Monday, March 30, 2009


The New People's Army (NPA) - armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), which has been waging an insurgency war in the Philippine countryside - turned 40 last Sunday. Despite decades of waging war against government forces in the hinterlands, however, it is doubtful if the CPP and NPA would ever take power in the Philippines.

If there was a moment in our history that the revolutionary movement could have taken power, it was during the Marcos era where repression and iron-clad totalitarianism ruled the country. History tells us that revolutions - whether bloody or peaceful - find opportune moment and achieve great success whenever the people suffer great oppression in the hands of the government. The moment of success was especially ripe during the EDSA uprising, but the CPP and NPA were nowhere to be found. They failed to galvanize the masses into action and take over the reins of power.

It may be argued that had the NPA taken action, the country would have been plunged in bloody civil war. But is this not supposed to be the ultimate objective of an armed revolutionary movement? To seize power through violent means? Truth is, the NPA - and the revolutionary movement in general - is still ill-equipped and lacking in mass support to morph into an offensive force that can threaten the government out of power like the Sandinistas of Nicaragua that overthrew Anastacio Somoza in 1979 or Fidel Castro's revolutionary movement that ousted the dictatorial government of Fulgencio Batista from power in 1959.

The Filipinos, as a people, are still not keen on the idea of a communist take over of our country. To be sure, there are still extrajudicial killings of activists and opposition leaders attributed to certain government elements and corruption in the government is still massive, but these still do not rise to a level as rampant and flagrant under the Marcos regime that provided the receipe for a rebellion. Not yet at least.

But even if they do - which I hope not - the communist revolutionary movement will still find it difficult to make relevance to a population that will surely find mainstream leaders who will make them rise up against an oppressive government, short of waging a bloody revolution. And even when armed struggle becomes an option, the one that will find support will be coming from the right rather than from the left; by revolutionary leaders and soldiers in the military establishment. Our history clearly shows the military has been a decisive force in regime changes.

That is only the political aspect. On the military aspect, the old communist strategy of a protracted war that starts in the countryside then gradually spilling into the centers of power does not appear to be working for the CPP-NPA. Our experiences in regime change show that immediate take over of the centers of power appear to be the most efficacious means of effecting a take over of the government and consequently the country. For this to work, however, a massive force and firepower is required. Obviously, the CPP-NPA is still not ready for this type of military operation. Not only will it find it difficult to generate mass support for the reasons already mentioned, but it will be overwhelmed by a strong military opposition. The communist rebels are still not capable of engaging the military in a face-to-face confrontation, reason why after several years in the moutains they are still waging a guerilla warfare.

As an indication of its outmoded propaganda strategy that all the more makes it irrelevant to the country's political landscape, the CPP's congratulatory message to the NPA contained the following misleading statement: "The new chieftain of US imperialism [Barack] Obama has followed the path of [George W.] Bush in endorsing the brutal military policy of the Arroyo regime by justifying it as antiterrorism."

With his hands tied between two wars that is draining the US economy and testing the patience of Americans - not to mention the gargantuan economic problems facing the US - US President Obama could care less what President Arroyo's military policy is. Obama did not even give her as much as a greeting or a smile when she recently visited Washington, D.C. And during US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton's Asian tour, which is a reaffirmation of US interest in the Pacific region, the Philippines was not even important enough to be within her itinerary. With the pull out of US military bases from our country, we have become far off the radar of the US; its interest in our country now is nothing more than ensuring that we do not become a breeding ground for terrorists. Clearly, the communist movement is running out of ideas to shore up its waning insurgency campaign.

By failing to capture the seat of power in the darkest days of our history, it would even be more difficult now for the CPP-NPA to generate mass support and achieve its revolutionary objectives. Its armed cadres will be but roving patrols in the countryside who may occassionally see action in chance encounters with the military, but with no real chance of taking over the reigns of power in the country.

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