By Jose Maria Sison
Founding Chairman, Communist Party of the Philippines and Chief Political Consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines
December 26, 2020
When the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army were still small and weak from 1968 to 1972, Marcos exaggerated their size and strength and referred to them as his pretext for imposing fascist dictatorship on the Filipino people. He was supposed to nip them in the bud. But instead the fascist dictatorship became the biggest stimulus for the armed revolution to gain strength and spread nationwide.
All successors of the Marcos regime have boasted of being able to destroy the armed revolution with campaigns of military suppression and deception. All have failed miserably. Now the Duterte regime is trying hard to surpass the state terrorism and brutality of the Marcos fascist dictatorship. He will continue to fail in his futile attempt to destroy the armed revolution and will continue to drive more people to take the road of armed revolution.
The Armed Revolution Continues to Grow in Strength
As long as the root causes persist, the conditions for the growth of the armed revolution will be fertile and the reactionary government and its imperialist masters will fail to destroy it. The root causes are imperialism, domestic feudalism and bureaucrat capitalism. They are accountable for the gross underdevelopment, high unemployment and mass poverty. They determine the semicolonial and semifeudal character of the ruling system and are responsible for the brutal and corrupt government that tries to preserve the status quo.
The people and their revolutionary forces are determined to fight for national and social liberation. They will continue to carry out the people’s democratic revolution through protracted people’s war until they achieve total victory. The revolutionary movement is the direct opposite to the tyrannical, traitorous, mass-murdering, plundering and swindling Duterte regime. The crimes of this regime drive the people to take the road of armed revolution.
The people can never accept suffering forever the worsening chronic crisis of the ruling system and the escalating conditions of oppression and exploitation. The armed revolutionary movement has been tempered by thousands of battles and has already spread nationwide and taken deep roots among the people, especially the workers and peasants. The reactionary armed forces have admitted that the New People’s Army has wiped out more than 13,000 of their troops, while they have killed more than 40,000 civilians in blind actions of reprisal since 1969.
According to the publications of the Communist Party of the Philippines, the point now is to develop the guerrilla fronts in every region to become revolutionary base areas, bring about the maturation of the strategic defensive and enter the stage of the strategic stalemate in due course. The frequent tactical offensives by NPA platoons and companies in the strategic defensive will pass to frequent tactical offensives by NPA companies and battalions in the strategic stalemate. The time will will surely come when NPA battalions and regiments will accomplish the strategic offensive on a nationwide scale.
In every guerrilla front today, the Communist Party, the New People’s Army, the revolutionary mass organizations, alliances, the National Democratic Front and the people’s democratic government are thriving. There is no way that the brutal and corrupt Duterte regime and its armed minions can destroy the armed revolution for so long as the people condemn them as instruments of imperialism, feudalism and bureaucrat capitalism.
Under the guidance of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, the universal theory of the revolutionary proletariat, the CPP has correctly set the program and general line of the people’s democratic revolution through the strategic line of protracted people’s war. It started with only some 80 Party members and candidate-members on December 26, 1968 with an urban mass following of some 10,000 workers and youth with political education in the new democratic revolution with a socialist perspective. Now, it has tens of thousands of Party members and a mass following in the millions.
Everyday the CPP recruits and develops a large number of new cadres and members through theoretical and political education, mass work in various classes and sectors, armed struggle and establishing Party branches and groups in localities and various types of organizations. It is simply impossible for the Duterte regime and its armed minions to stop the growth of the CPP. Their military, police and paramilitary operatives are too limited to spy on the accelerated and widespread recruitment, education and training of CPP candidate-members.
In fact, they are goading more mass activists in the urban and rural areas to join the CPP and the armed revolution, especially because of the red-tagging, arbitrary arrests, torture and murder, which are being perpetrated with impunity. Reminiscent of the Marcos fascist dictatorship, there is an upsurge of mass activists who wish to join the New People’s Army. The Red commanders and fighters are striving to launch more tactical offensives in order to provide arms to the increasing NPA recruits.
The CPP has absolute leadership over the NPA. It has set the strategic line of the protracted people’s war, which is to encircle the cities from the countryside and accumulate strength until conditions become ripe for the seizure of the cities. The NPA has grown self-reliantly through tactical offensives from a force of only 60 Red fighters with only 9 automatic rifles and 26 inferior firearms to nearly 10,000, augmented by tens of thousands of members of the people’s militia and hundreds of thousands of self-defense units of mass organizations.
