Eighty-one NPA exploited masses who are members of the Save Quirino Movement (SQM) from barangays Namitpit and Patongcaleo, both in Quirino town, Ilocos Sur withdrew their support to the CPP-NPA-NDF and pledged allegiance to the government in a ceremony administered by Mayor Allen I. Nimo, Jr., on December 7, 2020.
The said exploited masses are composed of 33 members of the Pambansang Kilusan ng Magsasaka (PKM) – Underground Mass Organization (UGMO) of farmers’ sector and 48 members of the Malayang Kilusan ng Bagong Kababaihan (MAKIBAKA) – UGMO of women’s sector.
The activity was facilitated by the 69th Infantry (COUGAR) Battalion, 702nd Infantry (DEFENDER) Brigade Philippine Army, led by Battalion Commander Lt. Col. Mario Igmen, Jr.
“After the series of dialogues and symposiums facilitated by the Community Support Program Teams to enlighten the masses, these members of the SQM realized that they fell victims of the deceptive recruitment of the CPP-NPA-NDF through its Agitate-Organize-Mobilize tactics. SQM members were in fact made to believe the false promises of the Communist Organizers that prompted them to join the Sectoral Front Organizations,” Lieutenant Colonel Igmen said.
After the oath taking ceremony, the members of SQM initiated the burning of the NPA flag followed by the covenant signing of the pledge of commitment to end their support to the CPP-NPA-NDF and to refrain from participating in any activities that will bring atrocities in the country.
Moreover, re-orientation and debriefing of the exploited masses on how they were deceived by the CPP-NPA-NDF was conducted by the 702nd Infantry (DEFENDER) Brigade, Philippine Army.
Mayor Nimo expressed his gratitude to the Philippine Army for their partnership with the LGU to implement the Executive Order No. 70 of President Rodrigo Duterte to end local communist armed conflict.
“Nagpapasalamat ang LGU Quirino sa Community Support Program ng Philippine Army at dahil dito ay naipaliwanag ang mga bagay na inyong dapat malaman para sa inyong kapakanan. Nawa’y tuparin at isapuso natin ang ating panata ngayong araw. Sa pamamagitan nito’y, magiging mas matibay ang relasyon natin lalo na sa ating gobyerno,” he said.
“This activity is a manifestation of the collaborative efforts of the people of Quirino, the local government unit of Quirino, and the Philippine Army towards ending the local communist armed conflict. As long as we remain committed in our quest for peace, nothing is impossible,” added Lieutenant Colonel Igmen.
Prior to the activity, last November, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) in Ilocos Sur conducted skills training on Basic Commercial Baking and Basic Skills Training on Performing Manicure and Pedicure, respectively, to selected 60 UGMO members in the said town.
Rowell Valdez, President of the Upper Madapoy Farmers Organization that underwent the said training, expressed his gratitude to the said agencies for giving them the opportunity to learn various skills amid the support they have given to the rebel groups.
“Nagpapasalamat kami sa DTI at TESDA dahil sila mismo ang naglapit sa amin sa mga tulong mula sa gobyerno kagaya sa skills training at baking equipment na ibinigay nila sa amin. Ngayon, nag-o-operate na aming organisasyon at may konting kita na pumapasok na kahit papaano’y naidaragdag sa aming araw-araw na hanapbuhay,” he said.
He likewise thanked the Philippine Army for their guidance to help them leave the wrong path the CPP-NPA-NDF have created for them.
“Nagpapasalamat kami sa 81st Infantry (SPARTAN) Battalion at sa 69th Infantry (COUGAR) Battalion dahil hindi nila kami pinabayaan at talagang tinulungan nila kami hanggang nalinisan ang buong puso at pag-iisip namin. Naalis iyong takot namin sa military kasi dati takot kami sa mga military dahil na rin sa maling ideolohiya na sinasabi ng kabilang grupo pero ngayon, nagpapasalamat kami sa kanila kasi tinulungan nila kami, hinila nila kami pabalik sa dati naming pamumuhay,” he said. (Joyah Mae Quimoyog, PIA Ilocos Sur)