54 years of Red Power in the Philippines
The civil war in the Philippines, home of the world’s longest communist insurgency, has raged for 54 years. Since the founding of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) in 1968, followed by its guerrilla war in 1969, the Philippine government has been in constant conflict with the Communists. At the height of the pandemic, President Rodrigo Duterte made the insurgency the country’s main enigma.
While the conflict itself raises many questions on both sides, the Communists have ironically shown more will than the Philippine bureaucracy to rule the country.
The “red zones,” or areas of political power in the countryside, have been demarcated by the CPP and its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA), where they say the reach of state forces is greatest. weak. In these regions, the peasant masses are the most exploited and the most sympathetic to the cause of the rebellion.
JosÃ© Ma. Sison, founding president of the CPP, said The objective of the news,âThe cadres of the CPP and the units of the NPA organized themselves as local organs of political power (popular self-government committees), neighborhood organizing committees and neighborhood revolutionary committees.
Bobby Tuazon, professor at the University of the Philippines and political director of the Center for People’s Empowerment in Governance or CenPEG, believes that the rebels are rooted in the rejection of the authority of the current Philippine bureaucracy led by the “landlords and compradors. -capitalists âas the revolutionaries say.
âThe armed revolutionary movement in the countryside has long established a kind of shadow government or revolutionary committees among the masses. They are supported by revolutionary taxes, a limited agrarian revolution, the elimination of usurious practices against the peasants, production projects and other modes, âexplained Tuazon.
Since 1987, intermittent peace negotiations have taken place between the two parties. Hosted and facilitated by the Norwegian government, these procedures were guided by the Geneva Conventions on International Humanitarian Law. Article 96 of Protocol I of the Conventions obliges them to mutually recognize their respective competences. In article 1 of the same Protocol, the Philippine communist revolution can be seen as an armed movement fighting as an âexercise of the right to self-determinationâ. The Philippine government is negotiating not only with revolutionaries, but also with representatives of what the CPP calls âPeople’s Democratic Governmentâ.
The meaning of the word “war” is multiple. Is the fight between the government and the Communists akin to that of two nation-states engaged in a fight? The CPP has long shown âbelligerenceâ. Under international law, he characterized insurgents as members of their society with the capacity to make and enforce their own rules.
The Communists boast of being present in 73 of the 81 provinces of the Philippines, with all major islands and regions populated by their mass base. For them, this is a feat more than enough to assert belligerent status, or to be a non-state sovereign force engaged in armed war with the Philippine government.
Marco Valbuena, Chief Information Officer of the CPP, said: âThe organs of political power at village level and above are governed by the constitution and the rules of democratic government of the people. Its representatives are directly elected by the people through assemblies.
It also has its committees to develop programs and plans for literacy and education, public health, production and economy, peace and order and culture, he said, as well that “the funds collected by agricultural taxes (1% of the additional income earned by the peasants), its income-generating projects or borrowed from various agencies or organizations. It has its own armed and police forces (through village militias and self-defense units), which help enforce its policies and decisions.
Not surprisingly, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) have a different view on recognizing the autonomy of their opponents. While participating in the peace negotiations, he has in principle affirmed the belligerence of his counterparts on several occasions, but there has been a radical change in tone in public statements. The military would like the public to believe that the revolution amounts to banditry or even terrorism instead of an act of those who are oppressed and yet sovereign.
In June, Major General Edgardo, deputy chief of operations for the armed forces, said notions of international humanitarian law were being distorted in favor of the communists. For him, the existence of armed rebels, which endanger civilians, denies the rules of engagement. In addition, he argued that the notion of belligerence would be inapplicable to non-state actors without a national law that legitimizes the recognition asserted by the CPP.
Sison challenged de Leon’s statement, stating: “The democratic principle is that sovereignty always comes from the will of the people and can be invoked to overthrow a state that becomes oppressive or tyrannical even after being duly constituted or elected by the people. . The exercise of the people’s right to rebel against oppression and tyranny is not terrorism but a democratic act.
The PPC may not be enough to be considered a case law, but Sison said the French and American revolutions have embraced this ideal. Laws and legal mechanisms bow to movements and collective will instead of the other way around.
Valbuena argued that the Philippine revolutionary government was born as an entity due to the state’s continued neglect of its people. Autonomy is the natural reaction of the abandoned. During the pandemic, he said the presence of neighborhood-level committees has been particularly critical.
âIn some areas, committees have generated funds to intensify the production of palay (rice), tubers and vegetables to ensure the food supply. They also pooled funds from barrio members who received grants to help increase food production. Other regions have set up public libraries where they can provide books, run literacy and education programs, and provide Internet service. Some have created clinics run by the village health committee and local doctors or health workers.
Valbuena also lamented the hypocrisy of the Philippine armed forces. âAFP, a territorial defense army, is the main force in the counterinsurgency. This in itself poses a threat to the territory of the reactionary state. They still refer to villages as ‘under the control’ of the NPA. So when they invade said villages, they force people to surrender and pledge their allegiance to the Philippine flag.
The 54th anniversary of the PPC is December 26. Traditionally, there has been a holiday ceasefire, although there has not been one since 2017. Under President Duterte, any chance of laying down arms has been slim.
However, that didn’t stop the Reds from their own festivities. There will be those who celebrate Christmas as Filipino citizens. And there will also be those who will celebrate their hopes for a revolutionary future, perhaps next to a Christmas tree and a campfire.
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TNL Editor: Bryan Chou (@thenewslensintl)
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