A man’s three decades of war 

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Monday, September 19, 2011


BAUKO, Mt. Province - Armando Watil known as “Ka Wanwan” has been fighting for 36 years and says he gets tired sometimes.

He started as a member of the Philippine Constabulary in 1975. “Nag training ako sa Fort Magsaysay dati,” which started his life in war.
 
The Philippine Constabulary Metropolitan Command or Metrocom was a major subordinate unit of the Philippine Constabulary (PC) and was considered on the same level of a Constabulary Zone Command. The Metrocom was created pursuant to Executive Order (EO) of the President on July 14, 1967 to complement and supplement police forces within Greater Manila Area in its campaign against all forms of criminality.
 
Today, Ka Wanwan is 57, a far cry from the young man he was in the 70’s during his stint with the constabulary. Lines on his face show what constant war can do to man. “[The new MOA] may bring new life to the CPLA,” he said in the vernacular referring to the Cordillera Peoples Liberation Army agreement for closure and a life of promised peace.
 
The CPLA entered into a closure agreement with President Benigno Aquino bringing an end to a decade of strife granting factions tagging the pact will finally relent to the signed agreement.
 
Ka Wanwan has changed loyalties many times going with groups he believed was fighting for the right cause and continues to fight until today.
 
He joined the New People's Army (NPA) in 1982 when he lost hope government could bring peace to the country.
 
The NPA (Bagong Hukbong Bayan) tagged as the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines formed in 1969. The Maoist NPA conducts its armed guerrilla struggle based on the strategical line of 'protracted people's war'.
 
The NPA exacts so called "revolutionary taxes" from business owners. If not paid, negative repercussions could happen to the person and business.
 
A native of Lubo, Abra, Ka Wanan says his zest for peace and in the country does not wane but admits he gets tired of fighting every now and then. “Napapagod ako minsan pero pag inisip ko n itigil ang laban eh… sayang naman.”
 
In those days, Watil was fighting for government and its cause under a dictator who was unseated only a decade after.
 
In 1986, after the Mt. Data peace accord with former president Corazon Aquino, Ka Wanwan joined the CPLA in a bid to fight for real peace.
 
He became vice commander of the Lumbaya Company of the CPLA who were ambushed years ago.
 
The original members of the CPLA was composed of the Lumbaya command of the New People’s Army, the first company in the country made up of purely Indigenous Peoples, the group has since severed its ties with the NPA sometime in the mid ‘80s and has entered into a peace agreement with the government in 1986.
 
Ka Wanwan said he managed to sire seven children of which three likewise joined the CPLA. “Yun kasi gusto nila, di ko sila mapigilan.”
 
The children of Ka Wanwan followed his footsteps in battle and are also awaiting fruits of the present agreement with government… like him.
 
Ka Wanwan said the agreement will truly be effective when rebels within the CPLA are taken out signaling the start of peace only then will they surrender their arms…until then he along with the whole region live in hope.

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on September 19, 2011.

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