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Bacolod City, Philippines Friday, September 13, 2019
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RPA-ABB called ‘collaborator’
BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN

 

The New People’s Army Apolinario Gatmaitan Command in Negros Island yesterday debunked military claims that the surrender of the Revolutionary Proletarian Army-Alex Boncayao Brigade (Tabara Paduano Group) to the government is an example of successful implementation of the localized peace talks, and described it as a “perfect example of capitulation and collaboration”.

Ka Juanito Magbanua, spokesman of the Apolinario Gatmaitan Command, claimed in a statement he issued that there is nothing revolutionary with the RPA-ABB, that he described as renegades turned bandits, and armed mercenaries allegedly involved in heinous crimes and other anti-people activities.

Magbanua also dismissed the surrender of 271 firearms of the RPA-ABB to the government as “nothing but a farce”, claiming also that they had long been used by the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte to glamorize what he calls “ futile efforts” to the end the Philippine revolution.

LASTING PEACE

Maj. Gen. Dinoh Dolina, 3rd Infantry Division commander, had earlier said that the surrender of firearms by RPA-ABB members and their abandoning the armed struggle indicated that just and lasting peace in Negros and Panay is within reach.

This is a classic example of a successful localized peace talk and a breakthrough to the government’s peace campaign that manifests its sincerity to help those who took the wrong path, but have chosen to return to the fold of the law, Dolina added.

President Duterte is expected to lead the formal demilitarization of 310 former RPA-ABB combatants at Camp Macario Peralta in Jamindan, Capiz on September 19.

Magbanua recalled that the RPA-ABB already signed a peace pact with the Estrada government in 2000, and he further claimed that the Arroyo administration recognized them as a paramilitary unit of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in 2002.

In March 2010, the Joint Enforcement and Monitoring Committee (JEMC) with the Tabara-Paduano Group adopted a Strategic Action Plan that defined the concrete activities and all deliverables of the Peace Agreement that included the provision on disposition of firearms and forces, he added.

FUNDING FOR PROJECTS

The succeeding Aquino administration set aside P100 million for socio-economic projects for the RPA-ABB, while the Duterte administration P500 million for the transition plan, which includes social protection programs, livelihood and employment assistance, Magbanua said.

Even more comical is that the RPA-ABB allegedly surrendered their firearms in exchange for government-issued ones as soon as they complete the 45-day candidacy training of the Community Defense Unit, he added.

Theirs is not an example of a successful implementation of localized peace engagement but a perfect example of capitulation and collaboration, Magbanua said.

What the RPA-ABB deserves is disbandment and condemnation, he added.

Capt. Cenon Pancito III, Public Affairs Office chief of 3ID, said that the President will mark the start of the “decommissioning process” of the former RPA-ABB combatants.

As part of the decommissioning process, Pancito said the former combatants will stay at the 3ID headquarters for at least two months to undergo training under the Army.

The doctrines they received from the rebels will be taken away and replaced by the military way of peace and security operations, he added.

CONCERNS FOR SURRENDERING

"One of the concerns why they refused to surrender their firearms (before) is that they said they will be prone to the abuse of their former comrades in the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army,” he said.

After the training, Pancito said the former combatants will be issued firearms to become Special Civilian Active Auxiliary members.

The RPA-ABB is a breakaway group of the CPP-NPA. They separated from CPP-NPA in 1996 due to ideological differences.

“With the instruction of the President to terminate the national peace talks, we have intensified our localized peace negotiations with this group and in just a short period of time, we were able to accomplish much,” he said.

Localized peace talks had paved the way for the achievement of peace as it attacks concerns on the local level. “We can reach to their respective commanders or leaders to address the issue,” Pancito said.

FOR GENUINE PEACE

Veronica Tabara, chairperson of the group, assured the full transformation of her members and gave assurance to continue to help the people and the government in attaining genuine peace in their communities.

The 310, who pledged allegiance to the government, are 100 percent recognized members of the RPA-ABB, Pancito said.

The group is said to have an influence on 100 villages in the country, 91 of which are in Western Visayas.

Pancito said the rest of the rebel groups should “take a cue” from the RPA-ABB and also return to the folds of the law.*GPB/PNA

 

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