CPP-NPA exploits labor unions to agitate workers: ex-rebel

General

Former Communist Party of the Philippines – New People’s Army (Cpp-NPA) rebels who operated in Davao de Oro (formerly Compostela Valley) admitted they aimed to agitate workers of big corporations and lure them into the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA).

Arman Blase, former spokesperson of Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) in Southern Mindanao, said in a Labor Day press conference on Sunday organized by the local government of Davao de Oro that one of their first goals was to establish labor unions.

“We will observe and ask what their issues are as workers and soon they will be radicalized. When they are angry enough, they can now be mobilized for strikes or protests,” he said.

Blase said he started as a full-time member of the KMU in 2008 but the CPP-NPA’s activities were already active as early as 1997.

“Agitating workers is the fastest way to increase our recruitment. When there are many members joining the protests, then we can start to extort from the companies,” he said.

He said the recruited members of labor unions participate in extortion activities in other areas.

History of attacks

One of the big corporations in Mindanao which received extortion demands was Lapanday Foods Corporation, a grower, supplier, and exporter of bananas and pineapples to international markets.

In 2015, the Philippine Army foiled an extortion attempt on Lapanday in Barangay Kipalbig, Tampakan, South Cotabato.

The PA’s 102nd Division Reconnaissance Company stopped the suspects’ plan to burn the company’s airplane used for spraying.

Brig. Gen. Benjamin Madrigal Jr., acting commander of the 10th Infantry Division at the time, said then that extortion activities by NPA rebels show that they abhor peace.

“The NPA rebels did not just conduct terror attack but threatened the livelihood of the almost 1,000 workers employed by the company,” Madrigal said.

On March 27, yet another extortion try by CPP-NPA rebels likewise did not materialize in Barangay Tupas Maragusan, Davao de Oro.

Lt. Gen. Greg Almerol said the rebels were planning to mark the 53rd anniversary of the NPA, but it was preempted after concerned citizens reported the plan to authorities.

“Our troops who have been conducting focused military operations since last year to sustain our crackdown against the remaining [communist rebels] were alerted by concerned citizens on the presence of armed groups attempting to plant an IED (improvised explosive device) along the road. This was immediately responded to by the 1001st Brigade’s troops, which led to a series of armed encounters and resulted in the death of Daguman (Ezekiel), a central committee member of the CPP, and his comrades,” he narrated in a previous interview.

One of the slain NPA rebels during the gunfight, according to the military, was involved in the attack on Lapanday in 2015 and the Macondray Plastic Plant in Panabo City, Davao del Norte in 2017 and in the 2015 murder of Datu Ruben Labawan, a tribal leader in Paquibato, Davao City.

Addressing the situation

The Philippine Amy said it has strengthened efforts to secure the investments that generate employment for locals and sustain government programs.

Capt. Mark Tito, the 10th Infantry Division spokesperson, shared that they conduct Community Support Programs as well as intelligence operations and massive information dissemination regarding terrorist activities.

“This is to create an awareness among the public that giving in to the demands of communist terrorist groups is against the law. The extortion money can be utilized for the advancement of the armed struggle,” he said in an interview.

Dialogues, forums, and awareness drives with the business sector especially with mining companies or personnel, politicians, banana plantation companies, and workers are among the military’s efforts, Tito added.

“Our intelligence team can also offer identification of these CPP-NPA collectors as well as other personalities that intend to extort from corporations or private individuals,” he said.

The CPP-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines.

The Anti-Terrorism Council also formally designated the National Democratic Front as a terrorist organization on June 23, 2021, citing it as “an integral and inseparable part” of the CPP-NPA that was created in April 1973.

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