Thursday, June 22, 2006

Why winning the battle against NPAs is almost impossible

A few days ago, Gloria Arroyo commanded the AFP and the PNP to quash the New People's Army (NPA), an underground armed group of a communist wing in the Philippines. Her timeframe: two to five years.

In response to Arroyo's order, the AFP immediately mobilized troops. Bees from the ground says there are already troop movements in Southern and Central Luzon areas. But along with the movements are the grumbles that the timeframe is unrealistic.

Sabagay, totoo nga naman: several decades-old battle to be fought in two years?

But progressives from the military ranks are not after the length of battle. They are after the cooperation of the top brass in the military and the people in the communities.

"Hindi pa nga naa-address iyong mga alegasyon nina Trillanes na korapsyon sa AFP ngayon inaasahan nila agad na mananalo kami? Eh paano kung totoo nga na mga taga-loob (AFP) din ang supplier ng mga armas ng mga kalaban?" a lieutenant who do not wish to be identified said.

"Tingnan niyo ang mga boots ng mga lowerclassmen namin", he continued. "Paano mo ba isasabak yan sa lakaran at takbuhan?"

"With the supplies we are getting and the salary we are receiving, pinapatay na nga nila kami, paano mo pa kami mai-expect sa laban?"

Earlier, Arroyo had been visiting military camps to conduct fora with the military regarding the latter's concerns. The fora, however, were just for a show. The military weren't really able to voice out their concerns for fear of being shamed by their superiors. And Arroyo to answer questions relating to reality? That would be a dream.

Another reason why the government will find it hard to win the battle against the NPAs are the intelligent people holding Arroyo's skirts. It appears that their mouths are larger than their brains. Consider Toting Bunye's words:
We are aware of the root causes of this problem and the intensified campaign against the CPP-NPA is actually a part of this government’s overall approach to addressing poverty, especially in the countryside.

And Ed Ermita's words:
We are allocating so much fund to neutralize those who are creating trouble for government which affects our economy, pagkatapos sila naman ay nakakatulong pa sa kabila. Kaya mag-ingat lang sila dahil hindi na dapat silang tumulong sa mga kaaway ng gobyerno.

If the government is aware of the root causes of insurgency, why not clearly address the same? The locales are sick with poverty: will rice and noodle be enough? And they have no jobs but will the "Kalsada natin" program of Arroyo enough to answer these? And the call centers?

Second, the people are tired with injustice. With Arroyo trying her best to elude even a simple investigation, and in proper fora, how can her government expect the locales to believe in her? If Arroyo does not even want to settle the issues of legitimacy, how can she expect the locales to submit to the laws of the country and not join the NPAs and the settle the matters with their own hands?

Third, Ermita claims that some businessmen are paying revolutionary taxes. And he even warned them saying they should beware because
"anyone who abets insurgency, who gives comfort to the enemy would be within the ambit of counter-insurgency operations." Yet Ermita's government cannot even give protection to these businessmen. Worse, some of the government's people extort money from these businessmen before they are allowed to operate.

These are but a few of the reasons why it is impossible to win the battle against the NPA's. If Arroyo is really serious, the best thing she can do is to wake up and face the reality. And this should sink clearly in her head: AFP counts NPA members to be less than 8,000 and still, the government forces cannot beat them?

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