By SHERWIN DE VERA
BAGUIO CITY — Communist guerillas in Kalinga province, said the pressure from the national government to declare the revolutionary movement as persona non grata would not hinder their operation and growth.
“The people have no say with the move of the [Department of Interior and Local Government] and local officials, so it has no effect,” said Tipon Gil-ayab in an emailed statement dated October 7.
Gil-ayab is the nom de guerre of the New People’s Army (NPA) spokesperson in the province.
According to him, three local governments already succumbed to the pressures of the DILG and military. He identified the city of Tabuk and the municipalities of Balbalan and Pasil.
The rebel spokes also condemned the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) for deploying troops inside communities. He accused them of perpetrating rights violations like illegal searches and fabricating fake encounters.
“They (military) also intensified their previous tactics of psychological operations to coerce suspected supporters of the revolutionary movement to surrender,” Gil-ayab said.
He said they received reports that government soldiers are recruiting students and out of school youth to be informants “in exchange of cellphones, loads and cash.”
“The soldiers also intervene in school affairs under the guise of leadership training that is part of their counter-insurgency operations,” he added.
International laws, like the Convention on the Rights of the Child, prohibit the recruitment and use of children by parties involved in an armed conflict. Some conventions forbid the installation of military encampments inside or near populated areas.
De facto martial law
Gil-ayab said President Duterte imposed a de facto martial law with the implementation of the Joint Campaign Plan (JCP) Kapanatagan, the implementation plan of Executive Order 70. The order institutionalized the “whole-of-nation approach” directing the military, police and civilian agencies work closely with each other against the communist rebels.
According to him, Duterte gave the military blanket authority to meddle with civilian affairs and policies of the government down to the barangays under the directive.
“In national minority areas like Kalinga, the AFP and PNP continue to employ the indigenous peoples-centric approach to take advantage of the native culture and use it against the people,” he said.
Gil-ayab said the police and military are twisting indigenous practices like the “bodong” or peace pact among tribes by coercing elders to include NPA members.
“Those participating in the armed struggle are not covered by this (bodong) because they are fighting a war of national scale and not in conflict with tribes,” the rebel leader explained.
He noted that several elders were coerced by the military and corporations to subvert community opposition against destructive projects like the geothermal power plant project of Chevron and hydropower dams.
Gil-ayab stressed that the Duterte administration is bound to fail against the revolutionary movement because its programs do not resolve the root of poverty and social injustice.
Earlier, the ProvincialTask Forces to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (PTF-ELCAC) announced that it would consult the 16 barangays in Kalinga the military considers as rebel areas.
The AFP reported that the NPA has three influenced barangays, Mabaca and Poswoy in Balbalan and Tanglag in Lubuagan. Meanwhile, the rebels have less influenced in Western Uma, Upper Uma and Lower Uma in Lubuagan, Guina-ang in Pasil and Dupag of Tabuk City. Also identified as less affected barangays were Balantoy, Gawa-an and Ab-abaan of Balbalan; the barangays Ba-ay, Apatan, Wagod, Ammacian (Sitio Bonnong), and Limos in Pinukpuk.
Governor Ferdinand Tubban ordered the inclusion of the identified barangays in the Pumiyaan, the poverty reduction program of his administration. The program is an adaption of President Duterte’s Executive 70; the plan hinges on the concept of convergence to deliver public service to the poorest barangays. # nordis.net