CAGAYAN de Oro City–Gingoog City Mayor Marie L. Guingona has expressed dismay over the moves of the New People’s Army (NPA) to sabotage the development projects and delivery of basic services to that city’s hinterland villages.
This, as the military has said support for the Communist rebels has declined in Gingoog.
Speaking before members of the City Peace and Order Council third quarterly meeting held on Wednesday afternoon, Guingona said:
“Reportedly, these armed men were enraged because of the developments that we have brought to these areas – like the classrooms, roads, water system, electricity, livelihood programs and others – and they were urging the people there to case cooperation with the government.”
She said the people in the hinterland communities in Gingoog have been deprived of the basic services and the presence of insurgents has threatened their delivery.
“We have focused on the hinterlands to bring more development and government services, to ensure that they progress along with the city and the rest of the nation,” the mayor said.
Now that the city government has brought the social services there, she said it seemed to anger the New People’s Army (NPA), whose fighters are operating in the mountains of Gingoog.
In Barangay Bantaawan recently, the NPA allegedly took the chainsaw that the people used to cut trees to build a school building for the indigenous community there, Guingona said.
Lieutenant Colonel Francis Carandang, the commanding officer of the Philippine Army’s 58th Infantry Battalion, said at least three NPA units are present in Gingoog and its boundaries – the Guerrilla Fronts 4A, 4B, and 4C.
It can also be recalled that former Gingoog mayor and now that city’s Vice Mayor Ruth Guingona was injured when NPA rebels fired on her convoy in Barangay Alatagan in 2013. Two of her escorts were killed in that ambush.
Last August 25, more than a hundred NPA fighters took 10 workers of a construction company by force, including its vehicles and some P1.2 million in cash, when they set up a roadblock in Barangay Eureka in Gingoog.
Superintendent Roel Lamiing, the Gingoog police chief, said about 130 NPA members belonging to the Guerrilla Front 4B, led by a certain “Commander Dahon,” carried out the attack.
But despite the sporadic combat movements of the NPA, Carandang said the NPA rebels’ presence in Gingoog has actually dwindled as they retreated into the far-flung environs.
“They now find it hard to penetrate the heavily populated areas since their contacts on the ground are now cooperating with the government forces,” Carandang said.
In the past, the insurgents lingered in villages near the national highway, but lately they have stayed away from the barangays near the “poblacion” (town center).
“They don’t stay in the communities for long. They encampments are now from the barangays,” he said.
The rebels staying away from the civilian population is a sign that they military’s constant patrol and visibility has worked and driven the NPA out of Gingoog, Carandang said.