Tag archive

democracy

Vibrant Democracy Thrives in the People’s Army

in Mainstream

by Vida Gracias and Pat Gambao

Soon after breakfast they started moving into a makeshift schoolhouse on a hillside surrounded by lush vegetation. The sun was shining brightly and the weather was cool. Most of them were young, in their late teens, early 20s and 30s, largely local men and women making up a company of Red fighters somewhere in a guerrilla front in Eastern Visayas.

Casually, with their rifles at hand, they sat on long, tiered bamboo benches, bantering, smiling, some were quiet, others in deep conversation. Soon all eyes were glued to the blackboard as the Red commander finished sketching vicinity maps, with arrows pointing at target structures, entrance and exit points. Silence hovered when the commander, in his forties and apparently a veteran of many battles, turned to face his audience.

The meeting was called to discuss three simultaneous raids to be executed in a day or two. The objectives were to disarm the local police station, warn the despotic town mayor of his abuses and confiscate his firearms right inside his home, and punish a certified informer with blood debts to several victims.

Before laying out the plans, the commander cited the political objectives. He didn’t seem like a commander at all, never flaunting authority or arrogance. Much like a teacher and moderator, he invited his audience to comment on the plan, examine the tactics and details, look for loopholes, alter, adjust, modify. What followed was a lively discussion, with voices resonating, never drowning out those who raised questions or clarifications, seriously listening to the pros and cons. In the middle of the interchanges, jokes would be thrown in and laughter would erupt, until unity was attained.

Then the meeting focused on the most crucial task. The commander did not select who should go in each assault team — he asked for volunteers. And without any prodding, several arms were raised. Everyone knew death could await him/her more than any other, but that seemed like the least of their concerns. How so easily one can offer his life in the service of the people is the mark of a true guerrilla of the New People’s Army (NPA).

The NPA commander was wise about not getting stuck in his own ideas. Instead, he produced results acceptable to all by rousing his troops to suggest how to attack and capture enemy positions and how to fulfill their tasks. Mutual instructions came off fluidly between officers and soldiers and also among the soldiers themselves.

On the day of the raid the entire camp was busy. It seemed like everybody was descending into town to attend a fiesta—except that each Red fighter had baon—a slice of chicken and boiled rice wrapped in banana leaves, prepared by the kitchen staff well before dawn. Days before, clothes and even shoes were washed and dried; firearms were cleaned, polished and examined; and backpacks were sorted out. The women tied their hairs and the men combed theirs. Although the water supply was a bit low as the streams had been drying up, the Red fighters took their baths or simply washed their faces and brushed their teeth. Everyone looked neat and fresh before they began to trek down to the village.
Later in the day the three teams carried out their tactical offensives, swiftly and efficiently. Not a single shot was fired, not one casualty on the side of the Red fighters.

Covered by the dark night, and with high spirits, they went back to the camp, anticipating another round of meeting and lively discussions to assess their strengths and weaknesses in carrying the tactical offensives (TO). Everyone was eager to tell his or her story. No single person would claim credit for the victory as each one had a part in achieving it.

This practice of military democracy, under the centralized leadership of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), is replicated many times over in various regions of the country where units of the NPA operate. Meetings have become “second skin” to red fighters in arriving at collective decisions and collective actions. Victory is invariably achieved via a democratic movement. Hence, anyone who has seen the NPA in action up close can verily debunk the “terrorist” images painted by the reactionary state about the people’s army. Likewise, all the Operational Plans (OPlans) hatched up by successive regime and the Armed Forces of the Philipines (AFP) over the decades, in collaboration with American imperialists, have failed miserably as the people’s army frustrated them all and thus advanced the people’s war.

Democratic Centralism

Democracy thrives in the NPA, guided by the principle of democratic centralism whereby policies and decisions by central leadership correspond to the needs and aspirations of the broad masses. Under the system, the interest of the whole takes primacy over the interest of the parts, the minority is subordinate to the majority and the lower level to the higher level. Through training, commanders and fighters grasp the relationship between democracy and centralism and how democratic centralism is put into practice.

