A former Army general denied there is a “state of lawlessness” in Negros island to warrant the need to deploy additional military and police troops.
“Lawlessness is only in the far-flung areas”, stressed by retired Brig. Gen. Raymundo Jarque, who became controversial after his defection to the New People’s Army more than two decades ago.
Jarque called the lawlessness in the countrysides as “isolated incidents.”
Government forces are fighting guerillas, not ordinary criminals in Negros, he said.
Jarque once served as National Democratic Front consultant.
Last week, President Duterte ordered reinforcement of military and police forces in Negros Occidental, Negros Oriental, Bicol, and Samar to suppress lawless violence and acts of terror in those areas.
Asked why the revolutionary movements appear to be getting stronger in Negros now, Jarque said the military has to view they are fighting a guerilla warfare, and not ordinary criminals.
In their view, the NPA claims they are not criminals, and also fighting as a revolutionary movement on problems of economic, political and social aspect, where the civil government has big role to play and toaddress the concerns, the former Army general pointed out.
“The military or the Army should be efficient in moving around and look for the definite enemy, and not (rebel) sympathizers”, he said.
From the views of some of his friends, even partly from the military, Jarque, who is a graduate of the Philippine Military Academy, disclosed that the declaration of state of lawlessness “is a prelude to Martial Law.”
“That is their notion. But hopefully it will not happen,” the former Army general said.
Asked why Duterte did not declare Martial Law to suppress violence and acts of terror not only in Mindanao but now happening in other areas of the country, Jarque said that Duterte is a lawyer, who is also surrounded with lawyers, noting that there are provisions in the Constitution that need to be followed, if there should be declaration as such.
“This is now also a game of lawyers”, he added.
If lawlessness will continue, Jarque said that there is a danger that the country is getting towards Martial Law.
The deployment of more troops to Negros was met with opposition from various militant groups, claiming that it will further worsen the human rights abuse of the military and police.
The groups claim that humam rights violations are now happening in Negros citing the massacre of nine sugar farmers in Sagay City, as well as the assassination of human rights lawyer Benjamin Ramos in Kabankalan City.
Following the deaths of Ramos, Felipe Gelle, former Bayan-Negros secretary general, and Enrita Caniendo of Karapatan-Negros, also claimed to have received death threats.
Jarque said that during his stint as Negros Island military commander at the height of anti-insurgency campaign in the late 1980s, he launched the Oplan Thunderbolt that led to the evacuation of more than 100,000 residents in the CHICKS area of southern Negros.
He said that they were able to achieve military superiority, in terms of tactical operations, against the NPA rebels, who were almost in the level of achieving strategic stalemate, both in Panay and Negros. (Eugene Adiong, photo by NDB)