The New People’s Army in Eastern Visayas today condemned the increasing number of forced “surrenders” in Matuguinao, Western Samar, as the 19th IB-Philippine Army and the PNP-Special Action Force intensify the Duterte regime’s counter-insurgency campaign and undeclared martial law in the said town.
The 19th IB recently presented some 353 residents who “surrendered” as NPA members and supporters, after Matuguinao mayor and military agent Aran Boller threatened them with pressing charges for violating the draconian Anti-Terror Law if they do not surrender before February 15.
But 19th IB commander Lt. Col. Jasper Pecson himself admitted that some of those whom they forced to “surrender” had simply gone back to joining the NPA again, proving the Duterte regime’s counter-insurgency campaign as a dismal failure.
“For as long as landlessness, poverty, hunger, oppression and exploitation persist, for as long as fascists such as the 19th IB, Boller, and their tyrannical chief Duterte remain, people will join the NPA and it will continue to grow in strength. It will wage armed revolution, and Duterte will be wasting away millions of the people’s money for futile military operations, ‘surrender ceremonies’ and ‘peace caravans,'” said Ka Karlos Manuel, spokesperson for the Efren Marties Command (NPA-EMC).
Troops of the 19th IB and the PNP-SAF have been conducting focused military operations in Matuguinao as well as in nearby Silvino Lobos, Pambujan, Las Navas, San Roque and Catubig since December 2020, the NPA-EMC reported, where it has listed at least five armed encounters with enemy troops.
Due to the intense military operations, residents from barangays Del Rosario, Ligaya, Carolina, San Roque, Inubod, Rizal and Mahayag have evacuated to the town proper out of fear of the soldiers’ presence.
Lt. Col. Pecson tried to reassure the residents to “not be afraid,” while admitting that they subjected at least 195 individuals to “tactical interrogation” and parading at least 118 of them as “surrenderers.”
“The military says they are there to deliver ‘economic development,’ but in the middle of the harvest season, their intensified combat operations have driven the peasants out of their land, disrupted their livelihood and brought the people more hardship,” Manuel said.
The people of Matuguinao also called out the AFP-PNP and Boller for the culture of impunity persisting in the municipality. They complain how criminal elements and goons for Boller’s death squads continue to roam the town unapprehended, with some even working as employees for the local government.
“Of course lawless elements especially Boller’s henchmen in the paramilitary groups Alsa Masa and Dos remain scot-free. For as long as they serve to kill, harass, arrest, interrogate and torture suspected NPA members and supporters as well as Boller’s political opponents, the AFP-PNP will make sure they are far from the prison cells as possible,” said Manuel.
Manuel saluted the people of Matuguinao for valiantly resisting the Duterte regime’s brutal counter-insurgency campaign and continuing to support the NPA in waging armed struggle against the fascist AFP-PNP troops. “They must remain steadfast and rely on their own strength to continue fighting for their rights and frustrating the enemy’s surrender campaign.
“The NPA-EMC also calls on all NPA units in Eastern Visayas to intensify their tactical offensives, to punish the most notorious rights violators among the fascist enemy troops, and to ensure the people attain revolutionary justice,” he ended.#