Sunday, April 22, 2007

Patricia Evangelista--Child Soldier of the NPA?

Patricia Evangelista, famous as the young Filipina winner of an English Declamation Contest a few years ago, is now following closely behind Conrado de Quiros and Rina Jimenez David in the continuous production of that distinctive genre of propaganda which romanticizes the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People's Army and reflexively casts the government and the military in a bad light to justify a long-running insurgency. (She's gone over to the Dark Force, I'm afraid, as many liberal writers and thinkers around here have, progressing from Protest Culture to adopting a Permanent Protest Attitude and leading inexorably to Moral Cop-out)

In her column piece for Sunday's Philippine Daily Innuendo, entitled Her Name Was Grecil Patty tells the cry-your-eyes-out story of a nine year old girl who apparently died during an encounter between government troops and a New People's Army band in Barangay Kahayag, Compostela Valley a few weeks ago and was claimed by the military to be a child-soldier of the NPA. Now, to hear Patty tell what happened last March 31, NPA rebels numbering about 30 suddenly appeared out of nowhere demanding that a local farmer and tuba-vendor, Gregorio and his family allow them to use their pots and pans to cook their breakfast. How and why they chose his particular secluded location in a mountainous region might suggest to some that they had done this before and Gregorio had let them. Later on, the farmer would claim he had no choice in the matter, noting that the men were heavily armed, and they even got the Commission on Human Rights to certify that villagers "have no choice" when the NPA comes a-calling in this manner. Ms. Evangelista takes up the story--
"It was around nine o’clock when the military arrived. Grecil’s father Gregorio says there was no warning for the civilians to take cover, just three staccato bursts of a gun and then the rapid fire of machine guns. The family ran down the mountain with the two younger children. “My wife asked me about Grecil and Dodong, I said they were safe in the river, they were bathing far away from the gunfire.” The shooting between military and NPA lasted two hours. Gregorio’s home, now riddled with bullets, was the target.

Gregorio left his wife and children with his mother-in-law in the village. He was on the way to find Grecil and Dodong when his son caught up with him. He asked the boy where his sister was; Dodong said she was right behind him when they heard shots. When he looked back again, she was gone. In an affidavit, witness Lorena Seguido said Grecil had run back to the house in the midst of the shooting.

No one was allowed up the mountain. Conflicting stories filtered down to the family. Three children were killed. One child was killed. Grecil was carrying a gun. Grecil was dead.

Gregorio was told to stay in the barangay hall. Someone from the military would come to talk to him. He waited until two o’clock, until he saw a minicab pass by, guarded by two APCs loaded with soldiers. There was a body in the minicab.

The next time Gregorio saw his daughter, it was in the PNP headquarters. Grecil’s godfather, the barangay captain, had carried her down from the mountain. In an affidavit, Barangay Captain Eulogio Bigno Almasa stated he, with others, had gone up to Purok 6 to assist the populace after they heard the gunfire. At the encounter site, they saw the dead girl lying on the ground. The back of Grecil’s head had been blasted off. Almasa claims no firearms were found near the body. The military watched as Gregorio cried and cursed.

Sometime during the ensuing two hour gun-battle between the military and NPA, one soldier, one rebel, and one child died. The way she tells it of course, Ms. Evangelista clearly sides with the NPA against the government, and uses the tragedy of the child and her parents to accuse the authorities of carelessness or injustice in pursuing the communist terrorists.

The version of events that we get above from Ms. Evangelista clearly favors the NPA in a manner often used by its media supporters--argumentum ad miserecordiam--but there are some puzzling and suggestive details that survive even the sympathetic filtering of Ms. Evangelista and her rendition of events. Only the naive can accept her suggestion that Gregorio and his family did not know their NPA visitors, never had anything to do with them before and had no choice in their arrival and use of kitchen and dining facilities. I found it curious that someone even bothered to get a certification from the Commission on Human Rights claiming that Gregorio and his family had not choice but to allow the NPA into their homes and allow them to eat and rest there. It makes me wonder why the barangay captain was even pressed for a statement saying he was "100% certain" that the family involved was not with the NPA themselves. It suggests that there is sensitivity to previous admissions of the NPA in that area that it has used minor age children for "non-combat operations as couriers and messengers." The report by the engaging military units that children were seen carrying firearms does not mean they were using those firearms but were possibly forced by the NPA to help secure and hide them from the pursuing army troops.

