‘I want communism totally erased’

- Ding Cervantes -
CLARK FIELD, Pampanga — Tagged in the killings of at least 79 militants in Central Luzon since last year, Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan, commander of the Army’s 7th Infantry Division, turned the tables on his accusers yesterday by producing a list of 27 summary executions, 21 of which he blamed on the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA).

At a press conference here, Palparan revealed that there is a "prevailing sentiment" among military men to ask lawmakers to outlaw communism again.

He said members of the military might consider lobbying for this.

"I want communism totally erased," he said, noting that prosperous countries such as Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand have outlawed communism.

During the administration of former President Fidel Ramos, Congress repealed Republic Act 1700 or the Anti-Subversion Act, which criminalized membership in the CPP.

Officials of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) in Central Luzon have blamed Palparan for the killing of 52 people identified with the militant party-list group last year, and 26 others this year.

The Kilusan Para sa Pambansang Demokrasya, for its part, said four of its members have been killed in the region since last year.

Palparan, however, denied any military involvement in the killings, saying they could be part of a purge within the communist ranks.

He added that the killings could be due to conflicts among former rebels and even among different guerrilla factions.

Palparan said landlords, companies and other sectors "aggrieved" by the CPP-NPA’s "revolutionary taxation" could also be behind the killings as "retaliation."

Palparan denied allegations that the military maintains a "black army" tasked to summarily execute communist insurgents or their supporters.

Col. Ricardo Visaya, commander of the Army’s 69th Infantry Battalion based in Mexico, Pampanga, distributed to reporters a list of 27 people who have been "liquidated" in Central Luzon since 2004.

Of the 27 killings, 21 were blamed on the NPA, and four on the military.

"There were killings even before I was assigned to my post (in September 2005). As soon as I was assigned, five soldiers were killed. But no one really raised an issue about it," he said.

Palparan said the enemies of the government have used the killings of militants for propaganda purposes.

"Militants always had a name for me. At one time it was ‘benevolent torturer’ and then it became berdugo (executioner)," he said.

Palparan said he wants the influence of communism totally curbed at least in Pampanga, Tarlac, Nueva Ecija and Bulacan once he retires this September.

To realize his wish, he vowed to "resist communist insurgency at the cost of our lives."

"They (communist rebels) are prepared to launch a revolution, so we will oppose them even before they could do so. The CPP-NPA and the National Democratic Front are agitators," he said.

"I encourage the people to resist communist insurgency. If they feel threatened in doing this, then it’s up to them to protect their lives," he said.

Palparan said he is aware of threats to his life even when he was still assigned in Mindoro. "(But) I move around quite freely, I have no apprehensions," he said.

"I have been consistently warned by intelligence people from both the military and the police about threats to my life. They secure me even without my knowledge," he said.

Palparan, meanwhile, cited reports that politicians, particularly in towns near mountains in Central Luzon, have been giving financial and other support to the CPP-NPA.

"It could be that these politicians are being intimidated or have politics as motive," he said. He declined to identify them.

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