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Alsa Masa revival splits officials of Davao Sur

/ 12:06 AM April 01, 2014

DIGOS CITY, Philippines—A proposal to revive the anticommunist vigilante group Alsa Masa has divided officials of Davao del Sur province, even as Gov. Claude Bautista said it could just be temporary.

Alsa Masa was credited for the communist New People’s Army’s (NPA) near demise in Davao City and its surrounding areas in the 1980s. Its revival was first floated by Mayor Franco Magno Calida of Hagonoy town, Davao del Sur, its patron when he was commander of the Davao City Metropolitan Command.

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Calida was also blamed for the dozens of deaths of suspected communist rebels and supporters in Davao City reportedly in the hands of the vigilantes.

“If I need to revive vigilantism in this part of the province, I’ll do it just to restore peace and order,” Calida said in the aftermath of the March 2 land mine explosion in Bansalan town, also in Davao del Sur, which wounded four civilian rescue workers.

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Following the NPA attack at the Matanao town police station, Calida issued a similar statement.

During a recent meeting with mayors and other officials of the province, Bautista said he was in favor of the revival of the vigilante group. But, he said, it should be disbanded as soon as it has served its purpose—to drive away communist rebels.

Senior Supt. Michael John Dubria, provincial police director, cited the need for closer cooperation between authorities and civilians to put an end to NPA attacks. “They have targeted civilians,” Dubria said.

But Digos Mayor Joseph Peñas saw no need to revive Alsa Masa. “It is the job of the Army to run after [the NPA] in the mountains,” he said.

“It cannot be denied that we are facing threats from various groups but it cannot justify the wish of some people to adopt vigilantism, such as the resurrection of the dreaded Alsa Masa,” he said. Eldie Aguirre and Orlando Dinoy, Inquirer Mindanao

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TAGS: "vigilantes", Alsa Masa, Insurgency, New People’s Army’s, News, Regions
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