Camp Lukban, Catbalogan City - The Provincial Government of Leyte together with 8th Infantry Division on December 8, 2011 declared the province of Leyte as a manageable conflict-affected area ready for development, a move being criticized by the New People’s Army in Eastern Visayas. Ka Karlos Manuel, the Spokesperson of the Efren Martirez Command, called Major General as daydreaming for such declaration. “Yes the army is daydreaming. We are dreaming of a long lost peace and prosperity in Leyte. For almost a decade, the provinces of Leyte and Southern Leyte are starting to feel development and immense economic activities after the CPP-NPA-NDF influence in the area had weakened and its terrorist activities had declined.” This was the answer of the good General when asked to comment on the statement of the EMC spokesperson.
Ka Karlos Manuel even claimed that they, the CPP-NPA-NDF, had gained strength while the LGU of Leyte and 8th ID proclaimed the province as insurgency-free. Having read this statement, Major General Chan, again, replied with a funny expression. “It seems that Ka Karlos Manuel is the one daydreaming and he is on a nightmare. Maybe, he is not aware of what is really happening on the ground or he just wants to conceal the truth that they don’t have the capability to expand its organization in Leyte and soon they will cease to exist. That is the most proximate to reality. Look, if it is true that they have gained strength in the area, the people of Leyte will be the ones to protest the declaration of Leyte as insurgent-free Island.” It can be recalled that Southern Leyte was earlier declared as Insurgent-free province on September last year. “Ka Karlos Manuel said that they have structured more mass organizations in peasant, women and youth, then this should have been noticed and felt in the area. But where are these mass organizations? The truth is, the people in Leyte no longer believe nor buy this propaganda. The people of Leyte had been awakened from the false representation and propaganda of the CPP-NPA-NDF. The people of Leyte have learned the real truth. Thus, the communist terrorists are now having difficulties in their recruitment.”
Major General Chan likewise denied the contention of EMC Spokesperson that the 8th ID is using tactics to sway civilians to attend meetings they [8th ID] initiated. He considered it as a very insane and preposterous. He humbly acknowledged that 8th ID has no funds to buy lechon and other similar lavish food preparations just to sway the communities on their favor. On the contrary, he claimed that our communities joined the meetings with the 8th ID in every barangay because they believed that they [8th ID, Phillipne Army] is the real people whom they can depend on. He raises his head and said, “the army [8th ID] serves and will continue to serve as their protector against the NPAs. Incidentally, soldiers of the 8th ID is not asking food from the communities in remote areas as what the NPAs are doing”.
Manuel was too proud when he boasted that the best sons and daughters are being recruited into the NPA. This did not run off from the attention of Major General Chan. He agreed that there are some recruits that replaced a little fraction of the numbers of their former members who either surrendered or lay low. However, those new recruits are mostly, if not all, are 15 years old and below which is in fact a blatant disregard and violation of international humanitarian Law that prohibits recruitment of minors as combatants. Again, showing much dismay for a wasted hope, he shook his head and said “they [NPA] are a disgrace to Filipino community. They are not ashamed of corrupting young minds and stealing their bright future.
“Certainly I agree with what Manuel has said, that the presence of the 14IB should be highly noted. The existence of 14IB in the area is to secure the rehabilitation of the Gandara-Matuguinao road project against those local terrorists or the NPAs that are impeding the gateway towards development. The construction of this road project would facilitate the easy transport of agricultural products of farmers coming from the far flung areas and become a new attraction of investors that would open-up employment for the common people of Matuguinao and its adjacent Municipalities. Now which one is fearful, the presence of soldiers who are securing the opportunity of the populace? Or the NPA’s obstruction of the road project to deny our own people of the development they certainly deserve? What they always wanted is to confine the communities in remoteness and deny them access to information so that the only knowledge that would come in for our people are their own teachings. A poisonous knowledge that the government is the evil and the source of all difficulties, while their’s, the communism and armed struggle are the solutions”. I beg all of you people of Samar Island. Let us join our hands to make this Gandara-Matuguinao Road realized. The road the NPAs claimed as Road To War. Yes it is! A Road to War Against Poverty and Ignorance.” Chan continued.
On the other hand, the EMC spokesperson also averred that the encounter transpired last Dec. 20 at Las Navas, NSamar by the troops of 34IB against the NPA offensive was entirely “legitimate” since their unilateral ceasefire in response to the Aquino government commences from Dec. 24-26 and Dec. 31 to Jan. 2. He further states that it was a form of punishment for the government troops which resulted to the death of one (1) soldier and wounding as well, for not keeping their own word on the unilateral ceasefire from Dec. 16 to Jan. 2. The ambush on the government troops last 20 Dec 2011 by the NPA only highlighted the insincerity of the NPAs to forge peace with the government by taking advantage of the unilateral ceasefire declared by President Aquino during the Yuletide season. Their treachery unmasked their real selves and the real organization they have. The intent of the unilateral ceasefire was to give respite to the cycles of violence all year yet our soldiers are still duty-bound to secure villages and communities against violence and lawlessness from the NPAs. The soldiers sacrificed precious time that should have been spent with their loved ones so that our people can celebrate and enjoy yuletide season away from harm posted by these bandits [NPAs}.
Moreover, to answer other allegations and propaganda the EMC spokesperson posted, Major General Chan left two challenges to the CPP-NPA-NDF Eastern Visayas. “We challenge the NPA! If they can show any proof that the 8th ID troops committed violation on Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law in our area of operations during my time as Division Commander, then we will prosecute those soldiers to the point of putting them in jail and discharging them from the service. In fact, the NDF-EV has filed several cases earlier than year 2010, but all were dismissed for lack of basis and substantial evidence.
If the NPAs can prove that we are disturbing the tranquility of the civilian populace in any area under my command then we will punish them. If there are any school, health centers, barangay centers and civilian buildings that were used as base camps then we will chastise them together with their commander. It is easy to claim but difficult to prove, especially when somebody’s claim is based on lies and the objective is just to malign the belief of the people.
We challenge the NPA to show proof. Do not keep on claiming or throwing accusations without basis. If you cannot respond to these challenges, then that would be tantamount to a conclusion that your statements are merely propaganda designed to poison the minds of the innocent civilians. Tell the truth. The problem with the NPAs is that they are afraid of the real truth. The truth is that they are losing popular support. The truth is that they are giving false hopes for our people. The truth is that they are dying breeds, insignificant and plain bandits and outlaws. We pity them; we pity their children and love ones for they cannot taste what a real family is.” Meanwhile, as Bayanihan continues, the 8ID Chief, Major General Mario Chan assures and believes that the soldiers of 8ID will be more responsible, determined and focused towards the accomplishment of the mandated mission without violation of any law.###