The CPP leads millions of people in the countryside because the revolutionary armed struggle is integrated with agrarian revolution and with mass base-building through the mass organizations and the local organs of political power which constitute the people’s democratic government. There are more than 110 guerrilla fronts in the rural areas of 17 regions and in 73 provinces. The peoples democratic government being developed in the countryside aims to overthrow the reactionary state in due time in the strategic offensive.
The CPP is determined to solve the problem of conservatism by having two-thirds of the NPA devoted to mass work and one third devoted to armed tactical offensives with short rest periods. The Red commanders and fighters are rotated to carry out mass work and armed tactical offensives. But all the time the entire NPA is alert to adopt the correct defensive and counter-offensive measures. Whenever advantageous, without the risk of decisive engagement at the expense of any guerrilla front, the highest possible concentration of the NPA strength in a guerrilla front can be used in a planned series of tactical offensives against the enemy.
The flexible tactics necessary for a people’s war of fluid movement are made possible by knowing the strong points and most vulnerable points of the revolutionary and enemy side and by using concentration, dispersal and shifting the strength of the NPA in order to frustrate and defeat the enemy . The constant surveillance of the enemy by the NPA and the people provides the knowledge of the limits of enemy strength and capabilities on varying scales and allows the CPP and NPA to take the initiative in carrying out tactical offensives. The strength and capabilities of the enemy are not limitless. In fact, they have become extremely limited by the nationwide development of the revolutionary movement in the last 52 years.
When the enemy attacks in superior force, the NPA can retreat to deprive him of a target but he is given a fair share of land mines, sniper fire and even a lightning ambush on any column of his that is isolated. While in retreat from any guerrilla front, the NPA and the people observe the weak points of the enemy for the purpose of soonest possible tactical counter-offensives.
Elsewhere, NPA units can take full initiative to launch tactical offensives against the most vulnerable points of the enemy, which include small-unit detachments of the military, police stations, paramilitary units, and the security guards of plantations, logging sites and mines.
The leading organs of the CPP and the commands of the NPA are well aware of the continuous US military support for the Duterte tyranny and the total strength and deployment of the reactionary armed forces, police and paramilitary forces. They are determined to avoid decisive engagements which put at risk the entire strength of any guerrilla front. But they are well determined to seize the initiative in launching counter-offensives against the weakest points of the enemy. The NPA has learned positive and lessons in the course of overcoming and frustrating the various scales and sizes of enemy operations (intelligence, psywar and combat) and the use of drones and bombings.
Around 124 battalions or 40 brigades of the reactionary armed forces are deployed in the eight priority regions of Southern Tagalog, Southern Mindanao, Eastern Visayas, North Central Mindanao, Bicol, Northeast Mindanao, Negros and Far South Mindanao. Around 23 battalions have been spread thinly in Western Mindanao, Cagayan Valley, Ilocos-Cordillera, Central Luzon, Panay and Central Visayas. While they fail to destroy the armed revolution, the fascists are out to enrich themselves and beat themselves in the civil war by wasting public money on military overspending. The military budget for 2020 is more than Php 200 billion, overshadowing the budget for any of the vital social services, especially education, health, public housing, disaster relief and so on.
The main foundation of the revolutionary united front is being developed by the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, with its comprehensive range of 18 allied organizations. This is the united front for armed struggle. At the same time, there is the broad united front of the legal democratic forces of the basic toiling masses, the middle social strata and the conservative opposition that are not engaged in armed struggle. The conservative opposition continues to be weak because of the tendency of the traditional reactionary politicians to join whoever is the new president until this moves into his lameduck years and it becomes increasing isolated and weak.
The Duterte regime is going crazy by using anti-communist witchhunts, spreading guilt by association and equating the CPP with the NDFP as the revolutionary united front as well as with the broad united front of legal democratic forces of the toiling masses, middle strata and the conservative opposition. Any individual, organization or institution can be accused of being “communist” and therefore “terrorist”.
The regime is engaged in blind red-tagging, slander, extortion, arbitrary arrests, torture and murder. All these are being done to realize state terrorism and fascist dictatorship under the so-called Anti-Terrorism Act. But they grievously offend the people and drive them in general to engage in various forms of struggle and the most threatened young militants to join the NPA.
