Fourth of a Series

This is no longer just another government propaganda boosting a project or mouthing motherhood statements.

President Duterte has connected with the people and his rock-solid credibility has given more than 12,000 surrenderees the chance to change their lives for good!

His Balik-Loob program has not just beaten the dialectics of the insurgency, but has significantly won over many of the card-bearing members of the Communist Party of the Philippines and their armed cadres in the New People’s Army.

The flagship program of the President and its whole of a nation approach involving at least 27 department and agencies has actually jumpstarted social reconciliation and healing.

So now it is reaping active participation of citizens. Because ordinary folks have gotten sick and tired of cyclical violence, they are now excited giving peace a chance and are helping rebuild their own communities.

The stick protects the carrot

This is not to say that our armed forces and police have become mere spectators in this nation building effort.

The sword is still there where applicable. Our boots on the ground don’t pass up the opportunity to respond to reports of the presence of suspicious characters operating in their areas of responsibility.

In Barangay Matagbac, Milagros, Masbate, elements of 2nd Infantry Battalion (2IB) recently responded to a report and engaged about 10 communist NPA terrorists in the area led by alias Kiko/Pay, leader of Platoon 2, Larangan 1, Komiteng Probinsya 4 of Bicol Regional Party Committee (BRPC).

The firefight lasted for two minutes before the enemies scurried towards different directions.

Recovered by Joint Task Force Bicolandia from the encounter site were two generators, three engines for motorized banca, solar panel, food supplies and terrorist propaganda materials.

This is now commonplace in the countryside. In no time, Major Gen Henry A. Robinson Jr. PA has been quick to weigh in the support of the local populace in the anti-insurgency campaign of the government., preempting any unlawful activities that the CTG is planning to carry out.

The story repeats itself — insurgents are defeated, they leave their dead behind together with cache of weapons they no longer have replacements to carry.

Last June 27, in Sitio Angas, Barangay Otavi, Bulan town in Sorsogon province, an arms cache comprising of ten M16 rifles and 85 boxes of assorted ammunitions were seized by the joint forces of 31st Infantry Battalion and Philippine National Police.

Two days after, in Labo, Camarines Norte, a massive number of explosives composed of 761 TNT tubes and 400 meters detonating cords were captured by elements of 96th Infantry Battalion in collaboration with the Camarines Norte Police Provincial Office.

 MGen Robinson tells it all in the vernacular, “Alam ng lahat ang totoong motibo ng mga komunistang terorista kaya hindi na sila nagdadalawang isip na magsumbong sa local government units at uniformed personnel tungkol sa kanilang presensya, panlilinlang, at pananakot. Wala na silang makukuhang suporta sa mga komunidad because the people are now on the side of the government yearning for genuine peace.”

As their space becomes smaller, the JTF Bicolandia commander again called on the members of the New Peoples’ Army to abandon their armed struggle – “Magbalik-loob na kayo!”

A ground fertile for dissent

With close to four centuries of Spanish rule built on the cacique system of political patronage contrasted with about 10 years of American violent pacification followed by three decades of liberal indoctrination, and then again four years of Japanese invasion, the absence of a national identity among our people made it easy for many to fall victim to the euphoria of liberation.

Post-World War II conditions estopped the momentum of self-rule that was being taught to our leaders by a Commonwealth and resulted in a revitalized “faith” in the United States making it all the more difficult clarifying the connection between imperialism and poverty.

Thus a radicalizing effect of western concepts brought about by education and the desire for equality with the more Western and affluent sector, aggravated by the chronic inability to work together aggravated by an appetite to import foreign models, paradigms and methods that do not work locally.

In effect the promise of “Hollywood” on one end and an unrequited homegrown insurgency that grew from the remnants of a failed revolution against colonials onto their caciques.

Worse, traceable to a confusion understanding our past our own leaders have enabled a history of revolving doors.

Let us cite one example.

Regardless of how former President Ferdinand Marcos whittled down CPP numbers significantly from the declaration of martial law in 1972 to the time he was deposed in 1986, those who ruled our country for the next thirty years from 1986 to 2016 made sure that we are dragged back to a country divided and full of hostilities and hate for each other.

Lazarus walks again

Thus the mass base of possibly hundreds of thousands that was neutralized to a few thousands by martial law, has begun to resurface in scores of thousands as BS Aquino III ended his term, with a version more devious.

