A COUPLE of weeks ago, the Kitanglad Sub-regional Command of the North Central Mindanao Regional Command of the New People’s Army (NPA) ambushed a police vehicle in Bukidnon and shot at a Toyota Fortuner it was overtaking, killing a policeman and a four-month old baby dead and wounding six others. The wounded policemen were stripped of their firearms, according to a philstar.com report.
A day after the attack, the NPA, through its spokesperson Jorge “Ka Oris” Madlos took full responsibility for the incident and expressed “remorse for the unfortunate and unnecessary death of the infant and injury to two adult civilians.” The apology, though may no longer matter after President Rodrigo Duterte condemned the killing and warned that he would declare the NPA a terrorist group soon.
“I’ll be issuing a proclamation. I will remove them from the category of a legal entity or at least a semi-movement which would merit our attention, placing them pareho sa Amerika, terrorist,” he said. The NPA is the military arm of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP). The president also threatened to go after the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan for allegedly conspiring with the rebels.
The United States (US) Department of State, through a provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act has designated starting in 1997 various groups as Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs). The CPP-NPA was designated as such in 2002. The only other one from the Philippines in the list is the Abu Sayyaf Group (1997).
Designating the CPP-NPA as a terrorist group in the country, though, can be a mere formality because the military has long treated it as such (its term is, “communist terrorist”). But in the larger scheme of things, the move could mean the complete end of the peace talks between the government and the National Democratic Front (NDF), the unmbrella organization of rebel groups, among them the CPP-NPA.
Governments do not talk peace with terrorist groups, which is the reason why previous statements that government would engage in talks with the Abu Sayyaf were roundly criticized. This in turn would mean that an all-out war would be waged, something that would be worrisome for the people, especially those in the countryside. The president’s threat against Bayan is also worrisome.
We already saw what happened in the past when government intensified its counter-insurgency operation. Atrocities were committed by both sides, which means that it is the people who are caught in the crossfire that suffer the most. The all-out war against the militants based mainly in the countryside coupled with the war against drugs in urban areas would raise the level of violence in the country.
For those of us who went through the harrowing years of the Marcos dictatorship and its intensified war against the insurgents, this would be an unfortunate event, if this would really happen. We don’t want the current generation to experience what the older generations went through. That is why I hope that things would not so deteriorate we would be reliving the past again.
Will those who do not remember the mistakes of the past be condemned to repeat it?