Partido Reporma standard-bearer Senator Panfilo " Ping" Lacson (Photo courtesy of Lacson-Sotto media bureau)

MANILA – Partido Reporma standard-bearer Senator Panfilo " Ping" Lacson on Monday called on all Filipinos to unite in ending the more than five decades of communist insurgency in the country.

The presidential aspirant made this appeal as he visited Isabela, where the New People's Army (NPA) was born in Jones town in 1969.

"Dapat talaga, the Philippines deserves a better peace and order and prosperity. Dapat magkaisa-isa na tayo para ang kapayapaan at katahimikan mamayani sa ating bansa at tuloy umasenso na tayong lahat (I believe the Philippines deserves a better peace and order and prosperity. We should unite so there will be peace and prosperity in our country and we can live better lives)," Lacson said at the flag-raising ceremony in Cauayan, Isabela.

He said the country needs a strong leader who has a vision and the ability to implement peace and order.

Lacson said during the five decades of insurgency, more than 2,000 people have been killed while billions of pesos had been lost to the NPAs who collect revolutionary taxes and burn the equipment of businessmen who do not cooperate.

He pointed out President Rodrigo Duterte himself cited intelligence information indicating the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), NPA, and National Democratic Front (NDF) may have "infiltrated" the campaigns of some camps.

Lacson said the Philippines has experienced twice the scenario of those identified with the CPP-NPA getting government posts - with the NPA gaining strength each time.

"Napansin namin, ang lalakas ng armas so pag nasa government ang CPP-NPA lumalakas ang pwersa nila within the government bureaucracy itself (We noticed that when those in the CPP-NPA join the government, the NPA's weapons become more powerful)," he added.

Lacson said the people can no longer allow the CPP-NPA to enter into a "coalition" with the government a third time.

In his speech, Lacson also recalled his stint in Isabela in 1988 as then provincial commander of the Philippine Constabulary.

He said he stopped the NPA's practice of conducting checkpoints there and enforced the Constabulary's checkpoints.

He cited one mission where the NPA ambushed his men, with Lt. Rosauro Toda - a member of Philippine Military Academy Class 1986 - among the fatalities.

Lacson noted the ambush had been meant for him, had Toda’s reinforcing group not hit the ambush site ahead of the main force which he was leading. Lacson, who is running for President under Partido Reporma, visited Isabela with his vice presidential bet, Senate President Vicente "Tito" Sotto III.

Sotto, in his speech, noted he had worked for the cityhood of Cauayan.

The call of Lacson is in line with the Lacson-Sotto tandem's platform of giving Filipinos a better life by fixing the ills in government (Aayusin ang gobyerno, aayusin ang buhay ng bawat Pilipino), and going after crooks especially in government (Uubusin ang magnanakaw).

Meanwhile, the Philippine National Police (PNP) will look into reports that communists have infiltrated Robredo's campaign.

PNP chief, Gen. Dionardo Carlos said they will investigate and verify the intelligence reports they gathered.

"We will look at it and submit the report to the President. The rallies, statements, you assess it because the intelligence work, we cannot give you intelligence work. If we go to the field and our intelligence operatives are monitoring and then the statements, in cases yan and then we give it to the proper authority," Carlos told reporters.

Carlos said they will submit a report to the President regarding the matter. (with Lloyd Caliwan/PNA)