Over the past few days, Duterte has repeatedly proclaimed that the New People’s Army will be “decimated” by the second quarter of 2019. Aping their chief, top officials of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) have declared they are on the “right track” to meeting this objective.
Indeed, these are a bold proclamations considering that Duterte and the AFP are just set to be frustrated in their declaration last year that the NPA will be crushed before the end of 2018. With this new declaration, one is prompted to ask: Is Duterte and his AFP officials willing to stake their offices if they are again frustrated in their aims by the middle of 2019?
So-called “surrenderees” are victims of AFP intimidation and coercion
AFP officials fool only themselves and Duterte when they claim that there are now more than 4,000 “NPA surrenderees.” After being exposed as hoaxers for making stupendous claims of NPA “surrenderees” surpassing their earlier claims of 3,700 NPA members, AFP officials now acknowledge and clarify that these are, in fact, “supporters” and not regular fighters of the NPA.
It is widely reported, however, that so-called surrenderees are actually ordinary civilians–peasants and minorities–who have been intimidated and coerced by the AFP to “clear their names” under pain of being subjected to endless harassment and threats of liquidation. Many of them were simply enticed to join assemblies by local officials promising to distribute grocery items, only to find out later in the media that they were presented as surrendered members of the NPA.
The AFP proudly claims of a “phenomenal” number of NPA surrenderees. They should, instead, be held accountable for wholesale violation of human rights and international humanitarian law for cowardly subjecting thousands of civilians to armed intimidation and threats. AFP forces violate even their own constitution when they come up with their list of suspected NPA “supporters” without evidence nor formal court complaint, then act as judges and executioners with absolute martial law powers.
AFP’s anti-people all-out war for big business
The biggest deployment and concentration of AFP operations are in areas where there are big business interests. The aim of these operations is to suppress the people’s resistance to the entry of big mining, logging, energy, tourism, dams and plantation projects. The AFP has laid siege and conducted aerial bombings on remote villages to intimidate the people. A number of communities have been forced to evacuate to protest AFP presence and occupation of their communities and to seek safe haven.
The AFP has mounted operations in the Andap Valley region to pave the way for the entry of mining explorations in the area. Its relentless operations in the Pantaron mountain range in Davao del Norte seeks to drive away the Manobos from their ancestral land to clear the area for oil palm plantations. Its relentless military operations in Sarangani and South Cotabato against the peasants and T’boli Lumads are done in favor of the big capitalist Consunji. It is mounting focused military operations in Rizal and Quezon provinces against the Dumagats to allow the construction of dams and operation of mining companies.
These are just a few examples of the inextricable link between the AFP’s all-out war and big business interests being protected by the Duterte regime.
AFP offensives have failed to make a dent on NPA strength
Since last year, the AFP has relentlessly conducted aerial strikes and artillery bombings, deployed battalion-sized troops in focused operations in limited areas, mounted strike operations and subjected hundreds of civilian communities to armed suppression.
So far, the AFP’s all-out offensives have failed to make a dent on the overall strength of the NPA. Despite having mounted an all-out war in the countryside under Oplan Kapayapaan, the AFP has yet to crush a single platoon, not to mention a company-sized guerrilla front of the NPA. The billions of pesos which Duterte borrows from the US and other countries and pours into the AFP to oil its war machinery is a large waste of people’s money.
The claim by the AFP that it has “muted” the NPA, “especially in eastern Mindanao” is a big joke. Even the AFP cannot deny reports of almost daily big and small NPA actions in Mindanao and across the country. The NPA continues to gain strength nationwide. It remains extensively and deeply supported by the broad masses as their true army, especially as the AFP shows its true character as a mercenary army in the service of big mining companies, plantations and other anti-people businesses.
Duterte’s all-out war under Oplan Kapayapaan is succeeding only in inciting the people to wage fiercer resistance. They are determined to rise up in their numbers to defend their land and fight for their economic wellbeing. Their struggles are fully supported by the New People’s Army, which in turn, enjoys the deep and wide support of the people.
The NPA continues to mount tactical offensives against the military, paramilitary and police forces to strike against the Duterte regime’s fascist and terrorist machineries. The NPA also continues to carry out the policies and laws of the people’s democratic government governing the economy and environment in areas under its political authority.
New Red fighters continue to be recruited from among the peasants and minorities, as well as from workers, students and other intellectuals.
Difficult struggles ahead
Under the Party’s leadership, the New People’s Army (NPA) and all revolutionary forces are determined to carry forward the people’s war and resistance against the Duterte’s fascist and tyrannical regime. They are ready to face difficulties and sacrifices. The Party anticipates the struggle against the US-Duterte regime and its brutal wars of suppression to remain difficult and arduous as Duterte clings to power by employing the most despicable forms of armed suppression against the people.
However, the economic and political crisis of the semicolonial and semifeudal system engenders widespread resistance. The Duterte regime grows weaker by the day as it is undermined from within, isolated from the people and rocked by rising protests and all forms of resistance.