At least 64 “mass supporters” in Bukidnon and Misamis Oriental provinces withdrew their support for the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing, the New People’s Army (CPP-NPA), and pledged allegiance to the government.
The Philippine Army’s 58th Infantry Battalion (58IB) said in a statement on September 3, 2020, the CPP-NPA supporters decided to join the government by symbolically burning the flags of the communist rebel movement and its front organizations such as the Pambansang Kilusang Mambubukid (PKM).
Lt. Colonel Ricky Canatoy, 58IB commanding officer, expressed gratitude to the troops for immersing themselves in communities influenced by the communist rebel movement.
The troops, he said, helped deliver “the right information to the locals that made them understand the pointless endeavor of theses communist groups that misled the people, especially the youth, towards a brighter future”.
“They are now returning to the folds of the law because the government’s efforts in attaining peace and order for the country are now visible through the implementation of the Executive Order No. 70,” he added.
EO 70, issued by President Rodrigo Duterte in late 2018, aims to institutionalize the “whole-of-government” approach in ending the communist insurgency in the countryside through a host of peace and development initiatives.
According to 58IB, the withdrawal of support occurred simultaneously on Aug. 31 in Barangays Silo-o and San Luis in the Bukidnon town of Malitbog, and in Barangays I.S Cruz and San Nicolas the Misamis Oriental town of Jasaan.
Canatoy said the CPP-NPA supporters were under the supervision of the NPA’s Northern Central Mindanao Region Command (NCMRC), adding that the majority of them belong to the indigenous peoples (IP).
He attributed the withdrawal of support to the initiatives undertaken by the 8IB’s Community Support Team (CST), as well as the village officials in the areas involved.
During the activity, the mass supporters signed the wall of commitment declaring the communist organizations as persona non grata or unwelcome in their barangays.
They then recited a pledge of loyalty to the government, followed by the burning of the CPP-NPA flags to denounce the atrocities the communist rebel movement has committed over the years. (PNA)