Tuesday, October 10, 2006

NPA Raid Will Not Dampen Masskara Fever in Negros

Yesterday, the NPA raid of the Silay City airport construction site was the banner headline of Philippine Daily Inquirer (read here and here. Read also this report by Carla Gomez of the Visayan Daily Star). MalacaƱang was quick to condemn the incident as an act of terrorism on the part of the Communist insurgents and quickly dispatched elite troops to go after the NPA. Various news reports say that the rebels raided the site because the airport construction firm refused to pay revolutionary taxes to the local NPA commander. There were also reports that the P4.3 billion airport project will be delayed because of the raid.

The incumbent Vice Mayor of Silay City, Jay Jalandoni, was my fellow dormmate in Cervini Hall. Vice Mayor Jay, as we call him now, is an avid golfer (I think he is already a single-digit handicapper now) and packs a mean golf swing. While I envy his golf swing, I cannot say the same with his present situation. As Vice Mayor, Jay has been trying very hard to promote Silay as a prime tourist destination - as the "Paris of Negros" - on account of the numerous old haciendero mansions there. In its sheer audacity, the NPA raid was totally unexpected and caught everyone by surprise. For those people who are unfamiliar with Negros province, Silay City is a well-populated, relatively urban area which is less than 30 minutes drive from the provincial capital Bacolod City. It is not some small, far-flung, and isolated town which rebels in the Philippines have been known to attack periodically in their quest for media mileage and in pursuit of their "revolutionary" goals. The Silay Raid truly was audacious considering that there are a number of military outposts and police precincts within and near the city. I surmise that the small 30-man NPA raiding team (which reports say pretended to be local police officers) was able to escape detection and elude the authorities by blending in with the populace. Undoubtedly, their goal was to embarrass our government by showing that they can attack and destroy selected targets anywhere in the Philippines with impunity.

It is unfortunate that the NPA had to time its raid during the advent of the month-long Masskara Festival which kicked-off last week in Bacolod City. I sincerely hope that the NPA Raid will not turn-off tourists and merrymakers who are planning to join the mardi gras festival in Bacolod City, the highlight of which is scheduled from October 20 to 22.

I am confident that the raid will not dampen the celebratory mood in the province because if there's one thing I know for sure, it is that Negrenses know how to have fun. They are famous for being a fun-loving people and they will definitely not allow trivial "setbacks" (like the Silay airport raid) to spoil their once-a-year celebration.

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