MANILA — Communist terrorists who continue to exploit and radicalize tribal communities will have to face the consequences of their actions, indigenous people’s (IP) leaders said Thursday.
“What I learned when I was still part of the armed movement is that my comrades would tell me, ‘people can shut my eyes, close my mouth or cover my ears, but truth will always prevail. They can try to brainwash us, divert our paths, but in the end, everything will clear up, for the masses hold the truth, and the truth is the truth,’” Datu Jake Lanes, a former communist rebel, told members of the media in a press briefing in Pasay City upon their arrival from the US.
Lanes, however, fired the rebels’ “teachings” back at them, as he rallied Filipinos to resist the narrative of communist terrorist groups.
“I’m returning their words back at them. This time, they will earn the rage and anger of tribal communities for the deception and abuses they committed,” Lanes, who was a former cadre of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA), added.
Lanes and seven other tribal leaders who went to the United States for a speaking tour aimed at rallying the international community against the CPP-NPA lamented how several militants harassed them, with some shouting at them in several occasions.
Datu Nestor Apas said militant groups in America felt threatened that tribal leaders are finally standing their ground and speaking up against the atrocities committed by the CPP-NPA.
“The militants want us to be silent on the issue. They were hurt by the truth, that’s why they harassed us by storming us during our activities,” Apas said in Filipino.
Apas said militants attempted to hurt them during their activity in Washington DC, saying the protesters did not even respect the privacy of their gathering.
“For what it’s worth, it feels good to stand up for the truth. It feels good to help the country,” he said.
Prior to their Washington DC leg, Fil-Am protesters disrupted the tribal leaders’ discussion with members of the Filipino community in the activities organized by the Philippine embassies in San Francisco and Los Angeles, California.
“The CPP’s legal fronts are strong in the US, but we know that like their legal fronts here in the Philippines, there are underground National Democratic Front (NDF) organizations heading each sectoral group,” Lanes, for his part, said.
The NDF is a coalition of revolutionary organizations and belongs to the CPP-NPA-NDF insurgency.
During their US tour, the tribal leaders called on the Filipino community to be vigilant in giving support to groups asking for financial assistance, saying these might be channeled to groups affiliated with the CPP-NPA.
They also lodged a formal complaint before the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (PFII) Secretariat, asking them to launch an investigation into the attacks committed by the communist rebels.
A senior official of the US State Department also vowed to look into the tribal leaders’ claims of abuses and attacks by the rebel group.
“We delivered the issues in Mindanao well. Filipino-Americans also offered help. We felt their support in our journey,” Apas said.
The CPP-NPA is a terrorist-listed organization by the United States, European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines.