BACOLOD CITY – The Philippine Army has lauded the decision of farmers in Barangay E. Lopez in Silay City, Negros Occidental to leave the National Federation of Sugarcane Workers (NFSW), which is considered by government forces as a legal front of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA).
“I commend the wise decision of the farmers in withdrawing their membership and support to the NFSW and other communist-terrorist group affiliated organizations existing in the area. Silaynons already knew whom to trust and collaborate with to attain their aspirations in life,” said Brig. Gen. Inocencio Pasaporte, commander of the 303rd Infantry Brigade, in a statement on Monday.
During a peace rally facilitated by the 79th Infantry Battalion (79IB) on October 2, some 250 individuals who belong to four farmers' associations held a march, bearing placards denouncing the atrocities and deceptions committed by the CPP-NPA.
In rites that followed at the village gymnasium, they also took an oath of allegiance to the Philippine government before village chief Memia Gallego, burned the replica flags of the CPP-NPA, and joined in the symbolic signing of resolutions passed by their respective associations approving the creation of the Barangay Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict.
The participants are members of the Hacienda Cumabat Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Association (HACUARBA), Hacienda Mariano-D Farmers and Farm Workers Association (HAMADFFWA), Hacienda Vista Alegre Farmers and Farm Workers Association (HAVAFFWA), and Hacienda Gretchen Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Association (HAGARBA).
Gilbert Bautista, a former member of NFSW, and now chairman of HAVAFFWA, said in a statement that troops of the 79IB helped their association benefit from government assistance.
“We thank the Philippine Army for assisting us. This is the first time we were able to avail of government programs,” he added.
Bautista urged his fellow farmers not to allow the CPP-NPA and its allied organizations to take advantage of them again.
Last August 28, members of two other associations in Barangay E. Lopez, including Hacienda Culahao-C Farmer Workers Association (HACUFWA) and Hacienda Nenita Farmer Workers Association (HANFAWA), also burned the communist-terrorist flags and pledged allegiance to the government in a ceremony held in the same venue.
Lt. Col. J-jay Javines, commanding officer of 79IB, said the move of the farmers is a bold step towards ending insurgency.
“It may seem insignificant to conduct condemnation rallies, but for the people who were once victimized by the deceptions and threats of communist-terrorist groups, participating in these activities show their earnest desire to live in a place where peace and development prosper,” he added.
The CPP-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines. (PNA)