TAPAZ, Capiz – The New People’s Army (NPA) in Central Panay commits that it is ready to defend the people and its territories if the military continues to sabotage the peace process and violate the ceasefire declaration of its commanding chief President Rodrigo Roa Duterte.
The pronouncement was made during the historic celebration of the 48th founding anniversary of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) last December 26 in an NPA territory here in Tapaz.
“We assure you that we are ready and sincere to pursue just and lasting peace. And if the military is persistent in violating the ceasefire and sabotaging the peace process, we are also more than ready to defend you, our bases and our territories,” said Ka Ding, a political instructor of the Igabon Platoon of Jose Percival Estocada Command of the NPA in Central Panay.
Igabon refers to a mountain in Central Panay. Other units are also named after mountains such as Madia-as, and Ibaloy.
More than 500 individuals from various villages in the hinterlands of Capiz and invited guests from the urban centers including the media witnessed the celebration which highlighted the people’s call for just and lasting peace.
“The road to just and lasting peace can only be achieved through the people’s democratic revolution. Only through the people’s armed movement can we dismantle and change the current semi-feudal and semi-colonial Philippine system,” said the CPP in a statement.
The historic celebration, according to Ka Mara, a member of the political department of the Igabon Platoon, is the biggest so far after more than 20 years. The first time it was set again on the founding date, 26.
Military as ceasefire violators
“Previous celebrations were fewer in attendance and celebrated before or after 26, because we have a case before that the military sabotage the celebration by undergoing operations despite ceasefire declaration on the said date, which is also happening now,” she said.
Peace and development teams are still stationed in villages of Acuna and Katipunan in Tapaz of Capiz, which the NPA considered as part of their territory. Meanwhile at Brgy. Cabatangan in Lambunao town of Iloilo, more than 50 troops of the 61st IB/PA are using the barangay hall as their encampment since August, the declaration of the unilateral ceasefire by President Duterte.
“They continue not to acknowledge our territories but uses this information in their psywar tactics against the people,” said Ka Mara.
Last December 19, commanding officer Lt. Col. Leonardo Peña of the 61st IB invited barangay officials to a forum at a military camp in Brgy. Lagdungan, Tapaz. Also present were Capiz provincial and regional directors of the Philippine National Police.
A certain barangay official, who refused to be named, said he had no idea that it was an invitation to the military camp. At first he thought it was on the delivery of material for the construction of a school at his village from the Department of Education.
Later in their discussion, he was tagged as communist supporter where his house was marked red in a map shown to them. The villages of Katipunan, Lahug and Tacayan were also labeled NPA-infested areas and cannot be declared insurgent-free according to Col. Peña.
Support for peace talks
“The people have a very big role to play during the ceasefire season. They must be vigilant. They must be fast in reporting any violations by the military of the ceasefire,” said Ka Mara.
“They must also support and push the peace process and call the government to be sincere in the negotiations such as immediately releasing more than 300 political prisoners that was mutually agreed upon for release during the 1st and 2nd rounds of talks,” she added.
Strengthening the NPA
In their anniversary statement, the CPP-Panay Regional Party Committee said it must maximize the current favorable conditions to advance the people’s war.
“Double the size of the revolutionary armed forces especially the NPA. Firmly grasp this key task in building our main machinery for the advancement of the people’s war. All mass organizations and actions must contribute to the growth of the NPA,” the Party statement said.
It added that the armed revolution must be positioned in all strategic areas in Panay. It must widen its bases and advance the agrarian revolution as political base for doubling the NPA deployments. (John Ian S. Alenciaga | panaytoday.net)