Part 1 of 2
BACOLOD CITY, Negros Occidental, Philippines – The murder of an entire family of four in the upland community of Kangkiling is being blamed by an Army general here on another wave of hysteria and paranoia that has hit the Communist underground in the island of Negros since the 1980s when hundreds were killed when panic seeped into the ranks of a then convulsing movement.
Now, more than 30 years since former priest Frank Fernandez led recovery efforts here after the CPP was hit by a devastating split of the “rejectionist” faction, the mainstream CPP, who call themselves Maoists, are now fighting another war for survival.
“There has been no let up in combat operations since January this year,” Orlando Edralin, now a brigadier general who commands a main Army brigade in the island, told DNX
Edralin, who heads the 303rd Infantry Brigade with three major battalions under him – the 62nd, 79th, and 94th – had been engaging the NPA in combat operations in Negros island, mostly in the Occidental side since he took over the brigade January this year.
Since assuming the command end of January this year, Edralin had made good on his promise that “blood will flow” for rebels who want to continue fighting the government.
Edralin said since he took command of the 303rd, there have been 28 engagements with rebel forces under the three fronts assigned to each battalion – the Central Negros 1 to the 62nd, the Central Negros Front 2 to the 94th, and the Northern Negros Front to the 79th.
These clashes have led to a running count of 25 enemy kills, seven guerrillas captured, 33 surrenders, and the seizure of 26 firearms, both high- and low-powered ones.
Except for harassing far-flung police outposts, the Negros Communists, now designated as terrorists, have not mounted any serious military offensive, like those in the 80s when they were at their peak strength, that included overrunning Scout Ranger detachments and taking over munisipyos or town halls.
Since former President Rodrigo Duterte implemented a whole of nation approach in dealing with the Communist rebellion, however, the Negros Reds appear headed for an irreversible decline in almost all fronts – from the number of Communist cadres to armed fighters to mass sympathizers in the countryside.
More significantly, it has lost its influence and projection in town centers and major cities where it used to project its armed strength and justify the necessity of armed struggle, sone former cadres who spoke on condition of anonymity, told DNX.
This crucial “CS-urban” link or connection between the countryside and urban centers translates to financial and material support from safehouses to healing centers for wounded fighters.
There, too, is the “urban mass movement” led by the legal fronts of the CPP that serve to “amplify the strength” of the Communist underground in drumming up “legitimate demands” in daily issues that demonstrate the “inutility” of the government and “ruling system” that justify “revolutionary change.”
With all these gone and the core of the revolution severely weakened, the Communists have started another purge with the Fausto family, four in all, becoming their latest victims after a long line of civilians who were killed successively since September, last year.
(To be concluded)