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.
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.
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. ###