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Martial Law

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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Learning from the Masses

in Mainstream
by Alexander Dipasupil

The masses are the makers of history. Learn from the masses. Trust and rely on them.

I first encountered these lines when I was a budding activist in the late 1960s. Further readings and study sessions with fellow activists, especially on victorious revolutions, reiterated and highlighted these and impressed it indelibly on my mind. Novel, agitating, and even romantic, it overturned and demolished traditional beliefs and long-held notions on the role of heroes. History, we were taught from grade school to college, is shaped by the ideas of brilliant thinkers and the exploits of extraordinary brave men and women—by heroes as well as by accidents of circumstances, fate, and (in Catholic textbooks) by acts of God.

When we read Prof. Jose Maria Sison’s Struggle for National Democracy (1968) and Philippine Society and Revolution (1970-71) these revolutionary concepts came into sharper focus and assumed a more concrete and recognizable form in the context of Philippine history and the events unfolding around us. Philippine society was then widely described as a “social volcano about to erupt.” It was in deep crises and seething in ferment. The Philippine Revolution, I realized, was no longer “just around the corner.” It was here-and-now.

The revolutionary ‘mass line’ thereby struck closer to our hearts. Like many in my generation of activists, I readily embraced it. From a neat and attractive theoretical abstract, it became a concrete challenge, an urgent call and a fundamental guide to action.

Our first task was to arouse, organize and mobilize the students and other youth in the University and other schools for the national democratic revolution. The efficacy and correctness of the mass line was validated by and demonstrated in the rapid expansion of students’, teachers’ and other sectoral mass organizations, taking off from each one’s specific interests and welfare concerns, linking these to other sectoral and class issues, especially the workers’ and peasants’, and raising these to national issues such as the worsening economic crisis, foreign intervention and the growing fascist repression.

Students and other youth made up the bulk of demonstrators in mass mobilizations and protest actions. We heeded the calls to integrate with workers in the picket lines and strikes, reinforce and join transport strikes against oil price hikes, and support peasants’ and sectoral issues. To the extent we were able to integrate with and learn from the masses, we were able to articulate the people’s aspirations, problems and demands and serve as propagandists for the national democratic revolution.

These culminated in massive protest actions such as the 1970 First Quarter Storm and the February 1971 Diliman Commune. Both advanced the national democratic agenda to the forefront of national attention and discourse as they banned the calls to overthrow imperialism, feudalism, and bureaucrat capitalism in a militant and dramatic manner.

More than being a protest action, the Diliman Commune turned out for me and many youth, professionals and workers, to be an unintended “dry run” or “dress rehearsal” of an organized defensive confrontation with armed state security forces. We barricaded the main campus thoroughfares and buildings in response to an imminent assault by the Constabulary Metropolitan Command (MetroCom) at the height of the oil price hike strikes. We acted swiftly and in an organized manner in setting up a system of defenses (including “anti-aircraft” fireworks positions and self-igniting molotov “bombs”) and logistics. Each “communard” displayed full initiative and remarkable creativity, ingenuity and calmness under real pressure and threat, while acting in coordination with others, as though everything was pre-planned and rehearsed. Engineering and science students promptly commandeered the university radio station (DZUP) increased its transmitting power tenfold and continuously broadcast the national democratic program, the PSR, and appeals for all kinds of support for the Commune.

Significantly, the entire Diliman community—students, faculty, administrative and non-academic personnel and residents—spontaneously and unequivocally rose up as one to resist and condemn the fascist attack and continuing threat. With a couple of hours, our ranks were reinforced by students from other schools, youth from other communities, workers from factories, and transport workers.

We failed and repelled the MetroCom’s repeated attempts from various directions to penetrate and dismantle our barricades. For nine days, we were able to “hold the fort” so to speak, with massive moral, financial and other material support pouring in daily from the public, including from far-flung provinces.

The Diliman Commune experience provided us vivid lessons on the importance—nay, indispensability—of mass support and participation in confronting, frustrating and repelling armed fascist attacks.

