By: Saul Pa-a
CAMP GAKAR, Lucena CitEN. Ny – The support of the electorate from the Southern Luzon provinces for left-leaning party-list groups has waned, according to a poll analysis by the Southern Luzon Command (Solcom) on Wednesday night.
Lt. Gen. Gilbert I. Gapay, Solcom Commander who has operational jurisdiction over the Calabarzon Region (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon), Mimaro (Mindoro Oriental/Occidental, Marinduque, Romblon) and Bicol Region (Camarines Norte/Sur, Masbate, Catanduanes, Albay and Sorsogon), presented data showing that voters’ support has dramatically dropped based on a comparison of combined votes during two electoral exercises in 2016 and 2019 in the three regions.
In an interview with the Philippine News Agency (PNA), Gapay attributed the big drop among the left-leaning Makabayan blocs due to the lost cause of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) and for perpetrating terror acts and extortion activities.
“They have lost the support of the people in the Southern Luzon areas because of their terroristic acts, extortion activities and burning of heavy equipment hamper development projects that would have to redound to benefit the people,” Gapay said.
Based on Solcom’s election comparative analysis, the left-leaning Makabayan group suffered a huge drop from their 2016 vote count to the 2019 poll results in Calabarzon, Mimaro and Region 5, where ACT Teacher party-list 235,337 votes in 2016 have dipped to 91,389 in the 2019 polls.
Gabriela, from 309,724 to 11,527; Anakpawis from 74,663 to 40,212; Kabataan from 59,971 to 47,460; while other party lists organizations –Piston, Migrante, Katribu, Akap-Bata, Aking Bikolnon– were found to have totally lost support from the voters in the three regions during the May 13 mid-term elections.
Only Bayan Muna has increased from 114,310 in 2016 to 266,909 votes in 2019.
“The truth is that poverty has been used by these rebels and leftist groups to agitate the people into joining their cause. People in the hinterlands only want to live in peace, but these communist-leftist groups provoke them using poverty as an issue to go against the government,” Gapay said.
He also noted zero-election related violent incident (ERVI) in the regions on election day, citing Solcom’s prepositioning of various assets as preemptive plans especially in the island provinces of Masbate, Catanduanes, Marinduque, Mindoro, and Romblon.
He pointed to their election preparations where more than 10,000 soldiers were deployed for poll duties and combat operations due to rebels’ threats, attributing the polls “resounding success” to early preparation of the Commission on Elections, Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine National Police and various stakeholders to secure the elections.
Gapay said their preemptive plans through both the Joint Task Forces (JTF) “Katagalugan” and “Bicolandia” have resulted in 24 armed encounters, prevented sabotage or violent incidents, with a record low of only 10 election-related violent incidents (ERVIs) this year compared to 25 ERVIs in the 2016 polls.
He said the Camplan “Kapayapaan: Timog Luzon” was formed to combat the Communist Terrorist Groups– Southern Tagalog Regional Committee and the Bondoc Peninsula Regional Committee until the latter reach their breaking point and collapse and move to sustain the regions’ internal stability by yearend.
“Development projects are taking place, but it’s the insurgents who are conducting their extortion activities preying on contractors and construction firms and engage in arson that destroy properties and affect innocent people,” he said.
“The election analysis only proves these left-leaning groups have lost track in the populace,” he said, citing their 35 tactical engagements from January to early June have neutralized around 246 enemy forces and recovered 101 various firearms.
Solcom’s JTF “Katagalugan” has processed around 47 surrendered rebels while JTF Bicolandia has 21 or a total of 68 now placed under the government’s Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (ECLIP). (PNA)