By Retired LtGen Antonio Parlade Jr.
THE past week was a brutal one for the common tao.
We saw the execution in cold blood of three ordinary ambulant vendors in Palanas, Masbate, by the New People’s Army (NPA) last Saturday, August 14. They were simple people trying to make a living and they ended up being kidnapped and later killed by these terrorist NPA.
Another case of mistaken identity? What does this tell us? A lot, actually.
In my 38 years in the service, I have known the Communist Party of the Philippines-NPA (CPP-NPA) to have a vast intelligence network.
They know how much each businessman earns in his rice mill, his gas station, bus company, or his quarry. They have exact figures on how much a government project is worth and who are the winning bidders to implement them. They know how much coconut the farmers harvested for the week or how much a fishpond’s harvest is worth.
This is the reason why the CPP-NPA-NDF (National Democratic Front) terrorist group was able to amass P5.4 billion in extortion money from 2016 to 2018, as revealed by the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency chief.
But if I were to believe the regional tax implementing group officer of the CPP-NPA Ruben Estocado @Miles, whom we captured in Quezon early this year, this is no longer true.
They now collect less than a tenth of the amount being collected by the CPP-NPA in the past because of the pandemic, which hit most businesses. The same fate is being experienced by the ordinary NPA extortion groups in the barangay, who can no longer collect from the sari-sari stores nor the ordinary teachers though not because of the pandemic.
They simply can’t because their masses won’t allow it anymore. There is no more mass base to speak of. People in the barangay are closing their doors and windows at them. They are unwelcome and so they are hungry and tired.
So why are NPA rebels killing innocent civilians? According to the spokesman for the NPA in Bicol, those three vendors were mistaken for military assets and spies. How can they miss? These vendors were known in the locality, they had been roving the towns for years. What happened to their due diligence or verification process?
Once more, the simple answer is that they lost their masses who do the intelligence work for them. Now they are paranoid about any possibility of being infiltrated or sold to the government forces.
Under no circumstances will they compromise the security and safety of their shattered force so the presence of non-combatants near their area are dealt with extreme action not caution.
Never mind if in the process they sacrifice the lives of innocent civilians. Did they claim it to be an isolated case? Oh, no.
Army on alert for extortion activities
Last April 25, an NPA rebel @Robin, surrendered to us in the Bondoc Peninsula and led us to the grave of a civilian whom they killed and buried in Barangay Lavidez, Gen. Luna, Quezon.
The victim was also an ambulant vendor, selling kaldero and kawali, and was suspected to be a government asset. Do you know who else was with them? That Karapatan human rights defender, Alexa Pacalda @Cossette, who is now languishing in a Quezon jail after she was proven to be an NPA combatant, complete with all those videos and pictures of her training with the NPA.
This is the reason her allies from the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) abandoned her to rot in her cold cell. Her case is no longer untenable and has only compromised CPP actors in Karapatan and NUPL, like Cristina Palabay and lawyer Sol Taule.
Did we hear the CPP-NPA-NDF terrorists apologize? Of course, they did, as they always do, and then they killed again. This is what they did after they killed Kieth and Nolven Absalon.
After apologizing, they murdered another non-combatant in Samar and then in Surigao? Then again in Tapaz, Capiz, where the NPA abducted, tortured, and executed Cpl. Frederick Villasis who was unarmed and was trying to coordinate barangay development projects in the area.
And then another killing, and another, the violence continues… But again, why is this happening?
Desperate Jose Ma. Sison wants his dying army to take counter-action, any action. It’s either he has been giving orders to his subordinate leaders to just kill and kill, or his minions are beyond his control. It is not at all improbable.
The CPP-NPA-NDF is vanquished. Their backs are on the wall, some are facing a stiff cliff, the only option left is to take the plunge to their death. Exactly 18,300 of them have already surrendered, mostly looking pale and emaciated.
Money is running short. Foreign funding has been significantly reduced. The Kamatayan bloc has been exposed, their Comelec disqualification is moving, and eventually their prosecution as complicit to the brutality of these terrorist CPP-NPA-NDF will nail them down.
More rebels yield due to exhaustion
The people are speaking. They don’t want any of this violence by the NPA anymore.
The NTF-Elcac – the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict – was simply a tool for them to be heard. The NTF was a catalyst that could muster all the support the nation needed to repel all the attacks of these CPP-NPA-NDF terrorists.
The clamor for the ultimate decimation of this menace is overwhelming. If the people’s reaction to the successful military operation where 19 NPA terrorists were killed in Dolores, Eastern Samar last August 16 is a gauge, then this insurgency will finally be over soon.
“Pulbusin na,” “tapusin na mga salot na NPA na ‘yan,” “Isama na ang Kamatayan bloc.” These are what the netizens are clamoring for now.
Indeed, why should we still prolong our agony from these CPP-NPA terrorists? Smart bomb or not, we should deliver all the munitions at our disposal to once and for all smother these bandits and blow them to smithereens.
Juliet de Lima-Sison, who goes by the nom de guerre Marco Valbuena, was quick to complain that the smart bombs used in Samar are stupid because they cannot distinguish between civilians and armed fighters. De Lima-Sison issued complaints to the effect that those bombs cause “untold terror and trauma among the people.”
Now, isn’t that the height of hypocrisy, she knowing full well it is they, the NPA rebels, who have been killing civilians in cold blood?
With such double-faced tactics actually now hitting the very people who were backing them for ages, the CPP-NPA-NDF has been fast losing mass support. What could this amount to but self-decimation?
And so, they must be back in their old barbaric ways. Just like an ogre on the death throes throwing in terrible spasms.
Parlade, a recently retired general of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, was spokesman of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-Elcac).