Philippine presidents from Ferdinand Marcos to Rodrigo Duterte share one thing in common: each vowed to crush the communist revolution,
each miserably failed.
As Duterte is still into his term, we can say he is still at it. So far though, he has been forced to eat his first boast of seeing the communists crushed by end of 2018. Against the revolutionaries he has launched warplans that merely repackaged past administration’s oplans. He has plucked from retirement military chiefs such as Eduardo Año and Hermogenes Esperon who began their careers under Marcos, and peaked and gained notoriety under Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Why, given their long, devious backgrounds, do these reactionary puppets insist they could maintain the same system that breeds crisis and resistance, and fantasize at the same time to finish off the revolutionaries using same old deception and wars of suppression?
Ferdinand Marcos had the “luck” of being president when the communist revolutionaries were still newly reestablishing the domestic Communist Party. To combat what amounted to babies in waging revolution during his time, he had to resort to Martial Law. His favorite threat appears to be to “extirpate.” He used it frequently against any one or anything he bragged he would, well, “extirpate.” But in the end, he was the one extirpated ignominiously.
Marcos was the Philippines’ first strongman but ironically also the first president to be deposed by People Power. To save his ass from the peoples’ wrath in 1986 his US imperialist master had to airlift him and his family to the US. Far from his carefully contrived image of nobility he died and got buried in insulting circumstances. His body had to wait more than three decades before it can be buried, stealthily, at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.
Six million Filipinos were displaced, thousands died from militarization, plunder and its resulting epidemics under Marcos. But the revolutionary movement he excoriated and vowed to “nip in the bud” (at first), and later, to kill by pulling from its roots, grew instead by leaps and bounds. It has taken roots and, revolutionary bases after bases, is growing in strength ideologically, politically, militarily and economically, and culturally. Today the military and police are reduced to intimidation to “win hearts and minds,” faking wins via staged surrenderees, creating illusions of having a mass following by suppressing critical reporting, holding public services hostage to counterrevolutionary and anti-democratic aims, among others.
After Marcos, Philippine presidents were forced to bow to public pressure against imposing Martial Law even though they all retained its monsters. To force economic policies that benefited only a few they unleashed military campaigns of suppression far more brutal than under Martial Law but in a camouflage. Under Cory Aquino the sword of “total war” unsheathed against the revolutionaries and the people was supposed to be under the doctrine of Low-Intensity Conflict by the US Central Intelligence Agency.
The US-Aquino and US-Ramos Regimes’ Oplan Lambat-Bitag 1, 2, 3 & 4 aimed to “reduce and decapitate” the communist revolution. They tried to capitalize on the growing pains and early errors of the communist revolutionaries. While deceiving the masses with bogus land reform and “regional industrialization” programs, they massively reinforced the regular state forces with paramilitary and vigilante groups. They sowed worst kind of intrigues against the revolutionaries with CIA-trained “experts” in psy-war. The puppet presidents tried to entrap the revolutionaries through peace talks while ordering aerial bombings, ground shelling and massive troop attacks. In the end it was always the puppet government who can’t proceed with peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) because the selfish interests of their imperialist master, and their landlord and comprador ilk, are at risk with every draft agreement.
The revolutionaries frustrated these post-Marcos US puppets’ schemes by successfully carrying out since 1992 the Second Great Rectification Campaign. They reaffirmed the basic principles and rectified errors in pursuing the national democratic revolution with socialist perspective.
The communist revolutionaries exerted efforts to expand forces and strengthen mass bases. They take deep roots among peasant masses, helping them achieve minimum to maximum land reform program, stepping up recruitment of red fighters from among the youth, peasantry, working class, and students.
Whether the people’s army is present or not, the reactionary government implements brutal military campaigns to grab the lands from peasants and ethnic communities. From the time of the first puppet president up to present it continues to happen as the government ensures landlords keep their land, convert its use and generally exempt it from land reform.
Contrary to these, the New People’s Army has launched successful offensives against the die-hard, detested regular and paramilitary government troops, despotic landlords and criminal elements. They launched various campaigns supported and enriched further by the masses: from bans on logging and drugs, to improving health and sanitation, basic education, and of course, land reform.
Instead of seeing a ‘reduced and decapitated’ revolutionary group, four series of Oplan Lambat-Bitag from Aquino to Ramos failed to stop a revitalized New People’s Army and revolutionary movement. The Ramos administration was forced to withdraw from the police and restore to the Armed Forces the principal role of conducting the counterrevolutionary war.
A US-trained military general, Ramos started what each succeeding puppet presidents would try to build on to prop the exploitative system and push back the revolutionaries. To sharpen the counterrevolutionary war machine, Ramos sought to institutionalize “national security” or social control measures. These included national ID (which did not succeed then), an intelligence unit in every government office, increased powers of National Security Council and law enforcers (say, to conduct wiretapping, arrest without warrant), use of more emergency powers, anti-terror laws (with too sweeping definition of ‘terrorism’) and promoting active and retired military officers in sensitive civilian posts.
After Ramos, Joseph Estrada briefly commanded from Malacañang. Then followed a succession of scions and/or tag-teams of past US puppet presidents: Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino and Rodrigo Duterte (in alliance with Marcos Jr and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo). If their policies seem the same, that’s because they’re all hewing to the same neoliberal policies of opening up businesses, public services, human and natural resources including land and seas, to big businesses and foreign capitalists. If their counterrevolutionary wars brutalize the people the same, that’s because these follow the same US COIN (counter insurgency) guide. They even shared similar military chiefs.
Duterte’s ‘whole-of-nation approach’ is a tired reactionary war against the revolutionaries and the people. Its “war on terror,” red-tagging, use of courts for legal offensives, threats against free speech and freedom of association, its corruption and blithe use of public funds to enrich the already rich, all these can only help and bring the Filipinos to embrace the national democratic revolution, with socialist perspective.
If Duterte or any other politicians wanting to succeed him seek a positive corner in people’s history, they could only do so now by taking part in solving the roots of armed conflict. They could start by taking up the agreements they have been compelled by the people to sign with the CPP-NPA-NDF.###
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