Ipagtagumpay ang pambansa demokratikong rebolusyon!
Ipagtagumpay ang pambansa demokratikong rebolusyon!
Immediately after the World Health Organization declared the Covid-19 pandemic, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) directed the fighters of the New People’s Army to “step up efforts to render social, economic, medical, and public health services to the people.”
On March 26-April, 2020, the CPP also declared a ceasefire as a response to the call of UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres for “a global ceasefire between warring parties for the common purpose of fighting the Covid-19 pandemic.”
The Party and the people’s army mobilized the organs of political power and the revolutionary mass organizations affiliated with the National Democratic Front nationwide to conduct information campaign on Covid-19 virus and to implement social services and community actions “to respond comprehensively and extensively to the threat of the virus.”
NPA units worked with local people’s health committees, carried out mass campaigns, and enhanced the long-time practice of collective action. Providing services to the masses is among the functions of the NPA and the organs of political power in the guerrilla fronts which, expectedly, the reactionary government refused to acknowledge up to now.
The various services put to good use the contributions of friends and allies, and revolutionary taxes—shaming the reactionary government’s trillions of annual budget and trillions more of loans spent to run its war machine and line the bureaucrats’ pockets.
The NPA is not only a fighting unit but also engages in agrarian revolution and mass base building—which continue even during pandemic and under attacks by the enemy forces. Base building for the NPA includes organizing, production work, cultural activities, and health care trainings and services, among others. It works with the local Party organization and revolutionary mass organizations in the communities to set up health committees or medical groups. Even before the pandemic, NPA units and local branches of the Party held clinics for the masses, conducting check up for high blood pressure, diabetes, cough and common colds, dental services, and minor operations. Alternative treatments were used such as acupuncture and herbal remedies.
The tyrannical regime of Duterte prevented the NPA from carrying out its duty to provide assistance to the people in the revolutionary areas to overcome the Covid-19 crisis. It violated its own ceasefire. It attacked communities and went on a shopping spree for fighter jets, attack helicopters, drones, tanks, bombs and other military equipment—a huge amount of money that was better spent on mass testing and strengthening the health system.
On April 23, 2020, for example, the 20th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army attacked a unit of the NPA in Eastern Visayas which was conducting information campaign on Covid-19, at a time when a ceasefire was still in place. “It is inhumane and cruel in that it impeded the assistance that could have been provided by the NPA and is much needed by the masses deeply affected by the current public health and economic crises,” said the Efren Martires Command in a statement.
Aside from bombings and shelling, illegal arrests and detention of suspected members and supporters of the NPA, food blockades, and coercing the people to “surrender” to the government, the AFP sabotaged and discredited the efforts of the Party, the people’s army, and the mass organizations’ campaign on public health, sanitation, and food production. This was no different from what the legal mass movement in urban centers experienced in conducting humanitarian and relief missions in urban poor and peasant communities.
But neither the intensified and sustained attacks against the revolutionary movement nor the limited resources on-hand hindered the efforts of the NPA. The masses warmly welcomed the Party and the NPA’s leadership, and with them, they planned and instituted measures to prevent the spread of the disease and ensure the steady supply of food in the communities and prevent hunger.
Here are some of their cooperative efforts gathered from the various Ang Bayan news stories:
The health committees of the revolutionary mass organizations actively engaged in information campaign on Covid-19—distributing leaflets, education sessions, meetings, and trainings. In Bicol, the people’s army and members of organizations used cultural forms such as plays, dances, and songs to discuss the health situation and how to avoid contracting the virus. These were performed during medical trainings, mass clinics, and meetings.
The NPA in Central Negros under the Leonardo Panaligan Command provided medical services to at least 1,000 farmers during the first lockdown in March 2020. The Red Army, organized check-ups and provided vitamins and herbal medicines for fever, cough, and colds. They were assisted by members of the barrio health committee, Makibaka and Kabataang Makabayan, underground organizations of women and youth, respectively.
