By Martin Sadongdong
The world of Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) rebels got a little smaller as authorities have now considered them “persona non grata” or unwelcome persons in Ilocos Norte province.
In a statement Sunday, Major General Lenard Agustin, commander of the 7th Infantry (“Kaugnay”) Division, lauded the efforts of the local government units together with other government agencies after such development in the province.
“The declaration of Ilocos Norte against CTGs [communist terrorist groups] as persona non grata is a sign that they want peace to achieve [a] just and lasting peace. It is also like raising its banner that they will deny the entry of those who will cause chaos in the community,” he said.
“Rest assured that 7ID, through the Wildcat Battalion will continue to support the endeavours of the LGUs for the benefit of its constituents,” he added.
The declaration of communist rebels as persona non grata was made official through the passing of a resolution during the Provincial Peace and Order Council at the Sangguniang Panlalawigan Session Hall, Provincial Capitol in Laoag City over the weekend.
According to Agustin, the approved resolution was proposed during the meeting which was attended by various stakeholders and presided by outgoing Provincial Vice Governor Eugenio Angelo Barba.
The resolution, the official added, was created in line with the Department of Interior and the Local Government (DILG) Memorandum Circular No. 2018-211 which Prohibits support to the leftist rebel group, and Executive Order No. 70, signed by President Duterte in December 2018.
It institutionalizes the “whole-of-nation” approach in attaining [an] inclusive and sustainable peace, creation of a national task force to end local communist armed conflict, and the adoption of a national peace framework.
The persona non grata tag against the communist rebels came in the heels of President Duterte’s reiteration that insurgency in the country will soon end.
“It is now, more than ever, that we need to work hard and work together if we are to bring the real, lasting, and meaningful change for the country,” Duterte was quoted as saying in a speech before soldiers at Camp General Vicente Lukban in Catbalogan City, Samar last week.
In the said event, the Commander-in-Chief said he was confident that communist insurgency in the region would be possible through the military’s strong determination as he reiterated his appeal to rebels to abandon their ideologies, surrender to authorities and reintegrate themselves into the community.
As far as Ilocos Norte is concerned, the province has been “peaceful” and “free from the clutches of communist terrorist groups” for the past seven years, said Lieutenant Colonel Jearie Boy Faminial, commander of the 24th Infantry (Wildcat) Battalion.
However, he assured that the group will always be “on guard and ready to protect the residents of Ilocos Norte against the threats and deception of the CTGs.”