GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 26 December) —- Protest rallies in various parts of Region 12 greeted the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) as it celebrated its 51st anniversary Thursday.
At the same time, organizers urged members of the New People’s Army (NPA), the CPP’s armed wing, to abandon their armed struggle and return to mainstream society.
Lt. Col. Lino Capellan, Police Regional Office-12 spokesperson, said the simultaneous demonstrations against the CPP-NPA-NDFP (National Democratic Front of the Philippines) sought to denounce the “treacherous acts” allegedly committed by the communist guerillas, whom he urged to surrender.
“The strength of the communist rebels in the region is waning. 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 noted the “declining force” of the NPA rebels was due to the arrest or surrender of ranking leaders, including the apprehension of Jonie Calaba, 25, deputy commander of the NPA’s Guerilla Front 73, in Maitum town, Sarangani province last October.
Also in October, authorities arrested Nicanor Claro Pason, alias “Ronron/Costan,” the secretary of Guerilla Front 73, and three other rebels also in Maitum.
Although he failed to give a figure, Capellan said that many NPA rebels returned to the folds of the law due to the ongoing military operations and because of the difficult life in the mountains.
In his anniversary message, CPP founding chair Jose Maria Sison slammed President Rodrigo Duterte for being “obsessed” in destroying the revolutionary movement “in order to please US imperialism and the local reactionary classes.”
Worst of all, “colossal amounts of public funds are wasted on bureaucratic and military corruption and on futile schemes to destroy the revolutionary movement and impose a fascist dictatorship on the people,” Sison said.
Sison, who has been on self-exile in The Netherlands, claimed that Duterte’s efforts “to destroy the CPP have failed.”
Duterte early this month ordered government peace negotiators to work out the resumption of stalled peace talks with the communist rebels.
Both sides have agreed to a ceasefire from December 23, 2019 to January 7, 2020 to foster the environment favorable to the resumption of peace negotiations.
The United States government classified the CPP-NPA as a “foreign terrorist organization.”
In South Cotabato, Governor Reynaldo Tamayo, Jr. said that at least 60 NPA rebels 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,” he said.
Tamayo also cited the government’s Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP), which offers cash and livelihood assistance, as a key factor why the communist guerillas abandoned the armed struggle.
For his part, Col. Eduardo Gubat, commander of the Army-led Joint Task Force GenSan, slammed the communist rebels for also allegedly perpetrating “treacherous actions” against state security forces in their bid to overthrow the government.
“The government is winning the war against the communist rebels,” he claimed at the indignation rally here Thursday morning.