The NPA in Surigao del Sur under the Northeast Mindanao Regional Operational Command focused its efforts on agriculture and health programs such as sanitation, mass clinics, and planting of herbs for medicine. It actively organized education activities on how to prevent the transmission of Covid-19 and manage those affected.
The NPA in Samar and the revolutionary mass organizations held health orientation seminars, trainings on the use of acupuncture and herbal medicine, and prepared health protocols in 17 barrios. They identified possible facilities for quarantine in case someone is infected by the virus. Also, part of their plan was to create herbal gardens and plant food crops.
The people’s army also launched basic medical training among members of the four units of the NPA, barrio health committees, and members of the Pambansang Kalipunan ng mga Magsasaka (PKM, revolutionary organization of peasants). The newly trained medics later held a mass clinic where they checked-up more than 400 residents in four barrios. In the base areas, the NPA led in maintaining sanitation, making and wearing of face masks, and in practicing physical distancing during gatherings.
The Medardo Arce Command in Southern Mindanao assisted all organs of political power and revolutionary organizations to respond to the health crisis. They launched information and health and sanitation campaigns; and drew up preventive measures which were implemented in the communities. Because the NPA unit also operates in suburban communities near Davao City, the people’s army included in its protocols the timely monitoring and immediate reporting of Covid-19 infection in the communities. Health workers were on standby for urgent consultations and referrals.
In a barangay in Quezon Province, a unit of the people’s army conducted sanitation and education campaign on Covid-19. They held mass clinics to check-up on the masses and provide basic medical services and helped in planting vegetables and root crops. While in the barrio, they also taught the children of farmers how to use the internet and cellphones for their online classes and tutored them in their lessons.
The lockdown restricted the farmers in going to their farms, selling their produce, and in buying their food supply. Aware of the reactionary government’s almost nil assistance to the people, the CPP directed its forces to “carry out emergency food production and intensify economic work in revolutionary territories,” on top of providing medical assistance. Aside from mobilizing its forces and the masses, the Party also urged the landlords to let the peasants use the land for food production without rent, extend financial assistance, and allow access to other farm facilities owned by the landlords.
The NPA units and the local organs of political power held economic conferences to appraise the needs of the masses and plan for immediate and increased food production such as planting of palay, bananas, corn, vegetables, and root crops. In Surigao they launch a campaign for mountain farming in areas with available spaces.
To meet the challenge of the pandemic, the revolutionaries enhanced their cooperative endeavors that have long been a practice in guerrilla fronts. They particularly boosted cooperative activities impacting on food supply of the people
In Bicol, the NPA and the farmers consolidated their grutul (mutual aid groups in production) to plant fast-growing crops for their consumption. Local party branches also provided emergency relief packs to immediately address hunger in the communities. The PKM also conducted a feeding program. During these activities, leaflets on Covid-19 were also distributed.
In Southern Mindanao, units under the Merardo Arce Command launched food production campaign to ensure food security in guerrilla bases and zones while advancing the agrarian revolution in areas they can reach. The capacity and leadership of the revolutionary forces in Southern Mindanao have been proven especially in the rehabilitation and reconstruction of communities after the super-typhoon Pablo hit the region.
All the regions cited were among the most militarized regions in the country, where the bulk of the AFP units are concentrated in the Duterte regime’s attempt to meet its own over-extended deadline to neutralize the revolutionary movement. On top of responding to the challenges of the pandemic, the CPP has called on the NPA to “heighten the military struggle against the fascist and tyrannical regime.” It is through this that the revolutionary mass base can be defended and the tasks of building the organs of the political power can advance in the countryside.###
In truth, it was never what she expected.
After five years in the New People’s Army (NPA), Ka Nina, who was a youth activist, admitted a lot of her earlier perception of what a Red fighter is had changed.