After being released by Mrs. Aquino, Jose Maria Sison, the founding chairman of the Communist Party of the Philippines, was able to set up a base in Ultrect, Netherlands. Towards the end of the 20th century as world communism wanes to almost oblivion, he was able to reinvent the movement from its parochial beginnings in the foothills of the Sierra Madre, into the International League of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS).

In the words of Sison, himself ILPS promotes, supports and develops the anti-imperialist and democratic struggles of the peoples of the world against imperialism and all reaction. It has a broad mass character and not subordinate to any political party, government or religion and affords equality to all participating organizations.

Given this new skin, Sison has become multi-national, no longer just funded by revolutionary tax but by fat grants of sympathetic patrons worldwide.

This was how Lt. General Antonio Parlade Jr. explains “after 52 years the CPP was able to master the art of deceit and blatant lying.”

In the Philippines, the once almost worn-out insurgent movement has not only been legalized, its regional structure in the phase of reconstitution infiltrating the domains of indigenous peoples, its urban front revitalized and engaged in recruitment and indoctrination of replacement cadres from among universities and colleges, its propaganda machinery interlinked with mainstream media and selected social media platforms with stable foreign funding and network, but worst of all its political fangs able to greatly influence governance and public policies through its own network of party-list representation in the Congress of the Philippines.     

But even if the communists were ahead in employing information wars and lawfare to confuse the lazy and bureaucratic establishment, the ground also started to shake.

Former deputy chief of staff Parlade, who is now the commanding officer of the AFP Southern Luzon Command and still serves as spokesman of the National Task Force on Ending Local Communist Armed Conflict, explains that some former communist writers and organizers who have survived the communist purge of the 1980’s started telling their story.

He continues, “Some were eventually enlightened to help the government understand how the communist mind and propaganda machinery works. What we are writing about now is basically culled from their own testimonies on their experience in the underground, using some of their words as products of deep reflection and introspection after they have resurfaced.”

This is very important because this communist inspired insurgency has taken its toll on the best of our youth who were targeted mostly for their talent in speaking and writing, not so much to inspire but to be used and exploited by Jose Maria Sison to fight his war of toppling our democracy, and supplanting it with his.”

Those reading this article should be able to appreciate Parlade’s wisdom that this fight is political propelled by propaganda – a lot more than just physical engagement in conflict.

Adjusting our national defense

I am no longer surprised if Lt Gen Parlade, boldly but humbly acknowledges that this is where the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the government failed before.

“For the longest time the AFP has prosecuted this war with 90 percent of its might (just as the US did in Vietnam),” he said.

But I wish to amend that statement – just as the US did (and lost) in Vietnam.

I agree with Parlade that this war on terror cannot not be 90 percent propaganda and 10 percent tactics.

And so, we must give our national defenders the kind of artillery cover that has been denied them in the past – the narrative and wherewithal to address socio-economic issues thrown at them.

Parlade asks, “how can an AFP officer raised apolitically, understand that insurgency is NOT always a result of poverty and deprivation? How will he argue that social injustice did NOT cause a young peasant to join the NPA, if not for the Sandatahan Yunit Propaganda (SYP) that agitated him?”

The utilization of the military beyond combat and thrusting them right into the hearts and minds of the communities has resonated with the continuing success of the Balik-Loob program.

The insurgent mantra against fascism and tyranny just evaporates when the countryside folks answer for themselves the question “If you support a terrorist like Joma and the CPP, who had been killing our IPs, raping their fighters (men included), massacring their own kind, attacking our democratic system, why should people believe you with your fascist and tyrant narrative?”

The same goes for those who support the communist terrorist in the cities, when asked “And what about the oligarchs? Do you think you will be spared by the communists who look down on you as class enemies and exploiters? They talk nice today because they need your money and influence.”

We do not have to look farther than Marxist dictator Pol Pot and the horror that the Khmer Rouge dealt on the people of Cambodia. We have our own in Inopacan, Leyte where more than 300 members of the New Peoples’ Army were ordered massacred by their own leaders, some buried even alive. So far only the skeletal remains of 67 have been identified.

Indeed, what’s could only be next, when those terrorists they support, take over?

Recovered skulls of NPA members ordered assassinated by their own leaders in Inopacan, Leyte discovered on September 2006.

Proceso ng Balik-Loob transitioning NPA rebels into becoming productive members of society. (http://tfbalikloob.gov.ph/Pages?title=Paano%2Bang%2BProseso)