BUENAVISTA, Agusan del Norte – Another group of farmers in Butuan City, Agusan del Norte identified as members of Unyon ng Mag-uuma sa Agusan del Norte (UMAN), an NPA-allied organization, disowned the CPP-NPA Terrorist (CNT) group and took their pledge of loyalty and allegiance to the government during a Peace Consultation Dialogue in Barangay Bitan-agan, Butuan City, Agusan del Norte on July 6, 2019.

More than 150 UMAN members, NPA supporters and residents of Barangay Bitan- agan, Butuan City denounced their support to the CNTs during a Peace Consultation

Dialogue initiated by the Barangay Council of Barangay Bitan-agan, in partnership with the local government unit of Butuan City and the 23rd Infantry (Masigasig) Battalion.

The dialogue aimed to address the issues raised by the residents and the former members of UMAN in the said area. Some of the issues discussed include: (1) security of land tenure; (2) livelihood and employment; (3) youth recruitment; and (4) peace and order, among others.

The UMAN is an organization used by the CPP-NPA Terrorists to recruit farmers as its source of manpower, finance and logistics. Members are being made to pay dues with a promise to give them the lands that they are tilling.

According to Joseph (not his real name), “Kung nakahibalo lang mi sa una na mao ang tomong sa UMAN, wala mi unta nag-apil. Nagpasalig sila na tagaan mig yuta.

Kinsa bay dili ganahag yuta busa niapil mi nila. Pero, nabutang hinuon mi sa kasamok. Paningkamutan namo na mausab among kinabuhi pinaagi sa mga programa sa atong gobyerno.” (If we only knew the real intent of UMAN, we could not have joined them. They promised to give us land so we joined them, only to find ourselves lodged in turmoil. We’ll do our best to straighten up our lives through the programs of our government).

After taking their pledge of loyalty and allegiance to the government, they took an oath to disown UMAN, end their support to the CPP-NPA-NDF, and not to succumb to any group who will organize and take advantage of them.

Meanwhile, Ms. Agnes L Reaño, a Former Rebel (FR) and the National President of People’s Advocacy for Collaboration and Empowerment (PEACE), which is an organization of FRs, explained the deception strategies and tactics of the CNTs in recruiting their members. She said, “Hangga’t may armado sa lugar ninyo, hindi kayo uunlad. Hanggang kailan ba matatapos ang patayan na walang saysay? Kung
talagang para sa bayan pinaglalaban ng mga NPA, bakit nila sinisira ang mga tulay at gusali na itinayo ng gobyerno? Bakit sa loob ng singkwentang taon wala silang naitayong paaralan, tulay, kalsada, health centers o kahit mamigay man lang ng mga gamot? Mamulat na tayo sa katotohanan. Huwag na tayong magpaloko at magpagamit sa komonistang NPA”.

Moreover, Lieutenant Colonel Francisco Molina Jr, Commanding Officer, 23IB encouraged the former members of UMAN and CNT supporters to stop supporting the CNTs. He said “Akong giawhag ang tanan na dili na mag-apil-apil sa grupong UMAN og magsuporta sa Teroristang CPP-NPA. Kung inyo ning ipadayon mabutang lang sa piligro ang inyong kinabuhi. Walay maayong mahatag ang Teroristang CPP-NPA kung dili kadautan og kagubot”, (I encourage everyone not to join UMAN anymore and support the CNTs. It will not give you good but only destroys and makes your lives miserable.) Molina added.

In his statement, Col Maurito L Licudine, 402nd Brigade Commander said, “the trend of shift of support is the result of the convergence of effort being orchestrated and initiated by the local government leaders. The game changer in addressing the insurgency problem here in Caraga”.

Lastly, Col Licudine emphasized that with the Executive Order No. 70, the government shall prioritize and harmonize the delivery of basic services and social development in the conflict-affected areas and vulnerable communities facilitate social inclusivity and ensure participation of all sectors.