It is quite common these days to read from the newspapers violence being perpetrated by the communist New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) that most Filipinos no longer care as long they are not the poor victims. People have become so passive that when rebels committed atrocities to civilians, none would make a fuss about it or chastise the perpetrators — except for the families of the victims and the authorities. None would take the initiative to launch a crusade to seek justice. This is also what happened 27 years ago today.
Very few would likely remember that on June 25, 1989, in a small village in Digos, Davao Del Sur, 39 people, many of them children, were mercilessly gunned-down by CPP-NPA rebels while they were attending a Sunday mass. Two of the victims, UCCP Pastor Ruben Ayap and his brother were beheaded. The motive: the village leaders refused to cooperate with the rebels. The CPP-NPA general command later admitted responsibility for the brutal killings and promised indemnification of the families of victims, which never happened.
The incident which became known as the “Digos Massacre,” captured the national attention back then. The entire country was enraged by the carnage. However, none have taken the matter too seriously except the government. Even the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP), later on, in an ironic twist, gravitated towards the left who perpetrated the killings of its flock. It even placed the blame on the government. Eventually, the incident slowly faded in the people’s memory. There was no justice attained.
Now, after two decades since the Digos incident, the CPP-NPA continue to perpetrate atrocities without remorse, especially now that they are operating more and more like a criminal gang (or, rather, several dozen separate gangs united by ideology and tactics). Aside from killing civilians opposed to them, they have also ventured into numerous criminal activities like extortion, robbery, raids, etc in order to get the money to buy needed supplies and provide for the families of the leadership. Sadly, even up to now, the people remained passive of them.
When will the people take active role in condemning the CPP-NPA? Will it take another “Digos Massacre” for the people to act? The fight against the CPP-NPA is not solely the duty of the government. It is the duty of every freedom-loving Filipinos who abhor violence and value justice. If the people will not provide even vocal support, the effort to defeat the rebel-turned bandits will be futile. The Filipinos should not remain deaf and blind. This is the least they can do for the victims of the “Digos Massacre” and the numerous other victims of CPP-NPA cruelty.
This article was written in remembrance of the victims of the Digos Massacre . May their souls rest in peace.