CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/08 July) — The Communist New People’s Army marches on, dealing death and destruction in the countryside, their depredations coming ever closer to urban centers.
Their latest victim is Mario Okinlay, Mayor of Impasugong Town, just a few kilometers outside Malaybalay, the capital of Bukidnon, and less than an hour’s drive from Cagayan de Oro.
An NPA assassin shot him while on his morning rounds astride his motorcycle, doing so as one would gun down a wild boar in those parts with ruthless, deadly sniper fire.
Deadly incidents instigated by these treacherous Communist brigands are getting more frequent these days. They are getting away with murder, literally.
Reminiscent of the incursions of Chinese Communist poachers in the West Philippine Sea—where they are slicing up Philippine isles, reefs, and shoals for themselves, these NPA Communists are slicing up parts of our towns and provinces in hopes of keeping them insecure enough as to be under their control.
So emboldened are these predators, they have the effrontery to issue mocking statements about our government “that acts as if it fears nothing”! They even announced after the assassination that Okinlay was killed for his “counter-revolutionary activities in the guise of peace and development” in barangays.
Meanwhile, not many authorities, civilian, police, or military seem alarmed enough about this Communist menace in our backyard despite the latter’s naked intent to widen their hegemony throughout Northern and Southern Mindanao so they can claim both as their domain.
It doesn’t help that our towns and provinces are governed by officials who take matters with what seems like a business-as-usual attitude. They don’t even seem to note that these NPA traitors are sporting more and more sophisticated arms.
We can only hope the bureaucrats of our local governments don’t underestimate the seriousness of the NPA menace in Mindanao.
Moreover, we hope also that they will deal with the non-ideological threats in their offices—the laggards—who are also known as NPAs or Non-Performing Assets.
It’s these non-performing assets in the bureaucracy who turn off people against the government. By being lackadaisical, devil-may-care, or inefficient, they sabotage the good that the government does—and drive the impatient and the cynical to the arms of insurgency.
Mindanao has 25 or so provinces, 27 cities, 404 municipalities and over 10, 000 barangays. That adds up to about ten thousand and a half local government units, each one employing dozens or hundreds of officials and functionaries.
There are executive, legislative, and judicial personnel in them ranging from governors and mayors to judges and barangay chairmen and kagawads and tanods.
There are also congressmen and national government bureaus or regional offices with hotshot assistants, consultants, and advisers—often surrounded by ubiquitous operatives of the armed forces, national police, civilian volunteer organizations, tanods, CAFGUs, what-have-you.
Then there is the autonomous regional government in the Muslim areas, plus the field units of national agencies everywhere.
If you count them all, there are well over half-a-million government officials or “persons in authority” throughout Mindanao—operating in offices that stretch from the capitals to the seacoasts to the hinterland villages. And all of them sport formal titles and job descriptions, earning salaries and benefits as befit public servants.
Public servants are people hired to do the bidding of their principals. The principals are the people, the Mindanaons. It costs Mindanaons billions to keep these public servants on the payroll. In turn, these public servants are supposed to serve, protect, and secure the people, the community, and their belongings.
So the question arises: Are the public servants of Mindanaons doing their job? Or are they NPAs, non-performing assets?
More to the point, are they serving in such a way as to neutralize the black propaganda of the ideological NPAs about the failures of government?
Or are they just basking in the glow of public office and leaving our society to the Communist wolves?
Manny is former UNESCO regional director for Asia-Pacific; secretary-general , Southeast Asian Publishers Association; director at development academy of Philippines; vice chair, Local Government Academy; member, Cory Government’s Peace Panel; and PPI-UNICEF awardee for outstanding columnist. [email protected]