BACOLOD CITY, Negros Occidental, Philippines – The Army has reported the holding of a protest action today, 29 August, by residents in the upland village of Eustaquio Lopez in Silay City where a firefight nine days ago between rebels and soldiers left one high-ranking Communist cadre, a guerrilla, and a soldier dead.
The 79th Infantry Battallion said in a news release the villagers condemned
“… the atrocities and deceptions of the Communist-NPA Terrorist (CNTs) and its allies,” and added the estimated 250 residents pledged to withdraw their support from the Maoist New People’s Army, military wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines.
Peasant leader Arnilo Serquillos, thanked the Community Support Program team of the Philippine Army and the police for helping their organization.
“Madugay na nga gin tukod ang amon asosasyon apang wala napa rehistro sa DOLE tungod ang organizer nga nagpalapit sa amon gin pangayuan lang kami sang kwarta kag gin pasalig nga iparehistro sa DOLE rason nga wala kami ka avail sang programa sang gobyerno. Apang sa bulig sang CSP team, natigayon nga marehistro sa DOLE ang amon asosasyon,” he said.
“Our organization was founded a long time ago but it was not registered with the Department of Labor and Employment because the organizer who came to us took our money and promised we will be registered with DOLE and because of this we were not able to benefit from any program of the government but because of the CSP, our organization was registered with DOLE.”
Sequillo is chairman of Hacienda Culahao C Farmer Workers Association which, together with the Hacienda Nenita Farmer Workers Association, made up most of the protesting villagers today.
E. Lopez village is among the upland villages of Silay, the city only 26 kilometers north of this provincial capital.
It is also close to Kapitan Ramon, the village where the 29 August clash between the NPA and troopers of the 79th IB that led to the death of Kerima Tariman alias Ka Ella who was later identified by the Army as the secretary or leader of the Northern Negros Front, a rebel body that supposedly leads and directs “terroristic activities” of the NPA in a particular area.
For his part, Lieutenant Colonel J-jay T Javines, Commanding Officer of 79IB lauded the efforts of the community in condemning the CNTs and its allies.
“This clearly shows that the peace-loving residents of E. Lopez can no longer endure the suffering they’ve been experiencing. The pledge to withdraw their support from the armed group is already a bold step towards ending insurgency. Let us continually work together to finally put an end to the decades-long ruthlessness of the communist terrorists group.