DAVAO DEL NORTE (PIA)-"They're a bother." Panabo City Mayor Jose E. Relampagos said of the members of the New People's Army (NPA) as he issued on Monday, a public declaration to end local communist armed conflict and eventually declared the rebel group as "persona non grata"
In a press conference following the ceremonial declaration made during the Monday Convocation of city government employees, Relampagos detailed how NPA members had bothered communities where they used to draw support.
Claiming to have had direct encounter with NPAs as he used to ran a small business in far-flung communities in Panabo, Relampagos said NPAs "are collecting taxes." "Dako na nga kahasol. (That's really a bother)," he said while admitting that he used to give taxes to the NPA.
"Sa laktod nga pagkasulti, kusog sila mangayo. (In other words, they are much of the asking)," Relampagos said as recounted his dealings with them before his stint as the City Mayor of Panabo.
He said NPAs were also asking rice from poor people in peripheral areas and that their reported acts of killing civilians and staging ambush against military personnel were causing troubles in communities with their presence.
"Dakong kahasol ang ilang guibuhat maong ako gideklar jud nako nga sa Panabo sila persona non grata. (What they did were really bothering so here in Panabo, I declare them as persona non grata)," he said but he could not offhand tell the barangays which still suffer from these bothersome acts of the NPAs.
Relampagos swore not being cowed by NPAs however, he appealed them to go back mainstream and seek intervention of the government "which is offering a number of programs" for them to have a normal life away from the life of hunger.
"Pero ako silang giawhag nga mobalik sa sabakan sa gobyerno kay ang gobyerno daghang programa... Aplay sundalo, dako sweldo... didto gutom," he said.
Relampagos claimed that the 40 barangays of Panabo had been cleared of armed NPAs but cautioned residents from supporting the rebel group as he is up to arrest those found in cohorts with NPAs.
"Ug gusto mo naay NPA, hala hatagi ninyo mosuporta kay aron dakpon mo ni Mayor Relampagos. Ana ra na. (if you want the presence of NPAs, you go on supporting them so that Mayor Relampagos will arrest you. That is it.)," he said with emphasis.
In his speech delivered during the ceremonial declaration, Relampagos professed his strong opposition against the adversarial intent of the NPA to overthrow the government. "Ilawon sa akong administrasyon, dili ko mo sugot na madani nila atong katawhan alang sa ilang mga interes. (Under my administration, I won't allow them to convince our people to take side with their interest)," he said.
"As the City Mayor of Panabo, I am more willing to help our President Rodrigo Duterte to attain peace that we are hoping for," he said.
The Declaration of NPA as Persona Non-Grata in Panabo City had the presence of 1003rd Infantry Brigade commander, Col. Nolasco Mempin and Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Provincial Director Abito Bernasor. (PIA XI / Jeanevive Duron Abangan)