It's difficult of course to say, what actually happened during this incident. I suspect Gregorio and his wife are not entirely innocent in their daughter's death, and bear some responsibility if they were in fact NPA sympathizers who were helping the rebels. The nine-year-old girl was perhaps innocent, for who at that age could be guilty of anything? The writer Patty Evangelista however, clearly wishes to put the blame on the government and military. She does not doubt the complete innocence of the other participants, even of those thirty armed men cooking their breakfast and thinking nothing of engaging the Philippine Military in a two hour gun battle with children and civilians running around.

Why should the NPA care if innocents, or not-so-innocent civilians and minors are killed in the crossfire of their long running insurgency? After all such tragedies can always be blamed on the government by its "child-soldiers in the Media," like Patty Evangelista, who are prepared to take their side, lawyer for them with all sorts of fallacious arguments and stories taken out of context. Such writers and their bleeding hearts are tailor-made for the CPP-NPA's kind of propaganda war--the kind that trades on our automatic sympathy for human misery and poverty in order to slyly offer a rationalization for the CPP-NPA's organized crimes of terrorist assassination, kidnap-for-ransom, insurgent violence, threat-by-arms, extortion and mayhem.

The US State Department's 2006 Annual Country Report on the Use of Children Soldiers around the world contains the following information on the Philippines:
Children were targeted for recruitment as combatants and noncombatants by the NPA [New People’s Army] and ASG [Abu Sayyaf Group]. There were an estimated two thousand child soldiers in the country. By mid-year an International Labor Organization (ILO)-led program demobilized and reintegrated into society three hundred children. The NPA claimed that it assigned persons 15 to 18 years of age to self-defense and noncombatant duties; however, there were reports that the NPA continued to use minors in combat. In a July 2004 report the Council for Welfare of Children estimated that children constituted between 13 to 18 percent of armed rebel combatants. In the last several years, the AFP [Armed Forces of the Philippines] on numerous occasions captured or killed NPA fighters who turned out to be minors. The ASG also recruited teenagers to fight and participate in its activities. There were reports that a significant number of ASG members staffing the groups' camps were teenagers. The AFP stated that some Islamic schools in Mindanao served as fronts to indoctrinate children and that the ASG used children as couriers and spies.

10 comments:

NineMoons Family said...

I think we might call it being ingenuous.

She once wrote an opinion piece in the Inquirer that was all self-congratulating for - guess what - commuting successfully on the Ikot/Toki jeeps.

After that, I pretty much gave up on reading anything meaningful from her pen.

As for her sympathetic views on the NPA - well, she must not have yet read the part where the young Chinese Communists tore apart their own villages for Mao's sake.blackrose21

DJB Rizalist said...

A warm welcome to Philippine Commentary, Ninemoons.

Yeah, I think it must be the company she's been keeping over at the paper. There's something there about having to keep up with the Joneses in the Main Stream Media. Seems like after a while, there's nothing left but an autonomic leftism in the writing. So much creative energy spent on figuring out some new way of saying the same tendentious thing in a way that Conrad or Rina or the CPP propaganda bureau hadn't thought up yet.

manuelbuencamino said...

a straight arm salute to you mein fuhrer

rbahaguejr said...

Kawawa naman ang analysis mo. Katulad ng lola mong si gloria. Kapag hindi nya kakampi... kalaban... hay...

