The Philippine Army on Tuesday insisted that the more than 50 people arrested in separate operations in Negros Occidental are members of the communist New People’s Army (NPA) and linked them to a labor group.
Lt. Col. Emelito Thaddeus Logan, commander of the Army’s 79th Infantry Battalion, said the military was not targeting progressive groups based in the province, apparently responding to statements that the apprehended persons were not NPA rebels.
Some of those arrested, Logan added, were allegedly recruited to some groups, which he called leftist, such as the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU).
The military official said the KMU and all other leftist groups should not be considered as progressive organizations but as “regressive groups.”
Logan pointed out that the arrested persons are also no longer workers of Ceres Bus Co., saying all of them went absent without official leave.
“This is the problem when the KMU infiltrates unions. They agitate workers and make demands, but the issues they choose are not really meant to be resolved,” he said in a statement.
Logan added that the infiltration would result in a “stronger influence” by the NPA, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the National Democratic Front (NDF).
The NPA and the CPP are members of the NDF, an umbrella group.
Those who were recently arrested and whom the military tagged as members of the NPA were nabbed in separate operations in the cities of Bacolod and Escalante in Negros Occidental, while several others were arrested in Manila.
The raids were effected by an arrest warrant issued by a regional trial court in Quezon City, a move that was questioned by various militant groups based inside and outside Metro Manila.
Some groups, including human rights group Karapatan, said the arrested persons were not members of the NPA and are activists.