THE regional chairperson of a militant youth group has fallen victim to harassment by still unidentified persons following last week’s pronouncements by President Rodrigo Duterte tagging members and leaders of leftist organizations as members or supporters of the New People’s Army (NPA).
In a statement, the League of Filipino Students-Northern Mindanao (LFS-NMR) said unidentified men acting like state security agents last November 21 at around 6pm went to the house of its regional chairperson, Kristine Cabardo, in barangay Saray, Iligan City.
The men asked Cabardo's whereabouts from the latter's parents and accused the youth leader, an AB Sociology graduate of Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology (MSU-IIT), and her sister as NPA supporters.
"Cabardo’s father confronted them and the men claimed to be looking for Cabardo and her twin sister who they accused of supporting rebels. Out of fear and intimidation of suspected state forces, he gave them the phone of Cabardo’s sister to clear his daughters’ names. He also reiterated that his daughters were not rebels," the LFS said.
Despite the threats, Cabardo said she continues to condemn martial law in Mindanao and speak against the illegal arrests of human rights defenders.
She said the LFS remains steadfast in fighting for a genuine and free education, and continue to immerse and link with the peasants and workers but said membership to the group does not mean membership to the NPA.
"We will not be cowed. We will collectively work for our future through our legitimate and just actions demanding for national democracy. And again we assert; we operate in the broad daylight. We are not members of the NPA," Cabardo said.
The youth group however warned that as attacks on legal progressive organizations and activists heighten, they will not hesitate to joint the armed struggle to offer lives for liberation and democracy.
Meanwhile, the word war between the NPA and the military has heightened.
In a statement, the NPA accused the military of using military war drones owned by the United States, which they claimed, are visible in the hinterlands of Cagayan de Oro, Iligan City, and Misamis Oriental.
The NPA said the military used P3 Orion and a Predator drone last November 18 and 19 in the said areas.
But Captain Joe Patrick Martinez, spokesperson of the 4th Infantry Division (4ID), dismissed the claim saying that the US government has not intervened any of their efforts to quash the rebels so far.
"This allegation is a clear manifestation that the NPAs are hallucinating and are haunted by their fear after the President has announced earlier that they are already considered terrorists. Why do we need these equipment when we can easily get relevant and timely information from the people in these areas?" he said.
But Martinez, however, clarified that any offer to help the military thwart rebellion in the country is ‘all welcome’.
"If they will be declared as terrorists, the US can intervene, should the situation escalate. Their support is always welcome,” Martinez said.
Martinez said the use of drones and sophisticated air surveillance assets will be especially helpful in locating "enemies of the state."
Published in the SunStar Cagayan de Oro newspaper on November 28, 2017.