For one, she thought Red fighters don’t know how to laugh, “Akala ko laging seryoso. Laging politika ang inilalabas ng bibig. Di marunong tumawa. Kaya laking gulat ko pagpasok ko dito sa sonang gerilya dito sa aming rehiyon (in Bicol) napakakwela pala ng mga kasama (I thought they were always serious, unsmiling, and talking only about politics. So I was surprised they were a cheery bunch when I came to the guerrilla zone here in Bicol),” she commented. They laugh at the littlest of things—when a dog that passes by, while practicing new songs, the pronouncements of Pres. Duterte. It must be “because we know we always face a life and death situation. That brings us closer and builds our rapport and camaraderie,” Ka Nina explained.
Ka Nina’s life in the NPA was far from the image she once held about the red fighters. Even as an activist she had no idea what kind of life they lived. Curiously, Ka Nina found her way into a guerrilla zone. And she stayed on. “Perhaps it was also because as a student activist, I saw the brutality of the state—in rallies, in picket lines,” she added.
Half a decade in the people’s army, Ka Nina’s integration with the masses sustained her even as she misses her family and friends. “Mayaman kasi sa mass work ang Hukbo. ‘Yun ang isa sa pinakamahalagang salik kung paano namin napapangibabawan yung mga sakrispisyo, mga hirap, mga pisikal na pagod,” she narrated. Sharing stories with the masses erases their tiredness. “Kahit na wala ka pang kain buong araw. (Even if we haven’t eaten the whole day).”
We do a great deal of mass work. That must be one factor why we are able to overcome sacrifices, hardships and physical difficulties.
She was bursting with stories on her life with the masses. Asked to give a highlight, she begged, “pwede pong dalawa? (May I share two?).”
The first story she loved to tell and retell was when she was still new in the NPA. “Nag-ikot kami sa bahaging coastal area. Tapos yung masa doon talagang hirap sila sa pananim. Sabi nila, wala daw tumutubo doon sa lupa nila. Hirap din sila sa tubig tapos wala rin silang mga ipantatanim (As we went around the coastal community we saw the difficulties of the masses to grow plants. Nothing grows on the land. They have no fresh water and they don’t have anything to plant),” she related. Through the efforts of the comrades and the organized masses, they were able to solicit cassava cuttings and distributed these to the community members for planting. “They were so euphoric. They hugged us. That was great. It was satisfying to have done something for the masses,” Ka Nina exclaimed as she relived the moment.
The second story was when their unit had an encounter with the military. Two comrades fell, recalled Ka Nina. The masses went with them to retrieve the remains of the comrades. “It was a long walk, it was raining, and worse, we had to pass through enemy lines.” When the community members got to the place, they immediately tended to the remains of the comrades, like their own. “Bagamat malungkot ang pangalawang halimbawa na binigay ko, isa po ‘yun sa pinakamatingkad na karanasan ko kung gaano kamahal ng mga masa ang mga kasama, (The story may be sad but I just wanted to show how the masses love the comrades),” Ka Nina noted.
Like the masses, Ka Nina’s collective carried her through hard times. “When you feel weary and weak because you miss your family, the collective is there to guide you, help you, listen to how you feel.” She said all their concerns are discussed in the collective. “Lahat ng bagay dito sa Hukbo—problema mo sa pagkain, sa pagdumi, kalungkutan— napag-uusapan, nabubutbot po yung mga ganun tapos nagagawan ng solusyon. (We discuss everything in the collective—food, poop, loneliness. We dissect and find solution to everything).”
It has also never been a problem that she is a woman. “Totoo na may pantay na pagtingin sa kababaihan dito sa loob ng rebong kilusan.
It is true. Women in the revolutionary movement are treated equally and fairly.
In her five years with the NPA, or even when she was still an activist, she claimed she has not experienced discrimination.
She admitted though that this is not true for all the masses they meet and so they have to reorient the masses on this. The same goes for the new recruits in the NPA. But the new recruits, Ka Nina said, immediately get it, citing “We are together 24/7, death is always upon us, we could encounter the enemy anytime” as possible reasons.
