NPA rebels gathering with community people, newsmen in Surigao del Norte cancelled due to military threats
by Ben Serrano
BUTUAN City- The New People’s Army decided to cancel at the last minute a “gathering” of its leaders, family members, friends, NGOs, community people and selected newsmen scheduled at 3 a.m. on December 30.
During a phone-in news conference held here Butuan City at around 7 p.m. Dec. 29, “Ka Oto” claimed “heavy presence” of government troopers at the supposed venue prompted him and other NPA unit leaders to cancel the peace talks with community leaders.
“The gatherings were supposed to be also some sort of late celebration of the 51st year founding anniversary of the Communist Party of the Philippines/New People’s Army which will be held at Barangay Lahi, Gigaquit, Surigao del Norte scheduled morning of December 30” Ka Oto said.
Ka Oto claimed government troopers from 30th IB Philippine Army began arriving in the town as early as Saturday, December 28, and have “cordoned” the area where the rebels and community people were supposed to hold the gatherings. .
“The military are swarming the area, they are everywhere and established checkpoints which forced some of our invited visitors to decide not to proceed anymore. Its very dangerous, that’s why I advised everybody including the media not come anymore. Its almost like harassing our visitors, everybody here” Ka Oto alleged.
Ka Oto further said checkpoints were established in Barangay Sapa, Claver, Surigao del Norte and In Sitio Banbanon, Barangay Lahi, Gigaquit town, all in Surigao del Norte where government troopers held lumad driver identified only as “Rex.”
“They established food blockade and confiscations that’s why very dangerous for you media to come” Ka Oto added.
Ka Oto warned of the dangerous situation in the area where rebels and soldiers were on a “stand-off” but he did not elaborate.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines earlier warned local government units not to host any activity related to the 51s founding anniversary of the CPP on December 26.
“It’s now a question of sincerity of the AFP in their declaration of SOMO, SOFO and ceasefire” said Ka Oto as the military continued to hunt down rebels even if the NPA/CPP/NDF and the Philippine Government have both declared and “ceasefire” and the Philippine Military declared a SOMO or suspension of military operations.
AFP, PNP admit seizure of NPA contrabands
Ka Oto claimed the government troopers seized foods, softdrinks, pants, ice cream and other food preparations. A joint PNP and military press release forwarded to this writer claimed joint checkpoint of the AFP and PNP personnel confiscated several items belonging to the NPA, CPP in Purok 1 Barangay Sapa, Claver, Surigao del Norte, at about 7:25 p.m. Saturday, December 28, 2019.
The statement claimed the Philippine Army’s 30th Infantry Battalion, 1st PNP Special Action Force Battalion, 1302nd Maneuver Company of the Regional Mobile Force Battalion 13, 2nd Surigao Del Norte Provincial Mobile Force Company, and Claver Municipal Police Station cops confiscated 18 packs of black fatigue pants, 37 packs of poncho tents and 1,000 bottles of soft drinks.
According to Police Brig General Joselito T. Esquivel, Jr. PNP-Caraga regional director the items were transported by two single motorcycles and were supposed to be brought to the group of Roel Tremedal Neniel alias “Kumander Jacob”, NPA commanding officer and his party wife Roxanne Tejero aka Menchie, both leaders and members of Guerilla Front 16C-1, Guerilla Front 16, Northeastern Mindanao Regional Committee (NEMRC).
The motorcycle drivers who were halted at the checkpoint told the government troopers that they were instructed to bring the items in Sitio Bay-ang, Barangay Lahi, Gigaquit, Surigao Del Note.
“The government troops are determined to end the local armed conflict in Caraga. We appeal to the active members of the CPP-NPA to lay down their arms and join their families in the mainstream society,” says Caraga Police Regional Director Esquivel.