I have two neighbors who frequently engage me in my early morning hour with discussions over a cup of coffee: Lito who is a longtime neighbor and Willie, my former student at the Davao School for the Blind. Their visits usually happen on Sundays, lighting up my morning hour with discussions of issues that we gather from frequent listening to the TV and radio.
This morning Willie immediately opened our interesting discussion on the shooting incident between the rebel NPAs and the government security forces in Davao del Sur.
WILLIE: Yatis, naka-score man ang mga rebeldeng NPA didto sa Davao del Sur! [O my gosh! The NPA rebels s have scored in an encounter at Davao del Sur!]
LITO: Pero, abtik man sab kaayong gidiskulpaan sa kumander sa military nga nagpakitang gilas lang na sila aron daw ingnon nga naa pa ilang presensiya, labina nga duol na ang anibersaryo sa pagkatukod sa NPA! [But the military quickly dismissed it as nothing but a propaganda ploy just to make their presence felt, especially that the NPA’s founding anniversary is approaching!]
WILLIE: Nagpakitang gilas? Unya, daghan mang patay sa mga sundalo sa gobyerno? [A ploy? But there are many dead bodies of government soldiers? ]
LITO: Balos-balos lang man na sila! Paghulat, kay ugma…o sunod ugma…o sunod higayon, ang NPA na pud ang mamatyag daghan! Isig palabaw lang! Isigdayeg sa kaugalingon! Isigdaot sa kaatbang! Ingon ana lang kanunay! Way katapusan! [O, it’s been “now you lose now youwin” for both sides ever since! Wait, because tomorrow…or a day after tomorrow…or in the next encounter it’s the military who would count many NPAs killed! Each side glorifies itself! And each side maligns the other! There’s no end to that!]
WILLIE: Pero kinsa may sakto sa duha? Unsay ikasulti nimo ana, Sir Don? [But which is on the side of righteousness? What can you say, Sir Don?]
The best way to approach the question is to trace the historical roots of the problem. History will always show us the correct understanding of a problematic situation.
Long before the NPA was born, there were already the so-called state security forces composed of the military and the police. Why is there a need for these armed forces? It is needed by the ruling classes, the classes or groups who hold state power or who run the government. They need these to maintain their classes in power. The armed forces are what constitute the principal apparatus to secure and insure the sustainability of the State in the hands of the ruling classes.
In the Philippine context, the ruling classes consist of the landlord and comprador classes in cahoots with the American monopoly-capitalists. Ever since the establishment of the Philippine Republic it has been these classes who rule our country. Their fundamental economic interests are protected by the politico-military machinery of the State or the government.
But for so long a time that the ruling classes have run and controlled Philippine state and government, the fundamental problems of the great majority of the Filipino have not been seriously addressed and sincerely resolved. The benefits or fruits of whatever economic development has been attained have all accrued to the needs and wants of the very few members of the rich and super-rich. Never to the masses of the people who have long since suffered extreme poverty.
In face of these deprivations, materially and spiritually, the people have cried and arisen in various forms and intensity to demand reforms — if not fundamental change — in the social order. But the ruling power, every now and then, has only proclaimed empty slogans of economic reforms.
Ginagmayng tapal-tapal lang! Wa gyuy malungtarong benepisyo, kun duna man ugaling! [Just mere stop-gap measures! Never long-term benefits, if at all! Even the much-touted agrarian reform miserably fails!]
Nearly seven decades since the birth of the Philippine Republic under President Manuel A. Roxas until now, the great majority of the Filipino people are still suffering from abject poverty – in worsening magnitude — as it were 68 years ago.
Societal transformation, much less economic reforms, has never been forthcoming. People’s protest mass actions, rallies and demonstrations are invariably met with the violent response of riot squads and dispersal units of the military and police, instead of the much-wanted economic reforms and structural change. Historical lessons would suggest higher forms of struggle for social transformation, because the ruling classes would never ever allow change in the usual peaceful way. As a matter of fact, the Dictator Marcos decided to violently silence the crying protest voices of the Filipino by imposing martial law.
And so, sometime in the people’s history of struggle for Change — in the late 1960s — the New People’s Army was founded and organized for the supreme goal of fundamental societal transformation and for protecting the over-all interests of the great masses of the Filipino people.
The bottom-line reckoning is: For whom are the NPA rebels fighting for? And for whom are the military and police of BS Aquino’s government fighting for? On whose side is History? On the side of the ruling elite who has proven insincere, deceitful and inutile in face of the people’s demands for reforms? Or on the side of the rebels who have consistently bannered the people’s struggle for fundamental Change?
Propaganda ploy? The propaganda line that the military officers should have proclaimed and followed is this: Ang NPA maoy husto ug angayng daygon. Kun ipaagig sumbingay, ang pasistang military maoy nagpaanak sa NPA kay kanunay pakyas ang military pagpanalipod sa interes sa masa, kundili nagprotektar pirme sa interes sa langyawng imperyalista, sa mga dagkong yutaan ug mga dagkong komprador-kapitalista.
The NPA is righteous and should be praised. In a figurative sense it was given birth by the fascist military which served as its midwife, because the military has always failed in protecting the interests of the masses, but the those of the foreign imperialists (monopoly capitalists), and the landlords and comprador-capitalists.
Don Pagusara is a a multi-awarded author and a Palanca-awardee.