The growth and advance of the urban mass movement despite, or especially because of fascist repression encouraged and primed us for waging bigger and higher forms of struggle. Meanwhile, reports of victorious NPA ambushes and raids in the countryside inspired and challenged us further. As the threat of full-blown dictatorship loomed larger, we chanted on the streets: “What is our response to martial law?” “People’s war! People’s war! People’s war!” Internally, within our mass organizations, our paramount slogan was: “All to the Front!”

It was no big surprise then that when Marcos declared martial law in September 1972, thousands of activists, including myself went underground or fled to the countryside to join our workers comrades and peasant masses in waging resistance and people’s war. We abandoned our studies and professional careers, gave up our safe and comfortable lives and future. For me, the heaviest sacrifice then was neither the fear of arrest and detention nor death. It was rather the pain of separating from one’s family and the dreadful prospect of never seeing them again.

The day martial rule was announced, it was through the quick thinking and prompt action of friends and colleagues that I barely escaped arrest and detention. Without regard for their own and their families’ safety, they secretly transported and gave me refuge, from one home or farm to another.

When I had reconnected to the fledging underground, I was assigned tasks that required me to remain for a while in the urban areas, rather than be deployed immediately to the countryside. Though I knew the comrades I would be working with, I was dismayed to learn that most of them believed our security and capacity to perform our assigned task depended primarily on secrecy, compartmentalization, prudence and strict discipline. They were averse to building, broadening, and deepening a support network through mass work. Under martial law conditions, this would be risky and counterproductive, they argued, since we would be unduly exposed to people we could not properly evaluate and screen out and may prove unreliable and untrustworthy.

Concrete practice and reality would soon resolve the question decisively. Successive strings of raids and arrests forced us to repeatedly and hastily abandon our “safe houses” and shift to temporary refuge houses. We had no choice but to meet with and totally entrust our safety to comrades, allies, sympathizers, and various contacts who were hitherto total strangers. Their only “credentials” were their being referred to us (and vise-versa) as part of the underground revolutionary machinery or network. They in turn unquestioningly and without hesitation brought us and welcomed us into their homes (mostly lower petty bourgeois and urban poor) and other facilities in their network. We were as much strangers to them as they were to us. Resistance to fascist rule was the minimum ground for establishing mutual trust and cooperation. While trust was reciprocal, the risks and consequences were not. We activists in the underground could move out or shift to a safe location at the first sign of imminent danger. Our trusting hosts could not and would have had to face and suffer the dire consequences.

Thus the question was settled. Martial law conditions in fact made move imperative the building, expansion, and deepening of an underground mass support network. As our forces and network grew and advanced steadily, so did our capacity to perform our tasks improve and with greater security.

My years in the urban underground impressed on me further the need to trust the masses, rely on them, and learn from them. Survival, and our capacity to perform our tasks, depended largely and primarily on them.

Stronger, the countryside beckoned. What lessons and truths are to be learned from and with the peasant masses, especially in waging the highest form of struggle? It was not without some romanticism that I yearned for and looked forward to life and struggle with the peasant masses in the countryside.

When at long last I stepped into a guerrilla zone in the mid 1970s, I was greeted by group of red fighters and peasants huddled together sitting on their haunches in a semi-circle. The peasants looked me over from head to foot with knowing smiles, some shaking their heads, some nodding slowly.

“We can tell from your smooth complexion you are either a student or a young professional. You have the feet of a prince,” one of the peasants said after I had shaken their hands and introductions made.

I figured they were exaggerating or speaking metaphorically, and merely smiled and nodded back to acknowledge.

“You have a lot to learn about life here in the countryside,” chimed in another peasant.

Indeed, that was an understatement, and I had to learn the hard way for the most part. Thus the romanticism quickly wore off as I experienced the rigors and hardships of a still small and poorly-armed NPA propaganda team. (I was issued a homemade or imitation .22 caliber revolver commonly called paltik with five bullets with dents on their primers, indicating these had misfired previously). We had to constantly avoid enemy patrols, be alert to enemy informers and bad elements, and occasionally had to seek temporary refuge in a “physical base” inside the forest. But for most part, we enjoyed the warm and enthusiastic support of the masses, who served as our “eyes and ears” and welcomed us in their homes while they sought our assistance and advice on practically all problems they had.

