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A ‘Prop’ to Kill

in Countercurrent
by Pinky Ang and Priscilla Guzman

Because it does not, cannot, and may never speak the truth, the Duterte regime is engaged in a losing “propaganda war” against the revolutionary forces, the progressives, and other government critics. It cannot win against the revolutionaries because revolutionaries speak of a shared belief and common aspirations with the masses—the twin source of every revolutionary’s truth.

The NTF-ELCAC (National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines don’t mind that their “propagandists” wrote 52TH instead of 52nd on anti-CPP tarpaulins posted in strategic locations all over Metro Manila; or “babe” instead of  babae (women) in a hastily produced supposed poster of Gabriela Women’s Party they planted among the things they allegedly found in the possession of arrested “members of the New People’s Army;” or, if those photos of NPA “surrenderers” float like ghosts as these were transported from place to place through Photoshop.

That’s the least of their concern. All they want is to prepare the ground—through lies, disinformation, and red-tagging—for the “final kill” of their targeted victims.

This despicable act is a futile attempt to hit two birds with one stone: demonize the revolutionaries and progressives and get away with their crimes, topped by murder.

Neither the people’s concerns over its bungled pandemic response, nor the ballooning debt it has incurred in their name disturb the regime. It doesn’t care about China or the US trampling on our sovereignty; or the peasants’ continuing landlessness; or the workers losing their jobs or earning a non-living daily wage. The regime will never take serious attention to the people’s basic interests and rights. Its prime concern is how to prop up the crumbling semicolonial and semifeudal system and safeguard the lot and loot of the ruling elite.   

Much has been said about the NTF-ELCAC and the AFP—the Duterte regime’s vaunted “prop war” instruments. About how vainly they have tried to discredit and demonize the revolutionaries and other concerned Filipinos who perseveringly have served the people and amplified their voices of protest and life-struggle. To the NTF-ELCAC top echelon and its cabal of “spokespersons” anyone who serves the people and questions those who do the people harm is deemed an “enemy of the state”—and worse, a “terrorist”.   

And they call this practice as “propaganda” to justify their multi-billion peso budget for fabricating and spreading lies in an “all-out war” against the revolutionary movement and the Filipino people.

“Ignorant twaddle,” that’s how Mao Tse Tung would have dismissed such practice.

“No social investigation, no right to speak”—Mao Tse Tung

To the revolutionaries, a basic tenet of propaganda is that it should be based on facts, or what objectively exists. But it doesn’t stop there. One seeks truth from facts—where the interrelation of events is established by a thorough investigation of the actual conditions and movements in society, within the country and elsewhere.   

“We should find the internal relations of the events occurring around us,” Mao Tse Tung advised. “And in order to do that we must rely not on subjective imagination, not on momentary enthusiasm, not on lifeless books, but on facts that exist objectively; we must appropriate the material in detail and, guided by the general principles of Marxism-Leninism, draw correct conclusions from it.”

For Mao, anything not based on thorough investigation is nothing but ignorant twaddle.

Admittedly, this is an extremely difficult task for the lazybones in Duterte’s NTF-ELCAC. After all, their only concern is to red-tag those whom they consider as “enemies of the state,” oftentimes using twisted logic and visualized through crass and sloppy memes and posters. It’s an easy way out of the crimes they committed; no need to study to substantiate their arguments.

Unlike the reactionary government, the revolutionaries have no huge budget for intelligence work, for personnel and production, and a rare space in the corporate mass media. But it is in every revolutionary and activist’s heart to propagate the people’s struggle and their dreams to have food on their tables, to send their children to school, to be treated by a doctor when ill, a house to live in, a farm to till, a job with a decent wage, and a government that would ensure that these interests are fostered and protected.

