AFP pays tribute to victims of terrorism

AFP pays tribute to victims of terrorism

MANILA – A military general paid homage to all the victims of terrorist attacks in the Philippines on Aug. 20, ahead of the day observed around the world as the 3rd International Day of Victims of Terrorism.

Speaking in the live radio broadcast of “Usapang Pangkapayapaan, Usapang Pangkaunlaran Pilipinas” hosted by Col. Gerry Zamudio Jr., Major Gen. Ernesto Torres, chief of the Civil Relations Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), remembered and honored all the victims of terrorism.

“We in the Armed Forces of the Philippines have these victims’ welfare in mind because they have already fallen victims to very untoward incidents that the AFP seeks to prevent,” said Torres. “We need to give them all the support and attention they deserve.

Zamudio, who hosts the radio program produced by the Philippine Air Force at the Basa Air Base in Clark, Pampanga, said it was three years ago when the United Nations (UN) first observed the International Day of Remembrance and Tribute to the Victims of Terrorism.

In marking this day, the Philippines joins in promoting international solidarity in supporting victims who have been attacked, injured, traumatized or lost their lives in a terrorist attack.

Just like with the United States having to contend with the 9/11 attacks in 2001 and France with the Paris Bombings in 2015, so had the Philippines endured such terrorist attacks with the Rizal Day Bombings by Muslim extremists in Metro Manila that killed 22 people and injured 120 others on Dec. 30, 2000 and the Inopacan Massacre carried out by the New People’s Army (NPA) against at least 67 of its own followers in Leyte in 1985, among others.

Torres said: “We do not want any more people to endure the same horrible experiences and sufferings that victims of terror have no other choice but to withstand.”

He said that while there had been genuine empathy with the victims at the time these attacks were reported, very few realize that these people’s agony did not end there.

“Many of us have moved on from the news, but the experience stays with the victims who survived these for a lifetime,” he said.

Torres said the military, in particular, values August 21 as a day of remembering them.

“The AFP understands the struggles of the victims, because in the fight against terrorism, our troops are always in the frontlines. We also suffer casualties in these unfortunate events,” he said.

From his personal recollection of events in his storied military career, Torres called to mind the June 25, 1989 massacre of 40 churchgoers by the NPA in Digos City; the Jan. 27, 2019 bombing at the Jolo Cathedral by the Abu Sayyaf and ISIS, killing 20 people and injuring 102 more; and the Nov. 10, 2017 ambush by NPA rebels that killed a police officer and a four-month-old baby in Calaca, Bukidnon.

“I can go on and on relating to you the different atrocities or terrorist acts committed by the CPP-NPA and other terrorist groups here in our country,” said Torres, adding that these could have been prevented if only the country had a stronger anti-terrorism law at the time.

He underscored that the Anti-Terror Act adheres to the enforcement of International Humanitarian Law.

“Perpetrators could have been sent to jail immediately if only we had a stronger anti-terrorism law (when these terrorist attacks happened). Unfortunately, we didn’t have that until this year,” he said. “The Philippines has not yet established specific programs for victims of terrorism, the recent passing of the Anti-Terrorism Act greatly responds to the tribulations of terrorism and reflects the government’s recognition of the need to adopt measures to respect human dignity and uphold the rule of law.”

He emphasized that terrorism comes in different forms, shapes and ideology so awareness among Filipinos of these existing threats especially since many of them have crept into private organizations and the academe, preying on the minds of the youth.

Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr., Commander of the Southern Luzon Command of the AFP, joined the “UP UP Pilipinas” program to express his lament on how the atrocities of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP-NPA) seemed to have been forgotten over time because of its efficient and well-oiled propaganda machinery.

“Thousands of their own members in the communist New People’s Army have been massacred – about 67,000 of them. They’ve killed their own members on mere suspicion of being government spies especially in the decades of the ’80s and ’90s. Why have we forgotten these?” he said in Filipino.

Parlade counted them as victims of terrorism who should be remembered. “They are all victims of an ideology of the demon. Let’s be clear that their ideology cannot coexist with a religion that believes in God.”

What’s more appalling to Parlade is that for a god-less communist insurgency that has killed thousands, even among its own, it has still managed to find allies in the church.

‘They fed us lies’

Another “UP UP Pilipinas” guest, PCOO Undersecretary Lorraine Badoy, picked up from Parlade’s statement on the leftists’ propaganda machine, saying “the 52-year-old communist problem is based on lies” and that more people are now willing to come out to expose these lies because of the strong leadership of President Rodrigo Duterte.

Badoy explained that as early as her years in college at the University of the Philippines (UP) and many more years after that fighting for and with human rights advocates, she had been misled to believe that activists were killed by the military while, in fact, the communists killed their own.

“They fed us lies. I know because I was one of them. I fought fiercely for these human rights advocates only to know they’re the worst human rights violators,” she said.

As a rejoinder, Torres encouraged citizens to learn more about the real problems with the communist insurgency, how it works and how it manipulates and infiltrates various levels of society, even in government and the academe, in order to push its propaganda of lies.

For his part, National Youth Commissioner Vic del Rosario called on the youth to open up to government with regard to their problems and not course through shady organizations that may likely be fronts of the communist movement.

Torres cited how members of youth organizations such as the League of Filipino Students (LFS), National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP), and College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP) can be unaware of their groups’ underground links to the CPP-NPA through the Kabataang Makabayan.

“Only their (LFS, CEGP and NUSP) leaders are allowed in the Kabataang Makabayan as they are all being observed and used for propaganda of lies against the government. That is how it works,” he said.

Badoy agreed with Torres and cited how schools like the University of Santo Tomas have a youth organization that battles the pull of communist infiltrators on campus by setting up the Facebook page The Right Thomasian.

“I really have to mention this, because the way they do it is really fantastic. When you go to The Right Thomasian, they call out the hypocrisies, the lies, the inaccuracies of these (Leftist) groups,” she said, adding that it comes with “educating oneself about the enemy in order to be able to speak up (against it).”

“UP UP Pilipinas” is a live public affairs program produced by the PAF at Basa Air Base in fulfillment of the media requirements of the National Task Force-End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) and NTF-COVID-19.

It is aired on weekdays at 3 p.m. over DWGV AM 792khz-Central Luzon, DWDD 1134 khz-Manila and other radio stations all over the country. A video recording of the program, produced by the PAF 355th Aviation Engineer Wing headed by Brig. Gen. George A. Blanco in partnership with the Air Force Reserve Command headed by Maj. Gen. Arthur Cordura, is uploaded every day to the social media accounts of NTF-ELCAC, the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO), UP UP Pilipinas, and on PAF Virtual TV. (PR)

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