Throughout, our peasant comrades in the militia, the peasant organizations, and the red fighters were my constant mentors. Nearly every aspect—not the least survival—of guerrilla life depended on the support of the peasant masses and their direct practical know-how: from distinguishing between edible and toxic fruits, leaves and barks in the forest, building makeshift shelters, planting and growing rice and other crops, forecasting weather to gathering information on enemy movements and improving weapons.

But it would be a decade later when I would encounter first-hand the political sharpness of a peasant revolutionary.

February 1986. I was with an NPA undersized company on its way to rendezvous with two other platoons at a staging area for a major tactical offensive. Our excitement, anticipation, and morale grew with each step toward the objective. It was amplified further with news over our transistor radios on the “People Power” uprising unfolding at EDSA.

Then came the announcement that Marcos had fled Malacañang with his family and all the loot they could carry. The hated fascist dictatorship had fallen! The people were victorious!

Euphoria soon died down with subsequent news reports and commentaries that with the Cory Aquino government taking over, democracy would be restored and peace will soon reign over the country. A ceasefire is in the works, leading to the disbandment of the NPA and other armed groups fighting the Marcos regime.

Not a few red fighter asked if these reports were true. Before reaching the next sitio and barrio center, Ka Erning, the company CO (commanding officer) convened the entire company for a political meeting.

“News reports and commentaries that the revolution and civil war are over are false. The reactionary state is intact; the ruling class remains in power. There has only been a change in which faction of the ruling class holds the reins of power. The NPA, led by the Party, shall continue to wage people’s war until the victory of the national democratic revolution,” Ka Mando, the Political Officer, explained. “It is important that we also make this clear to the people in the next sitio and barrio center we are approaching,” he added.

True enough as we reached the outskirts of the sitio, we were met by the barrio people led by the local militia, waving at us with more than the usual eagerness and excitement. We greeted them back, shook their hands and unslung our rifles, signifying we would stop over a half hour or so. Before we could utter another word, Ka Elias, the head of the militia asked, “Comrade, is it true, what we heard over the radio, that the revolution is over and that you comrades will all be going down to the poblacion (town center) and then home to your families?”

“No, those reports are not true,” Ka Erning replied.

There was a collective sigh of relief from the militia and other peasants gathered around us.

“Absolutely not true,” Ka Mando added. “But why do you ask?”

“Because if it’s true,” Ka Elias replied, “our only request is that you leave your weapons with us so that we can continue to fight and carry on the revolution. Because we do not believe our lives will change and improve now that Marcos has been overthrown and Cory will be the new President. Does she not herself come from one of the biggest landlord families?”

At this, one of the red fighters shouted, “Mabuhay ang Rebolusyon! (Long live the revolution!)”

The peasants raised their clenched fists and we raised our rifles as we all responded, “Mabuhay ang Rebolusyon!”

There was no need for any further explanations.

Six years later, and in a different region, another incident impressed upon me how much we of petty bourgeois origin, especially intellectuals, tend to underestimate both the political wisdom and revolutionary tenacity of the peasant masses.

The Party leadership had launched the Second Great Rectification Movement (SGRM) to address serious ideological, political, organizational, and military errors that had resulted in the loss of up to 40% of the revolutionary mass base nationwide.

I was with an undersized NPA squad with a couple of Party cadres passing through what is called a “recovery area”—a cluster of barrios once part of a consolidated guerrilla zone. Intense enemy pressure, coupled with weaknesses in Party leadership and the People’s Army’s mass organizing work led to the dissolution of local Party committees and mass organizations. The Party leadership and the NPA unit were forced to shift their area of operation.

It was late afternoon in January 1993. As we approached a group of peasants, we could sense mixed feelings in their facial expressions and body language. It was the first time in two or three years they were seeing armed red fighters out in the open. There was pleasant surprise, a trace of eagerness, and a hint of apprehension. Certainly, no sign of hostility.

