BY ROGER M. BALANZA
Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte has been accused of being a supporter of the communist New People’s Army (NPA) for opposing the revival of the anti-communist civilian vigilante group Alsa Masa in Davao del Sur.
The Alsa Masa is a government-backed armed militia that helped government in freeing Davao City from the grips of communist insurgency in the mid-80s.
He is a supporter of the Maoist terrorist NPA, said Pastor “Jun” Alcover, chair of the Alliance for Nationalism and Democracy (ANAD), who once sat in Congress representing the anti-communist group.
Earlier, Davao del Sur Governor Claude Bautista broached the idea of reviving the Alsa Masa in Davao del Sur in wake of intensified attacks by NPA rebels on government forces.
Alcover – who spewed out anti-communist propaganda from a radio station in Davao City during the days of the Alsa Masa — had offered himself to Bautista to help in revising the Alsa Masa in Davao del Sur.
On March 10, communist rebels raided the police station in Matanao, Davao del Sur, killing three policemen and fleeing with seven M16 rifles and three pistols filched from the station’s armory. Two rebels were killed in the firefight.
Nine troopers were also killed and seven others were wounded by a landmine blast as the military launched pursuit operations against the NPA fighters.
We will revive the Alsa Masa, said Bautista adding the plan was endorsed by his municipal mayors during a recent peace and order council meeting held in wake of the NPA offensives.
The government-backed Alsa Masa (People Rise) first surfaced in Davao City in the mid-80s while the city – then the communist rebels’ urban warfare laboratory – was under grip of rebel violence.
The rebel occupancy of Davao City years before the Cory Aquino era (starting 1986), the rebel atrocities that killed hundreds of policemen, soldiers and civilians, and the witch-hunt by the Alsa Masa for the NPA liquidation squad Sparrow Unit, combined together into an infamous brew to earn for Davao City a violent tag: the new Killing Field of Asia, first heaped on Cambodia then wracked by violence by the communist Khmer Rouge. The then slum district of Agdao — the birthplace of the Alsa Masa and center of the Sparrow Unit’s base of urban terrorism – was called Nicaragdao, likened to Latin America’s Nicaragua, then also being swept by communist violence.
Davao del Sur, then also under the grip of rebel terrorism, had the Nakasaka (United People for Peace), as its own version of the Alsa Masa.
Bautista said the province-wide revival of an Alsa Masa will counter the NPA offensives.
But Duterte—who first became mayor in 1988 (he was the vice mayor after the 1986 EDSA revolt that toppled down the Marcos dictatorship), when rebel presence in the city had been diminished by the Alsa Masa – frowned on Bautista’s plan.
This will only create animosity among the people, he said.
He said ending the rebel violence could not be achieved through an armed Alsa Masa but by communicating with the communist rebels.
The best move is to talk to them about peace, said Duterte, who has been appointed as consultant for the National Democratic Front (NDF), the political arm of the Communist Party of the Philippines/New Peoples Army (CPP/NPA) and leftist organizations in the Philippines, in the GPH-NDF peace negotiations.
Right after he assumed office as mayor in 1988, Duterte carved out a channel to local rebel commanders to plead them to spare the city from further rebel violence.
He regularly goes up to rebel camps in the hinterlands of hinterland district Paquibato to meet with the rebel commanders in a continuing backdoor diplomacy aiming to keep his city free from rebel violence.
For this he has been suspected by military and other sectors as a supporter of the NPA.
On Solar News, Alcover said: “He is their consultant and financier. He is a NDF consultant. Every Xmas he visits NPA camps and brought them gifts like combats boots, uniforms, food and medicines. He is feeding the enemy.”
In 2011, NDF chairman Luis Jalandoni, while in Davao City to speak in a forum on the GPH-NDF peace talks, appointed Duterte as consultant and resource person to the NDF in talks with the government.
Although he accepted the appointment, Duterte would later withdraw from the post following a letter from the then Interior and Local Government Secretary the late Jesse Robredo, directing him to refrain from doing so.