In a ceremony performed at the village covered court on Saturday (August 28, 2021), a group of farmworkers and other villagers in Barangay E. Lopez, Silay City, Negros Occidental, burned communist-terrorist flags and pledged loyalty to the government.
In the presence of Mayor Mark Golez and officials from the Philippine Army and the Philippine National Police, villagers also protested the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA)’s atrocities and lies.
Lt. Col. J-jay Javines, commanding officer of the Army’s 79th Infantry Battalion, praised locals for criticizing the crimes of communist-terrorist groups (CTGs) and their linked organizations in a statement released on Sunday.
“This clearly shows that the peace-loving residents of E. Lopez can no longer endure the suffering. Their pledge to withdraw their support from the armed group is a bold step towards ending insurgency,” he said.
About 250 individuals, most of them members of Hacienda Culahao-C Farmer Workers Association (HACUFWA) and Hacienda Nenita Farmer Workers Association (HANFAWA), took their oath of allegiance to the Philippine government before village chief Meriam Gallego.
HACUFWA chairman Arnilo Serquillos said the Army’s Community Support Program (CSP) team and the police helped them register their association with the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).
“We have long wanted to register, but the organizer just asked money from us, and it never happened. That’s why we were not able to avail of government programs. Through the help of the CSP team, we were finally able to register with the DOLE,” he added.
During the activity, which was organized by the 32nd Civil-Military Operations Battalion and the 1st Negros Occidental Provincial Mobile Force Company (NOCPMFC), participants signed the Barangay Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (BTF-ELCAC) resolution condemning and declaring as persona non grata groups that aid communist-terrorists in committing terroristic and criminal acts that violate the law.
They also held posters demanding a halt to terrorist actions such as harassment and recruiting of youngsters.
During the event, Javines urged residents of E. Lopez to work with the Army and police, as well as the local government unit and other government agencies, to put an end to the CPP-decades-long NPA’s ruthlessness. He was joined by Maj. Fernando Somblingo Jr., officer-in-charge of 1st NOCPMFC; and Lt. Col. Robert Petate, chief of Silay City Police Station.
Former rebel “Ka Joross” also spoke at the event, sharing his experiences in the armed fight and how his life changed for the better once he surrendered.
The United States, European Union, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines have all designated the CPP-NPA as a terrorist group.
In June, the Philippines’ Anti-Terrorism Council formally branded its political wing, the National Democratic Front (NDF), as a terrorist organization.