On the Enemy’s Rejection of Peace Negotiations
To the disgust of the social activists, peace advocates, human rights defenders and the broad masses of the people, the Duterte regime has terminated the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations and designated the CPP and NPA as “terrorist” organizations since 2017. It has nullified all previous agreements and engaged in a rampage of brutal murders directed against NDFP consultants and against the CPP and NPA with the clear objective of ending the peace negotiations once and for all time and allowing Duterte to become fascist dictator.
Since then, the Duterte regime has engaged in “localized peace talks” for the purpose of psywar and intelligence against those known as close relatives and friends of suspected revolutionaries, has compelled local units of the reactionary government to issue persona non grata declarations against the CPP and NPA, stage fake surrender ceremonies and fake military encounters with those killed extrajudicially and issue press releases about payments to the fake surrenderers and fake community development projects. But in fact, public money is openly being pocketed by the corrupt military officers.
Duterte no less has put to shame the retired and active military and police officers by declaring publicly that he maintains their loyalty to him because he literally feeds them with money. To ingratiate himself with them, he has engaged in unprecedented military overspending, militarized his cabinet and allowed the active military and police officers to engage in corrupt practices in the acquisition of local and foreign supplies and in the implementation of the bogus war on drugs and the so-called counterinsurgency plans.
For as long as the tyrant Duterte and his loyalist military and police officers are hell-bent on continuing the civil war between the reactionary state and the broad masses of the people, there will be no more peace negotiations between the GRP and NDFP. The CPP, NPA and the NDFP have no choice but to continue the armed revolution as the sovereign right of the people to fight tyranny and state terrorism.
The CPP, NPA and the NDFP are not terrorists because they adhere to the international law on human rights and humanitarian conduct in the civil war and the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law. And they have always been willing to engage in peace negotiations in accordance with The Hague Joint Declaration of 1992. They are willing to negotiate with a future regime that will reject state terrorism and seek peace negotiations.
For as long as it is clear to the people that it is the reactionary government which rejects the peace negotiations with the NDFP, it is just and advantageous for the armed revolutionary movement to continue and intensify the people’s war against the reactionary ruling clique and the entire ruling system. The armed revolutionary movement has grown in strength in long periods of intensified people’s war, with no distraction and with no exposure of cadres and their connections by peace negotiations, such as in the long period of no negotiations with the Marcos regime from 1969 to 1986 and during long breakdowns of peace negotiations with the post-Marcos regimes.
The rapidly worsening crisis of the world capitalist system and of the Philippine ruling system are exceedingly favorable for the armed revolution of the Filipino people. The global economic depression that has beset the world since the financial meltdown of 2008 has resulted in less demand for the raw materials and semi-manufactures produced by the Philippines, in less foreign exchange income for paying the manufactured imports, in rising trade and budgetary deficits and in a rapidly rising public debt.
The Covid-19 pandemic has aggravated the crisis of the world capitalist system and that of the Philippine ruling system. The lockdowns have drastically brought down the demand for the raw material and semi-manufacture exports of the Philippines as well as the demand for the cheap labor of Filipino men and women. Millions of overseas Filipino workers have returned home, greatly reducing the foreign exchange remittances to pay for the import of consumer imports and servicing the foreign debt.
Worst of all the Duterte regime has taken advantage of the pandemic to engage in massive corruption, escalate focused military operations and enact the law of state terrorism. The tyrant Duterte took emergency powers supposedly to realign this year’s budget and next year’s. He promised to provide mass testing, adequate medical services and economic assistance to those who have lost their jobs and other means of livelihood.
But more than 590,000 billion pesos for such purposes are unaccounted for and have been pocketed by Duterte and his gangster clique. He has increased the budget of the military and police for the purpose of repression and the enactment of the law of state terrorism to realize his scheme of fascist dictatorship even before expected charter change and proclamation of national martial law.
The tyranny and thievery of the Duterte regime have combined to bankrupt the Philippine economy and the reactionary government. The conditions for the armed revolution have become far more favorable than before the pandemic lockdowns. The broad masses of the people detest the regime for bringing about far worse conditions of mass poverty and misery and for scandalously imposing on them state terrorism and wasting huge amounts of public funds on military overspending.