Democracy is attained through the firm grasp and understanding of the cadres and fighters of the principles, policies and line of the national democratic revolution through free and deep discussions among them.

Democracy is manifested in the abolition of feudal practices in the army such as highhandedness and arrogance of officers towards their men, docility of the troops and acquiescence to orders without questioning. Instead, camaraderie prevails in the Red army as officers and men share the problems and difficulties, the passion in their tasks and the joy of fulfilment of their service to the people. It is democracy that enables them to endure and triumph over travails.

The management of the limited resources of the NPA—equipment, supplies and funds—is a collective responsibility. The unit members assist the leadership.

Discipline in the NPA

Democracy strengthens discipline and combat effectiveness. For an army to be hailed by the people as capable of defeating the superior enemy must have a high sense of discipline. This galvanizes the unity among commanders and Red fighters and between the Red army and the people. Thus, the NPA has in its heart and mind the Three Main Rules of Discipline and the Eight Points of Attention, a legacy from Chairman Mao Zedong and the victorious Chinese Communist Revolution.

The Three Main Rules of Discipline are:

  • (1) Obey orders in all your actions;

  • (2) Do not take a single needle or piece of thread from the masses;

  • (3) Turn in everything captured.

The Eight Points of Attention are:

  • (1) Speak politely;
  • (2) Pay fairly for what you buy;
  • (3) Return everything you borrow;
  • (4) Pay for anything you damage;
  • (5) Do not hit or swear at people;
  • (6) Do not damage crops;
  • (7) Do not take liberties with women;
  • (8) Do not ill-treat captives.

The Three Main Rules of Discipline and Eight Points of Attention also serve as the NPA’s guide in the treatment of Prisoners of War (POW). Unlike in the reactionary armed forces, the revolutionary forces fully respect human rights and adhere to the principles of humanitarian law. Contrary to the image created by the reactionary state’s propaganda machine, the people’s court in the guerrilla fronts is no “kangaroo court.” The people’s court abides by a judicial system that observes a “judicious procedure: investigation, indictment, hearings, sentencing, pardon and release.”

Well-rounded Fighting Force

The revolutionary cause that the New People’s Army (NPA) is fighting for—the interests of the broad toiling masses, their social emancipation and national liberation from US imperialism and the local exploiting classes—strengthens its resolve to be the epitome of unflinching self-sacrifice, courage, discipline and democracy. With this resolve and as it deeply immerses in the bosom of the masses, the NPA under the absolute leadership of the CPP has become an invincible force to contend against.

Communists advocate peace, just peace, and the “abolition of war.” But the US-supported local big bourgeois comprador and landlord class keep a ferocious reactionary army to perpetuate their hold on power and continue to exploit and suppress the struggling masses. Acknowledging the lessons of history, the truth that “political power grows of the barrel of the gun” the NPA, composed largely of the peasantry, takes up the gun and wages a revolutionary war to seize power, smash the reactionary state, and create a sovereign democratic republic of the people. However, ever conscious that politics commands the gun and not the other way around, the Party leads the army and ensures that it is not just a fighting force but an edifice of revolutionary strength and power of the people.

Under the Party leadership, the NPA has a fundamental task to push forward the armed struggle, carry out agrarian revolution, and build the revolution’s mass base. Closely linked with the masses, it organizes and rouses them as well as helps them in economic production, and in building the organs of political power.

The practice of democracy in the New People’s Army is essential to its consolidation and development. Democracy in the New People’s Army has steeled unity, fortified discipline and fired up a potent force that will sustain the protracted people’s war until victory.###

#PeasantMonth
#ServeThePeople
#JoinTheNPA

—–
VISIT and FOLLOW
Website: https://liberation.ndfp.org
Facebook: https://fb.com/liberationphilippines
Twitter: https://twitter.com/liberationph
Instagram: https://instagram.com/liberation_ph

Have we got the government we deserved?

in Editorial

The midterm elections of 2019 have come and passed, as in previous ones, tainted with doubts over the results and assumptions of machinations by those in power.