As we shook hands with them, Ka Caloy, our team leader explained, “The entire Party and People’s Army has been undertaking a rectification movement, more comprehensive and thoroughgoing than our usual criticism-self-criticism sessions you and I have been accustomed to.”

Ka Caloy gave a broad outline of the major errors summed up in the SGRM, and started to cite concrete examples that local Party, People’s Army, and mass organizations had experienced or were familiar with.

Before he could proceed to a lengthier discussion, Ka Ruel, one of the local peasant leaders interrupted, “You have nothing to worry in so far as our commitment to the revolution is concerned. The Party is like a blacksmith forging and shaping a plough blade or a bolo. We the peasants are the iron and steel—the raw materials for the revolution. If, sometimes, the blacksmith would lose his focus or aim, goes cross-eyed or has poor eyesight, he would hit the iron or steel improperly or miss it entirely. But if he realizes his error and corrects his aim and strike, then the iron and steel can still be forged properly into a sharp and sturdy tool or weapon. We the peasant masses will always be here with and for the revolution. It is only the in the revolution and through it that we and our succeeding generations shall have a bright future.”

Fifty years have passed since I first read the lines. The masses are the makers of history. Learn from the masses. Trust and rely on them. I look forward to learning more from the masses and making history with them. ###

#ServeThePeople

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Duterte Wants to Grab Land Reform from the NPA

in Countercurrent

by PINKY ANG

On the 31st anniversary of the failed Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) last August, President Rodrigo Duterte spewed lies against the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New Peoples’ Army (NPA). Preening before the media while giving out Certificates of Land Ownership Award (CLOA), he boasted he would finish the CPP-NPA-led revolution.

But this put-on picture—Duterte distributing CLOA < click >, Duterte tough-talking on Hacienda Luisita < click >, Duterte feigning concern for the future generation caught in the armed conflict < click >, Duterte promising land reform alongside crushing the 50-year people’s war < click, click >—is phony and old (he isn’t the first president to pose for it). It also defies logic and history.

Save for a fleeting period when he was talking peace with the communists, Duterte has done nothing but the opposite of land reform and national industrialization.

On the verge of signing with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) what would have been a landmark agreement to redistribute land for free all over the country, he scuttled the talks in 2017. Since then, he has made no bones in taking the well-worn path of his most despotic predecessors in Malacañang.

No Philippine president in history has truly implemented land reform nor attempted to jumpstart national industrialization spurred by a genuine land reform program. On the contrary, their so-called land reform programs sought only to placate the masses even as land remained in the hands of a few. From the bitter experiences of peasants, every land reform program by the Government of the Philippines had more loopholes than grounds to actually distribute land. And even when some eventually got distributed, it somehow got back soon enough to landlords.

Duterte merely continued the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program begun under former Corazon Aquino. Despite decades and a succession of presidents and CARP extensions, it is still far from attaining 100-percent distribution of its already narrowed target. Under Duterte, distribution is at the slowest, poorest pace.

DAR records show that the Duterte administration, in its first three years in office, was able to distribute to farmer-beneficiaries only 91,776 hectares of agricultural landholdings. That’s an average of 30,592 hectares a year. His land acquisition and distribution (LAD) pace was only 8% of that of the Fidel Ramos administration in its first three years. Ramos was top performer among the previous presidents.

Here are the comparative LAD accomplishments of Duterte’s predecessors in the first half of their terms:

  • Corazon Cojuangco Aquino: distributed 452,074 hectares from 1988 to 1990, or 150,691 hectares a year;
  • Ramos: distributed 1,113,019 hectares from 1992 t0 1994, an average of 371,006 hectares annually;
  • Joseph Estrada: distributed 379,905 from 1998 to 2000, or 126,635 yearly;
  • Gloria Arroyo: distributed 313,778 hectares from 2001 to 2003, averaging 104,593 hectares per year;
  • B.S. Aquino III: distributed 320,916 hectares from 2010 to 2012, or 106,972 hectares each year.

