraid to make a move because his comrades said he would be executed by the military.
“When I surrendered in August 2018, everything I thought about the government has changed. I was fooled by their lies. I should have surrendered earlier,” Rosete added.
Kurt Russel Sosa, alias Ka Ugnay, a former political instructor of the Weakened Guerilla Front (WGF) 3, Sub-Regional Committee 4 (SRC) - SMRC said he surrendered because he was fed up with the group's lies and deceit.
“The moment I surrendered, I realized that there are plenty of ways to help the people, contrary to the ideologies taught to us. They made us believe that only armed struggle is the solution to solve the difficulties experienced by the Filipinos,” Sosa said.
Daniel Castillo, alias Ka Steven, also a political instructor of GF 55, said he could no longer bear the sacrifices he had to go through.
“At first, I am not satisfied with the government’s efforts but now I can see that they are working and deliver the services intended for the masses,” Castillo said.
He also cited the military's intensified focused operations as one of the reasons for his surrender.
“Our comrades surrendered and other(s) died during an encounter,” Castillo added.
For Christian Pastor, alias Khan, the former commanding officer of Front 33, losing the support of the masses made him realize that they do not have anything to fight for.
Pastor, along with his members, surrendered in December last year, saying the masses no longer supported them because of the various government services brought down to the barangays.
“There is no reason for us to continue because the government responds to the needs of the masses,” he said.
Saying she got tired, Ariane Jane Ramos, alias Marikit, the secretary of GF 55, SRC 5, and SMRC, said she was the only one left fighting for their unit as she had seen how the group's forces dwindled and weakened.
“I felt alone. The collective leadership inside the party is slowly dwindling and I finally chose to focus on myself. We are just human and we became tired,” she said.
Marikit surrendered on August 1 this year because she was worried about her mental health and, at the same time, wanted to spend time with her family.
“Even if you have a wide perspective in the revolution but your comrades are not with you on that perspective, at the end of the day your campaign will not be successful. That is why I decided that it’s time to take care of myself and give time for my family,” she said.
"I saw my husband die and my wounded comrades calling my name for help. For 40 days, we suffered from hunger, no proper hygiene, and we literally didn’t know where to go. For about three months we had nine consecutive encounters from the 1003rd Brigade. I sacrificed my own welfare and my family.”
Some of the ex-NPA cadres present during the virtual press briefing attributed their surrender to the implementation of Executive Order (EO) 70 signed by President Rodrigo R. Duterte in December 2018.
It institutionalized a whole-of-nation approach in obtaining exclusive and sustainable peace, giving the country an effective solution against communist terrorists.
Joy James Saguino, alias Amihan, deputy secretary of SRC1, said he was enlightened about the government's efforts in solving various issues through the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).
“We, the former rebels are in full support to the NTF-ELCAC. The trend of mass surrender is a strong manifestation of the impact of EO 70. The reason I get back to Davao to surrender and help the government is that I see the preciseness or the right path taken by the government to solve communist insurgency,” he said.
Amihan was impressed by EO 70 for clearly recognizing the root cause of the armed conflict that encompasses political, social, historical, and economic issues.
“Finally, the government has seen the causes and how this insurgency should be addressed. The national peace framework enlightens and inspires me that combat operations are not a solution to solve insurgency problems,” he said.
"This has not happened in history in any counter-insurgency campaign. This only (happened) under the Duterte administration. The NPA lost its space on combat operations, as well as their mass bases."
Abolish more fronts
Chief of the Eastern Mindanao Command, Lt. Gen. Greg Almerol, said under his command, they would finish and neutralize the remaining members of the group before the end of Duterte's term.
“We are confident that the local government and government agencies will sustainably address the issues being exploited by the CTGs. I believe that the only way we can end the local communist armed conflict is through our collective efforts and performing our mandates religiously," Almerol said.
On the other hand, 10th Infantry Division (10ID) commander, Maj. Gen. Ernesto Torres Jr., presented significant numbers recorded in the area of 10ID where operating guerrilla fronts are now down to six from 17 back in 2016; affected barangays, down to 12 from 193 in the same year; and firearms, down to 300 from 1,150 in 2016. The NPA rebels, estimated at 900 in 2016, are now down to 270.
“We need to tell the stories of our friends rescued to prevent recruitment because it is happening now. With our combat operation who is our core competency with our community support program, it’s just a matter of time,” Torres said. (PNA)