THE Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) on Tuesday accused the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) of orchestrating the fake mass surrender to make it appear that the government is winning the war against the New People’s Army (NPA), particularly in Mindanao.
The CPP, chaired by the Netherlands-based Jose Marie Sison, came out with a statement in reaction to an earlier pronouncement by military spokesman Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala that more than 100 rebels have already surrendered following the arrest of communist leaders Benito and Wilma Siazon and five of their bodyguards in Cebu on March 22.
“The AFP’s claims are completely baseless. The surrender ceremonies being conducted by the AFP leadership over the past several months are all a hoax,” said the CPP.
It also accused military officials of recycling old weapons to make it appear that they belong to the rebels so that they could collect the corresponding amount for each gun as provided under the AFP Guns for Peace Program, which ranges from P200,000 for light machine guns, P50,000 for M16 rifles, P60,000 for M14 rifles and P40,000 for M203 grenade launchers, among others.
On the contrary, the CPP claimed, young people from the peasantry, workers and other toiling classes, students and ordinary employees continue to line up to join the NPA across the country.
The CPP also pointed out that all NPA units across the country continue to launch big and small tactical offensives in Mindanao and other parts of the country.
It likewise reiterated its earlier demand for the immediate release of the Tiamzon couple and other peace consultants, saying that they have immunity from arrest as provided under the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) for the duration of the peace negotiations.
The government replied that JASIG has been indefinitely suspended since 2005 and it has informed the National Democratic Front of the Philippines about this.
AFP Public Affairs Office chief Zagala said the CPP’s allegations are all part of a misinformation campaign in misleading the public that the rebels are still united in their efforts to grab power.
“This propaganda is just one of their desperate moves to show to the people that they are still a force to be reckoned with,” he said.
Zagala stressed that the mass surrenders of rebels were all documented and validated.
“The AFP assures that the past surrenders by NPA rebels are legitimate. The identities of these rebels returnees have been validated by our intelligence operatives based on recovered documents from the NPA and testimonies made by past surrenderees,” he added.
Zagala attributed the increasing number of NPAs surrendering to government forces to the underground movement’s weakened leadership as a result of the arrest of the Tiamzons.
He said the AFP leadership is confident that the series of surrenders would also encourage other rebels to lay down their arms and return to the folds of the law.
The latest to surrender was rebel leader Joseph Alpas and NPA member Rogelio Garapan, bringing along their high-powered service firearms, 10 magazines and an anti-personnel landmine.
Alpas, team leader of the Abe Squad 4 of the NPA’s Pulang Bagani Company 3, and his group operate in the Davao area.
Last week, a total of 54 NPA rebels under a certain Embay Casal Gayaw, alleged leader of FC 34 operating in the boundaries of Agusan, Bukidnon, and Davao provinces, also surrendered with 53 assorted firearms to the 403rd Infantry Brigade in Impalambong, Malaybalay City.
“Instead of downplaying this event, the CPP-NPA should just acknowledge the fact that many of their members are opting to leave the armed struggle and live in peace,” Zagala concluded.