Data: Dept. of Agrarian Reform land distribution accomplishment in 2016 to June 2019 is 2,920 hectares on average per month under Duterte,

less than the July 2010 to 2015 monthly average of 8,254 has. reported by DAR under Noynoy Aquino;
9,407 has. under Arroyo in January 2001 to June 2010,
and 11,113 has. monthly average under Estrada.

There is a raging armed revolution in the Philippines because peasants and the basic masses, including sections of the middle class and local small capitalists, thirst for land reform. They yearn for the greater prosperity of industrialization that genuine land reform will naturally stimulate, and for the assured just distribution and sustainability of this prosperity because of the socialist perspective of the national democratic revolution being waged by the CPP-NPA-NDFP.

Over the years, the masses especially the poor peasants have been supporting and joining the NPA because they have seen in its programs and its achievements the solutions to feudal and imperialist oppression. This is the movement that truly promises and will deliver thoroughgoing change for the better.

Duterte is striking a very wrong stance with his CLOA distribution and counterrevolutionary war cries. His threat to crush the people’s democratic revolution is a threat to derail developments in actual land reform being implemented by the peasant-based NPA. It’s a threat as well to delay the country’s national industrialization. This is not acceptable to the Filipino masses who continue to suffer a life of misery under the landlord-comprador and imperialist puppet presidents including Duterte.

Another president who posed with CLOAs amid counterrevolutionary war cries was Joseph Estrada. In Bondoc Peninsula, after a series of successful NPA tactical offensives there 20 years ago, he vowed to crush the revolution movement. He became the second president to be ousted through the people’s peaceful direct action.

“WHOLE OF NATION” AS MARTIAL LAW UNDERCOVER?

By this time, as commander-in-chief, Duterte has already issued one too many orders— declaring and thrice extending martial law in the whole of Mindanao; declaring a state of emergency to quell “lawless violence” and issuing Memo 32 to deploy more troops in Samar, Negros island and Bicol; utilizing the so-called “whole-of-nation” approach that harnesses the entire government (national and local) plus civil society organizations in a bid to end the 50-year armed conflict. Clearly though, his actions contradict his boasts against the CPP, which his government shrilly tries to demonize and misrepresent as a puny force being deserted by droves of supposed surrenderers.

But, like the failed land reform program, Duterte’s “whole-of-nation” approach is just another war plan his predecessors have long applied and failed on. It is like the wolf appropriating the voice of the innocent so it can freely enter homes to devour and kill.

Duterte is turning the entire government bureaucracy including civilian sectors into a counter-revolutionary surveillance and black propaganda factory. Its services are being deployed to feed into the coercive military and police troops cracking down on legal democratic mass organizations, and their allies here and abroad. While this government is raining bombs and lies, it is restraining flow of information about the revolutionary movement. It is banning media interviews and coverage of revolutionary groups.

Duterte is trying to revive the monsters of Marcos’s martial law, but not quite succeeding at muzzling the freedom of association and freedom of the press. He goes all-out with K-12 miseducation that’s washing off traces of patriotism and prompts for critical thinking among the youth. All the while he is pushing for military partnership with schools to abet surveillance and intimidation of critical students and teachers.

PR-labeling all these as “whole-of-nation approach,” Duterte dreams about finishing off the CPP-led revolution but only through a one-sided, reality-defying, blood-drenched misrepresentation of life on the ground.

For this brutal fantasy, his office wants to double its intelligence budget to P4.5 billion in 2020, or bloat it to half as big as the total budget of the Office of the President. His minions in Congress seek to add more teeth to the anti-terror law they euphemistically call as Human Security Act. His regime and the US government have agreed to locate a regional training center for combating insurgency and “terrorism” in Cavite. The military consistently receives from the US technical and intelligence support, training and equipment for countering the revolutionary groups.

Yet, amid the Duterte regime’s one-sided diatribes against the CPP-NPA, some truths still inadvertently emerge. Some from his own big mouth. Duterte himself can’t deny the public support for the communist revolutionaries.

After all, he wooed the Filipino voters into electing him president by cultivating appearances of being friendly to the CPP- NPA. His campaign ploy has confirmed that candidates gain popularity by calling themselves “leftist” or “socialist”; by promising peace talks with the communists; and by taking up issues articulated by or identified with the Left. For example, the call to assert Philippine sovereignty in the West Philippine Sea vis-à-vis China’s aggressive intrusion into and grabbing of maritime areas within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zones.

