Thursday, March 17, 2022

Former Haran Bakwit spox-turned NPA surfaces, yields to government authorities

NFSA, Panacan, Davao City – A high-ranking leader of the Communist Terrorist Group (CTG) who was a former spokesperson of the CTG-linked alliance that trafficked Indigenous Peoples (IP) at the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP)-Haran in Davao City yielded to the troops of the Eastern Mindanao Command (EastMinCom), under the leadership of LtGen. Greg T. Almerol and Provincial Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (PTF-ELCAC) of Davao Oriental headed by Governor Nelson L. Dayanghirang on March 8.
The said personality was identified as Cristony "Jun" Latiban Monzon, also known as Jong Monzon, former Secretary-General of "Pasakaday Salugpongan Kalimodan" (PASAKA) and subsequently the Political Instructor of the Regional Operational Command (ROC) of the Southern Mindanao Regional Committee (SMRC).

He was also accompanied by his comrades identified as Mentroso Tumagsa Malibato, Platoon Supply Officer of ROC, SMRC/Former Vice Chairman Internal Affairs of PASAKA, and Danny Tiklunay Malibato, Political Guide of SMRC.

LtGen. Almerol said that the three personalities' surrender came after the series of encounters in Davao de Oro, with recently in Andap, New Bataan, between the troops of the 1001st Brigade and ROC of the SMRC.

In a press conference held at the Headquarters of 701st Brigade in Mati City on March 15, Monzon, who was the spokesperson of Haran Bakwit from 2015 to 2021, revealed that the CTG was using the evacuees to project harassment of the military towards IP communities and gain funding from international organizations for the New People's Army (NPA).

He said they were mandated by the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) to use the IPs as the "best defense" of the NPA if there is a presence of government troops in IP communities by crying for human rights violations, which are sometimes fabricated.

Monzon also added that the CTG took advantage of his identity as an IP and his popularity as an activist to show that their statements are true.

"Yung mga sinabi ko noon, siyempre may mga mandate. May mga statement na sasabihin ka...kahit na ayaw kong magsalita. Siyempre ginamit din nila yung popularity ko. Bilang naging known activist di lang dito sa Mindanao kundi sa buong Pilipinas, yun ang tine-take advantage. Hindi lang yung sa pagsasalita, kahit ano, ma-take advantage lang yung pangalan mo," he said.

It can be recalled that on April 21 last year, the Davao City Regional Trial Court issued a warrant of arrest against the six administrators of Haran for two counts of violation of RA 7610 or Child Abuse Law, which include Jong Monzon, UCCP Bishop Hamuel Tequis, Rev. Daniel Palicte, Ephraim Malazarte, Lindy Trenilla, and Grace Avila.

He also divulged that he was forced to join the armed movement because of the case filed against him.

"Sabi nila 'may mandate tayo na kayo dapat pupunta na sa countryside kasi may kaso na kayo.' Kahit na sabihin kong ayaw kong pumunta sa countryside o doon sa NPA, eh command yan ng mga leaders ng CPP, papuntahin ka talaga," Monzon said.

LtGen. Almerol recounted the same situation to Chad Booc who reportedly integrated into the armed movement after his release from the Cebu City Jail earlier in May 2021 due to the alleged kidnapping of IP children from Talaingod, Davao del Norte to a Bakwit School at the University of San Carlos – Talamban in Cebu.

The CTG leader, who was a close ally of Booc, also confirmed that the former volunteer teacher of CTG-linked schools was an armed member of the NPA as they were together in the ROC, SMRC. He also bellied the allegation of Save Our Schools Network that Chad was only in New Bataan to conduct research.

"Nakasama ko siya sa tatlong encounters. Two months siya sumama doon sa New People's Army...naging member siya ng political section. Ginawa nila akong 2nd Political Instructor sa ROC kaya alam ko yung status ni Chad Booc doon," he narrated.

"Narinig ko actually sa meeting (ng SMRC) na sabi ni Ka Ellian (Eric Casilao) 'yan ang ipalabas niyo sa urban committee na nag research sila.' Walang research na nangyari, kasi kasama ko sila. Marami ka pang dadaanan kapag nagsabi ka na may research kang pupuntahan. Punta ka pa ng barangay, punta ka pa kung saang mga (otoridad)," he added.

Monzon further cited that they decided to surrender due to the difficulties in the terrorist movement, including hunger and fear of dying in combat with EastMinCom's relentless military operations.

On a separate incident, troops of 1001st Brigade’s 60th Infantry Battalion (IB) and intel units discovered arms caches in different locations through the revelation of former rebels (FR) that resulted in the recovery of 11 high-powered firearms on March 12.

The said FRs were former members of the Guerilla Front 3 (GF3), Sub-Regional Committee 4 (SRC4), SMRC who recently surrendered to the 60IB.

Two CTG members identified as alias Kristine and Wanwan who also yielded to the troops of 39IB and 56IB on March 7 and 9 respectively, bringing along two high-powered firearms composed of a Carbine Rifle and an M16A1 Rifle.

LtGen. Almerol assessed that the recent surrender of Monzon, who is a top-ranking CTG personality and the other accomplishments of the Command, reveals the downgraded morale of the CTG's leadership even at the Regional Committee level after they lost the support of the masses.

He also attributed this success to the continuing efforts of the Local Government Units under the TF-ELCAC, support of the communities and former rebels, and the intensified combat operations of EastMinCom troops to end the local communist armed conflict in the Region.

“The communities' growing cooperation signifies that they have already developed an aversion to, and had grown tired of the CTG’s atrocities that had stunted the economic growth in their areas for many years. This is also a clear manifestation that the communities, especially the IPs, who were vulnerable to exploitation and recruitment of the CTG, no longer welcome them,” LtGen. Almerol added.

He also commended the troops and other involved units for the accomplishment, saying that this is a reflection of their hard work and the fruit of their continuous intensive military operations against CTG.

Meanwhile, EastMinCom Commander reiterated his call to the remaining members of the CTG to emulate the decision of their former comrades who are now living a free and peaceful life upon their surrender.

"Our government today is already giving you the chance to have a second life. Surrender now and become our partner in attaining peace and development in our country. We have already proven that wielding arms is not the real solution to the problems of society but only through our whole-of-nation approach," the EastMinCom Commander said.###

Source: Public Information Office, Eastern Mindanao Command, AFP

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