By Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade

Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade

There is a new catch phrase that communist terrorists have verbal engineered to launder themselves out of their murderous notoriety.

The new term is “guerrilla zone.”

They will do anything to prove to their local and foreign sponsors that there are not yet a spent force, so they play around with words.

How can there be any truth to guerilla zones when communist rebels do not control any territory within the Philippines.

Indeed if you fell for that false presumption, then you would also fall to their claims that military units conducted a series of operations in so-called guerilla zones.

No way, Jose! There are no guerrilla zones on the ground because these terrorists are unable to keep territory. The NPA has been known to euphemistically mean “No Permanent Address”.

In fact, they are so much on auto-pilot mode these days that even Jose Maria Sison can no longer control them.

We have only one country. One territory, and that belongs only to the Republic of the Philippines. The duplicity and ruthlessness of communist terrorists must never be underestimated. Vigilance is the best weapon against these criminals.

That is why we watch them very carefully.

The  Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA)’s website, http://www.cpp.ph, published an infographic and database claiming that from March 17 to April 6, 146 barangays, 81 municipalities or cities, and 24 provinces were subjected to various types of military operations including aerial surveillance, bombings, raids, military presence, and attack on civilians.

The implication is that these 146 barangays were their “guerilla zones” or areas under their control yet their same report admits government troops have been doing “community support programs” in the same areas.

Of course, we were there supporting the communities who requested protection from their intrusions and who feared reprisal because some of their former members who lived in those communities had already surrendered to the Philippine government and were engaged in preparing to return as productive members of society.

Isn’t it rather obvious that the communist terrorists are bellyaching because they had planned to move into those barangays to once again spread their terror but were thwarted from the evil schemes because of the presence of the Philippine military?

Were they expecting us to welcome them with brass bands, streamers and a bevy of beautiful women armed with leis, when they attempted to infiltrate the communities, armed to the teeth carrying even improvised explosive devices (IEDs)?

We heeded the people’s clamor to defend them from terrorist attacks. Our instructions to AFP personnel are clear and that is to respect the ceasefire but in the same vein they will not allow these communist terrorists to harm and attack peaceful communities.

The encounters occurred because the barangay residents no longer want CPP-NPA terrorists in their communities.

The picture they want to paint, of course, is to show that the Philippine military was in violation of the unilateral truce declared in the wake of the corona virus outbreak.

But take for instance the statement of Cleo del Mundo,  NPA’s Apolonio Mendoza Command in Quezon province last April 7 alleging that “attacks” by the Army’s 85th and 59th IB (Infantry Battalion) in Quezon have been long ongoing even before the unilateral ceasefire declaration. She further alleged that the AFP has intensified operations in “guerilla zones” instead of using its resources in assisting those affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Let’s subject this to a quick content analysis. Was she talking to me? Was she reporting to the communities who requested for our presence there? Was she talking to you, the general public? This language is directed to (a) third parties who are financing their terroristic acts, in and outside the country.

In fact, she was using terminologies common to only her own kind. For heaven sakes, what is a guerrilla zone but geographical areas they have mapped for past or present operations or were intending to occupy or re-occupy?

How will they explain the foiled attacks in the towns of Rodriguez in Rizal and Gumaca and Mulanay in Quezon or the attack of soldiers in Iloilo? Were these their guerilla zones?

So I ask their spokesperson, these questions:

At a time when the entire nation and our economy is barely coping with this dreaded virus, you attack our front-liners during the Holy Week? Where is your heart? What kind of savages are you?

Your NPAs attacked personnel of the Joint Task Force Covid-19 Shield distributing relief in Aroroy, Masbate on Good Friday.

Explain your use of IEDs in Llavac in the town of Real, Quezon and in Calbiga, Samar.

Tell you what, Ms. Cleo Del Mundo, if your NPAs are hungry because food cannot reach you due to the ECQ (enhanced community quarantine), you don’t have to extort rice as you did with relief goods intended for the people of Balangiga, Eastern Samar.

It is ceasefire, isn’t it not? So you can just ask nicely. Your starving NPA regulars and their allies will be given food as Filipino soldiers are not mindless and heartless beasts. We do not harm nor shoot bearers of the white flag of truce.

Just ask and you shall be given. These relief goods are intended for all Filipinos, prodigals or not.

Remember when Typhoon Winnie hit Repador, in the town of Real in Quezon in November 2004? My Special Forces) Battalion was tasked to rescue people and distribute relief.

We did not care if they were NPAs or not. Some of your NPA fighters who survived in Real and Infanta, Quezon were recipients of that humanitarian gesture. People needed help, we went there to help.

That’s not propaganda.

The point is that we are not beasts who will attack you when you are vulnerable. We are human beings,

With an entire country suffering from the effects of Covid-19, he said now is not the time for the CPP-NPA to come out with cheap propaganda and tactical maneuvers.

Our instructions to our soldiers are clear. We will abide by the orders of our authorities and we will respect the ceasefire but will not allow these terrorists to harm our communities. So even as we are performing our share of the mandate to help contain the Covid-19 virus, instructions were clear not to be complacent of these treacherous bandits.

Again, the CPP-NPA does not have any territory and cannot fault the military for doing its mandate of defending, or for that matter rescuing, communities that do not want communist terrorists in their midst.

But if they wake up to the futility of their lost cause and rediscover their true identities as Filipinos and ask for help properly, then we will respond accordingly.

As the President often quotes Ecclesiastes, there is time for war and there is also a time for peace.

Duterte earlier declared a unilateral ceasefire effective March 19 to April 15 to focus on Covid-19 containment efforts. The CPP-NPA reciprocated by declaring its own truce starting March 26 to April 15.

My hope is for the CPP-NPAs to concentrate on helping fight the Covid-19.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines together with local government units are also busy planning for an Economic Recovery Strategy to help poor farmers, peasants, and fisherfolks recover from the hit we all are getting from this Covid-19-induced economic slump.

This is a good time for the CPP-NPA to sit down with the government for solutions.

Let us all work together to cushion the impact of this pandemic.

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