Past presidents and presidential candidates publicly pretended to ignore the existence of revolutionary mass bases in the countryside, even when they were impelled to engage in peace talks. They fumed whenever “security concerns” delayed their visits to some locales, when candidates can’t simply enter guerrilla zones. They evaded disclosing the fears expressed by multinational corporations over another government operating clandestinely in the Philippines, which, unlike the reactionary government, calls them to task for their plunder and rights violations.

Perhaps Duterte, who claims to know a lot about the revolutionaries, panicked after he realized that the neocolonial institution he leads wouldn’t tolerate his slight deviation from the usual conduct of puppet presidents. Or, perhaps as a true neocolonial leader of landlord and comprador class (albeit with lesser money in his hands?) he panicked at his first-hand confirmation of the depth and breadth of the Left’s mass support.

Whatever, even when he was firmly following the tradition of imperialist puppetry of those who got to become temporary residents of Malacañang, he still inadvertently slips up, revealing in his ramblings the good things the CPP-NPA have been doing. For example, land reform.

But it would be political suicide for Duterte, or for any local government executive and for the AFP, to say outright that he is against land reform. To “win hearts and minds” and bar more people from supporting the revolutionaries, Duterte and his cohorts have to put deceiving masks to their war plans.

NPA: THE TRUE ARMY OF THE PEOPLE PUSHING FOR GENUINE LAND REFORM

The NPA is largely a peasant army. Its support and troops mainly come from the poor peasants who comprise about 70 percent of the Philippine society. As the army of the revolutionary people led by the CPP, the NPA is waging a revolution against the imperialist stranglehold on Philippine society. It aims to end this stranglehold by dismantling the puppet government that orchestrates and secures it to benefit the landlords and compradors. In the process, the NPA, under CPP leadership, is resolving with ever growing number of people the roots of poverty, landlessness, feudal exploitation, agricultural backwardness and the stunting of industrial development.

Ever since the CPP-NPA-NDFP began waging an armed revolutionary war, it has been pushing for genuine land reform. It is deriving greater strength the more it works to organize and help peasant communities undertake land reform.

The NPA is not just a military force. It is arousing, organizing, and mobilizing the masses. It is starting and helping the peasants into organizing and running the Pambansang Katipunan ng mga Magsasaka or PKM (National Peasants Association), and other revolutionary mass organizations based in rural communities.

These organizations conduct campaigns for land reform suited to their capacities. The more masses organized into revolutionary groups the more they could undertake land reform and enjoy its fruits. The more they cherish and bolster the NPA underpinning their successes.

A PKM leader correctly said recently, as the national democratic revolution advances, the PKM shall be able to give more lands to poor peasants. Lands confiscated from landlords and agri-business corporations are given to beneficiaries free of amortization. The CPP-NPA also punishes the most despotic landlords.

Contrast this to the misery of intensifying feudal and semi-feudal exploitation, and one sees the futility of discouraging the masses from supporting the NPA. In time, their level of organization and experience approaches the building of bigger and bolder organs of political power in communities. This may start small with humble benefits, but as a PKM leader said, it is enough for PKM chapters to withstand the hardships and tragedies of counterrevolutionary wars.

In revolution they have hope. And having tasted its benefits even from the early stage of strategic defensive of the protracted people’s war, they would not easily be swayed by phony pictures and declarations.

Thanks to the NPA, the country’s peasants have had a taste of what it’s like to be in a truly democratic government—at least, the local underground government they are building up every day, campaigns after campaigns for land reform. What it’s like to govern themselves, to elect tried-and-tested leaders among themselves, to work the farm sustainably, to share and enjoy its fruits among themselves and not let it become the sole entitlement of landlords, to help plan and execute appropriate farming techniques and technology.

The organized peasants are also doing their share in thwarting the imposition of imperialist-led “reforms” and programs.

