The New People’s Army (NPA) reminds us of the various guerrilla forces during World War II which controlled areas beyond the reach of the Japanese soldiers.
Japanese troops who ventured into or got lost in places controlled by the guerrillas were decimated in many ambush incidents.
These Japanese soldiers have now been replaced by government troops who are at the mercy of the NPA when they venture into places considered “no man’s land.”
That’s why in NPA parlance, government soldiers are referred to as “Hapon” or Japanese soldiers.
The reason for the misnomer is psychological: NPA rebels are conditioned to believe that government soldiers are enemies of the people in the same way that Japanese troops were.
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There is a semblance of truth to the “Hapon” tag.
During the martial law years, some troops on patrol in the hinterlands either abused the hospitality of barrio folk or hurt people they suspected of aiding the rebels.
The most notorious of the government soldiers in the past belonged to the defunct Philippine Constabulary (PC) battalions.
These soldiers were called “peste first” battalion or “peste second” battalion, a play on words for the 51st and 52nd PC Batallions. Peste is the Filipino word for pest or plague.
It is said that when those notorious battalions swept through a village, their members foraged for food by shooting pigs, chickens and goats belonging to the simple folk.
In contrast, NPA rebels who came to the same areas after the peste battalions left paid for their food.
Now, you know why people in the hinterlands sympathize or support the NPA: Their minds had been conditioned to believe that government troops are still abusive.
However, soldiers who abuse civilians now are dealt with severely.
But the scars inflicted by abusive soldiers on civilians during the martial law period remain.
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A Metro Manila mayor got into an argument with an Arab resident over parking space and is now using his power to deport the Arab.
I learned that the Arab had already apologized profusely to the mayor for the incident, which was caused by his police bodyguards, but the official can’t be appeased.
Why can’t the mayor forgive when the Arab is very contrite?
The incident is but a minor one and the mayor shouldn’t lose sleep over it. If his ego, which is as big as his city hall, was hurt by the incident, so was the Arab’s, who is probably just as egoistic.
Why is it that people who are small in size have giant egos?
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The Arab, a long-time resident of the country, is a businessman who employs more than 1,000 Filipinos in his company.
If the Arab is deported as a result of that incident, 1,000 Filipinos will lose their jobs. Other foreign investors will be scared of coming to the country.
We will then be no better than most abusive Arabs who treat foreigners shabbily in their countries.
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The arrogant mayor should be reminded that power is only temporary.
I still remember the poster inside the office of a police general during martial law years which read, “Sic transit gloria mundi (The glory of the world is temporary).”
The Marcoses, who thought they would be in power for the rest of their lives, realized that after the Edsa Revolution.
Another saying that the mayor should take to heart: He who climbs the highest pole will soon have the loudest fall.