Duterte’s counterinsurgency will fail

Like a broken record, Duterte has repeatedly declared that his regime will crush the New People’s Army (NPA). Recently, he threatened anew that “something big will happen” amid the failures of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ (AFP) focused and sustained military operations in the countryside.

Instead, the all-out war under the DSSP Kapayapaan and AFP-PNP Joint Campaign Kapanatagan are pushing millions to take the path of militant and armed struggle.

Overall, no unit of the NPA has been crushed since Duterte ended peace talks between his regime and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines. The AFP is merely fooling itself in bragging that it has “recovered” NPA territories (which is doubly ridiculous considering that Duterte claims the NPA has no territory). The AFP and Duterte know very well that NPA guerrilla units are fluid and can base wherever in the vast countryside. Across the country, the NPA continues to strive to deal blows against AFP units which relentlessly scour and unleash terror in the villages and communities.

Undoubtedly, Duterte will fail with his “whole-of-nation approach,” patterned after the “whole-of-government” and “whole-of-society” of his US imperialist master’s “counterinsurgency” manual. Military “cooperation” with civil agencies cannot conceal the rise of the regime’s militarism and fascism.

The AFP trumpets “whole-of-nation” in the forcible surrender of civilians, terrorizing their communities and destruction of their livelihood. “Whole-of-nation” is also behind AFP coercion of local government units to declare the NPA as “persona non grata” and ban “Leftist groups” fighting for people’s rights. This maneuvers aim to subsume civilian institutions under the military, destroy the people’s democratic organizations and replace these with those upholding fascist doctrines. Invoking “whole-of-nation,” the military perpetrate relentless human rights abuses and put entire communities under their rule.

Duterte’s “counterinsurgency” will fail because his regime is rotten to the core. His government is mired in deep and virulent internal contradictions because of his greed for funds and thirst for power. Rivalries between criminal and bureaucrat syndicates are intensifying. His allies are openly fighting it out for bigger pork barrel allocations, kickbacks in government contracts, bureaucratic favors and shares in the loot of syndicates in corrupt agencies such as the Bureau of Corrections, Bureau of Customs and Bureau of Internal Revenue. His minions are also scrambling against one another for bribes of smuggling and illegal drug syndicates. His “anti-corruption drive” is also a big joke amid frequent exposés of big anomalies under his government.

Even “counterinsurgency” is a playground of corruption of Duterte’s officials. Millions of pesos are pocketed as kickback by his generals and their contractors in procuring secondhand ships and helicopters, as well as arms, bombs and bullets for military operations. Generals steal the operational funds of their troops. They pocket the salaries of their men, especially of the peasants they conscript as CAFGU forces. They wring even the funds for civilians forced to surrender and for hypocritical projects and social services. Corruption is most widespread in Mindanao, where brigades and battalions artificially beef up the tally of “surrendered” Red fighters.

But above all, the regime’s counterrevolutionary scheme will fail because it confronts a party and people’s army that is highly disciplined and deeply rooted among the masses. These are the strongest and most consolidated force resisting his tyranny and defending the people. They enjoy the trust and support of the people that is earned not through coercion and violence.

The Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army have withstood and defeated counterrevolutionary operations of reactionary regimes. Not only have these overcome the 14-year Marcos fascist dictatorship, it was also able to build and strengthen the people’s army across the country. These were not crushed by the brutal suppression campaigns of the succeeding pseudo-democratic regimes.

The NPA is relentless in defending the people from the brutalities of the war primarily directed against civilians. At the same time, it continues to exert effort to frustrate the Duterte regime’s campaign of suppression. The people’s support for their Red fighters and Party cadres is boundless.

Across the country, the people are firmly defending their democratic organizations and the victories they have won over past decades. Agrarian and economic struggles continue to be mounted, while organs of political power are established. In areas where these organs and the people’s government exist, the people exercise democracy among themselves to further broaden and strengthen their unity.

Just like under the Marcos dictatorship, the armed revolution and the people’s resistance to tyranny is bound to strengthen.