BACOLOD CITY, Negros Occidental, Philippines – Army and local officials in the island have been stepping up their campaigns against local Communist rebels both on and off the battlefield.
Weeks after soldiers of the 79th Infantry Battallion clashed with suspected remnants of what the Army described as a dismantled front or center of Maoist guerrrillas, hundreds of farmers broke off from a peasant organization.
The 79th IB reported in a news release that at least 750 farmers in Silay City “formally disaffiliated themselves from the National Federation of Sugarcane Workers (NFSW)” during what it called as “Mass Condemnation” rites conducted at the Eustaquio Lopez Covered Court, Brgy. E. Lopez, on Saturday, October 30, 2021.
The hundreds who were described as “members and key leaders of Hacienda Pula-Silay Agrarian Reform Cooperative; Purok Sunshine, AIDSISA Agriculture Workers Association; Purok Langka, AIDSISA Farmer and Farm Workers Association; Hacienda Caridad Farmers and Farm Workers Association; and Agricultural Farmers and Farm Worker Association (AFFWA). “
The NFSW is a Negros-based federation of unions in the sugar industry and was once recognized as the biggest workers federation that could paralyze urban activities during people’s strikes or welgang bayan during the Marcos dictatorship.
The military had repeatedly linked it to the Communist underground, tagging it as a “legal front” of the rebels, a charge its officials have repeatedly denied.
Meanwhile, the 62nd Infantry Battalion reported hundreds of residents in Oriental Negros have received combat clothing and individual equipment as part of their preparations to beef up the government’s counterinurgency drive.
62nd IB civil military officer Lt. Mary Joy De Guzman said the distribution of what they call as CCIE packs to around 360 Civilian Active Auxilliaries is part of the intensified campaign of the Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (TF-ELCAC) of Guihulngan City headed by Hon Jorge Joan Reyes, Chairperson of ELCAC together with Major Alenel V Valles, and Executive Officer of 62nd Unifier Battalion
De Guzman added the 360 CAA-II received CCIE composed of backpack, OD short, OD shirt, combat boots, Battle Dress Uniform (BDU), bandolier, lousy hat, belt, white & black socks, and rubber shoes.
Mayor Reyes said, “All of you had already completed the training, you promise to serve and protect our country, especially the Guihulngan City against NPA Terrorist. Those CCIEs distributed to you are your source of strength to show that you are capable to fight them.”