Sep 21, 2020

City should declare NPA persona non grata, RPOC chair Alvarez says

In Palawan, Alvarez said only the municipalities of El Nido, San Vicente, and Roxas have not declared the NPA as unwanted.

Newly-named Regional Peace and Order Council (RPOC) chairman Governor Jose Alvarez said Puerto Princesa City should comply with Executive Order No. 70 and declare the New People’s Army (NPA) as persona non grata, a bold move for the government’s drive to eliminate local armed communism in Palawan.

Governor Alvarez said Monday in a press conference invited by the Provincial Task Force-Ending Local Communist Armed Conflict (PTF-ELCAC) that he spoke with Puerto Princesa mayor Lucilo Bayron about it in a recent RPOC meeting, telling him to talk to the City Council to already pass the persona non grata declaration.

He said local government units (LGUs) should not be afraid as it is their mandate to cooperate and help the government in ending the local armed conflict.

“Kinausap ko na si mayor Bayron… sabi ko, you know like me, exposing myself, wala namang problema sa akin dahil, No. 1 hindi naman tayo apprehensive. Ito is a whole-of-nation approach, mabuti kung tayo lang. Executive kami, ang mandatong ito galing sa Malacañang, pagkatapos sa DILG (Department of the Interior and Local Government). Kapag hindi naman kami sumunod, that means sympathizer kami. Kung matatakot sila, bakit ay nasa siyudad naman sila,” Alvarez said.

“Sabi ko kay city mayor, pag-isipan ninyo, kausapin ninyo ang mga konsehal niyo. Sa meeting ng RPOC ‘yan, ako kasi ang chairman ng RPOC, ang sabi ko hindi puwede ‘yan na we support lang. Sinabi ko ‘yon, nandyan si Vice Adm. (Rene) Medina, sabi ko, ‘mayor, kausapin mo ‘yong mga konsehal mo. Kung hindi mo kaya ‘yan, sayang na lang ‘yong pagpapanalo mo sa kanila kung hindi ka lider. You can quote me on that, I need the city to also say na ang CTG (communist terrorist group) ay persona non grata sa Puerto Princesa City,” he added.

Alvarez said this is regardless of what Councilor Elgin Damasco will say.

“We need them to say na dito sa city, persona non grata ang NPA,” he said.

Previously, Damasco underscored that it is no longer necessary for Puerto Princesa to follow the other persona non grata declarations by LGUs because the city government had already passed a resolution creating the City Task Force ELCAC.

“Doon sa meeting ay talagang iginigiit na tayong mga local government units ay kailangan na mag-deklara sa pamamagitan ng isang resolusyon na persona non grata ang mga rebeldeng NPA. Iginigiit din natin na sapat na ang ating ipinasang resolusyon supporting the government’s campaign against the insurgency and terrorism,” he said.

“Kahit ilang deklarasyon pa ng persona non grata laban sa mga rebelde ay naniniwala pa rin tayo na hindi pa rin mareresolba ang rebelyon hangga’t hindi natin nagagamot ang problema sa kahirapan lalo na sa kanayonan, hangga’t hindi natin naipapadama na may gobyerno na handang maglingkod, hindi pa rin po ito mareresolba,” Damasco said.

He explained that instead of passing various resolutions, the government should focus on how to solve poverty in far-flung areas that are vulnerable to NPA recruitment.

Alvarez said, on the other hand, that he will talk to Damasco to know his reasons.

“Bakit? Siguro mag-uusap na lang kami. Siguro may mga rason din siya na supporter na lang,” he said.

In Palawan, Alvarez said only the municipalities of El Nido, San Vicente, and Roxas have not declared the NPA as unwanted.

He said he is already talking to them, telling their LGU officials to be brave in passing the resolution as the move is part of the “whole-of-province” approach.

“Tatlo na lang ang hindi pa nakapag-deklara ng persona non grata. Well, kinakausap ko na… kakabalik lang nila sa musipyo nila. Except sa Kalayaan, sa 23 ay 22 dapat ang magkaroon. Tatlo na lang ang kakausapin ko lang. El Nido, natatakot din, pero hindi sila dapat matakot,” he said.

Alvarez said it is important that the NPA be told to stop their atrocities in the province because it has a tourism industry that must be protected.

He said a lot of residents depend on the tourism industry and if the NPA continuous to cause problems, they will lose the very means of their livelihood.

“Kailangan ipa-whole-of-province naman approach,” he said.

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