As cynically expected, the Duterte regime emerged “victorious”. Almost all of its candidates were declared winners, with its most loyal vassals – the omnipresent presidential assistant Bong Go and the comedian former Philipppine National Police (PNP) Director Ronald ‘Bato’ de la Rosa – making it to the top-6 circle in the senatorial race.

Now the President has got the supermajority in the Senate, aided by the comebacking election of scions of political dynasties, the daughter of a deposed dictator, a known plunderer, and a celebrity wannabe.

The opposition Liberal Party has been crippled, as the Otso Diretso senatorial slate did not win a single seat. And progressive candidate Neri Colmenares – who notably consistently engaged the administration on timely and popularly-supported issues throughout the campaign period – saw his votes in the 2016 elections shaved by 1.7 million votes. “Duterte magic?” asked a skeptical election analyst.

Having retained a clear majority in the House of Representatives, Duterte has openly dictated a term-sharing scheme for the Speakership in the 17th Congress: the first 15 months on the rostrum for Representative Alan Peter Cayetano of Taguig, and the remaining 21 months for Representative Lord Velasco of Marinduque. Before this arrangement, Duterte’s son Paulo (elected Davao City congressman) and daughter Sara (reelected Davao City mayor) unabashedly displayed their own power-tripping by forming a “Duterte Coalition” in the House to back up comebacking Davao City Representative Isidro Ungab for Speaker.

The sole positive aspect of this election was the tenacity and resiliency with which the progressive partylists belonging to the Makabayan Coalition defiantly withstood and prevailed against the sustained, vicious, nationwide attacks and deceptions used against them by the military-bureacratic machine of the Duterte regime.

To a considerable extent, the voters rejected the regime’s open campaign of “zero votes for the Makabayan partylists,” aimed at dislodging the progressives from their congressional seats held since 2001. Bayan Muna won the three maximum seats allowed by the law, while Gabriela Women’s Party, Act Teachers, and Kabataan Party won a seat each. Only Anakpawis fell short in attaining the number of votes for one seat. The Makabayan bloc, the real consistent opposition in the House, remains intact.

The state machinery was slyly at work before, during, and after the elections. Its most brutal attacks were aimed at progressive candidates and partylists – ranging from killings, arrests and trumped-up charges, harassments and threats, to interminable red-tagging. Brazenly disregarding the clear prohibition by the Constitution, the PNP and the Armed Forces of the Philippines openly engaged in electioneering, campaigning against the progressives even on election day. Vote buying was more massive and rampant than ever. And the much-assailed automated election system (AES), used for the fourth time, recorded the worst incidences of malfunctions that appeared to have been intentional, not accidental (as one IT expert remarked).

Nevertheless, the elections are over and as the winners claim, “The people have spoken.”

Really?

WHAT FALLACY

The elections are meant to be a democratic exercise. The exercise is said to be a great equalizer – rich or poor, everyone is entitled to only one vote. But that is the fallacy of the ballot-box equality. In a class society like the Philippines, the machinery of the state is lodged in the hands of a few, of the rich and the powerful. The great majority is, in reality, represented only in name in these processes and has no real say in the turnout of the elections.

In truth, elections only make it possible for the ruling class to use democratic institutions in furthering their own interests. They have the economic, political, and armed means to use power practically at their whim. This is no democracy at all.

The much-touted “free, fair and honest elections” aphorism is an illusion. Practically anyone who is of age and has the mental capacity can run for public office, but only the moneyed elite can successfully run a campaign, or simply resort to vote buying. The people can choose their representatives, but again only from among the moneyed and the elite. Even if asked to vote wisely, many people are bribed, fooled, hoodwinked, cheated, or forced to vote even for the most undesirable of their oppressors. People want a peaceful election, but threats, intimidation, and violence abound.

