Clearing operations

By: Modesto P. Sa-onoy

There are three major clearing operations that the government is undertaking. First is the attempt to rid this country of illegal drugs, second the defeat or eradication of the communist insurgents and third the removal of illegal structures.

All three are stubborn in their resistance to government efforts, the result of tolerance, if not an encouragement of corrupt officials.

The illegal drug trade supposedly to be eradicated within six months of President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration that began on July 1, 2016, remains a big headache to the government despite the daily reports of arrests and killings. The reported number of deaths had breached the 5,000 mark, at least by government records. What is not known are the deaths that are either not recorded or kept out of the news.

The drug trade simply refuses to disappear indicating that the trade has deeper roots and spread than initially believed. People are even puzzled where the seized drugs had gone. Some believed the police are simply recycling them because there is no public information where the confiscated drugs are disposed of. The arrests of recidivists are also in the daily news as if the dealers were also recycled.

Anyway, the president has already insinuated that the problem cannot be resolved even after he had left the office and despite the brute force used in the police operations that raise alarm about state terrorism against its citizens. Whether we will eventually find a solution to this scourge of modern society, we don’t know but the government is doing something to at least prevent its further proliferation.

The government, specifically the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police, had been running after the communist insurgents, the armed component called the New People’s Army. These two government agencies plus thousands of support services and agencies can reach up to half a million people against an unaccounted number of armed rebels and their supporters that can run into millions under the guise of political militants and activists. This is not surprising but common in countries plagued by communism. We see a few in the open but underground is unnumbered, some of them not even conscious that they are being used by the communists.

This is the reason that the government cannot eradicate this problem. The enemy is an idea that should be countered by a better idea. This is where the government is losing the battle or unable to neutralize in its campaign to eradicate communism.

The effort to campaign in the schools to discourage the youth from being recruited is a step in the right direction. Unfortunately, we do not see a relentless and sustained effort in this battleground in the same way that the communists are doing in their recruitment campaign. We no longer see the dynamism of the former civil and military relation officers that helped bring back or snatched the idealistic youth and young adults from the clutches of communism.

The reported rise in the recruitment of young people into the communist cause indicates an absence of talented cadre, the kind that brought communist insurgency into the limelight during the last 25 years of the 20th century.

There are no reports of infiltration of the Church whose priests were the main attractions of the 1970s and 1980s when the so-called Liberation Theology gripped the clergy not only in the Philippines but also in other countries. The recent organization of the Church-Military-Police Forum is a good move and the shift in pastoral agenda of the Church diverted the clergy from the atheistic communism.

Another campaign that is gaining traction is the removal of illegal structures. The local governments have one month left for the campaign. At the rate things are going, I doubt that these structures will be removed on time. There are clear gains, at least in Bacolod where we see structures being demolished. They are easier to spot as illegal but the other obstructions, the illegally parked vehicles , and mobile stores will require continuous vigilance.

The Mambulok Creek is being cleared of structures built right on the creek but not at the banks. There is a 3-meter easement along these creeks. This is the most difficult part of the clearing campaign on the creeks as dozens of large commercial buildings will have to be chopped off.

Well, at least they started but we’ll wait till end of September.