By SIMON NAOGSAN (Ka Filiw)
Spokesperson, Cordillera People’s Democratic Front
The Cordillera People’s Democratic Front (CPDF) derides local government units (LGUs) including the provincial government of Mountain Province for falling to the vicious trap of the military in recruiting and recognizing fake rebel surrenderees. In the latest tale of a procession of false claimants to the P5,000 monthly livelihood funds, the provincial government of Mountain Province continues to present just about anyone who can claim to be a rebel.
There has never been a Carmen Aclinen aka “Tala” in the roster of the NPA. In the same manner Ruben Pangesban or “Ramil” has opted to return to civilian life way back several years ago. He has already left the revolutionary movement for so long years and yet he is now again presented as a rebel returnee.
The Marcos dictatorship had mastered the tactics of presenting fake rebel surrenderees and now these old tricks keep on repeating under new hands!
The provincial LGU to date claims to have some 40 surrenderees in its payroll, and presumably spent an estimated P2.4 million a year. This amount should be better spent for genuine people’s livelihood. Yet like the marching list of the (paramilitary) Cordillera People’s Liberation Army (CPLA) that mysteriously piled up out of nowhere in recent months, none of the so-called rebel returnees can be found to be active members of the revolutionary armed movement.
In truth, civilians have been paraded by the military in connivance with the LGUs in order to conjure the illusion that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Aquino regime is winning the war, and to justify the millions of pesos of taxpayers money going down the drain.
Meanwhile, the real situation and the fishing ground for fake surrenderees that has become a bounty-hunting scheme for certain LGU and military officials remains evident: the few rich becomes richer and the impoverished majority of the Filipino people have become more than ever poorer, pushing certain civilians who are generally in survival mode to present themselves as rebel returnees complete with make-believe stories concocted in military headquarters.
It is this same impoverished situation in the hinterlands that has forced children in upland Bontoc as elsewhere in the Cordillera to stop going to school and instead do odd jobs, including working as haulers of gold ore from small scale mines. Instead of addressing the standard issues of the day such as crimes of poverty and its ramifications, neglect of social services, skyrocketing prices of commodities, military abuses and injustices, certain LGUs close their eyes and instead conspire with the AFP in concocting rebel returnees.
Aside from overzealously promoting the twin features of Oplan Bayanihan — psychological warfare and Intelligence operations — the patently fraudulent surrender campaign is a source of potential corruption. Indeed, to skirt regular audit and accountability, these surrender campaign funds are re-categorized as intelligence funds, aside from the hudreds of millions of pesos of rebel returnees’ funds.
And while the coffers of the provinces are fast drying up due to these charades, basic services continue to be neglected. Instead of feeder roads, pathways and bridges to far-flung barrios including some barrios of the capital town of Bontoc, the P6 million or so yearly allocation for the surrender campaign has become a milking cow. Instead of providing for basic infrastructure facilities or cheaper hospital bills, the rebel returnees funds mimic the fruitless dole-outs of the US-Aquino 2 regime’s Conditional Cash Transfer or 4Ps and the Pamana program under the Office of the Presidential Assistant on the Peace Process.
In the end, the fake surrender campaign only intensifies the impoverishment of the people and corruption in the reactionary government, and further fans the flames of people’s war. This social malaise contributes much unwittingly in the recruitment and the continuing growth of the revolutionary people’s Red Army and the advancement of the National Democratic Revolution to a higher stage.