"High-ranking surrenderees"--a myth of the military and Abra warlords

Simon "Ka Filiw" Naogsan, Spokesperson
Cordillera People's Democratic Front
31 March 2012

Lt. Col. Noel T. Baluyan, commanding officer of the 41st Infantry Battalion, has a penchant for displaying a few alleged fresh NPA recruits turned surrenderees and passing them as "high-ranking leaders" even if not true. Baluyan goes the rounds of their psywar offensives as one major feature in the implementation of Oplan Bayanihan, an avid practitioner of the Goebbels's dictum that a lie when repeatedly fed to the unsuspecting audience will be later on absorb as truth. Earlier this month, spokespersons of the 503rd Infantry Brigade and its organic units went on a field day announcing that three high ranking NPA leaders in Abra surrendered last February. The fact is that two of them were barely a couple of months in the revolutionary movement while a third was inactive a decade ago and only recently reintegrated. Of course some may lie low but the genuinely committed Red fighters remain steadfast in their principles and dedication, combatting private armed syndicates along with their military partners.

Spin masters both in the AFP and the provincial government of Abra create "ranking" positions for the surrenderees to garnish their records for whatever purpose, to claim their prize-money and have something to exhibit as accomplishment come Abra day last March 6. The promotion system in the NPA is far different from the AFP. It adheres and follows strictly a system of set rules and policies. While it maybe said so also of the AFP that it has its own rules and policies but in practice promotion usually comes with a price, often through the greasing of the hands of superior officers among other corrupt practices in the military. In one particular example, Capt. Eduard Sia-ed, spokesperson of the 503rd Ibde got his promotion after leading the army's unit in shamelessly murdering Etfew Chadyaas in 2003, a farmer from Belwang, Sadanga, Mountain Province, who was tending his kaingin at Mt. Sader. They reported it as a legitimate encounter with a 7-man NPA unit allegedly headed by Etfew. This falsehood enraged the tribe of Etfew and nearly sparked a bloody tribal war between the tribes of Belwang and Bugang, the tribe where Sia-ed came from, had not the parents and relatives of Sia-ed acceded to pay the demands of the Belwang tribe. What a shameful way of getting promoted!

The false claims of "ranking" position among surrenderees comes close on the heels of an earlier claim in the media of Col. Eliseo Posadas, commander of the 503rd Bde, that their operating troops had killed three NPA Red fighters including a high ranking leader of the NPA in Sallapadan, Abra last February 3, 2012 only to withdraw the said claim later obviously because it was false. It so happened that his preprepared statement did not tally with what happened on the ground. Parading alleged surrenderees and appending frivolous ranks or positions mean much to both warlords and the 503rd Ibde to serve their respective interests. To the reactionary army commanders, they need it much to gain pogi points and earn merits as implementors of the Investment Defence Force that escort the unbridled entry of large scale mining and other economic aggression in the area. To the warlord politicos, these surrenderees can be potential addition to their bodyguards and private armies in preparation for the upcoming 2013 local elections. They are also needed to protect mining interests, many of which are owned by warlords themselves.

Livelihood funds, emergency assistance, SIPs and other bribes may entice some elements who have surrendered or already laid low but the worsening manifestations of national oppression upon the indigenous people of the region, especially the poor peasants who aspire for genuine liberation and democracy, will fill the ever-increasing ranks of the genuine people's army that now steadfastly advances the armed struggle to a higher stage of the guerrilla war.#