Sunday, January 2, 2011

Revolutionary taxes and peace talks

Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose “Joma” Sison insists that it is the right of the CPP to impose and collect revolutionary taxes from businesses if it were to continue its operations, fund social programs and undertake other activities for purposes beneficial to the people. He made this assertion in the wake of government’s plan to include this as an agenda in the impending peace talks between the government and the National Democratic Front – CPP’s political arm.

Everyone knows, of course, that taxes are the lifeblood of a country, since it is these sources of revenue that fund the existence and operation of the government. And it is no secret that such pronouncement of Joma Sison is meant nothing more than a political soundbite to bolster his party’s position that it should be accorded a sort of sovereign status in dealing with the government . . . I mean the de jure or legally existing government. Let’s not forget Sison also asserts that the CPP is a revolutionary government, hence should equally be given the right to impose and collect taxes as an attribute of sovereignty.

In reality, these revolutionary taxes are meant to sustain the CPP’s insurgency operations against the government, with the goal of overthrowing and taking over the country. Wars are expensive ventures as they entail the use of arms, ammunitions, artilleries and sustenance of soldiers – which do not come free. So who is Sison kidding by saying that revolutionary taxes fund social programs in the countryside, such as land reform and projects beneficial to the people? If the CPP were to continue existing, not only must it keep its ideology intact, but it must also have sufficient logistics in waging battles against government forces.

The government, on the other hand, knows fully well – as does the CPP – that poorly equipped and starving revolutionaries do not make for a successful insurgency. So government negotiators must be dreaming in trying to secure a concession from the NDF that the CPP discontinue exacting revolutionary taxes. This is but empty posturing as well.

I may sound cynical, but to my mind these peace talks will go nowhere in achieving each party’s position: the CPP wants a country run along its ideological line – from governance to economic policies – and the government wants a country free of an insurgency problem. Honestly, how many among the well-entrenched elite who runs the country, let alone the multitude of Christian Filipinos, who are willing to embrace a new way of life and become card bearing communist party members? Will the CPP lay down its arms for less than an ideological victory?

I dare say that the ideological battle being waged by the CPP has become anachronistic in this age of democracy and modernity. The dream of a revolutionary take-over of the country’s seat of power by rebels converging in the metropolis from the countryside – like the Sandinista take-over of Nicaragua or of Cuba by Fidel Castro- has long become . . . but a dream. The only real place that Maoists can occupy or share in the halls of power is for them to go mainstream, as left wing groups do in European parliaments.

As for the government, it should focus more attention in making the people’s lives better if it were to substantially, if not completely stamp out, the insurgency – something, to be sure, it has known a long time ago, but for reasons only known to it has consistently failed to do so. I believe counter-insurgency experts call it “nation-building” – that wins people’s hearts and minds.

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