Gov’t gaining grounds vs Reds — DILG

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Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo M. Año. — PHILSTAR

THE government is gaining ground against the communist insurgency as the number of rebels continues to decline, said Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo M. Año.

Saying that 8,367 rebels surrendered to the government between July 1 and Dec. 28, 2018, Mr. Año said the communist movement is currently in a sharp decline. Many of the former rebels were granted benefits under the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP).

“Lives are being changed by the E-CLIP program,” he said in a statement released on Friday, Jan. 11. “With more than a thousand former rebels who have received financial assistance last year, we hope that their testimonies will serve as an encouragement for more communist rebels to surrender.”

Of the 8,367, he said 1,207 were armed members of the New People’s Army (NPA) while the rest were with the Militia ng Bayan, the Sangay ng Partido sa Lokal, and underground mass activists.

The Interior secretary said that communist leader Jose Maria C. Sison cannot accept the decline of communist rebels.

“We must remember that Joma [Mr. Sison’s nickname] is a master-propagandist. He will twist facts to suit his own reality. Hindi niya kasi matanggap na nagtatagumpay ang programa ng gobyerno para sa mga rebelde at maraming rebelde na ang gustong magbagong-buhay (He cannot accept that the government’s program for rebels is succeeding and that there are many rebels who want to change their lives),” said Mr. Año.

He added, “To arrest the decline of the Communist movement, Joma and his minions has been clamoring for the resumption of the Oslo peace talks. That’s the best way to stop the hemorrhage. They were already given their chance and blew it, the train has left the station.”

Meanwhile, Mr. Sison said the communist party will remain steadfast despite attacks by government forces.

“In the test of strength in the battlefield, the revolutionary movement hopes and strives to win victories all the way to the overthrow of the Duterte regime and it is up to Duterte offer peace negotiations for addressing the roots of the armed conflict with comprehensive agreements on social, economic, and political reforms,” said Mr. Sison in a statement released on Friday.

He added, “In the meantime, the NPA has no choice but to intensify the armed struggle even as the NDFP (the National Democratic Front of the Philippines) keeps the door open to peace negotiations.”

Recently, Defense Secretary Delfin N. Lorenzana said that the government is aiming to put an end to the communist insurgency in the last three years of President Rodrigo R. Duterte’ term in office. — Vince Angelo C. Ferreras