THE Philippine National Police (PNP) has welcomed the inclusion of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDF) in the list of terrorist organization, saying it is a wise move to expedite the defeat of communist insurgency in the country.
However, PNP chief, General Guillermo Lorenzo T. Eleazar emphasized that police operations against individuals including NDF consultants and personalities with links to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA) are all legitimate and have basis.
In a five-page Resolution No. 21 issued last month, the Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC) chaired by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea cited the NDF as an integral part of the CPP-NPA or the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing, the New People’s Army.
“Article IX of the 2016 CPP Constitution shows the command, lead and guidance of the CPP over the NPA, while Article X shows that the NDF (a.k.a. NDF of the Philippines) is the core and most consolidated group that provides support to the armed and organizational expansion of the CPP-NPA,” the Resolution read.
The top cop said the declaration of the NDF as a terrorist organization would deny them to take advantage of the laws and eventually pave the way for an all-out operations, including legal offensive against them.
“Napakarami nang mga miyembro at lider ng CPP-NPA na ginagawang dahilan ang pagiging umano’y peace talks consultant kapag sila ay naaresto,” he said.
“Sa pagdeklara ng NDF na isang teroristang grupo, mawawalan na ng palusot ang mga taong ito at lalo lang mapapalakas ang ating mga operasyon upang tuluyan ng wakasan ang mga grupong ito na naghahasik ng karahasan sa mga kanayunan,” he added.
Gen. Eleazar explained that the continuous existence of the CPP-NPA-NDF is no longer about any ideology, saying it it is more about the power of the guns through threats, intimidation, extortion and attacks that included civilians as casualties.
He cited the case of FEU and national football team player Keith Absalom and his uncle who died in an NPA ambush in Masbate City and the death of watchman Eldrin Daraman who was killed when NPA rebels attacked a construction site in Surigao del Sur.
“Sinuportahan ng PNP ang deklarasyong ito at patuloy na makakaasa ang ating mga kababayan ng agresibong kampanya upang makamit natin ang tunay na kapayapaan at kaunlaran na hinahadlangan ng mga grupong ito,” the PNP chief said.
Gen. Eleazar gave the assurance as he dismissed the NDF warning that attacks against their members and government dissenters would continue after the group was tagged by the ATC as a terrorist organization being an integral part of the CPP/NPA.
“I would like to point out that our operations are not against activists or critics of the administration, but against persons who have committed crimes and those responsible for atrocities as part of the CPP/NPA/NDF,” Gen. Eleazar said.
“Laging may basehan ang aming operasyon at hindi kailanman dahil lang sa pagbatikos sa administrasyon. Mataas ang respeto natin sa mga karapatan sa malayang pananalita at pagpapahayag,” he stressed.
“The targets of our operations are personalities against whom courts have issued warrants or those suspected to have committed criminal acts based on validated information and collected evidence,” he added.
Gen. Eleazar also dismissed allegations by the NDF that previous arrests of its consultants and other personalities linked to the CPP/NPA were made on fabricated charges.
“The previous arrests made against a number of NDF consultants were legitimate because of the charges filed against them in various courts. They were released from detention for the peace talks but once negotiations failed, the NDF consultants went into hiding and refused to face the charges filed against them,” he explained.
“Takot silang harapin ang mga kaso dahil alam nilang matibay ang ebidensiya laban sa kanila at tiyak ang kanilang mahabang panahon na pagkakakulong,” he said.
NPA STRENGTH IN SOUTHER MINDANAO ‘DECIMATED’
The PNP chief also said they have noted a massive reduction in the strength of the NPA and their guerrilla fronts in Southern Mindanao amid the continuing surrender of many of their members.
He said that data from the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF ELCAC) indicated that a total of 18,433 communist rebels have surrendered to the government since 2016, including 92 “child soldiers.”
In a meeting with Army’s 10th Infantry Division commander, Major Gen. Ernesto C. Torres, the PNP chief said he learned that the number of communist armed groups in Southern Mindanao has been reduced from 23 to just six.
“This could be attributed to the intensified anti-communist insurgency campaign of the Duterte administration,” he said.
“The PNP welcomes this huge development in the government’s campaign against communist insurgency. Kaagapay tayo ng militar sa pagsugpo sa mga rebeldeng ito. The dwindling number of guerrilla fronts only proves that the administration’s efforts against the communist rebels is effective,” Gen Eleazar added.
The Police Regional Office 11 (PRO11) headed by Brigadier Gen Filmore B. Escobal has also noted a reduction in the NPA strength in the region with the decision of many of their members to yield due to their hard life in the mountains and avail of the government’s comprehensive livelihood program for rebel returnees.
“Marami na din ang naitatalang mga rebelde na sumuko na sa gobyerno. Napagtanto na ng mga ito na walang kabuluhan ang ideolohiya na itinuro sa kanila at walang saysay ang isinusulong na armadong pakikipaglaban ng CPP/NPA na ang inaatake ay pawang mga tahimik na komunidad at inosenteng sibilyan,” Gen. Eleazar said.
He explained that this latest development would serve to motivate the police and the military to strive harder in ending the communist insurgency.
The top cop also urged remaining rebels in Southern Mindanao and other parts of the country to lay down their arms, return to the fold of the law and avail of reintegration and livelihood programs being offered by the government.
“Hindi pa huli ang lahat. Maaari pa kayong magbalik-loob sa gobyerno at magbagong-buhay,” he said.