BACOLOD CITY, Negros Occidental, Philippines – The New People’s Army fears being isolated from people in the hinterlands as the Army’s Community Support Program Teams are fanning out across Negros island, immersing in far-flung areas and “listening to people.”
Army Major Cenon Pancito told DNX this was apparent in the slay of Mark Anthony Quiocson, an Army corporal under the 62nd Infantry Battalion assigned to the Army’s CSPT in the town of Guihulngan, Oriental Negros.
Pancito said reports from the battalion indicated Quiocson was riding his motorcycle when armed men believed to be members of the NPA’s armed partisan unit fired at him when he reached the sub-village of Compound in the village of Luz, Guihulngan around 5:15pm, 1 July.
He died on the spot.
Ka Juanito Magbanua, spokesperson of the NPA’s Apolinario Gatmaitan Command, has been sought for comment by DNX but has yet to respond to questions.
Cenon said the CSPT is part of the Whole-of-Nation Approach and the End Local Communist Armed Conflict.
He said the CSPT is, in a way, a counterpart to the Armed Propaganda Organizing Teams or APOTs of the NPA that move around communities and talk to people about their supposed gripes against the government.
On these gripes, the NPA builds its case against the government and lure people to “join its armed struggle.”
The arrival of the CSPTs, however, has forced the NPA into isolation as people found a government willing to listen to them, Cenon pointed out.
Soldiers like Quiamco, he said, stay in villages for weeks and immerse with barrio folk, listen to their problems and bring these to the attention of appropriate government agencies.
This, in effect, threatens the NPA that sees the masses as “fishes they swim with in the ocean.”