No end in sight
That’s no news, of course, as Sison’s directives are openly posted at the website of the National Democratic Front. There is that sly attempt by the military to lump together the basically middle class campaign to oust Arroyo and the communist rebellion. But objectively, the military is right. There is a commonality in the aim and there might even be organizational links between the underground and the open campaign to bring down the Arroyo administration.
But assuming that the military is right, what has that political analysis – however correct - got to do with the business of fighting the rebels on the ground?
The AFP last week directed field commanders to wrest the initiative from the rebels. We understand wresting the initiative to mean that government forces will henceforth bring the fight to the rebels, instead of merely fending off raids and ambuscades.
It isn’t happening. Most of the latest skirmishes were initiated by the rebels and the military was again just reacting to the attacks.
That’s the nature of a guerrilla war, Lt. Gen. Samuel Bagasin, AFP deputy chief of staff, said. The tactical initiative is almost always with the rebels.
But no matter, Bagasin said. The rebels in time will get exhausted. They are losing fighters. Their supplies are being depleted. They are running out of money. The attacks will subside.
Government forces, on the other hand, have a steady flow of replacements from the recruitment and training pipeline. They are not about to run out of bullets; the government, after all, has the Bataan arsenal. Money? Proceeds from rebel extortion are a drop in the bucket compared to the state’s tax collection.
Government forces will be back on top of the situation in no time.
The flaw in the argument? It’s the tacit admission that the war against the rebels cannot be won. After this wave of tactical offensives, the exhausted rebels will lie low for a while. They will consolidate their forces in preparation for the next wave of offensives. And the cycle goes on.
Call us pessimistic. But the insurgency has been going on for almost two generations and the end is nowhere in sight.