NPA a 'diminishing threat' in Negros Oriental; Cebu, Bohol now rebel-free in Central Visayas
Cebu City (14 October) -- 'A diminishing threat' is how the top police provincial chief of Negros Oriental described the leftist group New People's Army (NPA).
Negros Oriental Provincial Police Office (NOPPO) Chief S/Supt. Augusto Marquez bared the force of the NPA in the province is already "manageable" although that doesn't mean they are now complacent in their vigilance against the rebel movement.
Only the province of Negros Oriental out of the four provinces in Central Visayas is plagued by the presence of the NPA.
Rebels used to beset the provinces of Cebu and Bohol but because of government interventions that included pouring of basic government services and counter operations in affected areas, the NPA's force weakened until they dried out.
Marquez said they are closely coordinating with the military in their area and strengthening intelligence network to ensure the force of the leftist movement will not gather strength through the recruitment of new members.
"We are working hand in hand with the military not only in the conduct of operations but also doing aggressive advocacy campaign against the true nature of the NPA and terrorism," according to Marquez.
Marquez said they are constantly monitoring reports of sightings to make certain the NPA does not make moves that could end in bloodshed as clashes between the military and the NPA has often been reported in the area.
There are two fronts of the NPA in Negros Oriental and four fronts in the neighboring province Negros Occidental under Region VI but only a land boundary separates the two provinces which enables the NPA in Negros Oriental to cross to the other province quite easily, this is learned.
President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo gave a deadline to the military to virtually crush out the insurgents by mid-2010 as she bows out from office. The police have been complementing the efforts of the military as mandated to achieve the President's objective.
Marquez expressed optimism that they could end the insurgency problem in Negros Oriental by yearend, months ahead before the given deadline.
"What we did to turn the people on our side was to be visible in the rebel-infested areas and ask the people what basic services are needed so we could coordinate with the concerned government agencies," Marquez said.
Marquez cited the town of Guihulngan who is known to be a previous supporter of the NPA but because of our efforts to bring government services closer to the people in the town, the municipal government passed a resolution condemning the NPA and declaring them 'persona non grata.'
As the election season builds up, the NOPPO chief expressed concerns on the possible rise of cases of extortion by the NPA to political candidates. Elections are an avenue for the NPA to make money where they extort funds from the candidates so they can be allowed to campaign in rebel-infested areas dubbed as the 'no permit, no campaign' policy, Marquez revealed.
Marquez appealed to candidates not to give in to the demands of the NPA and to report to the police or military any attempts by the rebel movement to extort money. (PIA-Cebu/FCR) [top]