THE Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is looking into the connection of legal front organizations to the New People’s Army (NPA) following the surrender of an alleged Anakpawis chairwoman which further reinforces the AFP’s information that the group is a supporter of NPA.

Lieutenant Colonel Ramon Zagala, commander officer of the 28th Infantry Battalion, said the surrender of the chairwoman of Anakpawis Mati chapter in Davao Oriental identified as Gemma Burgos Quiroga, 35, from Barangay Calapagan in Lupon, Davao Oriental, is a significant development.

“Her surrender, for 28th IB, was very significant because, the people we are facing, the New People’s Army (NPA), are not just armed. We are also facing the organization that is able to organize rallies against our government. It is a two-pronged attack against the government,” Zagala said.

He added that the NPA is not the only armed group that they are confronting in the hinterland but also the legal fronts protesting on the streets.

“Some people might think na ang NPA ay nasa bundok lang at ginagamit lang nila ang armas against the government. It’s a combination of both - the armed struggle and the struggle in the street. The political struggle which is to raise issues, bring issues against the government and use front organizations to face the government in the streets, complaining, but they are also part of the armed struggle because they are the one that surface,” Zagala said.

During their interview with Quiroga, she revealed that in 2012, she was designated as the squad medic of the New People’s Army’s Section Committee 18, Sub-Regional Command (SRC) 2, Southern Mindanao Regional Committee (SMRC). After the leaders saw her potential to organize people, she was transferred to Anakpawis in 2016.

“For us, it shows a connection between the legal front organizations and the Red areas or the armed struggle,” Zagala cited.

Part of Quirogas’ role as a chairwoman is to organize the people in Davao Oriental to attend rallies in Davao City and distribute extortion letters to businessmen. She also brought with her several copies of subversive documents.

Zagala clarified that they have no idea about the existence of Quiroga, not until the city mayor of Lupon turned her over to their battalion to facilitate her surrender.

Anakpawis party-list Representative Ariel Casilao, meanwhile, denied the allegation of the 10th Infantry Division implicating Anakpawis to a rebel surrenderee who is claiming to be a chairperson of Anakpawis Mati chapter, Davao Oriental.

He pointed that the real chairperson of Anakpawis Party-list for Davao Oriental is Artemia Olivar and not Gemma Burgos Quiroga as was reported.

“How can Gemma be a chairperson for Mati City when her Comelec registered address is in Brgy. Kalapagan, Municipality of Lupon, Davao Oriental. Lupon town is several kilometers away from Mati City,” he said.

He added that Quiroga was only using the name of Anakpawis Party-list and other progressive party-list, ALMASiD (Alyansa sa Mag-uuma sa Sidlakang Dabaw-KMP), to solicit funds from local businessmen and local politicians for personal use without the knowledge of the provincial and regional chapter.

“Clearly with the facts mentioned, she needed to invent issues and allowed herself to be used to suffice the Red-tagging intentions and motives of her military handlers,” the lawmaker said.