ONE REASON for the survival of the communist insurgency is that there are those, like many ex-activist University of the Philippines and Ateneo teachers now in their senior years, who naively believe that the violent organization behind it is doing something right: effectively putting pressure on the elites to reform the country’s social structure. Thus, they refuse to join, and even condemn, President Rodrigo Duterte’s war against this blood-thirsty insurgency.
They should think through the only three possible scenarios involving this armed challenge to our democratic way of life, and realize how ignorant and foolish such a stance is.
One scenario, the least unlikely is that the New People’s Army would be at par with the Armed Forces of the Philippines in terms of military strength. Using the term plagiarized from Mao Zedong by the megalomaniac Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Ma. Sison to fool young idealists into joining his mad revolution, this would be the revolution’s stage of “strategic stalemate,” which comes after the strategic-defensive stage and before the strategic offensive.
But what is the reality behind Sison’s romanticization of the stages of revolution?
In the Vietnam war that ended in 1975, estimates of the casualties of the Communist North’s revolutionary armed struggle, in which the United States backed the South, stand at 3.5 million Vietnamese combatants and civilians from both sides.
C’mon, whatever utopia Sison promises, it will be at the cost of at least 3.5 million Filipino lives in the revolutionary war — using the Vietnam casualties to estimate it.
Wars, of course, involve civilian casualties outside of actual combat, due to hunger, disease and the overall disruption of the economy that would worsen poverty Sison’s “revolutionary war,” therefore, could even cost the lives of at least 10 million Filipinos. I don’t have any doubt that Sison and his inner circle’s mindset is that of the Cambodian Khmer Rouge leaders — especially Pol Pot — responsible for the genocide of 1. 7 urban Cambodians he believed could not be “reformed.”
I don’t think those who sympathize with the communist movement, thinking it is for some noble cause, have ever appreciated the full implications of the communist insurgency.
If you need images of what the communists’ romanticized “armed struggle” would result in, think of the ongoing civil war in Syria (population 20 million), which would look like a skirmish, compared with the bloodbath that would occur if ever the New People’s Army manages to “encircle the cities,” as Mao and Sison described the strategic offensive of a “people’s war.”
But that scenario could occur only in Sison’s sick mind. He is so deluded to think that the NPA in this day and age would win and topple the Philippine Republic. With our decades of democracy and with most Filipinos being Catholic, they would wage such a ferocious war against the NPA that would rival the Russian and Chinese revolutions in horror. We have already seen glimpses of such gruesomeness in the 1970s, when bands of purportedly Christian — mostly Ilonggo armed groups — showed no mercy in attacking Muslim secessionists, and in the 1980s, when the Alsa Masa executed NPAs and their supporters in Davao City.
Sison and his gang are trapped in the past. When he founded the CPP and the NPA in the late 1960s, there was a “revolutionary flow” of sorts in Latin America and in Indo-China, with even the youth mesmerized into rebellion by such images of heroes such as Che Guevarra and Ho Chi Minh. The Latin American insurgencies, though, were wiped out, while the Vietnamese revolution won because it had the most necessary ingredient for victory: a physical base — North Vietnam — where the revolutionaries could take refuge.
The Philippine Communists do not have such a refuge. China, which supported the North Vietnamese, had long abandoned Mao’s dream of fomenting communist revolution all over the world. The communists also grew because they managed to fool Filipinos that the one-man Marcos rule was a fascist regime and that they were democratic forces Filipinos should support. There is no longer a Marcos type of one-man rule, and there will never be again.
Does Sison think that the world — even China and Russia, and especially our neighbors in the region — would idly watch a communist force take over the Philippines, which would make the entire region so unstable and volatile that it would even disrupt, not just the regional, but the world economy?
The second scenario is really what has been happening since President Corazon Aquino’s regime and the Yellows saw the communists as allies, just because they were vehemently anti-Marcos.
With the communists’ influence over media since the movement’s birth in the country (with journalists like Satur Ocampo and the late Antonio Zumel their early recruits), presidents since Aquino have believed their lie that they wanted peace, as long as the reforms they had been aiming for were undertaken and their demand for some power in government was granted. Thus, they had been enthusiastic in undertaking peace talks while they revived their NPA units, which the military had routed.
And so the sad situation of the armed insurgent group of at most 4,000 rebels — miniscule compared with the 350,000 men of the country’s armed forces and police — moving around in the hinterlands, mostly in the poorest regions in Mindanao, occasionally routed by the military, is such that these remnants survive only because of the support of media and their cadres posing as democratic representatives in Congress through the party-list system.
Once in a while, of course, the NPA would attack remote military and police outposts and assassinate political leaders who do not cooperate with them, so that Sison could portray it as a significant force with whom the government has to talk peace. As any cult with determined leaders does, it manages to fool and recruit the most gullible and angst-filled students, hallucinating that they would be noble revolutionaries who would kill and die for what is really a lost cause.
And so the Philippines remains as the only nation in Asia with a communist insurgency, which, even if it is too small to be able to topple the Republic, pulls down our country’s image, as one politically unstable, with peace and order beyond its control.
The third scenario would happen if the government bit the bullet, and with the nation rallying behind it, finally obliterated the communist insurgency with all the military and political forces it could mobilize. Duterte seems to have decided for this scenario.
However, it still remains to be seen whether he would really unleash the full might of the military against the communists, on a scale that former President Joseph Estrada did against the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in 2000, which made the Islamic insurgency sue for peace.
If Duterte chooses that option, this anachronistic insurgency, after half a century, guided by a megalomaniac, fast-becoming senile man living in the Netherlands and led by equally aging revolutionaries trapped in their 1970s mindsets, will be defeated, and the country will start enjoying an era of peace.
It is high time for every Filipino to choose: Scenario One that would result in at least 10 million Filipinos killed in a useless civil war; Scenario Two, which would make the insurgency fester in the nation’s body like boils, pulling down the Philippines; or Scenario Three, which would seem to be a hard choice, but really, if you really, really think about it, is our only alternative.
Facebook: Rigoberto Tiglao
(This article was originally published with The Manila Times on January 4, 2019)