MANILA – Some 16 labor leaders, who admitted connections to the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA), surrendered to the military and police during short ceremonies in Calamba, Laguna Friday.
The surrenderers claimed that they are members of a labor union at a soft drinks plant in Sta. Rosa and were recruited by the communist rebels to join their underground movement as part of the efforts to destabilize the industrial sector which is known in CPP-NPA parlance as “white area operations”.
In a statement forwarded to the Philippine News Agency Saturday, Army’s 202nd Infantry Brigade commander Col. Alex Rillera, which has operational jurisdiction over the Cavite-Laguna-Batangas-Quezon (CALABARZON) industrial areas, said four of the surrenderers are already full-time CPP members with the rest “kandidatong kasapi”.
Kandidatong kasapi are recruits who are just a few courses away from attaining full-time membership.
Rillera said four of the surrenderers turned over four firearms and admitted to having already experienced joining the NPAs in the mountains and participating in the terrorist group’s operations.
“This surrender supports the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) and the PNP (Philippine National Police)’s earlier assessment that the NPA terrorists are infiltrating the industrial areas through the labor unions to force the companies to shut their operations down so that innocent employees will be agitated to go against the government,” he said.
The CPP-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United Kingdom, the European Union, the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the Philippines.
Rillera also condemned the communist rebels for their “terroristic intentions of overthrowing the government even at the expense of our countrymen whose welfare they purportedly look after.”
Combined police and soldiers took the lead during the local peace negotiations which were held under the auspices of CALABARZON’s Regional Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict.
Army’s 2nd Infantry Division commander, Major Gen. Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos, Jr., lauded “soldiers, policemen and government officials who were involved in the localized peace engagement for their commitment and dedication to their duties while fighting in two fronts” referring to communist insurgency and the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
He also called the surrender of the labor leaders and admission of NPA membership as “the best sacrifice that they could do for the country’s millions of members of the labor force as we commemorate this year’s Labor Day since it will lead to them being aware of the deception and manipulation which the underground movement is doing upon their ranks.”
Burgos added that the surrender of labor organizers in this mass exodus of NPA terrorists from the underground movement is a decisive blow since aside from losing leaders, their surrender meant fewer cadres who will oversee their supply line from the urban centers to the hinterlands.
“Put down your arms, give up your armed struggle and return to mainstream society while you still can because, despite this contagion, we are mustering all our strength and focusing our sights to the liberation of Southern Tagalog from the clutches of communist terrorism by crushing the few remaining NPAs in this part of the country,” he said.
Military intelligence assessments indicate that the NPA’s mass base support in this part of the country is now fast-eroding and losing traction due to demoralization from massive intelligence-driven combat operations which is complemented by an unrelenting push for localized peace talks that resulted to an unprecedented number of surrenders.
Since the implementation of the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) in Southern Tagalog, 509 former rebels already surrendered 108 firearms to government forces.
A major portion of these surrenderers were presented during the NPA’s 50th anniversary last year as well as during their 51st anniversary last March 29.
CALABARZON and Mindoro-Marinduque-Romblon-Palawan (MIMAROPA) have already distributed a total of PHP10.478 million worth of financial assistance to former rebels. (IA/PNA)