The New People’s Army, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front , are today mostly composed of Indigenous People (IPs) whom the communist terrorist groups have forcibly recruited as their combatants, according to the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).
Gaye Florendo, the task force’s assistant spokesperson on IP Concerns, said that 70 to 80 percent of the CTG surrenderees in the country are IP members and this was also the reason that led to a review of government efforts to resolve the communist insurgency.
What followed, Florendo said, was the eventual signing of Executive Order No. 70 by President Rodrigo Duterte which created the NTF-ELCAC that underscored the “Whole of Nation’ approach in ending local armed conflict through good governance while addressing its root cause.
“The issue has existed for a long time,” Florendo explained adding that the CCP-NPA along with their political wing the NDF and other organizations disguising as party-list groups continue their trade of “rampant disinformation and intentions to deceive the people.”
She emphasized that there is also a “pattern of radicalization and confinement” being continuously done by CPP-NPA-NDF that is forcing the IPs to become members of CTGs.
Datu Bawan Jake Lanes, former cadre of CPP-NPA-NDF, now the Executive Director of Mindanao IP Council of Elders, on the other hand, narrated the process on how IP communities were being infiltrated by the CTG.
Lanes explained that the CTG will first research on what problems the IP communities are facing, especially with regard to their ‘ancestral domain’, then enter the community by offering itself as a partner that could give a “helping hand” to solve IP problems.
“Using church and non-government organizations as their fronts, they will offer help to the (IP) council of elders. Once they have the permission they will organize, putting up schools for the youth while the male IP members are taught to be “Militia ng Bayan’ and the women are taught to support the struggle and the leaders would become revolutionary leaders,” Lanes said.
He added that any resistance from IP leaders are penalized with death and once the IPs are already organized and “exploited”, some of the tribe members are brought to Manila through Manilakabayan, a yearly march by communist insurgents to plant combatants in strategic areas in the metropolis, citing the case of the IP students that were trafficked from Davao to Cebu and confined at the University of San Carlos in Cebu without the knowledge of their parents.
Lawyer Marlon Bosantog, NTF-ELCAC spokesperson for IP Concerns, said the abducted IP students who were brought to Cebu were trained and organized by the group Karapatan and were given Bayan identifications cards to board planes for their transfer to be used in rallies and later to be trained as combatants.
Bosantog added the government has already filed Motion for Reconsiderations (MR) that questioned the dismissal of the case against the seven abductors of IP students on the ground of jurisdiction, and not because of lack of probable cause.
This was seconded by Lt. Col. Edel Ferreira of Police Regional Office 7 who said that there was a conspiracy to commit the crime of kidnapping for bringing the IP students to Cebu from Davao del Norte, prompting also their office to file an MR in the case as the minors were residing in Talaingod, Davao del Norte.