By Ryan Sorote

Government forces, religious, and civic organization representatives join the “Peace Rally” in Dumaguete City. (NOPPO)

A government-led rally was held in Dumaguete City to call on the communist New People’s Army (NPA) to end its armed rebellion on its 52nd founding anniversary on Monday, March 29.

The Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (TF-ELCAC) organized the rally at Osmeña Park.

It was attended by government forces, local officials and civil organization representatives and had the theme: “Ang Pagkab-ot sa Kalinaw, Pinaagi sa Hiniusang Paningkamot.” 

Col. Bryant Demot, director of the Negros Oriental Provincial Police Office, said he hoped the activity would resonate with the NPA.

“This peace rally is an offering of peace. The Negrenses aspire for progress, peace, and development,” Demot said.

He said the province needed cooperation for development, especially amid the Covid-19 crisis.

“If there is conflict, it should be settled peacefully, by talking openly with one another,” he said.

Col. Leonardo Peña, commander of the 302nd Infantry Brigade, echoed the same sentiments.

Peña, who was invited to join the rebellion as a teenager, claimed the NPA had infiltrated colleges and universities to replenish its aging ranks with the young. “The youth sector is the vulnerable sector of the society,” he said.

Harold National, National Intelligence Coordinating Agency Central Visayas director, said everyone should help end the rebellion, noting that President Rodrigo Duterte had only 15 months left in his term of office.

Attendees took a “pledge of commitment” to support government efforts for peace and progress in the province. 

The province is the only area in Central Visayas with an active presence of the NPA. It was also the first to organize its Task Force ELCAC under Duterte’s Executive Order No. 7.