Hinterland town residents told not to give in to NPA pressure
Dumaguete City (30 June) -- Residents in the mountainous areas of Sta. Catalina, Negros Oriental were told to not give in to pressure from the New People's Army.
Commanding officer of the 79th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army Lt. Col. Erwin Bernard Neri made this appeal to residents of said town while reassuring the residents that the government troops are relentless in their patrolling of the area.
There have been reports that NPA territorial forces continue to move in and out of the villages of Sta. Catalina.
It was earlier reported that at least five people had left Sitio Avocado in the village of Talalak allegedly following threats from NPA rebels.
"The NPA is desperate, they want to sow terror and intimidate the people who no longer believe in them," said Lt. Col. Neri, adding that the act of driving away villagers is a human rights violation.
Lt. Col. Neri also described the act as a diversionary tactic by the rebels who are constantly on the run these days.
He confirmed that one of the five people ordered to leave Avocado is now in the lowlands looking for a job.
Lt. Col. Neri urged the resident to not leave the area and be unafraid as he urged them to report incidents like this to the military and civilian authorities.
He lamented that some upland residents are still seemingly sympathetic to the underground movement, although he said this was not surprising as some armed rebels are locals whose families and relatives reside in these mountain villages.
The Philippine Army commander said the NPA could no longer build up or strengthen their mass base in the hinterlands due to the incessant conduct of internal security operations and dialogues with the people in these areas. (PIA NegOr) [top]