Año asks LGUs not to be afraid of Reds
Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año on Thursday urged the local government units that declared the communist rebels as “persona non grata” not to succumb to the threats and remain steadfast in the government’s drive to end armed conflict in the country.
The DILG chief made the statement following reports of growing threats against LGU officials from the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army.
“Let us not be afraid at them. That's exactly what they want and have been their mission, to sow fear among Filipinos through their illegal acts," said Año.
"We have a committed ally in no less than President Rodrigo Duterte. Now is not the time to fear; now is the time to take a stand against these CTGs (communist terrorist groups) to show them that we will not be a party to their plot against the government and our democratic way of life," he added.
According to Año, the mayor of Taytay, Palawan, Romy Salvame, confirmed that he and other town officials have received death threats from the NPA following the passing of a resolution in May declaring the group as persona non grata in the town.
In a statement posted on its official website, the Salvador Luminoso-Bienvenido Vallever Command based in Palawan said they "will punish the municipal officials of Taytay" and other LGUs which had passed resolutions declaring the NPA as persona non grata.
"What Mayor Salvame and the LGU of Taytay experienced was a clear testament that the NPA will go to great lengths to wreak havoc and fear among our people," Año said.
Año commended the Taytay LGU for not retracting its resolution and “sticking to their guns” despite the brash threats from the rebel group.
He assured that local units of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police are ready to provide additional security to threatened local officials and intensify security measures in their areas.
“Don’t worry. Our police and military are ready to protect you. They are one with you and the whole community,” he said.
Año asked other LGUs to declare NPA as persona non grata in their localities to send a strong message to the enemy.
"Like what we always said, the government cannot do this alone, we need the help of the local government and the community together with all the stakeholders,” he said.
Based on the records of the AFP, at least 270 LGUs in the country have already declared the NPA persona non grata in their respective localities through a Sanggunian (Council) resolution.
Of the 270, nine are provinces, 29 towns, 241 barangays, and one city.
The DILG chief said they will continue to be persistent in achieving the President's goal of eliminating local communist armed conflicts while encouraging CPP-NPA rebels to lay down their arms to become productive members of the society.
In 2019 alone, a total of 425 former rebels from all regions in the country laid down their arms and were granted financial assistance through the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program with a cumulative amount of P28-million, mostly allotted to livelihood assistance. Ella Dionisio/DMS