DAVAO CITY – Arian Jane Ramos, a former member of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) known as Ka Marikit, cherishes the path of peace she chose as she joined the commemoration of the first anniversary of the declaration of Davao Region as “insurgency-free” on Saturday.
“I am a former member of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army, once part of a movement that thrived on the chaos of armed struggle. But I stand here today having chosen a new path - the path of knowledge, understanding, and law,” the former secretary of Guerrilla Front 55 of the NPA based in Southern Mindanao said.
On Oct. 12, 2022, the Davao Region was officially declared free from insurgency through Regional Peace and Order Council 11 Resolution Number 07, series of 2022, following the dismantling of all NPA units within the region.
Turning her back on the armed struggle, she said she is now a testament to the power of transformation, a living embodiment of change, resilience and the pursuit of justice.
“I stand not just as an individual, but as a voice echoing the truth that the path from conflict to cooperation, from violence to dialogue, is not just possible—it is imperative,” she said in an interview with the Philippine News Agency on Sunday.
Ramos joined other former rebels in celebrating the status of Davao Region as insurgency-free.
“This celebration is not merely a regional affair; it is an honor that belongs to the residents of Davao and, indeed, the entire nation,” Ramos said.
She, however, emphasized that amid this triumph, the government authorities should not forget the deeper issues that once made the Davao Region a stronghold for the CPP-NPA-National Democratic Front (NDF).
“Our brothers and sisters in Talaingod and Paquibato District stood with the NPA not out of malice, but out of a deep-rooted desire to defend their ancestral lands, and due to unresolved land conflicts,” she added.
To sustain the region’s insurgency-free status, she pointed out that everyone must resiliently embrace the whole-of-nation approach outlined in the Executive No. 70, focusing on comprehensive land reform, ensuring that the rights of the indigenous peoples (IP) are respected, and their ancestral lands protected.
Ramos also said education and economic opportunities must be made accessible, providing alternatives to the allure of armed movements.
“But even within the remnants of that movement, a profound realization dawned upon us—the realization that the true essence of progress, justice, and prosperity does not lie in the barrel of a gun. It resides in the halls of justice, in the enlightenment of education, and in the embrace of constitutional rights,” she added.
The journey towards lasting peace finds its roots deep within the heart of the democracy inscribed in the 1987 Constitution of the Philippines.
She said it is this sacred document that compels them to advocate for a peaceful resolution to internal conflicts.
“Moreover, let us invest in community-based initiatives, encouraging local participation in decision-making processes. By addressing the root causes of insurgency and involving the community in crafting solutions, we can ensure lasting peace,” she said.
However, fighting for peace, she added, doesn't end there.
“While our representatives passionately voice our grievances, these legitimate concerns are sometimes co-opted, twisted by the CPP-NPA-NDF to fuel their divisive propaganda and perpetuate armed conflict,” Ramos said.
She challenged the legislators to come to Davao City and immerse themselves in the realities of conflict-resilient areas and face the people they represent.
“Ask them the tough questions. Let the raw, unfiltered voices of the people resonate within you. Only by understanding their struggles and aspirations can we craft policies that truly uplift every Filipino,” Ramos said, adding that in their stories lies the power to unite the nation and transform the rhetoric of democracy into tangible change.
Justice not on gunfire
Ramos urged her former comrades to confront the reality: the revolution they once envisioned and the government they aimed to overthrow will never materialize through armed struggle.
“Witness what’s happening in Davao Region – our very own battleground. The change we sought, the justice we craved, it is not found in the echo of gunfire but in the silence of education, in the strength of knowledge,” she said.
She added: “To those who might be hiding behind legal front organizations, let's play a game of truth or dare. The truth is, we know you're out there. The dare? Dare to step into the light and champion your cause without disguise.”
Ramos urged the remnants of the NPA who are still hiding to stop the war against the government.
“Let our diversity be a source of unity and strength, rallying us to protect our motherland from external adversaries,” she added.
Insurgency-free: a blueprint of peace and dev’t
The success achieved by being insurgency-free is not an isolated victory, according to Ramos. She said it is a blueprint for what can be achieved when everyone unites in the pursuit of peace and progress.
“We must not only fight but also win this battle for lasting peace, social justice, and prosperity for every Filipino,” she added.
“Let the story of Davao Region echo across our nation, inspiring every corner to embrace unity, understanding, and the unwavering commitment to defend our beloved Philippines. Together, we shall prevail," Ramos said. (PNA)