“Ang sabi nga ng mga kasama dapat laging maging handa, babae ka man o lalaki kasi di namimili ang punglo. Babae ka o lalaki, tatamaan ka niyan. Sa pagpapaputok ng baril, di mo kailangan macho ka o sobrang lakas mo. Babae ka o lalaki, o anuman ang kasarian mo, ang kailangan mo ay ang kapasyahang iputok ang baril. Kalabitin ang gatilyo. (A comrade said we should be prepared, always. It doesn’t matter if you are male or female because bullets don’t discriminate. One need not be macho or tough. Whether you are male, female, or whatever is the gender preference, the most important is the will to fire the gun., to pull the trigger.)”
As the CPP and the NPA celebrate its 50th year, Ka Nina recognized the contributions of the revolutionary movement to Philippine society—from understanding its nature to instituting meaningful changes while advancing the people’s war. “In the last five decades we have proven we can rise above all challenges because what we are fighting for is just and right.”
She sees a bright future ahead with the kind of unity among the people’s army, the masses, and the Party members. There was obviously pride and elation as Ka Nina takes part in the celebration, “Masarap sa pakiramdam kasi umabot yung henerasyon namin sa ika-50 anibersaryo. Napakasarap sa pakiramdam. (I feel joyful because our generation is part of the 50th anniversary.)”
As the conversation closed, Ka Nina cracked her third highlight without a prompt: “Tapos, yung simple po na pagtawag nila lagi sa amin na kasama o Kas, o anak, ganyan po ang tawag nila sa amin. Samantalang dun sa kabila ay kaaway. Ang sarap sa pakiramdam. Talagang tama ‘tong ipinaglalaban natin.
When the masses call us comrade, or Kas [short for kasama, also comrade], or my child while they call the reactionaries as the enemy, that makes us feel good. We know that what we are fighting for is right.
*Quote from Benito Tiamzon on his June 2014 interview
VISIT and FOLLOW
Not less than 43 soldiers and police is the recorded casualty in three tactical offensive by the New People’s Army under Mt. Cansermon Command (MCC) in Negros since June 22- July 18.
Last June 22, a unit of MCC – NPA conducted a sniping operation which resulted to 3 casualties on the side of the 94th IBPA in the hinterlands of Sitio Bulo, Brgy. Bantolinao, Manjuyod, Negros Oriental. The soldiers killed are part of the team securing the area for the medical mission sponsored by Police Regional Office 7(PRO 7).
While conducting combat and clearing operation, the joint force of 94th IBPA and 704th Regional Mobile force Batallion we’re ambushed through the use of command detonated explosives (CDX) and exchange of firefight in Sitio Cambugtong, Brgy. Bantolinao, Manjuyod, Negros Oriental. More than 20 recorded casualty on the fascist reactionary side. To save face, only 1dead and 2 wounded was reported to the public.
Meanwhile last July 2, a unit of MCC-NPA foiled the raid attempt of 11th IBPA in Sitio Small Samac, Brgy. Nalundan, Bindoy, Negros Oriental. The unit of MCC-NPA launched a counter offensive and positioned for ambush. The gunfight ensued for an hour which resulted to 10 dead and 6 wounded on the side of the military. No casualty on the NPA side and the unit successfully maneuvered outside the enemies encirclement with the guidance of guerilla tactic’s in warfare.
On othér news, four police killed in an ambush in Sitio Yamot, Brgy. Mabato, Ayungon, Negros Oriental. Aided by a substantive Intel report the enemies plan to conduct another record round of oplan sauron was deferred. Confiscated from their possession are 4 canik 9mm pistol, 9 magazines and 135 ammunition, and a list of names of their targets.
The series of successful tactical offensive was conducted by MCC-NPA to need the call for justice for the victims of extra judicial killings especially for the innocent victim’s of Oplan Sauron 1 and 2.
Oplan Sauron or Synchronized Enhanced Management of Police Operations (SEMPO) is the current fascist move of the Duterte régime to brutally attack the people of Negros. It is characterized by surprise and synchronized attack of target locations; planned arrest or killing of targets. Since its inception last December 2018, it already claimed 21 victims killed and almost 100 illegally arrested on false charges. it has also resulted in forced evacuation and destruction of crops and livelihood of the people.