Army lauds former NPA supporter joining peace efforts in Samar

The Philippine Army lauded a staunch supporter of the New People’s Army for abandoning the communist ideology and taking part in peace efforts in their village in Las Navas, Northern Samar.

ABANDONING NPA. A soldier shakes hand with Baby Senobio in San Francisco, Las Navas, Northern Samar in this August 5, 2020 photo shared by the Philippine Army. The military lauded her for abandoning the communist ideology and taking part in peace efforts in their village. (Photo courtesy of Philippine Army 20th Infantry Battalion)

In a social media post, the Army’s 20th Infantry Battalion (IB) honored on Thursday the humility of Baby Senobio for turning her back on the communists. The military is optimistic that more NPA fighters and their supporters will follow her footsteps.

Senobio, a community official in San Francisco, Las Navas town was a member of the “secret and exposed” left-leaning organizations in Northern Samar. These are Northern Samar Small Farmers Association, Alliance san Parag-uma Anti-hunger san Las Navasnon, and Stand with Samar-Leyte, among others.

“Currently, her view seems to have changed. The former hated soldier is now on her side in promoting the programs he deserves for his countrymen,” said Lt. Col. Juan Gullem, commander of the Army’s 20th IB in a phone interview.

The military started to notice the change in Senobio’s view last month.

Citing accounts of former rebels, Senobio’s home served as a temporary shelter for armed rebels sighted in San Francisco village.

She was one of the active personalities in organizing anti-government demonstrations from 2016 to 2019 in her hometown and the Las Navas local government had declared her before as persona non grata.

Senobio’s sister, Maricris Pajanilla, is the medical officer of the NPA sub-regional committee arctic operating in the Pacific towns of Northern Samar based on documents recovered by the military after a clash on April 23, 2020.

“I hope her experience will serve as a light to those who are lost and are taking the dark path. To the other personalities in Las Navas, it’s not too late. Like Baby Senobio there is still time to change. We will wait for your return,” Gullem said.

Las Navas, a fourth-class town in Northern Samar with a population of 38,000, has been the center of propaganda by several organizations linked to the CPP-NPA.

For years, left-leaning groups have been accusing government forces of human rights violations, militarization, extra-judicial killings, mass evacuation, among others, according to the Philippine Army. (Sarwell Meniano, PNA)

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