(Third of a Series)
I caught a statement that says activism is not terrorism, and I agree. But staying on that narrow road surely leads to terrorism.
Malvin Christian Cruz is from Barangay San Nicolas, Oton, Iloilo, with his elementary education spent at Iloilo Central Elementary School (ICES) and secondary education at Oton National High School.
Proceeding to college he was recruited by the League of Filipino Students, one of the front organizations of the Communist Party of the Philippines, red-tagged by no less than Jose Maria Sison himself.
As an LFS leader, Malvin conducted demonstrations against the government primarily on educational issues, complaining on school repression.
He was only 17 when he joined the New Peoples’ Army. That made him a child warrior, going under the alias Lean and Lucas even as he matured to legal age becoming a member of IBON Foundation, a non-government organization while studying Bachelor of Science in Statistics at the University of the Philippines- Miagao Campus up until 2016.
Four more short years to the mid-morning of June 29, 2020 and Malvin graduates from his final career.
Tipped off by concerned citizens of armed men recruiting minors in the towns of San Joaquin and Miagao, Army Lieutenant Colonel Joel Benedict Batara, 61st Infantry Battalion commander, sent troops to verify the information.
As the soldiers ventured close to a suspected hideout located at Sitio Lay, Barangay Dalije, Miag-ao, Iloilo, armed men estimated at 30 started firing leading to an encounter that lasted 15 minutes.
As the armed men retreated to the mountains, they left the body of a slain comrade.
It took his parents four more days to identify the body of Malvin Cruz.
He was a team leader of Squad 3, Suyak Platoon, Southern Front, Komiteng Rehiyon-Panay, led by one Joven Ceralvo.
Lt Col Batara sent his sincere condolences to the bereaved family of Cruz while reminding all parents to watch over their children from the deceptive recruitment schemes of the communist terrorists using legal fronts in different universities and colleges all over the country.
“Para hindi mapahamak ang mga anak. Dapat ma-guide talaga ng maayos at hindi malinlang ng mga rebelde,” said Batara.
He also called the remaining NPA members to surrender, especially now that the government has formed an inter-agency program named Balik-Loob as an instrument of peace and development having different mechanisms ushering the reintegration of former dissidents into the social mainstream.
Panay News also reported a statement of the spokesman of the 3rd Infantry Division, Captain Cenon Pancito III, that there are now less than a hundred rebels in the whole of Panay Island, whittled down mainly by those who have taken advantage of Balik-Loob, or killed in encounters with government troops.
The NPA is on a recruitment spree because its ranks are declining. “They need to recruit in the lowlands because they no longer have recruits in the upland areas,” said Pancito.
Taking advantage of the fact that the Covid-19 had most of the people quarantined in their houses, the rebels have been circulating recruitment flyers and hanging streamers such as those they posted in Barangay Lanag, Tigbauan, saying ““Lumalakas, lumalawak, lumalaban. Join NPA Napoleon Tumagtang Command. I love NPA dito sa Tigbauan.”
Pancito explained “They wanted to project na malakas pa rin sila, but they are not. They have become irrelevant and desperate. Ang mga tao ay sawa na sa kanilang promises. Alam nila na ang support ng tao ay nasa gobierno na!”
As an activist, Malvin Cruz campaigned against the government to address certain educational issues and school repression. As a terrorist, wrote the Christian Chronicle, died over his M-16 rifle after choosing to die close to the hideout being used as a staging area for their terroristic attacks against government forces and innocent civilians through the conduct of ambuscades and liquidations.
Parlade vs Gloria over prose
This leads us to why an officer and a gentleman debates with a newshen’s prose.
Glenda Gloria in an opinion piece appearing at Rappler, attacked Lieutenant General Antonio Parlade Jr. for “the steep decline of reason in the armed forces.”
The officer she referred to is the head of the AFP Southern Luzon Command and the spokesman of the National Task Force for Ending Local Communist Armed Conflict.
