NPA mounts checkpoints in Surigao del Sur

This article is available in PilipinoBisayaHiligaynon

For two hours, the New People’s Army (NPA) held a portion of the national highway in Surigao del Sur (SDS) last February 10. The Red fighters mounted checkpoints in Barangay Mabahin, Cortes while carrying an operation to disarm three former soldiers in their home by the roadside. The measure was part of carrying out the revolutionary movement’s policy on reactionary elections.

Seized from the soldiers were three short firearms, bullets and other matériel. Red fighters advised them against conducting any act that could harm the peasants and civilians, and the revolutionary movement. One of the soldiers is running for a local position in Cortes.

The checkpoints were set up a kilometer away from a CAFGU detachment and three villages away a police station. Four police personnel attempted to respond but withdrew after seeing that they were outnumbered by the Red fighters. While holding the checkpoints, the comrades were aware how some police and soldiers mixed with civilians to take videos. Some soldiers armed with short firearms stood at a distance where they monitored the Red fighters.

Ka Sandara Sidlakan, NPA-Surigao del Sur spokesperson, belied claims of the 901st Brigade that the operation violated international humanitarian law. “They know fully well that civilians were not frisked, harassed or threatened by the comrades.”

Preparation for the action

In an interview by Ang Bayan, Ka Sandara narrated how the NPA unit conducted its preparations. Because the armed action will take place along the highway, Red fighters gathered detailed intel and studied the area and characteristic of the target community.

They conducted dry-runs to ensure that the action will be carried out swiftly. Forces were assigned to disarm, man the checkpoints and interact with the residents. Of the entire force, 25% were women.

“I was tense as we were approaching the target and feared that the action might fail,” said a Red fighter who was joining an armed action for the first time. But when the comrades reached the house of the target and those manning the checkpoint appeared calm, his anxieties faded away.

Ka Sandara said that a firefight would likely have erupted had they encountered soldiers passing through the highway that morning. The NPA allowed the military vehicle to pass through, aware that the area was populated.

“At first, residents were taken by surprise when they first saw armed people flagging vehicles on the road,” related Ka Sandara. “But when they realized they were Red fighters, most of them relaxed.” Some were happy because it was the first time that they saw a Red fighter.

Residents saw comrades were “tidy and impressive” in their uniform of black pants and shirts printed with the image of Ka Oris. With a smile, they calmly explained the objectives of the armed action. “They were so excited on seeing the NPA, some approached and prac-tically embraced the comrades!” Ka Sandara narrated. Some drivers and passengers passing through the checkpoints waved at the comrades. “This is not the army that Duterte claims to have crushed,” she said. While adding to the strength of the people’s army, it also helped embolden the masses.

It was unavoidable that the checkpoints caused delays for some passengers and drivers who comrades dutifully talked to. Some passengers feared of being caught in a crossfire, but were assured by the NPA of their safety.

The Red fighters took the opportunity to explain the importance of the NPA’s armed revolution. They also explained that the checkpoints were there to ensure that the armed action will be carried out orderly and for the safety of the civilians in the area.

Policy on elections

The checkpoint and disarming operation are part of the policy on the conduct of campaigns during the reactionary elections. “The checkpoints ensured that candidates will not bring armed goons, police and military forces to harass and intimidate the people,” said Ka Sandara.

These also serve to remind candidates not to belittle the revolutionary movement and its political power.

Ka Sandara said that during the election period, people of Surigao del Sur must unite to make the candidates listen to their demands. These include standing against the construction of detachments in the villages, military occupation on the pretext of the Retooled Community Support Program and the forced surrender of civilians as members or supporters of the NPA.

They must also unite to defend the environment against widespread mining, illegal and large-scale logging and expansion of plantations. She said peasants must also demand a raise in their wages, as well as in the price of their products, lowering of land rent and others.

NPA mounts checkpoints in Surigao del Sur