ON TARGET

Gazmin’s peace initiative toward NPA

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Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin wants peace talks between the government and the communist rebels done on the local level after the government panel and the communist National Democratic Front (NDF) failed in their peace talks in The Netherlands.

Gazmin wants military commanders to hold peace talks with the New People’s Army (NPA) in their respective areas of operation so soldiers and rebels will not fight.

On paper, Gazmin’s order looks good.

Who doesn’t want peace?

The NPAs, who apparently have the upperhand in the battle against the military, are expected not to ambush soldiers and attack their camps.

On the other hand, soldiers will just stay in their barracks and do marching drills inside their camps because their foes have become their friends.

But Gazmin’s peace initiative would not make the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) look good as a fighting organization.

It would make the AFP look like an organization of cowards.

While the NPAs collected “revolutionary taxes” from citizens, soldiers would look the other way.

The soldiers would say “that’s not our job, that’s the job of the police,” when they’re asked why they just stand aside while the NPAs engage in extortion.

And so the police would be left alone to go after the NPAs.

Anyway, the Philippine National Police has its own fighting units—the elite Special Action Force (SAF) and the Regional Public Safety Battalions (RPSB) in different regions.

But members of the SAF and the RPSBs are no match to the communist rebels because they are señoritos or spoiled brats.

Police commandos do not want to fight. All they have in mind is how to make delihensiya or extort from citizens who commit small infractions of the law.

After all, SAF and RPSB commandos are still cops, aren’t they?

* * *

Many years ago, three members of the SAF were assigned to me as bodyguards following reports that some individuals whose toes I had stepped on were planning to “teach me a lesson.”

I noticed a few times, when I had meetings in restaurants, how my police bodyguards helped themselves to the “specialties of the house” and gorged without asking permission from me.

At first I didn’t mind since I thought they were that deprived because of poverty, but I had to put my foot down when it became their habit.

And then one day, I overheard them talking among themselves while waiting for me.

“The allowance we’re receiving from this man (me—RT) can’t support our vices. If we were outside, we would be earning much, much more from civilians,” one of them said.

“(Name of businessman), to whom I was assigned before, gave me a lot more. This guy (me again) is a tightwad,” butted the second one.

“My supervisor doesn’t believe that this man (me again) has not set aside an amount for him. He thinks I’m keeping the money intended for him,” said the third.

I happily let all three go.

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