Ex-rebel chief joins party-list race
BACOLOD CITY, Philippines - The national commander of the Revolutionary Proletarian Army-Alex Boncayao Brigade (RPA-ABB), a breakaway faction of the New People’s Army (NPA), has quit his post to join politics.
Stephen Paduano, who carries the nom de guerre Carapali Lualhati, is running for representative of the Abang Lingkod party list, a group that aims to push for the interest of farm workers and the urban poor.
The RPA-ABB is the armed wing of the Rebolusyonaryong Partido ng Manggagawa-Pilipinas (RPM-P) founded by Arturo Tabara, who was assassinated by suspected NPA hitmen in 2004 in Metro Manila. They were among the factions that broke away from the Communist Party of the Philippines in the mid-1990s in the biggest split to hit the underground movement.
Described by the NPA as a rogue unit, the RPA-ABB signed a peace pact with the Estrada government in 2000.
Last year, the Aquino administration vowed to fulfill the Estrada government's pending commitments, setting aside about P100-M for socio-economic projects for the group.
Paduano said the final draft of the RPA-ABB "closure agreement" with the government is awaiting the signature of President Benigno Aquino III.
With the signing of the closure agreement, the group is about to become an unarmed organization. Paduano said their forces, estimated at around 700 nationwide, are now focused on mainstream politics and activities.
Karapatan Negros secretary general Fred Caña, however, called for the disbandment of the RPA-ABB, saying it has gained political power because of government and the landlords in Negros Occidental who reportedly coddle them.
Cana also accused the RPA-ABB of being behind some of the atrocities on Negros Island. - Rappler.com