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Chance for NPA to prove propoor concern

05:01 AM December 09, 2015

I am a Bicolana, a government employee, married and gifted with two little angels. I now reside in an urban area. But I used to live in a farming community.

In my younger days (together with my younger sister and a brother), mine was an agrarian life. Farming was my family’s principal means of livelihood. It would have been a happy and simple, even a real “folkloric” life, if not for the New People’s Army (NPA) rebels who held us hostage to banditry and extortion.

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The NPA would compel us to pay or give a certain percentage of the proceeds from the sale of every coconut harvest we had. We couldn’t do anything but keep mum about this for fear of our lives. For years, this was a nightmare. In my sleep, I would see armed men with grimy faces demanding “their share” of our produce from my parents.

I remember one time I actually heard my father pleading with them to lessen the percentage they were asking so he would have more for our hardly enough schooling expenses. They just answered that they were only following organization directives.

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I’m lucky to finish college and get out of the NPA’s control area. But my parents weren’t, until my father died and I was able to persuade my mother to live with me and my new family.

Before then, I never dared to share this experience of mine with anybody. My mother had told me once that a neighbor of ours was tortured for his “big mouth.”

I hear that NPA extortion and banditry continue in the Bicol region.

That’s why I felt some relief to hear that a program named “Conflict-Manageable and Development-Ready Province” is going to be implemented Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Albay and Catanduanes. I congratulate our local leaders and law enforcers for adopting this project. Such initiative should be emulated by similarly situated localities. This program will bring more government troops to the far-flung areas of the region so that farmers out there will be freed from the NPA’s threatening grip.

I also expect that peace and prosperity will finally come to those places. Specifically, I hope to see development projects, like farm-to-market roads, undertaken under this program—things which were not allowed to happen by the NPA in my younger days. (They would stop contractors from proceeding with such projects and burn construction equipment when they refused to “cooperate.”)

I appeal to the NPA: If indeed yours is an ideology that’s for the masses and the poor, stop the extortion and the banditry. Give the “Conflict-Manageable and Development-Ready” program a chance.

—NEMIA REQUIESTAS, Camarines Sur

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TAGS: banditry, Conflict-Manageable and Development-Ready, extortion, New People’s Army
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