Carvajal: Who are your friends?

Orlando P. Carvajal
·2 min read

Where the government is losing to the CPP-NPA is in the battle for people’s hearts. While the CPP-NPA leaves no stone unturned in their effort to get the people’s sympathy to their cause, government can only think of brazen display of power on suspected CPP-NPA sympathizers.

The latest proof of this, and this involved a highly unlikely group of CPP-NPA sympathizers, was the “rescue” of Lumad children from a retreat house run by priests of the Society of the Divine Word (SVD).

In the first place, no “rescue” was necessary. The SVDs who run the University of San Carlos (USC) are people who are respected in Cebu and the whole country, and could easily have been given the benefit of the doubt. DSWD (Department of Social Welfare and Development) and/or NCIP (National Commission for Indigenous Peoples) should have approached USC authorities for a clarification of issues and the peaceful release of the children if so warranted.

Sending fully armed policemen was a brazen disregard of the priests’ right to explain their side and of the children’s right to speak for themselves. Without proper verification of parents’ complaints, the show of force was totally uncalled for.

Besides, only a group of parents complained. Why were 22 children, two teachers and two elders “rescued?” Also, what kind of a “rescue” was it when children were seen cowering in fear before their “rescuers”? Somebody being rescued from forced detention, would run gleefully to embrace his/her rescuers. The optics were definitely not right.

I know government forces are dismantling indigenous schools in Mindanao for being used as warrior-training centers by the CPP-NPA. But should not the police, DSWD and NCIP be happy Lumad children are instead in the hands of missionary priests who have educated many of our professionals including those in government in their network of SVD schools?

The result is one more up-tick for communist propaganda. The SVDs will definitely not be going over to the CPP-NPA side, but the police would have been baited into creating enemies for themselves and sympathizers for the CPP-NPA.

Like I said earlier, democracy has two enemies in this country, communists on the left and oligarchy’s many factions on the right. Both groups are for capture of state power. Communists, however, through skilled use of propaganda, are gaining adherents to their cause while the oligarchs are being thoroughly discredited in the eyes of the people for their continued neglect of people’s welfare.

The police don’t seem to know who their friends are. Neither do they know who they want to be their friends. I am afraid many more “rescues” will happen in the future that will help the CPP-NPA win the battle for people’s hearts.