Agusan Norte Farmers Denounce NPAs

BUENAVISTA, Agusan del Norte- More than 200 members of the Union ng Mag- uuma sa Agusan del Norte (UMAN), an NPA allied – organization, disowned the CPP-NPA terrorist group and took their pledge of loyalty and allegiance to the government during a Peace Consultation Dialogue on June 22, 2019 at the Covered Court of Brgy Tungao, Butuan City, Agusan del Norte.

The Peace Consultation Dialogue was conducted thru the convergence effort of the Barangay Council of Barangay Tungao and San Mateo, Local Government Unit of Butuan City and the 23rd Infantry (Masigasig) Battalion to address the issues and concerns of the residents and the UMAN members. The topics include Security of Land Tenure, Livelihood and Employment, Youth Recruitment and Peace and Order.

Moreover, after the Open Forum, the officers and members of UMAN, as well as, the residents of the barangay took their oath to withdraw their support and dismantle UMAN, to stop supporting the CPP-NPA-NDF and will not succumb to any group who will organize and take advantage of them.

UMAN is a farmers’ organization being used by the CPP-NPA to recruit farmers by utilizing false promises particularly on owning the land they are tilling. Monthly dues was also collected by the organization from the farmer members.

According to Rheda (true name withheld), a member of UMAN, she joined the organization hoping that it would help them with their problems regarding security of land tenure, livelihood, employment, and the availability of their basic social needs.

UMAN assured them that the lands they are tilling will be given to them once they will join the organization. Also the organization imposed force collection for their monthly dues. “Kung muapil mi sa UMAN, tagaan kono mi ug yuta o ihatag sa amoa ang yuta na among gidaro. Nagbayad pa jud mi ug monthly dues sa ilaha.”- Rheda said.

Another member, Elvira (true name withheld) said, “Karon nakabalo na mi kung unsay tinuod sa UMAN, muondang na mi pag-apil sa ilaha ug bungkagon nanamo sila karon. Moderitso nalang mi og duol sa ahensya sa gobyerno kung aduna mi mga problema.” (Now that we are aware of the intention of UMAN, we will stop joining them and dismantle their group. Instead, we go straight to the government whenever we have issues.)

Moreover, the Chairman of Barangay Tungao, Hon. Melchor Salboro expressed his heartfelt gratitude to the soldiers of the Philippine Army under 23rd Infantry Battalion for protecting and saving the barangay from the threats of CPP-NPA. “Atong ampingan ang atong barangay para walay musolod na dautang grupo. Dili na ta magpailad sa mga teroristang CPP-NPA.” Salboro added in his vernacular language.
(We have to take care of our community so that there will be no more unscrupulous group who will enter. We will not support the CPP-NPA anymore)

LTC FRANCISCO L MOLINA JR, Commanding Officer, 23IB is optimistic that with the efforts of Barangay Officials of Barangay Tungao and San Mateo, the former Officers and members of UMAN, and other residents of the two barangays will dismantle UMAN in their areas and will no longer give-in to the CPP-NPA Terrorist Group. “Let us work together in restoring peace in your area. We must not allow any group to sow havoc in our community. Towards this end, development will surely come in.” Molina added.

Meanwhile, Col Maurito Licudine, 402nd Brigade Commander said, “I am reminding our farmers to be wary in joining progressive organizations who are just pretending to help. These groups are only protecting their own selfish interests to agitate farmers and promote communist vested interest. They are not sincere in helping the farmers to uplift their lives. We have the Peace and Development Zones in CARAGA, the regions’ banner program in addressing peace and evelopment concerns. Let us join hands to create conflict resilient communities in CARAGA.” Licudine added.