BAGUIO CITY — The Cordillera People’s Democratic Front (CPDF) called the government’s surrender campaign a “milking cow venture” and the purported local peace talks as “preposterous.”

In light of the photoshopped image of alleged communist rebels who surrendered in Masbate, the CPDF declared the Oplan Kapanatagan’s surrender campaigns a “sham” and source of corruption. In December 2019, the AFP drew widespread criticism after its 2nd Infantry Batallion in Bicol Region released a manipulated photo of purported 300 surrenderees. Several media outfits carried the story but netizens and other reporters who were diligent enough to examine the picture, sound the alarm for the poorly edited material.

In a statement dated January 2, CPDF Spokesperson Simon “Ka Filiw” Naogsan, Sr., said that propaganda and psychological warfare is a significant component of the government’s Oplan Kapanatagan. He drew parallels between the disinformation strategies during the Marcos-era and the Duterte administration. The rebel leader pointed out that this is the same strategy used in the Second World War by Nazi Germany chief propagandist Joseph Goebbels.

Naogsan stressed that contrary to the statements of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), the Masbate debacle was not an isolated incident. He said similar incidents are happening even in Northern Luzon. He pinpointed instances of “fake surrenders,” akin to that of Masbate, of surrenderees in Kalinga, Abra, and Isabela.

He noted that to impress President Rodrigo Duterte, the AFP orchestrated a presentation of “fake surrenderees” in Isabela province in September 2018. The president visited Isabela mainly to address its socio-economic needs after Typhoon Ompong ravaged the area. Naogsan added that some of the “surrenderees” were paid afterward.

CPDF also criticized the police presentations of surrenderees in Abra and Kalinga. According to Naogsan, those presented by the police were senior citizens whom the government suspects as communist supporters as far back as the Martial Law era. He added that most of the supposed surrenderees were “recycled” from previous administrations and counter-insurgency campaign.

Naogsan pointed out that aside from being a disinformation campaign for citizens and a psychological warfare tactic, these “fake surrenders” are being staged as a “corruption racket” by the military and police. He said that officers are pocketing funds from taxes allotted to the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) included in Oplan Kapanatagan.

Meanwhile, in a separate pronouncement on January 14, Naogsan stressed that the government’s vision of destroying the revolutionary movement in the Cordillera by 2022 is “plain daydreaming.” He noted that the mindset employed by the government keeps the root causes of the armed conflict unaddressed.

The CPDF spokes also slammed the “localized peace talks” program of the Office of the Presidential Adviser for the Peace Process (OPAPP) under former AFP Chief Carlito Galvez, Jr. He dismissed OPAPP’s promotion is its peace accord with the CPLA-CBAd as being “disgraced, discredited and discarded.” According to him, the government merely used its declaration of the CPLA-CBAd as a legitimate rebel group to project the purported success of the peace talks.

Naogsan recalled that the CPLA essentially surrendered to the Cory Aquino administration through a “sipat” in 1986. During the Arroyo administration, the government also integrated most of its members to the AFP as CAFGU units. He added that over time they had committed human rights violations, criminal activities, and displayed strong-arm arrogance. These actions, he said, prompted some local governments to declare their organization persona non grata. # nordis.net

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