I re­mem­ber Fa­ther Rus­tico Tan

The Freeman - - OPINION -

First off, al­low me to dab­ble on a fam­ily his­tory as to­day is the 100th birth­day of my Tita Rosario (Pollyang)Avila de Veyra. My first cousin, Ching­gay Utzur­rum, who writes for SunS­tar, al­ready wrote a won­der­ful trib­ute of her mother a few days ago, so let me just add a lit­tle more about my fa­ther’s sis­ter, Tita Pollyang. I have al­ways known her as the Dean of Women at the Univer­sity of San Car­los (USC), who was mar­ried to Dr. Manuel “Tito Manny” de Veyra, one of the stal­warts of the Ro­tary Club of Cebu (Mother) where Tita Pollyang was pres­i­dent of the In­ner Wheel Club.

Tito Manny sur­vived the in­fa­mous Death March in Ca­pas, Tar­lac and wrote the book “A Doc­tor in Bataan.” When I joined the Ro­tary Club and of­ten called upon Tito Manny, he would ad­mon­ish me that I should not be call­ing him “Tito” in the Ro­tary Club meet­ings. From Ching­gay's ar­ti­cle, I learned that she was a di­rec­tress of the Young Ladies As­so­ci­a­tion of Char­ity (YLAC). She has three chil­dren, Manuel “Di­doy”, Ching­gay and Teresa “Bing­gay”. Happy 100th birth­day, Tita Pollyang!

***

The news item was about an al­leged high-rank­ing leader of the New Peo­ple’s Army (NPA) who was ap­pre­hended in Barangay Pasil in San­tander last Thurs­day night. When I fur­ther read the news re­port, this high-rank­ing NPA leader turned out to be Rus­tico “Pak­ing” Tan, who was once known as Fr. Rus­tico Tan. Ap­par­ently, be­cause it was too long ago, peo­ple for­got this priest-turned-rebel who once rep­re­sented the National Demo­cratic Front (NDF).

Right af­ter the EDSA Re­volt of 1986, when the Com­mu­nist of the Philip­pines (CPP) held peace talks with the Philip­pine gov­ern­ment, and thus CPP-NDF-NPAof­fi­cials roamed free all over the coun­try with­out fear of ar­rests, the Ro­tary Club of Cebu then had Fr. Rus­tico Tan as our guest speaker. Af­ter his speech, which re­vealed many of the plans of the com­mu­nists, I asked him dur­ing the Q and A: If the CPP would get hold of the Philip­pine gov­ern­ment, would Filipino in­tel­lec­tu­als be sent to the coun­try­side just like what they did in Viet­nam or China when the com­mu­nists took over? His an­swer was a re­sound­ing “Yes”!

That was 30 years ago, and ap­par­ently, Fr. Tan has re­mained a com­mu­nist, up­grad­ing him­self into the NPA as vice com­mand­ing of­fi­cer of the Western Visayas Oper­a­tions Com­mand based in Ne­gros Is­land. He ap­par­ently had 14 war­rants of ar­rest for mul­ti­ple mur­der, three for frus­trated mur­der, and one at­tempted mur­der is­sued by the Bo­hol Re­gional Trial Court Branch 47. What can I say but con­grat­u­la­tions to the Mil­i­tary In­tel­li­gence Group (MIG-7) for the op­er­a­tion that fi­nally cap­tured the elu­sive priest-turned-rebel. I just hope that while he is in mil­i­tary or po­lice cus­tody, they should make sure that he stays locked in prison for this once man of God has turned into a se­ri­ous killer.

***

There are so many great and pos­i­tive news about the ASEAN 50 Sum­mit in Manila, which for­mally ended yes­ter­day. And af­ter the dust set­tles, we will come up with a post­script of the ASEAN 50 – de­ci­sions af­fect­ing the peo­ples of ASEAN and the neg­a­tive is­sues that ASEAN failed to tackle like the is­sue on hu­man rights, which was not given any im­por­tance dur­ing this sum­mit, along with the Ro­hingya cri­sis in Myan­mar.

But the big­gest neg­a­tive news we got was the Bagong Alyansang Mak­abayan (Bayan) rally that was dis­persed by the po­lice with wa­ter can­nons. A series of pho­tos I saw on my Face­book page was a lot of trash and garbage that the ral­ly­ists left be­hind in what would have been an ul­tra clean Manila which was pre­pared for the ASEAN Sum­mit. Yes­ter­day, Bayan was back this time in Men­di­ola for their fi­nal rally.

What has Bayan done of the na­tion? First, it has only shown that they have adopted an un-Filipino trait. Filipinos are a very hos­pitable peo­ple and hold­ing a rally when the world’s lead­ers are here for a visit isn’t some­thing that Filipinos want to see hap­pen. Se­condly, Bayan has shown that ugly Filipino trait of care­lessly throw­ing their garbage away. Of course, we know that Bayan is the above ground ally of the Com­mu­nist Party of the Philip­pines (CPP) who wants to turn Philip­pine democ­racy into a com­mu­nist state, some­thing that Filipinos would never want to see hap­pen.

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