From the Visayan Daily Star (Dec 16): ‘NPA recruitment should stop'
The continued recruitment and consolidation of the New People's Army forces should be stopped, as they constitute an offensive, Brig. Gen. Jon Aying, 3rd Infantry Division commander, said yesterday.
If you continue to recruit, it shows that your intention is not good, Aying, who attended the Regional Development Council meeting of the Negros Island Region, added.
He said the 3rd Infantry Division, which has jurisdiction over three Visayas regions, including Western and Central Visayas, as well as the Negros Island Region, will strictly observe the unilateral ceasefire.
“Our primacy is the peace process, we don't want to scuttle it,”Aying said.
The Communist Party of the Philippines, which will mark its 47th founding anniversary on Dec. 26, has reiterated its call for the government to release the remaining political prisoners.
The CPP said Duterte had twice promised to release the political prisoners through a general amnesty, but had “capriciously changed his mind.”
Despite this, it said, “The NDFP has offered to discuss and sign such a bilateral ceasefire agreement provided that it will take effect upon release of all political prisoners.”
It also said that the New People's Army “has bent over backwards and carried out evasion maneuvers in the face of treacherous AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) offensive and hostile operations and military abuses” in guerrilla zones and bases.
NO ARREST WARRANT
Aying said the serving of arrest warrants to CPP-NPA personalities has also been withheld by authorities, in lieu of the ongoing peace talks between the government and the National Democratic Front. Some of their key leaders were also released from jailby the government.
In order not to create additional conflict, we have to go back to our principle, which is the primacy of the peace process, Aying also said.
“While we see to it that there will be no combat operations or offensives against the NPA, we will also ensure the protection of the people,” he also said.
“We don't want the armed group to assume that they have the control of a certain place, or the sympathy of the populace,”Aying said.
Military records show that there are still 80 insurgency-affected barangays in Negros Island Region, with about 200 armed rebels operating in the two Negros provinces that have been declared as peaceful and ready for further development by their respective Provincial Peace and Order Councils.
Aying noted a marked improvement in the peace and order situation in the Negros Island Region five years ago, when he was still assigned as deputy and later as commander of the 303rd Infantry Brigade, compared to this year.
What we have done in the past five years, Aying said is now affecting the mindset of the people, especially in the government, non-government organizations, business sectors, especially those in the rural areas.
“I believe that, with better communication now, the people now are aware of the truth, what sides to take and what they should do, he added.
Aying said he hopes that the armed group will slowly return to the mainstream society.
With the improvement in the peace and order situation in the NIR, Aying said he has recommended the creation of Peace and Development Zones, prioritization of identified affected barangays to be integrated into the overall multi-year strategic plan of the NIR and the creation of a special mechanism to focus on the program of the Development Administration Committee, including governance, public safety and security.
The resolution of issues, such as land disputes and land reform, delivery of government basic services that include farm to market roads, bridges, school facilities, health and sanitation facilities and services, as well as livelihood opportunities, will result in the upliftment of socio-economic and psycho-social conditions of the populace in focus areas, he added.