Briones: Overwhelmed

Publio J. Briones III
·2 min read

I’m still overwhelmed by recent events. So much so that I don’t know where to begin.

First of all, it’s hard to believe that the SVD-owned retreat house at the University of San Carlos-Talamban campus had been harboring 26 Lumads or indigenous people from Davao del Norte for the purpose of indoctrinating them to the ways of communism.

I mean, who, in this day and age, still does that?

Because that is the authorities’ official narrative, right? Perhaps they should have just stuck to their reasoning that they barged into the retreat house to rescue 22 indigenous children at their parents’ behest. That would have been much easier for the public to accept. If that was indeed the case.

There was no need to add ideological color to the whole operation.

I may be naïve when it comes to these matters. And I’m probably not alone. Cebu, for the most part, has been lucky. It has been spared from the war against insurgency. I doubt if the current generation even knows what a Sparrow Unit or the Alsa Masa is.

If my memory serves me right, the last members of the New People’s Army operating in the province laid down their arms in exchange for support and livelihood programs offered by the Capitol during the second term of Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia. And that was in the late 2000s.

You see, Cebu was never a hotbed of communist revolt and dissension. The running joke back in the 1980s was that it was here where members of the military and the rebels spent their vacation, held reunions with families and friends and basically let their hair down.

I don’t know if there was any truth to that. But it was nice to think that both sides would consider Cebu as a place of sanctuary.

At any rate, I will hold off judgment until I know the real score. Because, let’s face it, someone is not telling the truth. The authorities and the church-based groups, academic institutions, militant organizations and members of civil society that compose the SOS Network Cebu can’t both be right.

To be honest, I don’t know enough of the Lumad’s dilemma in Mindanao except that many of them have been displaced since migrants from the Visayas and Luzon arrived in the early part of the 20th century. Apparently, they continue to be driven out of their ancestral lands. This time by big businesses. Or so they say.

Again, this is not a crash course on Mindanao history or politics. But there is so much we don’t know.

And while all of this is going on, the number of coronavirus cases in the metro continues to rise and there has been no update on when the government will roll out the vaccine.