Philippine Commentaries

Read Malaya's daily commentaries on economic and political developments that shape Philippine society. Veteran Filipino journalist Joy C. de los Reyes is the paper's editor-in-chief of Malaya, an independent daily newspaper in the Philippines. To visit Malaya's website, just click the Malaya link below.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Boundless delusion

If the generals can cite one example, just one, where a Maoist insurgency has been "crushed" by military means, we’ll go along with Gloria’s "all-out" war against the New People’s Army.

And before the generals jump on us, we are prepared to concede that the British defeat of the communist rebels in Malaya in the Sixties was primarily through military means. The communist rebellion in the peninsula, however, was distinctly "un-Maoist" in that it was limited to ethnic Chinese who were swimming in a decidedly hostile sea of an indigenous populace.

The defense and military establishment is making a big show of the deployment of additional troops to Central and Southern Luzon and in Bicol, considered the hotbeds of insurgency in Luzon. The ongoing negotiations with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front have enabled the military to pull out a number of units from Mindanao. These are the units that are now reinforcing the two divisions operating north and south of Manila.

Here’s what we expect the NPA would do. Initially the rebels would lie low and try to avoid major engagements to preserve its forces. When the military offensive would have lost momentum, the rebels would start mounting tactical offensives while strategically maintaining a defensive posture. Meanwhile, NPA units in other areas would step up attack in an attempt to relieve the pressure on their besieged comrades.

In time, the military would exhaust itself. And everything would be back to where it started, with the communist rebellion proving its resiliency once again. And for all we know, that how far Gloria’s touted P1 billion go will go, except for the few hundred millions that will go into corrupt pockets.

The basis for our scenario? Well, it’s that 30-year-old communist party document "Specific Characteristics of Our People’s War." The mid-Seventies document spelled out the rebel strategies that would offset two major liabilities facing the rebel movement. One is the loss of the "rear base" in the form of China, the main source of logistical support in the NPA’s younger days. The other is the archipelagic character of the country which enables the military to mass its forces at a theater of its own choosing.

We have never underestimated the strategic and tactical brilliance of Jose Ma. Sison and the CPP’s senior leaders. Proof is the rebellion’s survival through the succeeding administrations of Marcos, Aquino, Ramos, Estrada and Arroyo.

Lest others think we are giving too much importance to the role of leaders in the pursuit of a revolutionary war, we aren’t. We recognize that the other side of the coin is failure of governance. But that is a given. It’s a matter of which administration is better or worse. Hands down, Gloria’s wins as the most unpopular, the most incompetent among them.

And she expects to rout the rebellion in two years? What boundless delusion.

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