Locked and loaded: President Duterte signed the Anti-Terror Law last July 3, 2020, despite strong opposition.

The number of barangays in the countryside that used to be the hotbed of the New Peoples’ Army, now declaring open defiance to the armed elements of the Communist Party of the Philippines and its legal fronts is growing fast.

 Recently, several barangays in Negros Occidental and Davao Region had declared the Communist Party of the Philippines – New People’s Army – National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) as persona non-grata.

In Laak, Davao de Oro the townsfolk, wearing masks and observing social distancing held demonstrations condemning the NPAs for their terroristic activities and atrocities.

 In another town, Lupon, Davao Oriental, a top commander of the NPA was killed in an encounter with the Philippine Army while a ranking member surrendered to the authorities.

In fact, a number of breakaway groups had surrendered since Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte assumed as President. He wanted to end the rebellion so that the development of the countryside could be fast-tracked.

As mayor, he used to liaison for the AFP and the Philippine National Police with the NPAs to facilitate the release of captured soldiers or policemen.

He organized a peace panel to negotiate with Jose Maria Sison in Utrecht, Netherlands, this despite the fact that the United States and the European Union declared the CPP-NPA as a terrorist group. The intransigence of Sison and his double talk led to a failed peace negotiation.

 Davao Oriental used to be a bastion of the terrorist group. A number of infrastructure projects were delayed on account of harassments staged by the NPAs. Engineering equipment was set on fire if government contractors refuse to meet the demands of the rebels which had virtually become extortionists.

In 2012, killer typhoon Pablo wiped out the timber stands of Davao Oriental and Davao de Oro. Deprived of forest cover, the NPAs moved out of the area. When the jungles of the two provinces recovered the NPA returned to the area and resumed their terroristic activities.

In Davao del Norte, the NPAs and the legal fronts revved up their recruitment program targeting mostly young children of indigenous peoples (IP). But early this year, the covert activity which uses classrooms in remote communities was unearthed by government authorities. A perverse mode of teaching curriculum was exposed. The school has a different national anthem and children were taught how to dismantle and assemble M16 rifles. It was also discovered later that the kids were herded in school away from their parents’ homes.

 In Davao City, a compound with a “religious” facade, called “Haran” was discovered to be housing members of the indigenous tribes from faraway provinces in Mindanao.

For some time, these innocent men and women we call IPs or “lumads” participated in street demonstrations with their colorful ethnic attires. They bear placards and streamers with the screaming slogans denouncing the government, militarization, hamletting, and human rights violations.

It is obvious in their faces that they do not know what they do. They would smile showing their beetle nut-stained teeth and would point at tall buildings in awe! The compound was later raided when, for a long period of time, those herded in the compound were later found out to be an object of search for missing members of their tribal communities.

Child soldiers, indigenous peoples as props of pan-handling human rights foundations.

These had seemly come to an end. Now, those who had been terrorized bravely denounce their oppressors. While they cannot fight, they provide vital information to authorities.

We are seeing the second wave of Alsa Masa — a phenomenal people’s uprising against the cruelties of the CPP/ NPAs in the mid-1980s. There is a saying in Tagalog, “Pag-puno na ang salup, dapat nang kalusin”. I don’t know the English equivalent of this saying but it could simply mean – when abuse breaches the tolerable, cut it to extinction.

 I am from Davao City and have lived through the days and nights of terror when the CPP-NPA virtually ruled my city. The rich sought refuge in Manila and many settled abroad otherwise pay ransom for their safety and business. At the height of the communist insurgency, about a dozen people are executed on a daily basis.

At first, they exact quick sentence on abusive characters in the ghettos. The slum dwellers love them. But later they kill for fancy. When their forces grew to 7 fronts, they taxed not only the rich guys but also the slum dwellers.

But their savagery also abruptly ended the reign of terror in Davao City. This is how I recall it happened.

They executed three of their own tax collectors in broad daylight before the villagers which they ordered to assemble in a basketball court. It was meant to instill fear for people to comply with their tax obligation: four pieces of can goods, a ganta of rice, and P50.00 every week.

The executioners overlooked that their victims were close relatives of their top commander in Agdao District. Thus, the sudden upheaval from within their ranks supported by the mass base that had been over-burdened braved their own fears and ran after their oppressors.

People in the slums and residents in coastal barangays recall the eerie silence of that night when only the staccato of gunfires happened. By daylight, Davao City was freed from the clutches of the CPP-NPA. One act of savagery resulted in an overnight defeat of the CPP/NPA in Davao City.

But like the bad weeds in a corn and vegetable fields, some of its wild seeds sprout anew to choke the crops and deprive these of nutrients. A watchful farmer can however uproot these as what is happening now.

 I have not even touched on the atrocities of foreign terrorists who, on account of the weakness of our anti-terror laws, found Mindanao and the island provinces of Sulu and Basilan and the once idyllic Marawi City perfect havens to spawn their twisted beliefs and ideologies.

And here we are watching those batches of ignoramuses racing against each other to the Supreme Court to have our anti-terror law repelled. I can only imagine JoeMa Sison celebrating in the comfort and affluence of his command headquarters in the Netherlands.

The cabal, if you look closely, are the same bunch of Duterte haters.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in Sulu and the jungles of Maguindanao the Abu Sayyaf headhunters and Jemaah Islamiyah are plotting who to kidnap next and which cathedral to be bombed later.

And have you noticed that components of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) have now become a standard equipment in the recent series of caches captured from communist terrorist groups nationwide?

This is why a new uprising is now becoming commonplace in the countryside – with the people themselves turning on their power against the true oppressors.

Alsa ng masa laban sa mga terorista!