In 2017, Duterte and the AFP pompously declared they will crush the New People’s Army (NPA) before the end of 2018 under Oplan Kapayapaan. Such is more ambitious than the AFP’s miserably failed “reduce to insignificance” declaration repeatedly proclaimed under Oplan Bayanihan (2011-2016) during the previous Aquino.
But like all previous counter-revolutionary wars of suppression since Marcos, Duterte’s Oplan Kapayapaan will fail in its declared ambition. The people’s aspiration for social justice, genuine democracy and national freedom will not be suppressed, however intense Duterte’s armed brutality to defend the interests of the oppressors and exploiters.
In his desperation to crush the Filipino people’s armed resistance, Duterte has intensified his counterrevolutionary war using the entire state armed machinery. Duterte and the AFP employs tactics of widespread occupation of rural villages, intimidation and coercion against the people. This aim to suppress the struggles of the peasant masses and minority people for land and to serve the interests of foreign big corporations in mining and plantations, and prevent the masses from participating in the armed struggle and supporting the people’s army.
At the same time, in areas under the AFP’s principal concentration, its units mount siege operations or “focused military operations” using an overwhelming number of forces against NPA units. There are operations commanded at the division or area command level and which mobilize battalion-sized forces to isolate and encircle a unit or units of the NPA in the area. They use drones for surveillance. They employ helicopters to drop bombs and shoot rockets, and fire its artillery cannons to intimidate the people.
In an attempt to cover all guerrilla fronts, and the revolutionary movement’s territories and areas of operation, Duterte is rushing to enlarge the AFP. The AFP formed ten new battalions for a total of 97 battalions. Its target is to enlist 15,000 soldiers before the end of the year promising salary increases to attract recruits. Duterte is scurrying to acquire various modern weaponry from the US and other countries. He is seeking loans to buy new firearms, bullets, helicopters, rockets, bombs and other weapons.
Despite having intensified their total war, Duterte and the AFP are set to meet complete failure in their attempt to suppress the people’s revolutionary armed resistance.
The AFP’s forces are overstretched. It has deployed 75 battalions in Mindanao, 34 in the Moro areas and 41 against the NPA. Thus, it has only 20-25 battalions to deploy in Luzon and Visayas giving the NPA in these regions wide berth to maneuver, expand and strengthen.
Even in areas being besieged by the AFP in some Mindanao regions, it can only afford to concentrate one battalion-sized maneuver troops to cover several adjacent clusters of villages for several weeks. Other combat troops are scattered in squads in villages within the NPA’s guerrilla fronts making them vulnerable to annihilation by NPA platoons. A far bigger number of villages are without AFP presence proving the AFP cannot cover all barrios at all times.
AFP officials and troops are becoming increasingly tired with the non-stop field operations which meet repeated failure.
Duterte’s government is going bankrupt. Its fiscal deficit soared by 30% from January to July. To buy new weapons, it is burying the country deeper into debt. In terms of funds and politics, it cannot afford to fire their cannons and fly their helicopters to drop bombs every day. In addition, the military is swamped in corruption. They counterfeit lists of “surrenderees” to pocket the funds for “integration.” They steal even from the operations funds of their troops.
Strategically, the use of modern weapons by Duterte and the AFP is ineffective. Duterte’s bombs and rockets cannot flatten the mountains nor crush NPA units who have mastered guerrilla tactics and enjoy the deep and wide support of the masses.
Duterte will fail in his ambition to crush the NPA because he is extremely isolated from the Filipino people. As his war of suppression become increasingly brutal and cruel, he is further inciting the people to take up arms and resist. Under Oplan Kapayapaan, violations of human rights run rampant. Everyday, thousands upon thousands are subjected to intimidation, coercion and threats by fascist soldiers occupying their villages.
AFP officials abuse their power by arbitrarily drawing up lists of people who need to “clear themselves” and coercing them to “surrender” even without evidence that they are members of the NPA. They are not formally charged before courts. Many are duped to attend assemblies supposedly to receive funds or services but would later be presented to the media as “NPA surrenderees.”
After more than half a year, the AFP cannot yet boast of any major victory under Oplan Kapayapaan. The only thing which the AFP can brag of is its claim of more than 4,000 “surrenderees” who are, in fact, victims of relentless AFP intimidation and violence. From time to time, the military declares areas as “development ready” but are repeatedly rebuffed by NPA tactical offensives in those areas.
In fact, the NPA is able to mount increasing number of tactical offensives. These include those mounted recently by the NPA in Luzon and Visayas such as in Ilocos Sur, Isabela, Mt. Province, Rizal, Quezon, Batangas, Albay, Sorsogon, Northern Samar, Capiz and Iloilo.
Despite having deployed almost 50% of its troops against the NPA in Mindanao, the NPA continues to launch tactical offensives and other actions in the five regions of Mindanao. It continues to implement laws and policies of the people’s democratic government concerning the economy, the environment and others.
In the coming months, more frequent and bigger tactical offensives of the NPA across the country will surely cause the further overspread of the AFP’s forces.
Under the Party’s leadership, the NPA will roundly frustrate Duterte’s Oplan Kapayapaan this year. This will be achieved by the NPA by following the line of extensive and intensive guerrilla warfare based on an ever widening and deepening mass base.
All NPA commanders and fighters must strive and be ready to make sacrifices in the face of the counterrevolutionary brutality of Duterte’s war. Keep high the will to fight to defeat the enemy’s plans at all stages and at all times.
Painstakingly strengthen the Party at all levels of the NPA. The Party must firmly lead the NPA to carry-out its comprehensive military and political tasks. Further strengthen the NPA. Continuously recruit and train new Red fighters.
At every opportunity, seize the initiative and frustrate the enemy’s offensives. Continue to master guerrilla tactics of concentration and dispersal, quick shifting and use of deception to make the enemy beat the wind, and to hit at its isolated and scattered units. Diligently observe and study the enemy’s offensive plans at the division and brigade levels. Firmly draw up tactics, plans and coordination at the regional and subregional levels. All units of the NPA must assiduously carry out their tasks in line with the overall plan.
Mount tactical offensives across the country with the correct balance of punitive and annihilative operations. Pay attention to offensives with the aim of seizing weapons from the enemy.
The NPA must boldly arouse, organize and mobilize the peasant masses and minority people in their millions and intensify their antifeudal and other economic struggles with the aim of improving their lives especially amid crisis. Raise their anti-imperialist consciousness by exposing the interests of big foreign capitalists which trample upon their welfare. Actively mobilize the peasant masses to participate in the people’s war.
Exert all-out effort to advance the anti-fascist struggles. In the countryside, firmly resist military occupation of communities. Oppose the campaign of intimidation, harassment and coercing the peasant masses to “surrender.” Collectively struggle against the AFP’s “surrender list” which are veritable targets of suppression or death warrants, which violate international humanitarian law, and are illegal even under reactionary laws. Strive to more vigorously advance the people’s economic struggles amid militarization to assert the people’s legitimate interests and bolster their anti-fascist resistance.
In the cities, in accord with the democratic struggles of various sectors, actively expose the AFP’s fascist onslaught in the countryside, especially the suppression and crackdown against civilians. Echo the calls to end martial law in Mindanao and military rule across the country. Demonstrate the correctness and justness of the masses’ armed resistance to defend their land and advance their cause. Further accelerate NPA recruitment of workers, as well as students and intellectuals and other democratic sectors.
Further broaden the unity against Duterte’s fascism and tyranny. Mobilize the entire people to overthrow the US-Duterte regime.