CEBU EX-REBELS. Jeffrey Celiz alias Ka Eric Almendras administers the oath of local chapter officers of the Sentrong Alyansang Mamamayan Para sa Bayan (Sambayanan) at Sindulan Sports Complex in Mabolo, Cebu City on Tuesday (March 08, 2022). Former rebels in Cebu province formed sectoral groups comprising the local chapter of the Sambayanan to work with the government in addressing societal issues, bringing public services closer to the people, and denouncing the lies and deceits of the CPP-NPA-NDF. (Screengrab from contributed video)

CEBU CITY – Former rebels in Cebu have pledged to work hand in hand with the government in addressing societal concerns through the "whole-of-nation approach" and to denounce the lies of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF).

Jeffrey Celiz, also known as Ka Eric Almendras, said on Tuesday about 200 former rebels from different towns of Cebu have organized sectoral groups that will comprise the local chapter of the Sentrong Alyansang Mamamayan Para sa Bayan (Sambayanan).

Sambayanan is a national organization of former rebels registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission and engaged in peace and development-building activities nationwide, in coordination with the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).

Celiz visited Cebu to meet with the representatives of different sectoral organizations from the northern and southern towns of the province, cementing a resounding commitment to denounce the atrocities of the CPP-NPA-NDF.

Chapter officers took their oath of office before Celiz at the Sindulan Sports Complex in Barangay Mabolo here, pledging to denounce violence and terrorism, support the national government's peace and development efforts, defend the Constitution and laws, and reject ideas to fight against the government.

In his talk with the sectoral leaders, Celiz narrated how he was recruited while studying in West Visayas State University in Iloilo in 1989 and worked as chair of various left-leaning organizations, as founding national leader of the Anakbayan, and as coordinator of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan.

“Kapag kami ang nagsabi at nagbanggit kung ano sila, 'yun ay hindi red-tagging, 'yun ang katotohanan. Sapagkat doon kami nanggaling. 10 years din ako, 12 years ako sa urban mass movement or white areas, 10 years ako halos sa NPA national operations command NOC, 'yun ang last touch ko (If it is us who say and mention what they are, that's not red-tagging, that's the truth. Because it’s there where we came from. About 10 years, I spent 12 years in the urban mass movement or white areas, almost 10 years that I was with the NPA national operations command (NOC), that was my last touch),” Celiz said.

Of the 12 personalities recruited to the underground movement, only four, including Ka Eric, are alive. Of the four, three are prosecutors and the other one is a judge while eight of his batchmates are dead.

Ka Eric also received on behalf of the former rebels from Cebu a check worth PHP60,000 intended for the livelihood program.

The amount was the proceed from the Heroes Adventure Challenge - Bike/Run for A Cause facilitated by the 3rd Civil Relations Groups (3CRG) of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, supported by Smarties Apparel as well as Bikes and Brews.

As local chapters of Sambayanan, the different sectoral organizations of former rebels in the province will conduct regular community engagements to counter the lies and deceits of the leftists who are also doing mass-based organizing.

Using the whole-of-nation approach, these organizations will also work with regional government agencies in bringing public services right to the doorsteps of the people and address specific issues that concern an office or agency.

The former rebels here also registered their local chapters with the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to qualify for livelihood grants and skills training programs from the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).

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.

The NDF has also been formally designated as a terrorist organization by the Anti-Terrorism Council on June 23, 2021, citing it as “an integral and inseparable part” of the CPP-NPA created in April 1973. (PNA)