What comes out from the mouth of every revolutionary reflects the poor people’s actual situation—their struggles and triumphs and their aspirations for a better life. Propaganda comes from a never-ending study of the Marxist-Leninist-Maoist theories applied in the realities of the country and through integration with, and learning from, the masses. From this, the revolutionary movement continues to study Philippine society—the classes and their interests—and advance the theory and practice of the national democratic revolution towards its socialist future.

Every revolutionary speaks of the people’s interests and aspirations, their struggles and their triumphs and how they are empowered and charting their own course through their collectives, their revolutionary mass organizations, and through the organs of political power established in the villages.

However, every reactionary regime and its “propagandists” hate to admit there exist two governments in the country today—the rotten reactionary government which they try to deodorize, on the one hand, and the revolutionary government that steadily spreads in most parts of the country, on the other.  

Ignorant twaddle

The ruling class(es)’[big landlords, big comprador bourgeoisie] “propaganda war” is based on lies hatched and propagated mostly by a billion-peso funded task force, namely the NTF-ELCAC, (including the PCOO and the troll farms). It scanned the revolutionary propaganda materials but, after it declared a “propaganda” war, instead of directly countering the truths of the revolutionary messaging—as one would reasonably expect—its “strategic communication thrust” has prioritized attacking the messengers of the revolutionary and progressive propaganda.

Lorraine Badoy
Spokesperson NTF-ELCAC

Yes, the “prop” war launched by the reactionaries lacks courage to face head-on the meatiest issues of the new national democratic revolution. For example, it has not responded to the revolutionary or even to the legal, unarmed progressive movement’s calls for land reform.

As everyone knows, the agricultural Philippines’ most pressing problem that’s also at the root of restiveness remains the extreme deprivation of its hardworking yet landless farmers. Most agree there must be a genuine land reform program. The New People’s Army has been gaining fighters and mass support because of its land reform program, among others.

In contrast, the AFP—in the service of the big landlords and bourgeois compradors expanding mining concessions, plantations, and land-use conversion projects—has been bombing and strafing the farming communities demanding land reform or defending their ancestral lands. Meanwhile, the NTF-ELCAC has been fart-bombing the same farming communities with red-tagging and brutal censorship. It has resorted to threats and intimidation and its money-making venture of staging fake surrenders of supposed revolutionaries and supporters.

The AFP and the NTF-ELCAC have plagued even unarmed community members and supporters resisting semifeudal exploitation with all sort of baseless accusations to justify its attacks against said communities.

Note that all reactionary stock “propaganda” spiels revolve around attacking the messengers (the revolutionaries and their unarmed activists and supporters) rather than the revolutionary or progressive analyses and demands they articulate. Hence, it appears the reactionary “prop” centerpiece is its noisy red-tagging and baseless “terrorist”-labeling.

However, the AFP and the NTF-ELCAC’s joint efforts to mislabel and demonize the revolutionaries, the open progressive mass movement, and critical members of society, have no factual grounding. No new offering or promised illusion of development or peace; and on top of that, it’s even costing the public a lot of money. This “propaganda” war runs counter to the Filipino people’s demand for genuine solutions to their unending crises.

The role of US imperialism  

Demonizing groups without factual basis, and worse, proceeding with it even when the manufactured “bases” have repeatedly been proven and exposed as false, are the hallmarks of the US-led borderless “war on terror.” It demonizes as “rouge states” and enemies those who would resist the US global hegemony. 

It is no surprise that the AFP, which was organized, ideologically trained, armed, and even funded to this day by the US, kills and maims our people in line with the US global “war on terror.” Since 1946, the US has maintained the Philippines as its neocolony, with the Philippine government functioning as the imperialist’s puppet and agent. The more the local puppet government adheres to US imperialist dictates to advance the latter’s interests here and in the region, the more it enriched its dynasty and cliques, and the more it holds on to power.

