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.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Victory over the NPA?

Waging war is a worn-out tactic used by discredited leaders to regain public support. Gloria Arroyo must be more desperate than we think by declaring all-out war against the communist rebels.

Right off, we can say this obvious ploy won’t work. Opposition to her illegitimate government won’t be distracted by a stepped-up counter-insurgency campaign. The rebels, moreover, will certainly be able to ride out any purely militarist approach to end this decades-old problem.

Practically all surveys show around 80 percent of the people are dissatisfied with Gloria and want her out for three reasons: Stealing the 2004 election, worsening graft and corruption, and her failure to pursue economic policies that can make a dent on the growing poverty of the masses of the people.

Peace and order probably would come as fourth on the list. Even on this score, criminality weighs more heavily in the citizenry’s mind than insurgency.

This Roman circus of "crushing" the communist rebels will only be applauded by the reactionaries in our midst, who by the way are already solidly behind her. Conceivably this is the game plan to consolidate support of the military and the traditional politicians – her remaining political base – in a form of circling the wagons.

In the best of circumstances, it takes a clear-cut national consensus revolving around a popular leader to pursue a successful anti-insurgency program. Think Magsaysay. As it is, people trust the New People’s Army more than the lying and thieving Gloria administration.

At the moment, Gloria enjoys a modicum of support in the countryside with her fabricated anti-imperial Manila stance. Unleashing the military, with its established record of abuses, will only erode this remaining marginal support for her administration.

Let’s take a look at the model for Gloria’s end-game plan against the communist rebels. In Central Luzon, Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan, "the butcher," is on a rampage. This blowhard boasts of dealing crippling blows to the communist rebels. The fact: Palparan’s 7th Infantry Division has killed or captured fewer rebels than the three to four brigades operating in Northern Mindanao. That, of course, is not counting the victims of summary execution that is the signature of Palparan.

Gloris is digging her own grave. We are tempted to applaud her speeding up of her downfall. We won’t, however, succumb to the temptation. The suffering all-out war will bring to our people
we cannot accept.

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