Bacolod City – By giving peace a chance, the local peace engagement with the leadership of the Komiteng Rehiyonal (KR) Negros is again being pushed by the Philippine Army in Negros Occidental.
Col. Michael Samson, Army’s 303rd Infantry Brigade commander, however, clarified that his challenge for a localized peace engagement is directed towards the remaining leaders of KR Negros, and not the progressive groups that pretend to represent the CPP NPA NDF.
Samson, a Negrense, justified his call for local peace engagement, stressing that the problem in Negros is local, such as agrarian reform and delivery of basic services, among others, which could be addressed through dialogues with concerned government agencies, local government units, or land owners.
“We don’t want to solve the imperialism, fascism, constitutional and political reforms, or coalition with the government in Negros. Our problems are local in nature,” he stressed.
Samson said his call for local peace engagement also stemmed from numerous surrender feelers they received from NPA members who want to surrender but are being threatened by their comrades from doing so.
Those who wanted to abandon the armed struggle do not know whom and where to approach, he added.
If they are afraid of the military, Samson encouraged them to reach out the Church, local government and barangay officials, private sector or even the media.
For those, who will insist on violence, there is no other option for us, but to respond with military action, he further said, adding that “we cannot just be an observer of their threats to communities.”
Samson, who paid a courtesy call yesterday to Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson at the Provincial Capitol in Bacolod City, also said that he will continue the programs of his predecessors, especially that of Brig. Gen. Inocencio Pasaporte, as well as assess what should be improved in the campaign plan.
He also anticipates a vacuum or leadership crisis within the KR Negros, following deaths of several of its key leaders, including Romeo Nanta, regional commander and Ericson Acosta, deputy secretary of the rebel movement in Negros Island, among others.
While he is not aware as to the successors of slain top rebel leaders in Negros, Samson said those cadres who may come from other areas of the country, are not welcome in the province.
They don’t understand the peculiarities of the situation here, he said.
Among the slain rebel leaders, who died in gun battles with Army soldiers in 2021 and 2022, were Ericson Acosta, deputy KR Negros secretary, and his wife, Kerima Tariman, secretary of the dismantled Northern Negros, who came from Luzon.
“I hope it would be a lesson on their part, that we don’t welcome outsiders, especially cadres from other areas”, Samson said. (Gilbert Bayoran via The Visayan Daily Star (TVDS), photo courtesy of TVDS)