In the end

Although the reactionary “propaganda” war led by militarist clowns or spokespersons may seem loud and all over the place, ultimately it can’t help but turn off the masses rather than win their hearts and minds. Cowardly evading the issues propelling protests and civil war is one glaring weakness of the reactionary “propaganda” war.  Thus, Filipinos would typically dismiss it as “puro kwento, walang kwenta, (all talk no substance),” or judge it as “malayo ang tapal sa sugat” (the solution is way off the problem).

Another characteristic of the reactionary “propaganda” war is traitorous deceit. It aggrandizes its terror-tagging drive as “propaganda;” covers up its hawkish stance with affectation for seeking peaceful means. Yet, it’s nothing but provocation and justification for armed brutality against the Left.

Every baseless terror-tagging and provocation sets up the targets for censorship, killing, illegal arrest, arbitrary freezing of bank accounts, and other state bullying and acts of violence.

This “propaganda” war directed by NTF-ELCAC and its “whole-of-nation approach” against the revolutionaries is cruder and more bankrupt than their “propaganda” in the past. Back then, they cobbled some pseudo-theories for change or development myths in a vain attempt to counter the revolutionary calls for social, political and economic changes. This time there is neither new land reform program nor push for industrialization that the ruling classes could use to counter the popular programs for social and economic reforms that the national democratic revolutionaries are implementing in the guerrilla zones.

Even so, Antonio Parlade Jr, Lorraine Badoy and their ilk of “spokespersons” and their “propaganda” war of “terrorist” mislabeling must be exposed—and frustrated—for its utter lies and dogged pursuit of a dirty war against the broad masses of the people.

After all, the reactionary “propaganda” is nothing but the ruling class(es) flinching over being described (with tons of evidences) as butchers, landgrabbers, exploiters, oppressors, puppets of foreign imperialists, corrupt, inutile (in the face of disasters, epidemics, people’s needs), human rights violators, among other heinous crimes. All these accurately describe what the ruling class(es) actually do. Not only the revolutionaries and supporters in urban areas and countryside say so, the criticisms reverberate even in other countries and international agencies. ###

DUTERTE’S SHOPAHOLIC ARMED FORCES STRIKES AGAIN: How ‘Kill Kill Kill’ misuses people’s funds then harms them

in Countercurrent

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PEACE HAWKS LIE, Here’s Why

in Editorial
by Pinky Ang

The on again off again peace negotiations—scuttled by the Duterte regime—can still be saved if the people correct and debunk all the misinformation being lobbed against it by the militarists, the peace spoilers, and hawkish officials of the Duterte regime.

The following so far are some of the plain truth and observable reality on the ground which peace spoilers try so hard to deny or, failing there, to vilify and demonize. Feel free to add.

THE PEOPLE’S DEMOCRATIC GOVERNMENT AND TERRITORIES IN GUERRILLA FRONTS EXIST

The guerrilla fronts have expanded to about a hundred amid the continuing intensified militarization topped by increased use of civilian bureaucracy for waging war against the people. The simplest response to government or militarist denial of the existence of the people’s democratic government is: if they don’t exist, why is the Philippine government bothering with costly militarization and this disgraceful (to them) disinformation campaign?

The people’s democratic government continues to advance land reform, revolutionary justice, defense of human and natural resources for national industrialization. The government of the Republic of the Philippines and its mercenary troops know and confirm this every time they present their faked or forced surrenderers (mostly civilian farmers or government soldier pretending to be a rebel); when they order local government to declare the Communist Party and the New People’s Army as persona non grata; or when they rail against revolutionary taxation or village militias flexing muscles to defend themselves.

The Duterte regime and the militarists precisely know the existence of guerrilla fronts and people’s democratic government as they vainly try to trap them in localized peace talks. They have long failed to appreciate that the rebels aren’t as corruptible as the AFP or PNP generals. Or that the revolutionary movement continues to expand despite or because of sufferings the military and the plunderers inflict on the people.

