Robredo to gov’t: Good governance, not wholly military approach, can end insurgency
MANILA, Philippines — Adopting a strictly militaristic approach towards the communist insurgency would not help much in ending the over five decades of armed struggle waged in the rural areas of the country, Vice President Leni Robredo told government.
Rather, good governance can, said the second-highest official of the land, insisting that the underground movement’s largest recruiter is a sentiment of dissatisfaction from the government.
In her radio program on Sunday, Robredo said that this was the case during the time of late dictator and former president Ferdinand Marcos, wherein membership within the New People’s Army (NPA) grew in numbers.
“Nakita natin ito: Lumabas iyong New People’s Army noong panahon ni Marcos. At alam natin na lumakas ito dahil marami iyong dahilan kung bakit namumundok iyong mga tao. Iyong pagku-quell ng ganitong mga actions, iyong mga radical actions, hindi naman purely military iyong solusyon eh, ‘di ba?” she said.
(We saw this before: NPA emerged during the time of Marcos. And we know that it gained strength because there were a lot of reasons why people wanted to go to the mountains and join the NPA. Quelling these actions, these radical moves, cannot be solved by a purely military-based solution.)
“Nakita natin ito [..] na iyong solution mas good governance […] May kasabihan nga na iyong largest, iyong biggest recruiter sa mga ganitong mga underground movement, paminsan iyong gobyerno din, kasi kapag dissatisfied iyong tao, kapag pakiramdam ng tao hindi na siya pinapakinggan, kapag palagay ng tao iyong mas radical na paraan iyong solusyon, doon siya naa-attract,” she added.
(We also saw that good governance is the better solution. There is a belief that the sometimes, the largest recruiter of these underground movements is the government itself because when people are dissatisfied, when they feel that they are being set aside, they would be attracted to radical solutions.)
Robredo’s statements were in response to the recent abrogation of the agreement between the University of the Philippines (UP) and the Department of National Defense (DND) that bars unauthorized military and police presence inside the campuses.
Previously, the Vice President — an alumna of UP — said that the termination of the deal is designed to sow fear and silence criticism, especially since the revocation of the document is rooted on allegations that the university has become a hotbed for communist recruitment.
She also downplayed these claims, saying that she, during her days as a UP student, also went to rallies but was never recruited to join the communist movement. Hence, Robredo thinks that the proper way to address the problems with the agreement — if any — was to sit down with school authorities and have a dialogue, and not unilaterally breaking out of it.
“Sabihin pa natin na mayroong basis iyong kanilang claims, pero ako kasi —ako, nasa UP ako sa panahon… ito iyong mga last years ng Marcos dictatorship […] sumasali ako sa mga rallies, sumasali ako sa mga sit-down ng… alam mo iyon… ng mga protest actions. Pero not once may nag-attempt na mag-recruit sa akin sa NPA,” Robredo said.
(Let’s say that there is a basis to their (DND) claims, but for me, I was in UP during the last years of the Marcos dictatorship, I was joining rallies, sit-down activities of the protest actions. But not once did anyone attempted to recruit me into the NPA.)
“Kaya para sa akin, unang una, napaka-sweeping, napaka-sweeping na mag-aabrogate ka ng isang malawakang kontrata na hindi mo man lang kinausap iyong… hindi mo man lang kinausap iyong other side of the party — basta ka lang mag-aabrogate,” she added.
(That’s why for me, first of all this is a very sweeping move to abrogate a contract with a wide effect without talking to the other side of the party — it’s not good that you just immediately abrogate it.)
Last Monday, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana sent a letter to UP President Danilo Concepcion informing the latter that the agreement has been revoked based on recent events where UP students were supposedly recruited to the communist armed movement.
Lorenzana’s move garnered criticism as UP supporters including activist groups, students, faculty members, former students and even government officials maintained that UP should be allowed to maintain academic freedom.
Some students also poked fun at Lorenzana’s supposed generalization of UP as a recruitment ground for communist rebels, saying that there are greater chances of normal life and stupid things happening rather than meeting an NPA recruiter.
The cabinet official claimed on the other hand that they were only seeking to secure the university from the enemies of the state.
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