The Duterte ruling clique has undermined its own economic and political position and has dug its own grave by engaging in flagrant plunder and repression. The broad masses of the people are now on the verge of coming out to the streets in gigantic numbers to condemn and oust the fascist tyrant. Even within the reactionary armed forces and police, there is a rapidly increasing number of groups of officers who have long resented the sell-out of sovereign rights over the West Philippine Sea to China and the favoritism bestowed by Duterte on the so-called Davao boys who have engaged in all kinds of criminality and corruption.
It is widespread within the reactionary armed forces and police that Duterte is physically and mentally sick and that he keeps himself most of the time in Davao for his dialysis after every few days. But he still pretends to be physically and politically strong enough to take all powers and become a fascist dictator or else to handpick a presidential stooge by using his power to rig the Comelec vote count as he did in the 2019 mid-elections to gain overwhelming control over both houses of Congress..
At the same time, it is well known that he bought a presidential jet to be able to escape to China at anytime. He knows that his end is coming near with every month that passes. He has only one year and six months left of his 6-year term. And several judicial systems are after him. If the International Criminal Court fails to arrest him, the people’s court of the people’s democratic government is expected to run after him and all his principal accomplices in gross and systematic violations of human rights.
We know exactly the broad range of forces that converged against the fascist dictatorship from the assassination of Benigno Aquino, Jr. in 1983 to the downfall of Marcos in February 1986. The Duterte ruling clique is trying desperately to manipulate the rabid anti-communist and militarist elements in the conservative opposition to disrupt the broad anti-fascist united front by red-tagging the legal patriotic and democratic forces and slandering them as having “enabled” Duterte to become president and consolidate his presidency.
In fact, the biggest enablers of Duterte have been the traditional politicians who made an exodus to his regime as soon as he became president and turned overnight the previous ruling party into an emaciated and weak minority. The armed revolutionary movement has never stopped, despite short periods of ceasefires on grounds of promoting peace negotiations. And the legal patriotic and democratic forces have condemned the Duterte regime as soon as it terminated the peace negotiations in 2017. The regime is now angling that it can retain power by separating the entire conservative opposition from the impending gigantic mass actions.
Whether Duterte will succeed to rule the people beyond 2022 as a fascist dictator or to handpick his successor by rigging the 2022 presidential elections, there will be a highly explosive political situation from day to day. The broad masses of the people and the broad united front against the tyrant Duterte will be outraged and angered by the brazen violation of their sovereign will and by the rapid worsening of the socio-economic and political crisis of the ruling system. As of now, the broad masses of the people are already seething with just anger over the rapidly deteriorating conditions of oppression and exploitation.
In order to ensure the realization of the gigantic mass actions on a nationwide scale for the ouster of the Duterte fascist regime or its successor regime, the toiling masses of workers and peasants, the middle social strata of the urban petty bourgeoisie and middle bourgeoisie and the allies in the conservative opposition must be aroused, organized and mobilized to protest against the rapidly deteriorating socio-economic and political conditions and the intolerable conditions of escalating oppression and exploitation.
They must protest and condemn the puppetry, brutality and corruption of the Duterte fascist regime and demand respect for the sovereign rights of the people, justice for the victims of human rights violations, return of the stolen public funds, economic and social assistance to all who have lost their jobs and means of livelihood and who have been victimized by the regime during the pandemic and aggravated crisis of the ruling system.
In the meantime, the armed revolution will continue. The CPP will continue to wage the people’s democratic revolution through protracted people’s war and will aim for the bright future of socialism. The struggle for national and social liberation coincides with the worldwide anti-imperialist and democratic struggles and the foreseeable resurgence of the world proletarian-socialist revolution. The advance of the revolutionary mass movement has a direct bearing on the prospects of realizing a just peace in the Philippines.
That there is once more a brazenly brutal and corrupt regime reminiscent of the Marcos fascist regime proves that the semicolonial and semifeudal ruling system continues to rot and has never been fixed by the pseudo-democratic regimes preceding the fascist regime of Duterte to remove the root causes of the armed revolution. Once more the worst of the ruling system comes out in the form of the traitorous, fascist, genocidal and plundering Duterte regime and generates the conditions and opportunities for accelerating the advance of the people’s democratic revolution through protracted people’s war. ###