Opinion: Bacolod arrests prevented NPA recruitment

Opinion piece by Marit Stinus-Cabugon posted to the Manila Times (Nov 11, 2019): Bacolod arrests prevented NPA recruitment

IN July 2000, Anakbayan Central Visayas Chairman Marvin Marquez was killed in an encounter in Bohol. The communist New People’s Army (NPA) confirmed that Marvin was one of them and admitted that students from Cebu regularly visited NPA camps in Bohol. In the same encounter, a staff member of the Farmers Development Center, recently “Red-tagged,” was killed. She was in the camp with Marvin and the six other people who were killed in the encounter. One of the six was the wife of Federico “ka Val” Villalongha who was himself killed in an encounter eight years later in southern Negros. Killed together with Villalongha was Rachelle Mae “ka Hannah” Palang, a nursing graduate of Velez College in Cebu City and a former vice president for the Visayas of the College Editors Guild of the Philippines who became a “reserve element of the NPA.” (Bulatlat, Oct. 4, 2008).

Last February 14, University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) student John Carlo Capistrano Alberto was killed in an encounter in Laguna. He was the Anakbayan UPLB vice chairman. “Mabuhay ang mga Martir ng Rebolusyon!” Anakbayan UPLB said in its statement on Alberto’s death.

In March 2018, Myles Albasin and five young men were caught with high-powered firearms in the hinterlands of Mabinay, Negros Oriental. Albasin, a UP Cebu graduate, was Anakbayan Cebu chairman for two years until 2017.

On the occasion of the 48th founding anniversary of the NPA, Bayan and other national democratic organizations gathered at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani in Quezon City “to give the ‘highest tribute’ not just for the fallen, but for all those currently waging armed struggle in the countryside” (Bulatlat, March 30, 2017). “Many of the martyred NPAs were youths had been recruited in sectoral and community organizations and became organizers and leaders. They eventually sought a more dangerous life and gave ‘the ultimate sacrifice’ as guerrillas in the countryside, waging the primary form of struggle of the national democratic revolution.” The names of “young, martyred NPA guerrillas in recent decades” were read and “the challenge and call to join the NPA resonated.”

On October 31, police and military raided the offices of Bayan Muna, Gabriela, Kilusang Mayo Uno and the National Federation of Sugar Workers in Bacolod City and arrested more than 50 individuals. Thirteen minors were released immediately. The prosecutor dismissed the charges against 31 others. Eleven have been charged with illegal possession of firearms, and seven are facing illegal possession of explosives charges as well.

One of the persons charged is Karina Mae de la Cerna, the national deputy secretary general of the National Network of Agrarian Reform Advocates (NNARA)-Youth. NNARA-Youth is school-based and organizes “basic masses integration” activities in farming communities under the slogan “Live their lives, join the struggle.” The other persons facing charges are key officials of KMP, KMU, NFSW, Makabayan, Karapatan and Paghimutad (alternative media). The raids were conducted to prevent the “immersion” of the minors with the NPA.

I agree with many of these organizations’ issues against the government such as the excessive use of force used during Oplan Sauron and the war on drugs. I agree that there is too much injustice and poverty and that not enough is being done about it. Too many Filipinos live in abject poverty and the government is too often unresponsive to the needs of rural and urban poor.

But taking up arms against the government is illegal. Helping, at any stage, in the recruitment of NPA fighters and preparing prospective rebels for a life in the mountains are unacceptable activities that the government must clamp down on without delay. The NPA is waging a war not simply on the Duterte administration but on Philippine democracy itself.

Becoming an armed rebel — “waging the primary form of struggle of the national democratic revolution” — or helping the NPA indirectly may be one’s individual choice. But one must face the consequences of making such a choice and not whine about arrests and raids which are the State’s legitimate response to protect itself and its citizens. In addition, while freedom of speech is one of the pillars of a democratic society it should not be abused to deceive the public about the true purpose of one’s activities. Nongovernment organizations and individuals who deliberately mislead the public to further the cause of the NPA at the expense of the government are as indispensable to the NPA as its armed combatants.

On the killing of Dindo Generoso

No wonder that a long list of extrajudicial killings in Negros Oriental have gone unsolved over the years as policemen are involved in some of them. Police Cpl. Roger Rubio was identified as the triggerman in the murder of broadcaster Dindo Generoso. The victim had not been linked to any illegal activities. Kudos to Col. Julian Entoma, chief of the Negros Oriental Provincial Police Office since October 18, for solving the crime. The mastermind remains unidentified but local folks whisper about a powerful politician.


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