She said “Each time I see Parlade’s Facebook posts, I imagine the old guards cringing – not so much over Parlade’s bad prose (which could be forgiven) but for his being shrill, his being crude, his being unsophisticated.”
The Rappler continued “Let it be said in clear terms: by 2018, in the second year of the Duterte administration, the NPA was down to 3,700 armed members nationwide, according to the military’s own estimate. Their strongholds have been reduced to probably 3 or 4 regions – parts of Eastern Mindanao and Caraga; portions of Calabarzon and Bicol; some patches in the Cordilleras.”
Gloria believes the guerrillas are now but a poor shadow of their old selves, where command is nebulous, control is regionalized, and leadership is aging. “We tend to forget that the communist New People’s Army has long been decimated. Even the military is burying this fact, as it has come to embrace its own propaganda that the guerrillas and their fronts are now the gravest threat to this nation,” she added.
Finally, she asked “What’s all the fuss then? Why is Parlade and his peers acting like the communists are at Malacañang’s gates? Why are they suddenly casting a net so wide to catch even the angry but harmless ones?”
And since she asked questions, Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade provided answers.
“She tells us that the best combatants and the military she knew in the past only had to decapitate the communist leadership and win the hearts and minds of the people and that was it,” he said.
But did we obliterate this terrorist problem in its entirety?
Parlade reads back history, “I hear the whispers of these traitors who advised then President Fidel V. Ramos in 1995 to give the role of counterinsurgency to the PNP (coz there are only 5,000 NPAs left); repeal anti-subversion law; allow the CPP participation in Congress; hold AFP modernization because it is no longer needed (as the NPAs are now defeated); put AFP Modernization money from the BCDA to health and education; shelve that national ID and NSS; sign CASER and CAPCR; and pursue that sham talks with CPP).”
So how come the CPP-NPA has not dwindled down to zero even if 3,000 NPAs have easily been killed or surrendered in the last 2 years alone?
The general elucidates, “One of the reasons is because we have not paid attention to the NDF, to which most of Glenda’s friends belong, the most avowed hypocrites who peddle us with lies and propaganda, and claim themselves as protectors of human rights and defenders of democracy.
Art of deception
“They have mastered the art of deception, maintaining a legal front yet doing everything illegally; staying above ground but mostly aiding the underground.
“They continue to push our children to the brink of death yet we are so blind about it.
“They kill our indigenous peoples, rape their own fighters, traffic our children, massacre people who don’t believe in their cause, and infiltrate churches.
“They hijack our funds and programs in Congress. Still they feel they are immaculates because they are LEGAL fronts and were elected.”
Parlade lectures Gloria, “Then you accuse PMAers of sharing fake news? Like what?
“That the CPP-NPA is not the biggest threat to our security but the Chinese?
“That propaganda is not the biggest weapon of the enemy? That terrorism is not real, and the CPP-NPA are social/political activists? That ABS-CBN does not contribute to the propaganda machinery of the CPP?
“That the Morong 38 are health workers? That Red October was a figment of our imagination? That there is no Movement Against Tyranny? That there is no OustDuterte or OustDemocracy?
“That we don’t need our billion budget to fight the NPA?”
Finally, the general concludes “Pardon my being shrill, my being crude, and my unsophistication but it is all I need to make our children realize their future is in great danger, unless we are able to control NPA recruitment NOW.
“I do not write to impress but to educate and if we miss this chance to end insurgency NOW, we may forever miss it because of the apathy of elitist people like Glenda Gloria.
His parting shot is “The time for reckoning is near Glenda and you know it.”
Well indeed, the body of one Malvin Christian Cruz lies in state serving yet another life lost to a useless ideology after hiding in misery and enduring hardships in mountains, in abandonment of one’s own genuine freedom and the warmth of a family.
Again, a testimony that activism leads to terrorism because as John F. Kennedy himself immortalized the saying “he who rides the back of a tiger, end up inside” (the tiger, of course.) (SPH)