PERSONA NON GRATA. Residents of Barangay Tagbongabong of Remedios T. Romualdez town in Agusan del Norte province gather in an assembly on Tuesday (Jan. 31, 2023) to declare the communist New People’s Army as persona non grata. The activity was joined by the top local officials of the town and the officers of the Army’s 65th Infantry Battalion. (Photo courtesy of 65IB)

BUTUAN CITY – Residents of Tagbongabong village in Remedios T. Romualdez (RTR) town in Agusan del Norte province have declared the communist New People’s Army (NPA) as "persona non grata" or unacceptable in their area.

The declaration was made by villagers in an assembly on Tuesday with the support of RTR Mayor Richard Daquipil and the Army’s 65th Infantry Battalion (65IB) led by Lt. Col. Michel Mortejo.

“During the assembly, the residents denounced the terroristic activities of the NPA rebels as they signed a manifesto declaring the group as persona non grata,” the 65IB said in a statement Wednesday.

Tarpaulins condemning the NPA rebels for the hardships they caused to the residents were also displayed in the different areas of the village, the 65IB said.

According to the Army unit, the NPA has caused disturbance among residents who have grown angry with intermittent armed conflicts in their village.

In his message, Daquipil asked the residents to no longer support the NPA rebels as they made the condemnation and the declaration of persona non grata.

"Supporting terrorist groups, such as the NPA, has legal consequences as defined in Republic Act No. 11479, or the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020,” Daquipil said.

He also facilitated the meeting of the local farmer’s organization in the village to help them obtain government support from the local government unit and the line agencies of the government.

Mortejo, meanwhile, urged the residents to be vigilant against the threats of the NPA rebels and to support the efforts of the Army and the government agencies in the area.

“The government, through the whole-of-nation approach, will continue to provide security to communities and the delivery of basic programs and services,” he said. (PNA)