Looming shadow

    729

    ‘The aggressive military campaign has not deterred the young NPA recruits, especially those determined at all costs due to the severe ideological conditioning that blinds their very souls.’

    THE “Battle of Diliman” still haunts many UP alumni, and fortunately, today it seems like a looming shadow unable to break through. Moderate and hardline activists had barricaded the campus in protest against the impending imposition of martial law. They declared the entire UP campus the “Diliman Commune.”

    Early that day, a UP professor whose car was blocked by rallyists from entering the university had shot a student with a shotgun in the ensuing melee. In the afternoon the dreaded Metrocom units led an assault at the main avenue leading to the statue of the Oblation.

    Ready for battle, hundreds of activists had stocked up on molotov bombs and pillboxes. Some were armed with hand guns. They were, of course, no match for the heavily-armed security forces backed by armored vehicles. Many arrests were made.

    The number of casualties was never disclosed. The ROTC commandant took a bullet in the back and was paralyzed for life. The ladies’ dormitories were not spared, the women dragged from comfort rooms or from under their beds.

    Leftist militancy at UP vanished after the declaration of martial law when hordes of students from other universities and colleges simply disappeared into the hills and mountains. Many disappearances had been sealed by a murderous rampage of regime enforcers.

    Social life had never been vibrant among fraternities, sororities and college associations at UP. But there were defiant pockets of protests led by the journalism and theatre clubs; theater activism was spearheaded by the speech professor and theater director Behn Cervantes. He was picked up by the police twice and brought to Camp Crame when his stage productions carried fiery dialogues against state and military oppression and injustices. When a cop tried to put his arm around Cervantes as almost a common security practice, Cervantes blurted out, “Hwag mo ako hawakan!”

    The Duterte administration has brought upon itself the trouble of confronting the revival of NPA recruitment among universities in Metro Manila, which had started after President Duterte dropped any possible resumption of peace talks. It seemed apparent that obliterating them from the face of the earth was the next good thing.

    The fearless and devoted among the NPA rebels have dwindled, with many using their disguises to blend with the townsfolk to lead normal lives. Army intelligence ferreted some of them out in the Visayas and were killed.

    The aggressive military campaign has not deterred the young NPA recruits, especially those determined at all costs due to the severe ideological conditioning that blinds their very souls. Let us pray that President Duterte embraces a deep sense of humanity and declares an amnesty for the communist rebels during this very difficult time.