A LEADER of a militant organization here said tagging members of leftist organizations as supporters of "terrorists and criminals" and then threatening them with arrest will only worsen the decades-old communist-led insurgency.
Wildon Barros, secretary general of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan in Northern Mindanao (Bayan), said they would be forced to join the armed struggle if the government continues to tag them as NPA sympathizers and threaten to have them arrested.
Bayan is an umbrella organization of sectoral groups of workers, farmers, urban poor, youth and students, church, among others.
The group often initiates mass actions to air grievances against the government or to protest its policies.
A police spokesman earlier tagged those staging rallies as fronts of the NPA.
PRO-10 spokesperson Superintendent Lemuel Gonda said the police have been monitoring these militant organizations across the region and will arrest identified members if ordered to do so.
"Kung pananglitan i-apil kami pag outlaw, i-apil kami tawgong NPA, mapugos kami mosaka ug naa unyay exodus sa kabukiran ug mosamot na unya ang armadong pakigbisog (If we are outlawed, if they tag us as NPAs, then we will be forced to join the NPAs in the mountains. It will be an exodus and the armed revolution will become worse),"Barros said.
Barros dares the state forces to prove to courts that these progressive groups are indeed connected and have ties with the Maoist guerrillas.
This as he even insists that expressing sentiments and grievances in the streets are guaranteed in the Constitution.
Barros said though progressive groups and the NPA somehow have similar demands, the former have been following the law while the latter opted to take up armed struggle.
"Ang among pag rally gigarantiya sa Constitution. Ang right to expression and to assemble. Ang ilang pasangil nga front kami sa NPA isang- at ug i.prove nila sa korte (Our right to protest is guaranteed in Constitution, our right to expression and to assemble. Their allegations that we are members of the NPA, let them proove that in court)," Barros said.
"Ang mga NPA armado, kami plakards ug streamers ang among dala sa dalan. Kung naay mando nga ipadakop mi dili nami molantad sa dalan kundili.mapugos kamig saka sa bukid (The NPA is armed while we only bring placards and streamers in the streets. If there is an order to arrest us, then we will no longer go to the streets but join the armed struggle)," Barros added.
The Bayan-NMR leader believes President Rodrigo Duterte is frustrated after he abandoned the peace talks while the legal groups whom being linked to the NPA remains hopeful that peace negotiation will continue to prosper.
Barros urged Duterte to take things slowly and contemplate before jumping into conclusions and decisions.
"Panawagan nato sa presidente nga hinay-hinay lang ug tan-awon niya unsay mahimong epekto sa iyang mga decision kay aron dili mosamot ang kaguliyang ug problema labi na sa human rights violations and abuses (We call on the President to be more circumspect and not jump to conclusions so that our problems, especially on human rights and rights abuses, will not worsen)," Barros said.
Published in the SunStar Cagayan de Oro newspaper on November 25, 2017.