152 ex-commies denounce deceitful CPP-NPA front groups
By Sarwell Meniano / Philippine News Agency
TACLOBAN CITY – At least 152 members of New People’s Army (NPA) front organizations here formally turned away from the communist terrorist group on Friday.
In a ceremony at the People’s Center and Library here, NPA-affiliate group members pledged their loyalty to the government and joined the Metro Tacloban Integrated Peace and Development Workers Federation.
Of the 152 surrenderers, 42 were formerly from Kadamay, 36 Katrabaho, and 26 from Gabriela.
The rest belonged to Sagupa, Masanag, Bayan Muna, and Anakpawis.
The groups are affiliates of Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU), a group linked with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) - NPA.
KMU-Tacloban chair Roy Perez, who has four children, abandoned the CPP-NPA after 15 years.
"Those 15 years are too much. I want to live in peace with my family. I'm tired of fighting the government," the 47-year-old Perez told the Philippine News Agency.
He was 32 when he joined the NPA in the Davao Region in late 2006 and was designated as a squad leader and finance officer.
He visited his family here in 2013 and was not able return to Mindanao due to the devastation caused by Super typhoon “Yolanda”.
Since then, Perez had been organizing anti-government rallies.
Perez recalled visiting NPA lairs in the mountains of Basey and Calbiga in Samar in 2018 and 2019.
Napoleon Escalona, 54, also realized that he was deceived by the CPP-NPA for the past 10 years.
"We were made to believe that laborers like us are oppressed and undesirable. They took advantage of our vulnerable situation. Usually, the NPA mobilized us to conduct rallies especially during demolition of houses of poor families," Escalona, chair of labor group Katrabaho, said in another interview.
He was convinced to join the NPA-affiliated group when his 20-year-old son died at work due to an accident -- sacks of cement buried him alive.
"My intention was to seek justice for my son's death, but the labor group indoctrinated me to fight the government by joining the NPA front organization," Escalona added.
Mayor Alfred Romualdez, who led the oath-taking rites, assured former NPA supporters of help from the city government.
"We want you to live a normal life and become productive citizens. The government is here to support you," the mayor said in his speech.
Representatives from government agencies also committed to support them through capability building, access to funds, and technical assistance.
Philippine Army 8th Infantry Division commander, Maj. Gen. Edgardo de Leon, said the mass disaffiliation was a result of the whole -of-nation approach by the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (ELCAC).
ELCAC, according to de Leon, paved the way for the surrender of NPA fighters and supporters and dismantling of guerrilla fronts.
"With the task force ELCAC, we have stopped the NPA recruitment. Front organization members used to rally expressing anger to the government, but now you are joining a rally for peace and development," de Leon said in his speech.
The CPP-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines. (PNA)