CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/23 November)–The spokesperson of the 4th Infantry Division maintained they did not “round up” the 80 alleged New People’s Army surrenderees last week in Bukidnon as the Communist Party of the Philippines claimed in their recent statement.
In a phone interview Wednesday, Maj. Eugenio Julio Osias, IV, Commanding Officer of the 4th Civil-Military Operations Battalion-Philippine Army said the identities of the 80 surrenderees were “validated facts and confirmed by our tactical intelligence.”
Last Monday, the CPP media bureau slammed the surrender ceremony in Bukidnon calling it a “psywar fakery,” adding the supposed surrenderees led by Benjamin Salusad a.k.a. Kumander Nonong “may have been rounded-up by the military and made to pose as NPA fighters.”
“Kumander Nonong is the commanding officer of the Sangay sa Platon Pampropaganda 3, Front 6 of the North Central Mindanao Regional Committee of the New People’s Army. They were interviewed by local and international reporters. They voluntarily surrendered. We did not round them up. They knew very well they will be covered,” said Osias.
Osias said Nonong told him he decided to surrender because he was disgusted by the way the NPA treats the lumad fighters as “second class citizen pa rin in the communist movement.”
“This is not the first time that the AFP has conducted ‘surrender’ photo-ops and media PR gimmicks in their desperate hope to downplay the growth of the revolutionary movement and the intensifying revolutionary armed resistance of the people,” the CPP’s emailed statement last Sunday said.
“We don’t force them to talk. It was an open press conference. Aside from the media, local government units were also represented. We cannot put words in their mouths. How can we lie? There were a lot of witnesses,” Osias said.
He posited that the CPP may have issued the statement to protect the morale of their guerrilla fighters who have still opted to stay in the countryside.
“I think the reason why they disowned Nonong and the rest of the surrenderees is to protect the morale of the rest of the members of the NPA who are still in the countryside,” the military official said.
“What is sad is the fact that they disowned somebody they exploited before. Kumander Nonong was their winningest guerrilla fighter. This bolsters their statement that they were duped into joining the communist movement. There is no equality even in the communist movement,” he added. (Cong Corrales/MindaNews)