Reli L. German: Peace — not terrorism, not war
It looks like our country will have to put up with more intensified atrocities of the New People’s Army (NPA). This, after President Durterte issued Proclamation 360 which formally terminated the peace negotiations with the communist rebel group. Days earlier, he had categorized the NPA as a terrorist organization.
Duterte made the move after the NPA’s continuing attacks and ambushes on military and police stations and personnel, the latest of which resulted in the killing of a four-month old infant. He had also been receiving reports about the burning and destruction of equipment, facilities, machineries and processing plants of mining companies and agricultural plantations that refuse to pay revolutionary tax.
Actually, the terrorist tag only reinstates the classification as a terrorist group that the government lifted in 2011 during the term of former President Noynoy Aquino. The fact is that the NPA had been officially listed as a terror organization by the U.S. State Department since 2002 and by the European Union since 2015.
Whether the communists admit it or not, many Filipinos do not really understand what it is that they’re fighting for. They want to replace our democratic way of life with the communist system despite the fact that communism has now been abandoned by many of the countries that had earlier embraced its ideology.
This is what led to the total collapse in 1991 of the once formidable Union of Soviet Socialist Republic (USSR) that served as the bastion of communist ideology in the world. Except for Russia, all the other 14 member countries of the USSR had renounced communism as a way of life. Even the communist military alliance in Eastern Europe, the Warsaw Pact, has since disintegrated, with most of them becoming members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the military alliance of countries belonging to the West.
Clearly, Philippine communists have lost their ideological moorings. The impression now is that they’re fighting mainly for the billions of revolutionary taxes they collect annually. As far as we know, there are now only five countries subscribing to the communist cause. These are Russia, China, Vietnam, North Korea and Cuba. But even the first three have now adopted capitalist practices in running their economy.
Here in our country, the communists have been trying to impose communism for some seven decades now. The ideology was first introduced in 1930 by Crisanto Evangelista who formed the Partido Komunista Ng Pilipinas (PKP). It first organized an armed group in 1942 as an anti-Japanese guerrilla force known as the Hukbo ng Bayan Laban sa Hapon (Hukbalahap) or Huks for short. Its earlier leaders included Casto Alejandrino, Jesus Lava and Luis Taruc who later became its Supremo.
After the war, it evolved into the Hukbong Magpapalaya sa Bayan (HMB) or People’s Liberation Army, waging rebellion against and battling oppressive practices of exploitative landlords. At its peak, the Huks numbered some 26,000 fighters and enjoyed the support of some two million peasants and farmers.
Its decline started after the charismatic Ramon Magsaysay, a former guerrilla leader, became Secretary of Defense and later the country’s third postwar President. Magsaysay had captured members of the Communist Political Bureau (Politburo) in Manila and this was followed by the arrest of key members of its Secretariat. Taruc surrendered to the government in 1954 through the intercession of the journalist and later Senator Benigno Ninoy. Taruc was later sentenced to 12 years in prison.
The communist rebels went into some form of hibernation but resurrected later in 1969 as the New People’s Army under the leadership of Bernabe Buscayno who was better known as Kumander Dante. The NPA then fell under the umbrella group of the National Democratic Front, operated under the aegis of NDF-CPP-NPA.
At this point, with an estimated strength of just 3,800 their best bet to help improve the lives of our people is to wage peace, not war