DAVAO ORIENTAL – Authorities appealed to the public to become more discerning about the organizations they join and support amidst the proliferation of Left-leaning organizations masquerading as groups pushing for people’s rights and welfare.
During the Joint Provincial Peace and Order Council (PPOC), Provincial Anti-Drug Abuse Council (PADAC), and Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC) meeting held on September 17, peace and development stakeholders have acknowledged the threat that these organizations pose on the country’s peace and security.
While the number of armed Communist New People’s Army rebels in Davao Oriental have continuously dwindled amid the military’s intensified peace and order campaign that also pushed the armed rebels to the boundaries, legal fronts of the Communist Party of the Philippines – New People’s Army – National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) are said to have been working silently at the grassroots to sow fear and social unrest among various sectors in the attempt to turn the masses against the government.
701st Brigade Commander of the Philippine Army Brigadier General Manuel Sequitin admitted that there is a total of 24 identified Left-leaning organizations in the province, of which 15 are active while 9 are inactive. These consist a total of 192 officers and members that influence groups of farmers, women, market vendors, among many others. Formed into legitimate organizations, they use people’s insecurities to fuel their urge to join demonstrations against the government to demand political changes.
“They think they are backed by the NPA,” said Brig. Gen. Sequitin, adding that this mindset fuels their boldness to fight the government through protests.
As a countering measure, the military, as part of its “white area” operations, has been deploying troops to the ground to talk with the members of these organizations who are being considered as victims of exploitation and blinded by the Communist’s “twisted” cause.
“Hunger and insecurities and the feeling of oppression. Those are very strong force that can be exploited. These organizations have their own issues that’s why they are organized,” said National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) Assistant Regional Director Nale Romitman.
NICA Regional Director Evarly Tajanlangit also underlined the need for public awareness about these organizations, especially among workers in the Local Government Units considering that these organizations are also silently infiltrating the government bureaucracy.
“But the more dangerous enemy is the one that stand among us and stand right beside us. The CPP-NPA-NDF infiltration of the bureaucracy is like sleeping with the enemy,” added ARD Romitman.
The PPOC members have collectively agreed that support to these political legal fronts must stop because “supporting them enables violent activities to survive.”
Vice Governor Niño Uy said that the province has ratcheted up the requirements in the accreditation of Civil Society Organizations that sit down in the local special bodies. He said that aside from the memorandum circular issued by the Department of the Interior and Local Government which prescribes the guidelines in accreditation, there is also a Provincial Ordinance which specifies added requirements, including the endorsement of the two lower Sanggunians – in the barangay and the municipality.
Meanwhile, aside from the infiltration in the government, the education system is another sector being targeted by the CPP-NPA-NDF to push their agenda. For the past years, private learning institutions have been discovered to be teaching Communist ideologies in Indigenous People’s communities in hinterland areas, thus, causing deep concerns among council members and peace and development stakeholders since these schools have also been noted as training grounds and a venue to recruit new members of the NPA.
67th Infantry Battalion Commander Lt. Col. Louie Dema-ala aired out a recent issue in one CPP-NPA-NDF-affiliated school in a hinterland sitio in the municipality of Baganga which has managed to secure a Free Prior Informed Consent (FPIC)—one of the documents needed requirements to secure a permit to operate. He reported that those invited during the consultation for the FPIC only consisted of 10 persons who are parents of children attending the said school and who were paid a certain amount to give their nod for the consent.
Discovering the incident prompted the battalion to conduct a dialogue with the community resulting to the people denouncing the CPP-NPA-NDF. He said that the parents who signed the resolution were also the first to withdraw their signatures, thus, retracting the votes and the conduct of another consultation – this time everyone in the community will be informed and invited.
Brig. Gen. Sequitin recommended that “members of the PPOC from the barangay level up should be consulted and informed prior to the conduct of any activities related to addressing CPP-NPA-Terrorist (CNT) issues” in order to avoid similar incidents.
He added that the council is now awaiting the document coming from the Department of Education Regional Office banning the operation of these private learning institutions here in the province. By Karen Lou Deloso/Photos by Eden Jhan Licayan
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