Village caught in tug-of-war between military, activists

Photo from BAYAN – Bagong Alyansang Makabayan FB page

By Jennifer P. Rendon 

A village of 4,000 residents is now the subject of a tug-of-war between leftist organizations and state forces.

In the past two days, activist Teddy Casiño and some “volunteers” have made their presence felt at Barangay Cawayan, New Washington, Aklan.

On Oct 12 and 13, Bayan Muna led by Casiño was in the area for an activity they dubbed a “humanitarian and peace mission.”

Members of the Aklan Police Provincial Office (APPO), the Philippine Army, and the local government of New Washington also embarked on an outreach program on Oct 14.

For the Philippine Army’s 301st Infantry Brigade, the timing of Bayan Muna’s activity was nothing short of desperation.

“It’s a last-ditch effort to recover what they lost in Cawayan,” Brigadier General Marion Sison, 301st IB commander, said.

Sison was apparently referring to the mass exodus of members of the Pambansang Lakas Ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya Ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA) and Anak-Pawis from Cawayan village.

On Sept 24, thirty-five PAMALAKAYA and Anak-Pawis members pledge their allegiance to the government and withdrew their support to the Communist Party of the Philippines – New People’s Army (NPA).

“And that’s what the group of Casiño doesn’t want. They lost Cawayan and it could create a domino effect on other areas,” Sison said.

The local military believes that Bayan Muna and its umbrella organizations are trying to strengthen their legal struggles in Kalibo and other areas of Aklan.

“But how can they do that when they’re starting to lose members from their sectoral organizations?” he said.

And as left-wing groups appear bent on gaining strength in Aklan, “we’re also determined to do what we have to do,” Sison said.