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NEWS FEATURE: Disturbing events


By  Menardo Wenceslao

There is something disturbing in the strings of events that involved the Communists Party of the Philippines-New Peoples Army and their legal fronts. Recall how they inveigled the masses to barricade the national highway at the height of the calamity that hit Davao Oriental and Compostela Valley. They were able to paralyze public transport in Comval for hours with hardly a police or military action to deter them. Then they boldly staged a twin assault on Dole and Del Monte pineapple plantations in Bukidnon. Last month, several construction equipment were set on fire in Panacan, Davao City and without hesitation proudly claimed the crime.

Last Sunday Gingoog City Mayor Ruth de Lara Guingona, wife of former Vice President Teofisto Guingona, and her companions were ambushed by the New Peoples Army on her way back from a fiesta celebration. She was seriously wounded while two members of her party were killed. The NPAs apologized but later Bayan Muna issued statement which in many words tend to convey the message that she was part of the collateral damage in the civil strife brought about by the withdrawal of the government from the peace negotiation with the CPP-NPA-NDF.

While the ambush was being staged in Gingoog City, a band of militants mostly members of the legal fronts of the CPP-NPA along with some elements in religious habits trooped to Baganga, Davao Oriental in the guise of conducting an investigation on the death of a Barangay official. The group claimed that the victim was killed by the military. If we are to believe the military spokesman who  was interviewed at ABS-CBN however, the victim was gunned down in the town proper  and that he was a rebel returnee. While this cannot be independently ascertained the question arises:  Why should a government soldier shoot anyone in the middle of the town?

As this developed the communist fronts appeared to be pressing its agenda to re-establish its foothold in Davao Oriental which had been declared by the Armed Forces of the Philippines as cleared of insurgents. In another show of force reminiscent of the mass action that crippled the national highway in Compostela Valley the group composed of Barug Katawhan and Balsa Mindanao staged the same demonstration in Mati City.  They were bused to Mati from all over Mindanao. The issue that they rallied about was the indiscretion in the distribution of rice in Mati. It is a rehash of what they did in Comval.  They brushed aside the fact that the Department of Social Welfare and Development never had any rice allocation for Mati since it was not hit by typhoon Pablo. The group attempted to discredit Gov. Corazon Malanyaon whom they charged to be “committing indiscretion in the distribution of rice”. This sounds funny if one considers that Malayaon is running unopposed. Now the indefatigable governor who is not cowed by Barug and Balsa demos has come out with a challenge: “I will resign as governor if you can prove your allegation”.

The CPP-NPA-NDF foray into local politics has become more perceptible. In Mati City the mass action was given permit by Mayor Michelle Rabat. In Davao City they openly declared their support for Joji Ilagan Bian courting a confrontation with ideologically liberal Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte. Gingoog City Mayor Guingona, Governor Malanyaon and Comval Gov. Arthur “Chingkee” Uy are certainly unhappy. With the attempt on the life of Guingona, Pres. Benigno S. Aquino is not pleased either. We will see whether he will go beyond ordering the dismantling of checkpoints of the New Peoples Army.

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