The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) denounces the AFP-instigated publicity campaign of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) for putting undue pressure on local government units to compel them to declare the CPP and New People’s Army (NPA), as well as “Left-wing groups” as persona non grata. If they refuse, these officials are under threat of themselves being red-tagged or accused of being supporters or sympathizers of the revolutionary movement.
The campaign of the DILG, currently headed by former armed forces chief Eduardo Año, is forcing local government officials to be party to the bloody and brutal crimes perpetrated by military and police forces in its counterinsurgency operations which cause grave hardships to their constituents, especially in the far-flung rural villages.
The CPP is aware that many local government officials, especially at the town levels, are sensitive to the plight of the poor people in their areas. Many of them are aware of the social and economic roots of the armed conflict. They are more interested in addressing the issues of poverty, landlessness and joblessness through reforms and extending economic support to the masses, than in the AFP’s military solution. They are keenly aware how the military has been causing grave harm to their constituents who the AFP arbitrarily tag as “supporters” of the armed movement.
Many town mayors and councilors, even elected officials at the higher levels, have relatives, friends or personally know NPA Red fighters and commanders and Party cadres. Many of them confer with the NPA and revolutionary forces in helping address the daily plight of the people, from high land rent, landlessness, high loan interests, low farm-gate prices of palay, copra and other produce, as well as stark social problems such as illiteracy, epidemics and so on. Many local officials are aware how the programs of the revolutionary forces address these problems.
According to AFP press releases, the DILG issued a memorandum last year telling local government units, from the regional to the barrio level, to “prohibit support to communists and Left-wing groups.”
The CPP urges officials of the local government to resist the pressure of the DILG to declare themselves against the revolutionary movement. Their constituents expect them more to carry out substantive reforms to help improve the people’s conditions rather than be pawns in the AFP’s self-serving propaganda. The CPP, however, clarifies that issuing any such public declaration against the Party or the NPA does not in itself constitute a punishable crime against the revolution.
Actually, many local officials are keenly aware that there is no legal basis for the DILG memorandum compelling them to issue persona non grata declarations against “Left groups.” They know that under the 1987 constitution, they cannot prevent any Filipino for being merely “Leftist” or otherwise to reside in their place or carry out their activities. Some have also taken note of the fact that the case proscribing the CPP and NPA as “terrorists” have yet to be acted upon by Philippine courts.
The high-level publicity campaign does not have real effect on the ground. Despite the effort since last year, including actively supporting their candidates during the previous elections, the AFP and DILG have failed to muster enough support for its publicity campaign. As of our last count, the AFP has succeeded only in getting less than 0.1% of the total number of barrios and less than 0.5% of towns nationwide to issue such declarations. This number represents less than 1% of the total number of barrios which are covered by the NPA’s area of operations.
Many of these declarations were issued under duress by officials in villages that are occupied by the AFP’s so-called “peace and development” teams. This is far from the “overwhelming support” the AFP wants to project. Indeed, in many of these villages, the NPA continues to operate, help the people in their daily concerns and in turn enjoy the deep support of the people in myriad forms.