THE FILIPINO PEOPLE AND DUTERTE NEED THE PEACE NEGOTIATIONS THE MOST

The Duterte regime is now weighed down by the sheer amount of blood shed because of his dirty wars against the poor. Meanwhile, no amount of magic in official statistics can hide that the economy is not as good as it projects, and that the majority of the Filipinos are worse off.

Now in his lameduck years in Malacañang, Duterte can’t fail to notice that even his highest military subordinates (Hermogenes Esperon, Jr., Delfin Lorenzana, Eduardo Año, Carlito Galvez, and Filemon Santos, Jr.) have so publicly opposed his intent to resume peace negotiations between the GRP and the NDFP. Instead of addressing the roots of the armed conflict to ready the ground for peace, these military subordinates want to continue their military rampage, as well as the drive to place the government and society under military rule through Executive Order No. 70.

Unfortunately for Duterte, he is the commander-in-chief to be tried for his accountability to war crimes, and his regime is what’s on the line for history’s reckoning. His military subordinates, meanwhile, have rampaged and butchered up till their retirement from the AFP. Yet they still failed to bring down the revolutionaries through the years, through failed deadlines, under different presidents.

It doesn’t need rocket science to grasp that the Philippine government cannot win the war by military solution alone. The peace talks and the attempt to address the roots of armed conflict promise to do the job with better satisfaction from majority of the Filipinos.

THE FILIPINO PEOPLE DEMANDS SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC REFORMS

The way Duterte’s recycled generals and hawkish officials speak, you’d think the Filipinos live already in an industrial paradise, without social injustices, without worsening unemployment, low incomes and rampant poverty. Of course these exist only in their brags and baseless beliefs. The Philippine economy stands only propped up by a bloated unproductive services sector, overseas remittances, and debt. It begs for scraps from foreign investments who take away more from the country than what they bring in.
The country’s agriculture and industry have steadily declined no thanks to the past and present government’s neoliberal policies. The draft Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER), up for completion and approval in the negotiations between the GRP and the NDFP should the peace talks resume, seek to resolve these problems plaguing our productive sectors.

THE PEACE NEGOTIATIONS HAVE MADE UNPRECEDENTED PROGRESS BUT SPOILERS AND MILITARISTS ALWAYS SEEK TO SABOTAGE IT

The peace talks that started in 2016 have progressed in fleshing out the CASER, the meat of the peace negotiations. It used to exist as two different drafts of the negotiating panels. Before talks were halted in 2018, the four formal rounds of peace talks abroad and seven meetings in the Philippines had produced a common outline and substantial drafts on two of the most important sections of CASER: Agrarian Reform and Rural Development (ARRD) and National Industrialization and Economic Development (NIED). These two alone can give vast benefits for tens of millions of Filipinos and the cause of national development.

The peace talks give the public an opportunity to better understand CASER—and that is why the militarists seek to stop it at all cost. They will be thoroughly exposed not only as peace saboteurs but as agents of enemies of the Filipino people.

DRAFTS AND AGREED UPON RESULTS OF PEACE TALKS ARE PRODUCTS OF NEGOTIATIONS AND KEEN CONSULTATIONS WITH THE PEOPLE

Whatever common drafts have been mutually agreed upon and prepared by the negotiating parties and their working groups, these were discussed and to be approved by the NDFP and GRP negotiating panels. These are no secret nor unilateral impositions—things the militarists have been known of hatching up. With regard to the NDFP proposals, these are reflection not only of the people’s desire but of the developments in the guerrilla zones. The drafts were widely disseminated and still being disseminated and discussed in guerrilla zones; and also being updated as the years go by.

The common drafts on social and economic reforms also show that it is possible for the GRP and the NDFP to set aside ideological differences and unite on concrete steps for the common cause of real economic progress for the nation.

