BACOLOD CITY, Negros Occidental, Philippines – The indignation rallies against government that used to mark the founding anniversary of the New People’s Army, the military arm of the Communist Party of the Philippines, have been replaced today by peace rallies in two key cities in the island as the NPA, now a designated terrorist organization along with its ideological wing, the Communist Party of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front, marks its 54th founding anniversary today, 29 March 2023.
The protests against the rebels today were in Guihulngan, a city 80 kilometers north of here, in Negros Oriental province and in Kabankalan City in the Occidental side.
The Army’s 62nd Battalion reported the holding of a peace forum in Guihulngan that also condemned the 54 years of “violent and bloody existence” of the NPA.
A livestream by the Army unit also showed people marching in the streets bearing placards calling for peace and an end to the rights violations of the NPA, among them the killing of unarmed civilians.
Guihulngan’s uplands became the base in the 1990s for the birth of what is now knowm as the Central Negros Front 1 where former priest Frank Fernandez headed recovery efforts for the CPP after a split severely weakened it in the 1990s.
Meanwhile, Colonel Orlando Edralin, commander of the 303rd Infantry Brigade, told DNX from Kabankalan City where he attended a separate peace rally that the NPA has no legacy to speak of.
“A legacy is something good you did for people; the NPA cannot claim it has did something good for them,” he said.
Kabankalan City is the urban center covered by one of the fronts of the NPA and where the Army’s 94th Battalion has scored significant battlefield victories in its uplands.
Aming them is the death in combat of Ericson Acosta, a deputy secretary of the four-island CPP committee based here.
A separate indignation rally, meanwhile, was held n the upland village of Bug-ang in Toboso town where residents, including habal habal or oybluc motorcycle drivers and micro store owners staged what the Army reported as “an indignation rally for justice, peace, and unity held at the covered gymnasium.”