July 03, 2006

All-out failure

Mrs. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s declaration two weeks ago in Cauayan, Isabela, of all-out war against the communist-led New People’s Army is reminiscent of her pugnacious pronouncements against crime -syndicates, the Abu Sayaff bandit group and, yes, the same old CPP-NPA that she is again threatening to annihilate with the promise of P1 billion additional taxpayer’s money to boost her regime’s so-so counter-insurgency program.

What Malacañang wishes to pass off as a renewed resolve to stamp out the armed revolutionary movement within a much abbreviated timetable of two years is more likely the product of presidential pique, braggadocio and her public relations handlers’ spin.

Mrs. Arroyo gave the order after learning about the fourteen AFP soldiers
killed-in-action in a recent encounter with the NPA in Jones, Isabela. She
outboasted her own Defense Secretary who, in yet another international anti-terrorism pow-wow, had given his fearless forecast of ten years for crushing the rebel movement. In the process, she exposed her overweening arrogance about the remaining capabilities of her embattled regime as well as profound ignorance of the history of failed counterinsurgency programs of previous regimes that includes that of the 14-year Marcos fascist dictatorship.

The government’s current counterinsurgency campaign codenamed Oplan Bantay
Laya was launched, according to leaked AFP documents, in 2002 and to date
has failed to achieve its objective of decisive defeat of the CPP-NPA, despite the fact that it is already on the fourth year of its five-year plan.

In truth and in fact, the Arroyo regime has been going all-out, has been decidedly hawkish both in word and deed, against the revolutionary movement and its perceived supporters and sympathizers, soon after Mrs. Arroyo came to power in 2001.

There has been no let-up in the massive deployment of troops and in ruthless military campaigns to dislodge the NPA from rebel strongholds,dismantle the political infrastructure of local cadres and activists and terrorize rural folk into submission. This has resulted in the displacement of thousands of peasants and minority peoples as well as murder and mayhem against civilians and non-combatants euphemistically dismissed by government as “collateral damage”.

The Arroyo regime had broken off peace talks since August 2002, campaigned in tandem with the Bush government to place the CPP-NPA-NDF and NDF chief political consultant and CPP founder, Prof. Jose Maria Sison, in the terrorist listings of the US, European Union and several other countries and has since then flagrantly violated agreements inked in the course of the peace negotiations such as that on the observance human rights and international humanitarian law and safety and immunity guarantees for CPP-NPA-NDF personnel involved in the peace talks.

An intensified crackdown on what has been termed the “legal Left” or leaders and members of progressive people’s organizations leading the fight for nationalism and democratic reform, as well as their perceived allies in the movement to oust Mrs. Arroyo from power, has been ongoing for the past several years marked by the unprecedented rise in the number of extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, warrant less arrests, trumped-up rebellion charges and brutal dispersals of mass protest actions.

Propaganda and psywar campaigns turn things upside down and blame the revolutionary movement for all the woes of the country ­ from poverty to underdevelopment, to the corrupt and rotten political system, to “unpatriotic”, “undemocratic”, “counter-productive”, “divisive” values and the pre-occupation with ousting GMA rather than focus on moving the country forward to “enchanted kingdom-hood”.

Sustained and vicious mass media campaigns to vilify the Left are not just the usual red-scare tactics meant to divert the people from the insolvable political crisis and the deteriorating economic situation that Mrs. Arroyo’s rule has exacerbated, they have the bloodthirsty component of inciting the fascist forces in the AFP/PNP and death squads to continue the regime’s “dirty war” of terror against both the revolutionary armed movement in the countryside and the legal democratic movement in the cities.

Through all this, Mrs. Arroyo’s official statements and political body language constitute a virtual green light to more of the same grievous human rights violations and even worse atrocities and will reinforce the culture of impunity that has become the hallmark of her rule.

Mrs. Arroyo will justify her despotism as an indispensable link in the US
“war on terror”. She will whip up anti-communist hysteria among the soldiers and police to cover up the restiveness over rank opportunism and corruption within and outside the AFP and PNP. She will substitute “all-out war” for genuine economic and political reforms and call it development.

Indeed, this is the kind of authoritarian glue that binds the selfish interests of Mrs. Arroyo’s ruling clique, her US and military backers and those who think -- wrongly and foolishly ­ that this time she can succeed where all others have failed.#


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