The NPA has functioned to truly harness the power of the people in working collectively for each other’s economic and political gains.

“The comrades in the NPA are helping us come up with policies and guidelines in the land distribution, especially on who should be prioritized—those landless and those who lack lands to till,” said Ka Iling, a peasant leader who participated in a local agrarian revolution conference in 2017 held at a guerilla front in the north. It was a joint project of local members of the CPP, the NPA, and the various revolutionary mass organizations in the area.

All over the country, PKM and other collectives of revolutionary groups, without fanfare, have tackled problems of landlessness, conducted land occupation, palit-tanim (changing crops) to have something to eat even as they are forced to plant cash crops. They have struggled to reduce land rent and usurious rates. They have formed cooperatives to work the land more efficiently, buy their needs, and sell their produce lessening the dominance of traders-landlords-usurers.

Almost a million PKM members have benefited from the CPP and the NPA’s maximum agrarian reform program: more than 44,000 hectares of land have been confiscated and redistributed all over the country. Millions of others have benefitted from the campaigns for lower land rent, lower borrowing interest rates, just share in proceeds of harvest, increased farm gate prices, and eliminating traders’ trickery when farmers’ produce are weighed and priced.

Their support services include training and workshops on organic farming, construction of mini dams for free irrigation, installation of hydroelectric and solar or wind-powered turbines for post-harvest drying or processing, among others.

All these and its further development are what are at stake in the counter-revolutionary war waged by the Duterte administration.

THE COMMUNIST REVOLUTION ON A WINNING PATH

Farmers call Duterte a hypocrite for pretending to care about the future generation while doing his best to kill their best prospects today.

He was quoted as telling the CPP-NPA, “We cannot go on this way. We have been fighting for 53 years. Maawa kayo sa susunod (Have mercy on the) coming generation.”

If he was indeed a man of mercy, he could have helped signal the end of armed fighting early into his term. When he terminated the peace negotiations in 2017, the two sides were on the cusp of signing an agreement prompting the Philippine government to implement a genuine land reform.

A clearly-defined mutually coordinated ceasefire would have followed.

As such, even before the massacres occurred in the hacienda land of Negros, or before the killings of peasants all over the country have reached a staggering number of victims (more than 200 as of August 2019 since he became president), the Duterte government could have halted the fighting. For the first time in history, it could have led to the neocolonial government helping resolve the peasant demands which are at the root of the prolonged armed conflict.

Instead, Duterte only confirmed the correctness of the people’s war as means to dismantle the neocolonial government by armed force. His regime has acted true to form in deploying more troops against the peasant-based NPA fighters. Duterte himself acted true to form like the other neocolonial leaders before him. He vowed to sell to highest bidders the fertile lands being defended by the peasants with their very lives.

His agricultural secretary accused the farmers doing bungkalan for survival that they have no rights to the land they should have owned already. He has also been approving with alacrity the appeals of landlords to defeat the farmers’ demands for land distribution. This includes the lands in Hacienda Luisita already ordered for distribution by the Supreme Court.

Duterte admits that “it’s not only about gaining a foothold in those areas,” referring to hotbeds of revolution like Negros, for example. In Sagay City where peasants awaiting CLOAs were massacred by paramilitary troops in October 2018, farmers have been forced to leave and go hungry as troops continue arriving to secure the landlords’ “lawful” ownership. How could the Duterte administration think they could win over these farmers?

Duterte himself admits it is not enough to just bring soldiers to guard the land. “Kunin mo na ang initiative sa komunista (Take the initiative from the communists). What they’re parlaying is land. Eh di unahan na natin. Bigay na natin [ang lupa] (Then let’s move ahead of them. Let’s distribute the land already).”

From the puppet leader who has repeatedly uttered lies and shamelessly admitted to uttering lies, the only true thing he revealed here is that the initiative on land reform is with the communists.

Ever since, the puppet government bowing to imperialist masters has only been reacting to the peasants’ demands for land with bogus land reform programs. The imperialists profit so much from dumping their surplus agricultural products here, while pushing their manufactured products, too. As long as the domestic industries are pushed back and stunted, they have a captive market. The landlord and comprador classes, meanwhile, win big in corruption, buy-and-sell profits, fat contracts and commissions. But the masses grow poorer and hungrier by the day.

