AFP stepped-up operations vs NPA will be in vain

This article is available in BisayaPilipino

The order yesterday by the newly-installed chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Gen. Vicente Bacarro, for the military to “increase (its) operational tempo” against the New People’s Army (NPA) will surely end in vain.

Even now, it is clear that conditions in the country are set to worsen under Marcos. His declared policies, which are no different from previous regimes, are servile to the interests of foreign big banks and capitalist investors and are bound to cause a greater social disaster to the broad masses of the Filipino people.

Socioeconomic conditions are rapidly deteriorating and are bound to worsen under Marcos. Workers, peasants, ordinary toilers and the middle classes are subjected to increasingly worse forms of oppression and exploitation. Prices of food, fuel and other basic commodities are spiralling beyond the reach of ordinary people.

There are no jobs, nor means to earn a living. People are being fleeced with more taxes, while foreign capitalists are given more exemptions. People’s standards of living are dropping as millions cannot afford education, medical service, and other necessities of life.

Particularly in the countryside, there is widespread economic displacement as peasants are driven away from their land by big military-protected mining firms and plantations which grab thousands of hectares of land to plunder and poison.

These grave conditions are generating widespread discontent among the broad masses of the people. No amount of “increasing the tempo” by the AFP can resolve the deep-seated social and economic roots that compel people to wage all forms of resistance. In fact, heightened suppression of the people’s civil and political rights in the context of counterinsurgency are pushing more and more people to the path of armed struggle. They are being left with no other recourse.

In its desperation to cut mass support for the NPA, the AFP has resorted to a brutal campaign of pacification and suppression. There are rising numbers of killings and massacres of peasants that are being touted by the military in its press releases as “encounters” against the NPA, not only to cover up their crimes, but to give medals and rewards to their officers and men.

General Bacarro’s order to “increase the tempo” of AFP operations will mean more abuses and violations of human rights, more aerial bombardment and shelling, more destruction and more hardship for the people.

It will surely be carried out by AFP battalions by unleashing greater terror and brutalities against the people, to make it appear that they are winning the war against the NPA. Despite the high costs and ineffectiveness against the NPA, aerial bombardment and artillery shelling continue to be carried out by the AFP in order to project superior power and cow the people.

By and large, the NPA across the country has successfully adapted to the AFP’s strategy of large-scale focused military operations and gradual constriction. The NPA is set on a path of steady expansion. Keeping the enemy blind, NPA units are expanding and opening new guerrilla fronts, where they enjoy the peasant masses’ wellspring of support. The NPA continues to recruit and train new Red fighters, primarily from the best daughters and sons of the peasant masses, as well as from city-based workers, semiproletariat and intellectuals.

The NPA is determined to continue carrying out extensive and intensive guerrilla warfare. In the near future, the AFP will find it increasingly difficult to carry out its focused military operations as the territory and scope of the NPA’s operations will force the enemy instead to disperse and stretch its forces.

The AFP chief is apparently aware that the NPA continues to persevere and surmount the AFP’s all-out offensives. Unlike Duterte and previous AFP chiefs, General Bacarro did not make an unequivocal declaration of “ending the NPA by year’s end,” only an unsure “if this could be done immediately, that is the objective.” Maybe he does not want to preempt the budget hearings so that the AFP can ask for more money to fund their failed five-year offensives. Or since he has three more years in office, he probably knows any premature hubris would backfire on him.

AFP stepped-up operations vs NPA will be in vain