The proposed localized peace talks being pushed by military and police officials in Negros Occidental to give local government officials and Negrenses a respite from violence and killings, has yet to take off, but the New People’s Army has already rejected it.
Juanito Magbanua, spokesperson of the Apolinario “Boy” Gatmaitan Command, yesterday dismissed it as a new “psywar advertisement” of Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr. and Col. Oscar Lactao, 303rd Infantry Brigade commander, who, he said, are “daydreaming of victories” in implementing Oplan Bayanihan.
The truth is, Magbanua, said in a statement they issued, that Marañon and Lactao are running out gimmicks to deceive the public, the struggling Negrosanons, and the revolutionary movements in their promotion of localized peace talks and surrender of NPA members.
He said that contrary to military claims, not a single guerilla front in Negros island was wiped out by the Oplan Bayanihan or its predecessor, Oplan Bantay Laya, and that the NPA even expanded, despite the hardships and sacrifices.
Lactao and Senior Supt. Allan Guisihan, provincial police director, said the proposed ceasefire was to give Negrenses a respite from killings, so they can concentrate on economic endeavors.
In the past four weeks, two former government militiamen and rebel returnees were summarily executed by suspected NPA rebels in Calatrava and Moises Padilla, aside from the recent burning of a farm tractor in La Castellana, police records show.
“In the quest for peace, you have to widen your understanding, even if you are talking with incorrigible (persons),” Lactao said. “At the end of the day, they are also our fellow Filipinos, he added, apparently referring to communist rebels.
Magbanua, however, said Maranon and Lactao are only for the peace and development of what he calls “greedy” landlords, bureaucrat capitalists in government, compradors and foreign monopoly capitalists.
He said the NPA will intensify its tactical offensives in Negros, so it can contribute to the national goal of entering the stage of strategic stalemate in the years to come.
Negros Occidental ranked 13th among the 81 provinces of the country in terms of “insurgency-affectation,”military records show.
Lactao, however, said the insurgency in Negros Occidental is now on the downtrend, citing the reduction of NPA members from 249 in 2010 , to 195 last year.
He also reported a reduction of violent incidents perpetrated by the NPA, from 28 in 2010, to eight last year, or a decrease of 71 percent.
Marañon had given financial and livelihood assistance to majority of the 44 rebel returnees and their families, as part of their re-integration into mainstream society.* GPB