At least 123 LGUs in Eastern Visayas declare NPA members persona non grata
TACLOBAN CITY –– At least 123 local government units in Eastern Visayas have passed separate resolutions declaring members of the New People’s Army (NPA), the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, persona non grata (unwelcome or unacceptable).
Mayor Aran Boller of Matuguinao town in Samar province said the declaration was a testament that the people do not welcome the NPA.
“Our people have had enough with them (NPA). They want change and this change can only be realized if we will get rid of them in our town,” he said.
Boller said various projects could not reach their areas due to the presence of NPA rebels.
“We have several projects, like farm-to-market roads, that were not realized because of them.”
Major Gen. Pio Diñoso III, the commanding general of the 8th Infantry Division based in Catbalogan City, Samar, welcomed the move of the LGUs.
“These declarations are the initiatives of these local government units. They want to show that the NPAs are not welcome,” Diñoso said.
“This is not the war of the Armed Forces (of the Philippines) but the war of the people versus the terrorists,” he added.
Diñoso said government troops will do their best to contain the insurgency in Eastern Visayas, one of the poorest regions in the country.
“With the order of the President, we will make sure that the New People’s Army will become irrelevant next year,” he said.
In particular, Diñoso said they were focusing on Samar Island, which comprises the provinces of Samar, Eastern Samar, and Northern Samar.
Since he assumed his post early this year, he said 16 soldiers have died during fights with the NPA.
He said seven NPA members were also killed during armed encounters.
He said these rebels have been fighting the government for more than 50 years but have not succeeded much.
The general assured the civilians that the military would protect them in this fight.
“Leave the fighting to us, and we assure them that the military is here to protect them,” Diñoso said.
Still, Diñoso said he was open to a peace talk with officials of the local rebel movement here to end the communist insurgency.
“I am open to talk. If you want to have a (peace) talk, we will ask the local government units to lift the persona non grata declaration so we can talk,” he said.
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