With the people’s resolve to push for just and lasting peace, the militarists and peace spoilers, who have failed so spectacularly at bringing about peace, will not succeed at sabotaging again the peace negotiations. ###

#ResumeTalks
#SignCASER
#JustPeace

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FAILING OPLANS: from Marcos to Duterte

in Editorial

Since 1981, when the Marcos dictatorship initiated Operational Plan (Oplan) Katatagan purportedly “to defend the state” (the besieged fascist regime) from the fast-growing New People’s Army (NPA), each succeeding administration has followed suit. This is understandable, since the planner-implementor of every Oplan has been the same military establishment habituated to martial-rule repressive action.The Oplans have had varying names. Yet all have been aimed at deterring the growth of or strategically defeating the NPA, to preserve the existing rotten ruling system.These were: Corazon C. Aquino’s Oplan Mamamayan and Oplan Lambat-Bitag I and II; Fidel Ramos’ Lambat-Bitag III and IV, and Oplans Makabayan and Balangay (which transitted into Joseph Estrada’s truncated presidency); Gloria Arroyo’s Oplan Bantay Laya I and II; Benigno Aquino III’s Oplan Bayanihan; and Rodrigo Duterte’s Oplan Kapayapaan and Oplan Kapanatagan.While each succeeding administration adopted its predecessor’s operational concepts, it added new ones. But all such operational concepts were, invariably, copied from the counterinsurgency guide of the US Army. Although these may have worked for some time in America’s wars of aggression and intervention in different parts of the world, over the long run they have failed to achieve their prime objective: decisive military victory.Instead, these American wars—practically wars against the peoples of the countries they invaded, starting with the Philippines at the turn of the 20th century—have left behind countless deaths mostly of civilians, including children; pervasive human rights violations; displacements en masse of the population; and massive destruction of socio-economic resources requiring decades to recover.Similarly, albeit in smaller scale, these have been the dire impacts of the successive counterinsurgency Oplans on our people—since Marcos’ time to the present—in the undefined arenas of war across the archipelago, mostly in the countrysides and hinterlands.The current Oplan Kapanatagan started as Oplan Kapayapaan in January 2017. The latter was also dubbed as the AFP Development Support and Security Plan 2017-2022, which the Armed Forces off the Philippines (AFP) described as an advance from Aquino III’s Oplan Bayanihan. It adopted the latter’s “whole-of-nation” or “people-centered” approach. Oplan Bayanihan, the AFP bragged, resulted in getting 71 of the 76 (out of 86) provinces deemed to be “insurgency affected” declared as “insurgency free” and “peaceful and ready for further development.”The change to Kapanatagan stemmed from the AFP’s assessment that Oplan Kapayapaan was failing to achieve its targeted goal to defeat the NPA midway of Duterte’s six-year term of office.When first announced by AFP chief Gen. Benjamin Madrigal before the May 2019 midterm elections, it was billed as the AFP-PNP Joint Campaign Plan “Kapanatagan” 2018-2022. Madrigal described it as a “medium-term broad plan that shall guide the AFP and Philippine National Police (PNP) in providing guidelines and delineation of authority while performing their mandated tasks to promote peace, ensure security, and support the overall development initiatives of the government towards inclusive growth.” It is anchored, he added, on the national strategic guidance defined in the National Vision, National Security Policy, Philippine Development Plan, National Peace and Development Agenda, and the 2018 Department of National Defence (DND) Guidance and Policy Thrusts.“The respective strategic thrusts of the AFP and PNP were thus harmonized in this Joint Campaign Plan “Kapanatagan” 2018-2022,” Madrigal said. He called it “a dynamic process to establish greater inter-operability in our continuing operations to address security concerns within our respective areas of concern, including all other productive endeavors wherein we join hands in support of national government initiatives as envisioned by President Rodrigo R. Duterte.”Specifically, Madrigal cited two “salient features” of Campaign Plan Kapanatagan: 1) The PNP shall support the AFP in combat operations involving the suppression of insurgency and other serious threats to national security; and 2) The PNP shall take the lead role in law-enforcement