BACOLOD CITY – Almost 10 days after their peace was disturbed by an armed encounter, residents of Barangay Tabu in Ilog, Negros Occidental declared the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) and its political wing, the National Democratic Front (NDF), as persona non grata.
In a peace rally held at the village grounds on Sept. 23, some 120 villagers marched while carrying placards condemning the atrocities and the extortion activities of the communist-terrorist groups, after the clash between joint government forces and NPA rebels in Sitio Balik-balik on Sept. 14.
As of Tuesday, troops of the Philippine National Police-Special Action Force (PNP-SAF) 6th Special Action Battalion (6SAB), who engaged the communist-terrorists in the encounter, are still deployed in the village to secure the residents.
Lt. Col. Ryan Manongdo, commander of 6SAB, told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) that his men will remain in Barangay Tabu possibly in the next two to three months to help maintain peace.
He said residents welcomed the assistance such as food packs and other essential items brought by the government troops as part of the Army-PNP Barangayanihan during the peace rally.
“They were cooperative and they appreciated what we did for them,” Manongdo said.
Lt. Col. Erwin Cariño, commanding officer of the 15th Infantry Battalion, whose men were also part of the Sept. 14 operation, said he recognized the efforts of the village officials and their constituents in condemning the atrocities of the communist terrorists to counter-insurgency in their community.
“The Army, together with the PNP, will continue to boost its efforts to address the insurgency problem and ensure the safety and security of the people in Negros,” Cariño added.
Aside from declaring that the communist-terrorist groups are no longer welcome in their community, residents of Barangay Tabu also held a candle-lighting ceremony and prayers for peace and protection from terrorism to cap the peace rally.
The activity was also supported by the local government unit of Ilog, 14th Civil-Military Operations Battalion, 2nd Negros Occidental Provincial Mobile Force Company, Ilog Municipal Police Station, and the religious sector.
The clash resulted in the death of four NPA rebels and the wounding of two others, one of them Nilda Bertulano, secretary of the NPA’s South West Front Komiteng Rehiyon-Negros, Cebu, Bohol, Siquijor.
The CPP-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines.
In July this year, the NDF has also been formally designated as a terrorist organization by the Philippines’ Anti-Terrorism Council. (PNA)