When Otso Diretso lost to Duterte, some sectors started calling the voters “bobotante”. The system, not the people, is the culprit. Elections in a semifeudal and semicolonial society are a hoax and fraud is a common occurrence.
Democratic laws and institutions are ample in this Republic claiming to be a democratic state – but only in form, not for real. Human rights are enshrined in the Constitution but state officials are the first to violate, dismiss or disregard the laws. Duterte is a prime example. There are three branches of government for check and balance. But the ruling regime regards all the key posts within the president’s appointing authority as juicy positions to reward its loyalists and supporters.

The minority rules and the majority suffer. That is the meaning of democracy in a semifeudal and semicolonial country.

Despite this rude reality, it is important for the people to participate in the elections as a way to experience and develop their consciousness about how rotten the system is, and what fundamental changes need to be done. The elections become a training ground for the development of revolutionary consciousness. It makes people realize that democracy is lip-service and that the voice of the people can be suppressed or manipulated at any time.

Even elected officials whom the people may initially have felt were true to their promises can turn out to be corrupt, or worse, to be tyrants as in the case of Duterte. The ancient Greeks invented the term tyrant to mean agents of the people who became dictators.

In some cases, progressives and reformers are able to gain power or concessions but only in a limited or temporary sense, and as generally defined, may be tolerated or allowed by the ruling system. Again, this is more an exception than the rule; and exceptions do not make the rule. Once the ruling regime unleashes its full terror, there is no more room for democratic pretensions and all arenas for open people’s participation are deemed closed.

PURSUING DEMOCRACY

Be that as it may, the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, under the leadership of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), has even more reason to pursue democracy not just in form but in substance. Its significance – the rule of the majority – is aimed not just in politics but more so in the economic sphere.

In the Philippine context, this means liberating the most numerous, yet also the most oppressed, class – specifically the farmers and agricultural workers who comprise 70% of the population – from oppression and exploitation by a privileged minority.

Hence to stand its ground democracy must be rooted in the economy, which means satisfying the demand for land reform of the landless majority. This means addressing their economic and social problems to effect changes in their class position in Philippine society. This means liberating the country’s productive forces to define their own existence towards justice and prosperity. For too long, widespread landlessness has engendered gross poverty and inequality not just for the peasantry but also for other oppressed classes.

Hence in waging the people’s democratic revolution, the struggle for land takes precedence over all other demands of the people. This is basically an agrarian war. The peasants, in alliance with the working class, have to wrest control of the land from the ruling elite as a means to end poverty and inequality. This is a struggle that may be bloody, because the most reactionary class, the landlords, will not take this sitting down when their land monopoly is challenged, or private property is subdivided and distributed among the tillers of the land.

In due time, as the revolution advances the will of the majority shall find expression not just in the economy but in politics as well. One who holds economic power wields political power. Hence the dominant position of the great majority must be secured for the flowering of true democracy.

Revolutionaries are aware that the quest for democracy does not stop with the victory of the bourgeois-democratic revolution but shall be carried on to the next stage, the socialist revolution. Ultimately the working class becomes the majority of the population, and the dominant class as well. The leadership of this class will find expression in a proletarian state until such time that the people can govern their own lives with no more need for classes or states.

As Lenin put it, it is not the bourgeoisie but the proletariat who can make democracy happen.

True enough, in the Philippines and through the leadership of the proletarian party, the CPP, changes are becoming more visible in many guerrilla fronts in the country.

Emboldened by the revolution, the peasants in the countryside are not just taking up arms to fight for their rights; they are building their own organizations and setting up organs of political power. Elections are called in a truly free, fair and honest manner; the ballot is treated as sacred; representatives are selected from their own ranks and are subject to recall when they err.

Group meetings, mass assemblies, education sessions, deliberations, consultations have become as common as farming. The people are involved in governance as well as in policy-making. Even matters related to production is no longer just an individual or family decision but is addressed by the entire community.

Once the majority of the people gains the power over their own lives – that will be democracy. And that is what the ruling class fears most: an awakened citizenry schooled in the ways of democracy.#

—–
VISIT and FOLLOW
Website: https://liberation.ndfp.org
Facebook: https://fb.com/liberationphilippines
Twitter: https://twitter.com/liberationph
Instagram: https://instagram.com/liberation_ph

Go to Top