DJB Rizalist said...

rbahaguejr,
Ang lola kong si Gloria? di ko yata ma-gets ito...bawal ang hit-n-run, ipaliwanag mo nga ito. I always learn from those who disagree, kaya walang masama ang magpaliwanag. Nakakaintriga kung ganiri lang...

Faith said...

I HAD admired Patricia for her eloquence with her words and pen. I might say that I HAD emulated her and looked up on her as something as extraordinary.The proof of what she was talking about may be in favor to the communist party, and to that I am disappointed myself. Such rustic point of view about the military is one sided, lacking understanding to the duties of the Armed Forces.
They were trained to be leaders who are able-bodied soldiers ready to defend our country.
To Patty, if you want to know how the military works, try entering PMA. I think you will understand them more that way.
And as for her writing, it is not yet too late for her. Salvation is for everyone. God will always be the center of things in the universe.

Tiki said...

But isn't that the same US government that also supports all sorts of terrorists and dictators worldwide? They document their own activities which are eventually declassified:

http://www.nsarchive.org

Anonymous said...

Okay. What are you talking about?

Patricia Evangelista is about as far from being a "child soldier of the NPA" as celery is from being a grape. I will refrain from insults, but I must admit that a few leapt to mind as I read your article. And they weren't aimed at Ms. Evangelista.

Point one. Ms. Evangelista isn't exactly popular with hardcore leftists, including the NPA. Her views are liberal, but generally not leftist, and yes, there's a difference. At the risk of saying something that's already well-known, the NPA probably wouldn't take her in if she tried to join their group. And as anyone who knows Ms. Evangelista would say, she wouldn't even entertain the thought of joining in the first place.

Point two. The Arroyo administration IS guilty of human rights violations. Fact-finding commissions, both local and foreign (the Melo Commission and the United Nations) have pointed to the State as the perpetrators behind extrajudicial killings, torture, and forced disappearances happening in the Philippines today. When Ms. Evangelista notes that the military is at fault, it's not because her view has been poisoned by those at the Inquirer. It's because the military truly is at fault. Let me clarify: I admire those who would take up arms in defense of our nation, as soldiers do, but some of the things done by some sections of the military simply cannot be condoned. What Ms. Evangelista wrote of in her column is a prime example of this.

Point three. You're committing the classic fallacy of ad hominem. You deride the Inquirer as "the Philippine Daily Innuendo" and Ms. Evangelista as "Patty," claiming that she's a "moral cop-out" and has gone over to the "Dark Force." (By the way, if your reference is Star Wars, that should be the Dark Side.) Insulting Ms. Evangelista and the Inquirer does not detract from the truth of their assertions. Their views may be different from yours, but calling them names doesn't seem like the way to go.

Hm. That's about all for now, I think.

Good day.

DJB Rizalist said...

Dear Anon,
There is another obvious reason why Ms. Evangelista is not "a child soldier of the NPA" -- she's 22 years old and is therefore overaged for "child soldier".

So what AM I talking about?

Point 1: the child soldiers that commissions and study groups, even from Europe, say the NPA is not averse to recruiting and using as human shields. That's the UN Anon, but the news didn't make headlines back in 2000 when it first came out.

Point 2: there is a kind of hypocritical infantilism that winks at the NPA's violations of the Geneva Conventions, as if they were justified by the "fascist" state.

Point 3: MInors and children are indeed the nPA's favorite as scouts, look outs and messengers. They use them even in their illegal organized crime activities like extortion and blackmail

Hm. That's about all for now, I think.

Thanks for your weak defense of the United Front tactics in the Media.

Hyangelo said...

First things first. I abhor communism. That system just doesn't work. However, that doesn't change the fact that the government and the military continually commit abuses. Sure, the CPP-NPA are probably guilty themselves too. But that doesn't justify killing a child, or abducting an activist(even a leftist one), or whatever grave mistakes they continually make.
I admire Patricia Evangelista for her zeal in criticizing the government for their wrongdoings.