Author Topic: Who remembers Agdao?:‘Nicaragdao’ is gone but ‘Barrio Patay’ remains  (Read 1618 times)

anak ni sarge

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‘Nicaragdao’ is gone but ‘Barrio Patay’ remains


By Jeffrey M. Tupas
Inquirer
Last updated 01:29am (Mla time) 11/12/2006

Published on page A8 of the November 12, 2006 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer

DAVAO CITY—Under a scorching sun, sweat-drenched hawkers with hoarse voices tried to outshout each other to catch buyers’ attention in the public market of Agdao district.

Meters away, other vendors were selling vegetables and fruits at prices lower than at the regular market stalls.

Under the flyover, not too far from a girly bar, two traffic aides were directing traffic on a street that would soon be choked with motorists.

It was another normal day in Agdao—so unlike those days two decades ago when the district was stained with blood, earning for itself the label “Nicaragdao”— after strife-torn Nicaragua.

Back then, the Sparrow killer unit of the New People’s Army had come home to roost in Agdao, along with regional leaders of the Communist Party of the Philippines.

It was the same district where, later, vigilantes of the counterinsurgency group Alsa Masa were let loose to go after the NPA hit squads that had assassinated police and soldiers.

That was the time Mindanao was a testing ground for new strategies against the regime of Ferdinand Marcos. Instead of guerrillas encircling the cities from the countryside, the leftist rebels wanted to bring the war to the cities.

“When you say that Davao became the laboratory of the NPA and counterinsurgency groups, you are actually talking about Agdao,” says Antonio Ajero, publisher of Sun.Star Davao.
The veteran journalist says there were almost daily killings of security people and suspected government agents and spies in the district—largely blamed on the NPA’s urban liquidation squad.

‘Butchered like chickens’

“You got used to the killings,” says a cigarette vendor who calls herself Mila. “People were butchered like chickens.”

Mila says a part of Agdao was once called Barrio Patay, or Village of Death. It was there the violence was at its worst.
Back then, no stranger got out of the area alive, Mila says.

Ireneo Cañedo, 49, says he fled the area for fear he would suffer the same fate one of his friends did.

“He was killed after he battered his wife. But what I was afraid of becoming a victim of intrigues and getting killed because of it,” Cañedo said.

Ajero recalls media accounts that put the number of Sparrow victims at more than a hundred, on top of the unrecorded cases.

Village chair Wilfredo Aquino and his armed civil defense units turned the situation in Agdao around. He was later joined by former Sparrow members who had questioned their leaders’ order to kill their own relatives, says Ajero.

Alsa Masa formed

The Sparrow desertions happened in the mid-’80s when Oplan Ahos, an internal CPP campaign to rid its ranks of infiltrators, was launched.

“They got really worried that they will be liquidated themselves. So they sought the help of their number-one nemesis, who later formed Alsa Masa,” says Ajero.

On April 8, 1986, less than two months after the Edsa People Power revolt, Alsa Masa was formed in the house of Aquino’s father.

There were about a dozen of them in the original group, with support from politicians who were putting flesh to the new government’s campaign against the insurgency.

At that time, there were at least 50 paramilitary groups across the country. Alma Masa, along with the Tadtad gang, became the most notorious in Mindanao.

Fighting the NPA

Human rights records show that under the Aquino administration, at least 1,064 people were killed by vigilante groups like Alsa Masa and Tadtad, along with at least 135 massacre cases.

Wilfredo Aquino eventually paid with his own life.

“Wilfredo wanted to stop the activities of the NPA and there were constant threats,” his wife Linda said. “Two days before he was killed, there were several warnings already. The constant threats made things easy for me to accept his fate … it jaded me.”

In the early morning of April 22, almost two weeks after Alsa Masa was formed, Aquino was killed in an ambush, along with two companions.

Linda recalls how bad things were back then.

No one ventured out at night

In the evenings, she says no one went out around Agdao. No taxi driver dared take a passenger to Agdao, whether day or night.

Linda, who now chairs Barangay Wilfredo Aquino named after her husband, says the family lived in constant fear.

For a year, she says, her family accepted no visitors and barely talked to other people.

In 1988, after Agdao was divided into 11 barangays, the anti-insurgency campaign appeared to have paid off and the district showed signs of becoming a relatively progressive area.

Signs of the times

“There were no big establishments in Agdao before because businessmen were afraid to pour in their money in a chaotic environment. But now, things are totally different that one can consider Agdao one of the city’s industrial districts,” says Ajero.

There are now factories and warehouses in the area, a popular food chain, four big 24-hour convenience stores, banks and pawnshops.

But shadows of the past remain, legacies of an intractable poverty as evidenced by the continuing presence of squatter colonies.

Tension still hangs over some places. Barrio Patay’s reputation remains.

“No, you can’t go there alone,” Mila warns.
PN according to Manokski:
"something gray with a side number on it that floats"
PAF according to Ramon J. Farolan:
"we are now basically a helicopter fleet"
PA according to drkula
"it is better to talk forever than fight forever"


  Anak ni sarge

"Applying the standards of the rest of the country for what is acceptable and logical behavior in order to predict what this group of people will do is dangerous and can be faulty. Too many analysts and military commanders have already made that same mistake."
ka nognog

mondo bizzaro

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I do! I do!

That place sucked then. Like Divisoria at 7am.

Viva Alsa Masa!

CBCP - When we have to absolutely interfere.

My therapist told me I had delusions of sexual superiority.

I know she just wants to fnkc me.

So I told her: Get in line b!tch.

David Holtz, Canadian comedian

Adroth

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Its an economically disadvantaged area . . . with all the trimmings.
« Last Edit: November 13, 2006, 03:32:17 PM by Adroth »
The campaign to establish a Philippine equivalent to DARPA / DAPA / DSTA: http://adroth.ph/srdp_roadmap_darpa/

Don't get mad at China. GET EVEN. Join the movement to defy a Chinese "order".


anak ni sarge

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Agdao was a testing ground for the leftists on how to launch and sustain an urban guerilla warfare. The campaign was more for the awe factor than the body count. The body count though got into the nerves of the people and they, in turn, spontaneously responded to the threat (with a lot of help of course from the military, police and the politicians). Victory for the people, a defeat for the communist terrorists.

Marag Valley was a supposed to be a showcase of a model communist community. From each according to their ability, to each according to their needs. It worked for a while then the people realized their growth was stymied, their freedom, greatly hindered, and the revolted. The military launched a sustained offensive and the communists were driven away. Another victory for the people, another resounding defeat forthe terrorists. When will they learn?
PN according to Manokski:
"something gray with a side number on it that floats"
PAF according to Ramon J. Farolan:
"we are now basically a helicopter fleet"
PA according to drkula
"it is better to talk forever than fight forever"


  Anak ni sarge

"Applying the standards of the rest of the country for what is acceptable and logical behavior in order to predict what this group of people will do is dangerous and can be faulty. Too many analysts and military commanders have already made that same mistake."
ka nognog