By: ROEL T. AMAZONA
BAYBAY CITY- The national government is exerting all means to bring back self-exiled Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Maria “Joma” Sison here in the Philippines.
National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr.disclosed this during the launching of the ‘Halad ug Panaghiusa Alang sa Kalinaw Ug Kalambuan’ (Special Convergence Mission for Peace and Development or SCMPD) in this city on Tuesday(October 29).
And part of this effort, he said, was that a team organized by the government is now in Europe working with the International Police Organization (Interpol) and the government will hire Europe-based lawyers to help them file a case against Sison.
However, Esperon said that he cannot reveal any further details about the operation.
President Rodrigo Duterte has directed the military, and even the Philippine National Police, to end the country’s insurgency problem before his term ends on 2022. He earlier issued Executive Order 70 as part of the campaign.
Sison along with his wife and several other top leaders of the communist group are facing multiple murder charges over their alleged involvement in the Inopacan Massacre.
A warrant of arrest was issued in August 28 by Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 32 Judge Thelma Bunyi-Medina with “no bail recommended” against Sison and other key figures like National Democratic Front (NDF) senior adviser Luis Jalandoni, Rodolfo Salas and Eduardo Sarmiento.
Around 67 skeletal remains were discovered in a shallow mass grave site during the exhumation in August 28, 2006 in a mountainous barangay of Subang Daku in Inopacan.
But surviving families reported that at least 87 were victims of mass purging victims from Baybay City, 12 from Inopacan and 22 from Mahaplag.
Some of the victims were said to be members of the NPA who were suspected by the communist leaders of providing information to state forces.
The discovery of the mass grave led to the filling of murder charges against Sison and other top leaders of the CPP-NPA-NDF.
Twelve years after the exhumation, surviving family members are still waiting for justice and had asked for government assistance to them.
In the launching of the SCMPD, government agencies like the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Department of Health (DOH), Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Philippine Information Agency (PIA) and Department of Labor and Employment participated in the special caravan.
Assistance given during the caravan includes P5,000 cash assistance from the DSWD, medical and dental mission from the provincial government of Leyte and An Waray Party-list.
The city government of Baybay also provided P400,000 worth of livelihood assistance to four organizations in upland villages of the city.
Esperon said that with the government reaching out to the people by bringing services to them through the enforcement of the National Task Force to end insurgency, they are confident that even with the end of President Rodrigo Duterte term, this can be sustain because local government units are given an active role in addressing the problem.
“Local leaders in Leyte are doing an excellent job in addressing insurgency problem in the province. Imagine from 36 percent on poverty rate it goes down to only 13 percent even without the help of the national task force,” Esperon said.
“Governance here is doing very well, I doubt if rebel will still exists in this province because the LGUs here are providing the people the assistance that they need,” he added.
For his part, Major Gen. Pio Diñoso III, the commanding general of the 8th Infantry Division, said that the numbers of rebels in the province have considerably dwindled.
Diñoso said that the cooperation and support extended by the people in the villages contributed to their campaign to quell the insurgency problem in Leyte and other parts of the region.
Also present at the launching of the SCMPD were Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council of the Philippines Secretary Eduardo del Rosario, Leyte Governor Leopoldo Dominico Petilla, Vice Governor Carlo Loreto, Rep.Carl Nicolas Cari(5th district), Baybay City Mayor Jose Carlos Cari, DILG Regional Director Artemio Cañeja and DSWD Regional Director Marie Angela Gopalan.