operations against criminal syndicates and private armed groups, with the active support of the AFP.”It was in the Cordillera region where the AFP and PNP first “rolled out” Oplan Kapanatagan, after the May midterm elections. Northern Luzon Command (Nolcom) chief Lt. Gen. Emmanuel Salamat then said: “Because of the effort of the AFP and PNP in preventing violence and any actions of the local terrorist groups in the Cordillera region, we assure that the AFP and PNP will continue to work together through Joint Kapanatagan Cordillera.”He emphasized that the AFP-PNP would carry out “joint actions and plans to ensure a more collaborative effort to address the peace and security concerns, especially in those geographic isolated areas” (the guerrilla zones) in Cordillera. He expressed hope that the local government units and other “partner agencies” would collaborate to ensure implementation of Executive Order 70 and the National Task Force to End the Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) it created, headed by Duterte.Gen. Salamat disclosed that at a “national convergence” meeting in Malacañang, all those working under NTF-ELCAC had put all efforts “to come up with a cluster of responses” on the different issues, including “issues that have been exploited by the local terrorist groups” so that the government can respond to them.And how has the government responded through NTF-ELCAC and Oplan Kapanatagan?Recently, the Cordillera People’s Democratic Front (CPDF-National Democratic Front of the Philippines) issued a primer on this two-in-one counterinsurgency plan, titled “Disturbance and Plunder by the State Against the People.” Among others, it points out the following:R(egional)TF-ELCAC Cordillera was formed in July 2019, followed by P(rovincial)TF-ELCAC Mt. Province in September. In the last three months of the year municipal-and barangay-level TFs are targeted to be formed.In September, Nolcom launched military operations in various parts of the Cordillera and Ilocos regions, side-by-side with these joint campaigns by the AFP and PNP: disinfomation, surveillance, psychological war (disseminating false information that the NPA had planted land mines in the mountain areas of Bauko, Tadian, and Sagada towns in Mt. Province); forcible entry into civilian homes purportedly to “collect” firearms kept for the NPA in the communities of Besao town; threat and pressure used on residents summoned to pulong masa to sign up on a memorandum of agreement with the AFP-PNP and a declaration of the CPP-NPA as “persona non grata”; holding seminars and symposia on Duterte’s “war on drugs”; and delivery of “services”, “relief and rehabilitation”, among others.The AFP-PNP also set up detachments within three communities of Besao and one in Sagada, in violation of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL). (In the National Capital Region, through Implan/Oplan Kalasag, the NCR version of Oplan Katatagan, the AFP-PNP tandem has also set up detachments in some communities in Caloocan City. Uniformed armed teams engage in red-tagging, harassment, intimidation, while others offer “livelihood programs” to identified leaders and members of progressive organizations).CPDF also says the implementation of Oplan Katatagan and NTF-ELCAC in the region aims to facilitate the entry of energy and mining projects by foreign-local joint ventures that threaten the ecology, and violate the Cordillera people’s right to their ancestral lands. It named the following: Bimaka Renewable Energy Devt. Corp., Hydroelectric Dev’t Corp., Chico River Pump Irrigation Project by China’s CAMC Engineering, Aragorn Power Energy Corp., and Cordillera Exploration Co. Inc.-Nickel Asia of Japan.In sum, CPDF denounces the two-in-one campaign as designed to “pacify and press the people to obey the dictates of the reactionary state.” It calls on the Cordillera people to assert their rights, oppose the campaign through various means, and expose the true intent of the campaign: to crush the just struggle of the oppressed masses.It’s useful to note that, in 1981 the Marcos dictatorship already employed thru Oplan Katatagan the full force of the AFP, the police and paramilitary forces, its “development agencies”, and some civilian organizations. Duterte’s Oplan Kapanatagan and NTF-ELCAC—backed up by extended martial law in Mindanao and state of national emergency in other areas of the country—can be correctly described as an “Enhanced Oplan Katatagan.” Note further: the Oplan failed—in 1986 the people ousted Marcos.#FightTyranny
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