Four years ago before Duterte, the poorest 50 percent or 11.4 million Filipino families subsisted on just P15,000 or less per month (P500 or less per day for a family of six). After tax and price hikes amid the lowest wage grants and the worst job generation in the post-Marcos period, the people are definitely worse off today under Duterte. Meanwhile, thanks to his economic policies, the net worth of the country’s richest and the profits of the largest corporations have ballooned.

“Crisis generates resistance,” as CPP founding chairman Jose Maria Sison titled one of his recent books. The peasantry had launched uprisings and died in bigger numbers before, without the communists to guide them. Now that they have tasted agrarian victories and glimpsed the best future in advancing the national democratic revolution, with socialist perspective, they have hope and will not likely give up on that.

Duterte’s “whole-of-nation” mantra for what he strains to approximate as martial law stands no chance. His human rights record already stinks with blood and many have recoiled from it, even the ordinary people in other countries.
His publicly paid troops who perform services for the landlords, oppress the peasants and the indigenous peoples, will continue to earn the people’s ire and mistrust. Duterte’s minions can conveniently dismiss their war crimes as “shit happens” and “collateral damage”. Before the media, Duterte can shed tears when his troops suffer defeat in legitimate combats with the New People’s Army.

They will keep on getting what they deserve from the people’s army, if they don’t stop standing in the way of genuine land reform, democracy and real prosperity for the majority of the people. #

#PeasantMonth
#ServeThePeople
#JoinTheNPA

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ANOTHER ARREST, ANOTHER OBSTACLE TO PEACE Release Esterlita Suaybaguio!

in Statements

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines Negotiating Panel condemns the illegal arrest and detention of Esterlita Suaybaguio, consultant of the NDFP in the peace negotiations with the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP). Suaybaguio’s arrest is another obstacle to the peace talks which the Duterte regime wants to bury.

Suaybaguio is covered by the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) with Document of Identification (DI) Number ND 978447 as second consultant for Mindanao. A copy of her DI is deposited in the safety deposit box under the name of Archbishop Joris A.O.L. Vercammen.

The Duterte regime remains on a fascist rampage that adds more and more obstacles to the resumption of the peace negotiations with the NDFP.

Since the unilateral termination of the talks in November 23, 2017, a number of NDFP personnel, including consultants Vic Ladlad, Adel Silva and Rey Casambre, have been rounded up and continue to be imprisoned based on trumped up criminal charges. The Duterte regime’s violations of previous agreements such as The Hague Joint Declaration and the JASIG show its contempt for the aspirations of the Filipino people to achieve a just and lasting peace.

Instead of creating the conditions to enable the resumption of the negotiations, the Duterte regime has unleashed fascist attacks all over the country, especially in Mindanao under martial law as well as in Negros, Bicol and Samar under de facto martial law. To date, Duterte’s Executive Order No. 70 has resulted in the murder of over a hundred activists from different sectors in Negros.

The “anti-insurgency” campaign of the Duterte regime continues to wreak havoc to the human rights of the Filipino people. Duterte’s Proclamation 374 designating the CPP-NPA as so-called terrorist organizations is also used to tag critics of the Duterte regime and social activists as “terrorists” and justify the most brutal attacks against civilians and whole communities marked as bases of the revolutionary movement.

Instead of promoting just peace, the Duterte regime and its military even send psywar and spy teams in schools and communities and even abroad to muddle the facts about the peace talks, sow disinformation on activist organizations and NGOs, and hide the widespread extrajudicial killings and rampant human rights violations in the country.

The NDFP Negotiating Panel calls for the immediate release of Suaybaguio and the dropping of false charges against her, as well as the scores of other detained NDFP consultants and personnel. The intensifying acts of terror manifest the scheme of the Duterte regime to impose fascist dictatorship on the Filipino Nation. ###

REFERENCE:

Fidel Agcaoili, Chairperson
NDFP Negotiating Panel
August 26, 2019

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