PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — THE Armed Forces and the National Police yesterday declared a nationwide red alert in anticipation of attacks from the New People’s Army following the arrest of communist party founding chairman Jose Ma. Sison in the Netherlands last Tuesday.
Maj. Gen. Ben Dolorfino, chief of the military’s National Capital Region Command, said “possible retaliatory actions” from the communist movement could come in the form of attacks on military units, camps or government installations, ” he said.
Dolorfino said he also expects organizations affiliated with the Left to stage rallies to protest Sison’s arrest.
AFP chief Gen. Hermogenes Esperon said there have been no indications the NPA would launch retaliatory attacks but “it’s better to be the cautious side than to be sorry later.”
Sison, according to the Dutch justice ministry, was arrested on suspicion he gave orders to murder former communist party leaders Romulo Kintanar in January 2003 and Arturo Tabara in September 2004.
Esperon said Sison’s arrest will “definitely” weaken the NPA which, according to military estimates, has about 6,300 members.
The arrest, Esperon added, is a “big boost” to internal security operations.
Esperon said Sison, on self-exile in the Netherlands, has been giving orders to the NPA to intensify attacks against government forces to strengthen the party in the countryside. ”
Esperon also said Sison has to answer not only for the killing of Kintanar, Tabara, and other CPP central committee members as part of a purge but also for the “more than 1,000 liquidations of barangay captains, civilians and some military and police officials and enlisted men.”
PNP chief Oscar Calderon agreed with Esperon that Sison’s arrest would impact on the CPP and NPA which President Arroyo wants dismantled before her term ends in 2010.
Calderon also said the PNP wants to investigate Sison, who has a pending arrest warrant for the killing of scores of communist guerillas and civilians in Inopacan, Leyte, in the late 80s. The remains of the victims were exhumed by the military last year.
Brig. Gen. Romeo Prestoza, commander of the Presidential Security Group which also went on red alert, said the PSG has not received any direct threat against President Arroyo or Malacañang, but it is preparing for rallies.
The Manila Police District has ordered its personnel to secure Mendiola bridge near Malacañang, and guard all roads leading to it.
National security adviser Norberto Gonzales and Jesus Dureza, presidential adviser on the peace process, said possible retaliatory attacks would not deter the government from pushing through with a local amnesty program for communist rebels.
“When we got stuck in the negotiations with the panel, that did not deter us from proceeding with our peace work and we cannot be held hostage to situations like those. Peace must have to continue being done and we saw the possibility of the locals helping us in moving the peace process forward,” Dureza said.
Dureza said the local amnesty program would be open to NPA returnees and would be done through the issuance of a presidential proclamation “but you need to have it effected through congressional concurrence by a majority vote, that is the requirement. “
He said the Palace is hoping to implement the program by December.
Dureza said the National Committee on Social Integration under OPAPP would oversee the amnesty program which would include provisions for livelihood grants to the rebel returnees.