Police, Army lead rallies vs Reds on CPP anniversary
GENERAL SANTOS CITY—-Government-led rallies against Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) were launched on Thursday (Dec. 26) in different regional capitals in Mindanao in an apparent attempt to show popular support for the counterinsurgency campaign.
Half of the rebels’ combat force was believed to be in different areas of Mindanao.
In the region of Soccksargen, the rallies were led by the Philippine National Police (PNP).
Lt. Col. Lino Capellan, regional police spokesperson, said the rallies were ordered by Interior Secretary Eduardo Ano, a former military general.
Capellan said Ano’s order also covered local governments.
He said the rallies against CPP and New People’s Army, armed wing of the CPP, was to denounce the communist movement and call on its combatants to return to the folds of the law.
“The strength of the communist rebels in the region is waning,” Capellan said.
“To those still in the mountains, we urge you to surrender. The government will help you start living peaceful and productive lives,” he said.
Capellan claimed that the number of rebels had declined due to arrests or surrender of members and ranking leaders in Mindanao and as a result of relentless military operations.
Among those arrested was Jonie Calaba, 25, deputy commander of NPA’s Guerrilla Front 73, and Nicanor Claro Pason alias Ronron and Costan, front secretary of the rebels’ Guerrilla Front 73. Costan was arrested with three other rebels.
In South Cotabato, Gov. Reynaldo Tamayo, Jr. said that at least 60 NPA members had given up fighting the government in the last six months.
“They surrendered in different batches because they felt the services of the government reaching their communities,” Tamayo said.
Tamayo also cited the help of the government’s Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP), which offers a package of livelihood, education and housing to entice rebels to turn themselves in.
Col. Eduardo Gubat, head of the counterinsurgency Joint Task Force General Santos, slammed communist rebels for alleged treacherous attacks aimed at overthrowing the government.
“The government is winning the war against the communist rebels,” he claimed at an indignation rally in this city on Thursday (Dec. 26).
In his message for the CPP anniversary, though, CPP founder Jose Maria “Joma” Sison said President Rodrigo Duterte is now “obssessed” with destroying the communist movement “to please US imperialism and the local reactionary classes.”
Duterte had taken a major shift in foreign policy, ranting against the United States and embracing China.
Sison said funds were being wasted on bureacratic and military corruption and on counterinsurgency programs which Sison said had been futile.
Sison, in self-exile in The Netherlands, claimed that Duterte’s attempt to destroy the rebellion has failed.
In Pagadian City, hundreds of members of the National Alliance for Democracy (NAD) in the Zamboanga Peninsula and Misamis Occidental branded communist rebels as hindrance to development of remote communities in the region.
NAD had been organized as an anti-communist advocacy group.
NAD Secretary General Roel Dago-oc said his group had been reaching out to “our brothers and sisters in the NPA to return to the fold of government as the issues that they have been fighting for are being addressed by the current administration.”
A NAD member, who identified himself only as Jack and claimed he had been a communist rebel for 20 years, said in a speech addressing the youth that young people should be careful about joining groups that might teach them the “wrong ideology.”
Jack pointed to the rebels’ cleansing campaign, Kampanyanga Ahos, in Mindanao which led to the killing of rebels suspected of being turncoats or spies as the strongest argument against the youth being drawn to the rebel movement.
Another NAD speaker, who called herself Feria, said her and her comrades’ lives became better when they surrendered to the government.
“We have established our own farmer’s organization helping local farmers in lifting their livelihood, working with the different national agencies,” she said.
In Cagayan de Oro City, police and Army musicians staged a concert to counter CPP activities for its 51st anniversary.
Maj. Evan Viñas, city police spokesperson, said police had received reports that rebel supporters planned an event to celebrate the CPP anniversary.
“The concert was our way of countering it,” he said.
The concert was attended by policemen and soldiers and some indigenous peoples from Bukidnon province.
Viñas said the event was to show to the people that state security forces were not aching for conflict but peace.
The Army earlier claimed it had reduced the mass support base of rebels in northern Mindanao and the Caraga region.
Maj. Gen. Franco Nemesio Gacal, head of the Army’s 4th Infantry Division, said there was a surge in the number of combatants and NPA supporters in the two regions who had already surrendered to authorities.
This, he said, had weakened rebel capability to maintain presence in a large area.
Gacal said at least 5,000 NPA fighters and supporters had pledged allegiance to the government and were availing themselves of help through E-CLIP, a program that offers housing, funds, education and livelihood to rebels who would surrender.
Gacal said NPA had also lost the support of many indigenous people’s communities in the two regions, further waning its strength.
Edited by TSB
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.