Smell of fear

November 21,2018 - 10:32 PM

As if it wasn’t inviting enough detractors for its bloody war on illegal drugs, a proposal by Camp Crame to create an “Alsa-Masa” like group to augment its efforts will likely produce more dead bodies in the streets and more grieving families in its wake.

The “Alsa-Masa” like group, said to be an expansion of the Community Mobilization Project (CMP) that launched last year, will supposedly act as an intelligence network for the PNP whose ranks had already consisted of scalawags that likely “could be working” as hitmen for drug syndicates — or so Chief Supt. Debold Sinas, Police Regional Office chief, once said before he was summoned and told to explain his statements by PNP leadership.

The revival of an “Alsa-Masa” type group comes amid a wave of killings of drug suspects and law enforcers suspected of illegal drug ties by motorcycle-riding vigilantes — some of whom are suspected rightly or wrongly of being linked to the police.

But while police can be called on to account for their operations that often end up with their targets being killed because of “manlalaban (violent resistance to arrest),” this civilian intelligence group is another story.

Former Commission on Human Rights chairperson Etta Rosales and some militant lawmakers raised concerns that this group,
expected to be organized into a nationwide network, will act as a paramilitary group similar to Alsa Masa that engaged in the killings of critics of the government.

Their notoriety served as inspiration for the 1989 film Orapronobis by the late National Artist Lino Brocka that depicted the cruelty (that actually bordered on cannibalism in the case of priest killer Norberto Manero Jr.) of paramilitary groups who executed suspected communist rebels and sympathizers.

And surprise, surprise, among those who lauded the Alsa Masa’s efforts in the insurgency campaign was then Davao City mayor Rodrigo Duterte. Two years ago, then Interior and Local Governments secretary Ismael Sueno clarified that this civilian network would be more on intelligence gathering and non-violent methods in the war on drugs.

But with Duterte as president, what’s to stop him from ordering the Department of Interior and Local Governments (DILG) to allow arming these civilian groups and joining anti-drug operations conducted by the police?

This may “only” be a proposal for now, but with the death toll continuing to climb and the Duterte administration ignoring all appeals and the police unable to stop the killings, there is good reason to be concerned and anxious about these “Alsa Masa” revival moves.

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