TACLOBAN CITY – The formal surrender of a couple formerly engaged in activism and insurgency in Leyte has further established the ties between the Bayan Muna party-list and the New People’s Army (NPA).
The Philippine Army (PA) on Thursday reported that "Jerry" and "Dalia" (not their real names) walked into the headquarters of the 14th Infantry (Avenger) Battalion, 8th Infantry Division, PA in Barangay Uguis, Mahaplag on August 17 introducing themselves as "former NPA terrorists and as lie-low leaders of the Bayan Muna".
It was not the first time the two reached out to government authorities to leave the communist terrorist group.
"In reality, Jerry and Dalia have long wanted to abandon the violent life of communist terrorism. Having seen enough violence including the infamous Inopacan Massacre in their six-year active involvement with the CPP-NPA-NDF (Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army-National Democratic Front ) from 1986 to 1992," the military said in a statement.
In 1993, the couple with a group of some 200 members and supporters of the NPA yielded to the local officials of Mahaplag, the military statement added.
The two recalled that in 2001, "they were already living a normal life when one Jun Salazar from Inopacan, Leyte, Provincial Coordinator of Bayan Muna, recruited them into the CPP-established party-list."
"Salazar designated Jerry as Bayan Muna municipal coordinator and tasked the couple to organize the farmers and the workers in the area, and to lead them in strikes and anti-government rallies until they went on lie-low in 2004," the military statement said.
Salazar and a certain Dario Tomada, a peasant leader-organizer from Ormoc City, told them to instruct the organized masses to vote for Bayan Muna during the May 2001 election.
The military said the couple could be referring to Felomino Salazar, Jr., a resident of Inopacan, who was earlier arrested in connection with the criminal charges filed against him concerning the gruesome NPA purging in Mt. Sapangdaku, Caulisihan village in Inopacan town in the late 1980s.
Jerry admitted in an interview that he served as a medical officer of Squad 1, 5th District Guerrilla Unit, Front Guerrilla Unit in south Leyte from 1986 to 1992 and later as Bayan Muna-Mahaplag Municipal Chairman from 2001 to 2004.
Dalia bared she was the finance officer of the same front guerrilla unit from 1986 to 1992 and a Bayan Muna organizer in Mahaplag from 2001 to 2004.
The two claimed that in 2004 they voluntarily disappeared from Mahaplag, left their family behind, and hid somewhere in Bohol to totally avoid both the CPP-NPA-NDF and Bayan Muna.
However, both Jerry and Dalia realized that they would not be able to be free from the rebels' control as they would continue to approach and recruit them again either into the armed group or the Bayan Muna party-list group.
"It is part of the NPA doctrine to recruit back former members and those on lie-low status," said Brig. Gen. Zosimo Oliveros, commander of the Army’s 802nd Infantry Brigade.
"Hence, their formal surrender is very much welcome as it would afford us the golden opportunity to help them. In the advent of Executive Order No. 70, there is now a mechanism that will ensure their effective reintegration into the mainstream of our society," Oliveros added.
EO 70, signed by President R. Duterte in December 2018, institutionalized a whole-of-nation approach in obtaining exclusive and sustainable peace-giving the country an effective solution against communist-terrorists.
“I welcomed the formal return to the fold of the law of the couple Jerry and Dalia as it would seal their departure from the communist terrorist group and prevent their recruitment again either in the armed underground movement or the open revolutionary mass movement. Moreover, the revelations of the couple gave credence to allegations on the link between the terrorist CPP-NPA and the Bayan Muna,” the military official said.
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.
The NDF has been formally designated as a terrorist organization by the Anti-Terrorism Council on June 23, 2021, citing it as “an integral and separate part” of the CPP-NPA created in April 1973. (PNA)