(This essay was originally written in Filipino by Raymond De Vera Palatino for Bulatlat, an alternative news site in the Philippines. I have endeavored to translate the piece as best as I could from Filipino to English in order for more people to be able to read about, and know, why the revolutionary New People’s Army (NPA), despite the ups and downs in its 47 year history, will unlikely be defeated in the long run. I believe this piece is also significant now as the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), which guides the NPA in struggling for a better society, is celebrating its 48th founding anniversary today, December 26, also the occasion of Mao Zedong’s birth.
All mistakes in translation are, of course, mine.)
All the past regimes attempted to defeat and destroy the New People’s Army (NPA). All said they will succeed. All of them failed. What is behind the mysterious strength of the NPA? How did it fare in the past five decades? There is no secret except in arduous struggle while advancing the politics of revolution. There is no secret doctrine except in serving the people until the national democratic struggle succeeds. Why can’t the NPA ever be defeated? Here are some reasons:
- Because the people’s army is the peasants’ ally in implementing genuine agrarian reform. At the minimum, land rent is lowered and farmers’ income from the sale of their produce is increased; at the maximum, land is redistributed. This is why the masses care for the NPA like their own friends, family and comrades.
- Because the NPA is a defender of the environment. An enemy of destructive logging, large-scale mining and foreign corporations that spread waste in the environment. It is no wonder that the ordinary person salutes the NPA’s clean record.
- Because the NPA is immersed in the daily lives of the people in the countryside. It is a military force but is also preoccupied with assisting in the fields, production work and promoting basic services in the barrios like education, health, security and irrigation.
- Because it is part of establishing the people’s government; the foundation of red power in the liberated areas. A government with an extensive territory, determines its own laws, establishes people’s schools and clinics. Unites the people to destroy the leadership of the oligarchy in the country.
- The NPA is the people’s hotline. The original 911 and 8888 in the countryside. Problems that the bureaucracy does not act on are brought to the NPA’s attention for speedy resolution and justice. A force that punishes despotic landlords, abusive politicians, cruel warlords, soldiers with blood debts and petty criminals like cattle rustlers. Implements peace and order and recognizes people’s struggles in the countryside.
- It is seldom or there are almost no NPA fighters who are hated by the masses. Sometimes they are called “Nice People Around.” Why? Because the NPA follows a guiding discipline known as Three-Eight. For example, it is not allowed to steal from the community, one must return what was borrowed from the masses, respect women and the elderly, pay the correct amount for what one bought and never destroy crops. And whenever an NPA fighter violates these rules, the masses are free to criticize the NPA. The NPA also knows how to ask for forgiveness from the people.
- Because it is a revolutionary group that has a revolutionary stand on all issues. It always has a sharp analysis of the nation;s situation as well as the global economy. While the issues of divorce and same sex marriage are still being debated on in Congress, the NPA has been implementing them for years. Exponents of advanced culture and the proletarian viewpoints. Patron of the national language, cultivators of indigenous culture.
- Because the opposing force (the Armed Forces of the Philippines) is led by corrupt and inept generals. Government officials themselves acknowledge the existence of corrupt generals, and government recently named some generals as protectors of the drug trade. This, while blindly venerating the war technology of the United States and collaborating with imperialism in political maneuvering in the country.
- Because the global economic crisis is worsening and past regimes have not offered significant solutions to end the ravages brought on by imperialism, feudalism and bureaucrat capitalism. Poverty and exploitation are worsening, farmers are continuously being driven away from their lands, indigenous peoples are abused, and hunger is widespread while only an elite few acquire majority of the nation;s wealth. And if the people resist, the State responds with an iron hand. Poverty and injustice–this is the unseen violence that is the reason for the national democratic revolution that the NPA wages.
- Because the politics of revolution is the over-arching principle of the NPA. Because it lives the essence of the katipunan. Because it continues Bonifacio’s war. Because it is guided by the theory of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism. An army under the collective leadership of the working class. They are guerrillas based in the countryside; building numbers and strength before assaulting the cities. An army that challenged the Marcos dictatorship, an army that steadfastly remained a force of the revolution despite vicious and continued military campaigns by the State, a guerrilla army in a nation of small islands. An army that refines its military tactics while learning how to be experts in the theory and practice of waging the people’s war.
- Because in these trying and hopeless times, the NPA remains a shining force for struggle and genuine change. A people’s army for the downtrodden and enemy of the oppressors; it strives to destroy man’s exploitation of other men. An army that has a comprehensive plan and platform for social change. An army that is with us in liberating our people. An army that struggles to change the old world.