“In any war, the people are the most decisive and so, the military will never be able to crush the Party.”
By RONALYN V. OLEA
BICOL REGION – A few weeks after President Rodrigo Duterte signed Memorandum Order No. 32 ordering the deployment of more troops to Bicol, Samar and Negros, the Romulo Jallores Command of the New People’s Army (RJC-NPA) declared that Duterte would fail to end the longest-running armed revolution in the world.
In a press conference somewhere in the mountainous part of the region last week, Raymond Buenferza, spokesperson of the RJC-NPA, said in Filipino, “The people’s army will never ever be defeated.”
Buenferza said that MO no. 32 and the subsequent Executive Order No. 70 outlining the government’s ‘national task force to end insurgency’ signal more rights violations in the region and in the entire country.
The NPA spokesperson said that the military targets civilians, adding that there have been 77 victims of extrajudicial killings in the region since Duterte assumed the presidency.
Buenferza said the NPA units in the region, in response to the “heightening calls for justice,” carried out 87 tactical offensives in 2018, killing 68 state security forces and wounding 48 others.
He cited the NPA ambush on a convoy of the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Lupi, Camarines Sur on Oct. 18 as punishment to policemen engaged in “anti-drug” operations. Three police officers were killed.
Buenferza said the Army’s 9th Infantry Battalion (IB) and the Task Force Bicolandia failed to crush the revolutionary movement in Bicol in 2018.
With the deployment of 49th IB, 42nd IB, Special Action Forces and Duterte death squads in the region, Buenferza said, the NPA in Bicol would have the opportunity to punish these units for their crimes against the people.
Using civilian agencies for military purposes
The revolutionary groups in Bicol also criticized EO 70 for including 14 civilian agencies in the so-called National Task Force To End Local Communist Armed Conflict.
Under the EO, civilian agencies such as the Department of Interior and Local Government, Department of Education, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Department of Justice, among others, are mandated to provide support to the task force.
Buenferza revealed that military units have signed memorandum of agreements with local government units in Bicol, forcing the latter to report activities of the revolutionary movement.
Michael Robredo, spokesperson of the NPA-Norben Gruta Command operating in West Camarines Sur, said that even before EO 70, soldiers have been occupying public places such as barangay halls and schools and even homes of civilians. “They are forcing people to provide information about the NPA,” Robredo said.
Still, the revolutionary forces in the region are confident they will continue to gain more strength.
Buenferza said that despite the continuous military operations in the region, the NPA has gained more strength and the mass base of the revolutionary forces has widened.
Samuel Guerrero, 69-year-old spokesperson of the NPA-Celso Minguez Command, said this is because the revolutionary movement is deeply rooted among the masses.
“In any war, the people are the most decisive and so, the military will never be able to crush the Party,” (referring to the Communist Party of the Philippines),” he said in Filipino.
Guerrero, who has been a guerrilla for 27 years, said the NPA is not just a fighting force but also implements agrarian revolution, participates in agricultural production, provides services to the poor, among others.
As the 50th anniversary of the CPP draws near, Guerrero looks forward to victory.