Response to Duterte: You will fail to defeat the NPA

Duterte’s proclamation yesterday that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) will defeat the New People’s Army (NPA) by the middle of 2019 will surely end up in complete failure. Duterte’s forecast is utterly baseless.

On the contrary, by ordering the military and police to wage all-out war and inciting them to commit rape, abductions, torture, murder and the most despicable forms of abuses to suppress the people’s resistance, he is provoking the broad democratic sectors to rise up and join and support the New People’s Army.

Duterte cannot defeat the NPA because it is strong and determined, and enjoys the deep and wide support of the masses. In the course of the past five decades, successive regimes have failed to crush the people’s army. Under Duterte, the number of NPA Red fighters surpassed previous highs. After more than a year of all-out war in Mindanao with US support, Duterte has failed to crush even a single NPA front. The NPA is steadily growing nationwide.

Duterte and the AFP are fooling no one with the AFP “surrender scam” where AFP officials outdo each other in coming up with longer lists of “surrenderees.” Under the scam, thousands of peasants are being forced to parade themselves as “surrenderees” in violation of their rights under international humanitarian law. Members of AFP paramilitaries are presented before the media as “surrenderees.” There are also cases of recycling “surrenderees.”

With the surrender scam, AFP officials pocket millions of pesos for so-called “integration programs.” Intelligence funds from Malacanang are downloaded directly to the personal bank accounts of field officials who succeed in mounting media spectacles of so-called surrenderees.

The peasant masses are the last to be fooled by the AFP’s surrender scam. In many places, NPA units have reported that peasants who were recently paraded as surrenderees have approached them to express indignation over the AFP’s dupliicty, coercion and abuses. They are fully aware of the continuing failure of the Duterte regime to address their demand for land.

The recent Sagay massacre where nine peasants were killed by landlord-financed paramilitary forces attached to the AFP has sparked widespread outrage against Duterte. The Filipino people hold Duterte responsible for the Sagay massacre for having incited his military and police to use armed violence to quell legitimate forms of collective assertion of rights.

Duterte is desperately washing his hands of blood by claiming the Sagay massacre was perpetrated by the NPA. This is a dismal lie. He and his police and military officials cannot even get their story line right. Yesterday, Duterte insisted that “it was they who killed their own members” but other officials earlier claimed that the farmers were used as “bait” to provoke the warlords to attack them. The charges of “conspiracy” between the peasant organizers and the AFP paramilitary group is even more convoluted and fantastic.

To deceive the peasants, Duterte yesterday mounted a publicity stunt of “distributing land” but was actually merely handing out so-called certificates of land ownership award (CLOA) which require peasant recipients to pay monthly amortizations and rarely become actual land titles. In fact, more than 70% of CLOA recipients end up landless as they were before.

But Duterte cannot hide his fundamental contempt for the poor peasants and mass of homeless people when he ordered his armed minions the other day to shoot and kill those who take action to assert their land rights. Duterte has practically justified and endorsed the Sagay massacre. With his shoot-to-kill orders, more cases of killings and massacres are bound to happen to add to at least 13 cases of massacres and 173 peasant killings.

Duterte employs brazen fascism against those who he claim are “seizing other people’s properties.” He is completely bereft of any sense of social justice. He has a heart only for the big landlords, big capitalists and foreign capitalist investors.

He is incapable of understanding the fact that by demanding genuine land reform, the peasant masses are merely asserting their right to the land which they have cultivated and paid for several times over, having been subjected to grave oppression and exploitation by the parasitic landlords.

In demanding that idle housing projects be turned over to hundreds of thousands of homeless families, the urban poor are merely asserting their right for social upliftment from subhuman living conditions in urban slums. It is a sharp criticism of the policy of state neglect and a testimony to Duterte’s failure to fulfill his promises of a “comfortable life.”

Duterte is exercising absolute power and flexing his muscles for imposing nationwide martial law through. The recent military takeover of the Bureau of Customs is a dress rehearsal.

Duterte employs the military and police to intimidate the people and suppress the collective struggle of the toiling masses of workers and peasants. While combat units of the AFP occupy hundreds of rural communities, in the cities, state agents target union organizers, student activists, urban poor leaders and all other groups opposed to Duterte’s tyranny.

However, the more that Duterte employ state violence against the people, the more that he rouses the broad masses to take the path of revolutionary armed resistance. Under Duterte, the economic crisis has become ever acute and social conditions have deteriorated. Crime and corruption has worsened. Foreign military intervention has intensified. The Filipino people are suffering from ever worse forms of exploitation and oppression.

The longer Duterte’s fascist regime stays in power, the more determined and tenacious the Filipino people become to wage all forms of struggle. In particular, Duterte’s reign is making the conditions ever more fertile for the rapid growth of the New People’s Army.