How do you solve a problem like the NPA?

Written on February 27, 2013

Karl Marx did not totally hate the current economic system. In fact, he understood and acknowledged the efficiency of capitalism and its ability to generate large material gains that would allow and support the emergence of a progressive, egalitarian society based on the idea “from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs.” The plan is simple: ignite the proletarian revolution, overthrow the exploitative ruling class and allow the people to run their lives in a world that provides equal opportunity to everyone.

Founded on the same principles, the New People’s Army (NPA) has vowed to promote and champion equal rights and opportunities for the people by carrying out armed guerrilla warfare based on the protracted people’s war strategy. Just recently, a group of 50 to 100 NPA rebels launched simultaneous raids at the Dole and Del Monte plantations in Bukidnon, killing a security guard while wounding three other civilians. The rebels burned offices and equipment, rummaged the company’s security armory and office computers and looted the personal belongings of the employees. Justifying the attacks as a move to deliver justice to the 2,000 casualties during the typhoon Sendong, the leftist movement blamed the multinational corporations’ expansions in the region as the cause of the massive flooding in Cagayan de Oro during the typhoon.

Rebels without a cause?

From 1978 to 2010, statistics from the AFP-PNP show that 21% (or 7,877) of all 29,553 fatalities in the ongoing insurgency are innocent civilians, the same people that the NPA fighters swear to defend and whose interests they seek to realize. However, their recent actions seemed to be proving otherwise: they shot an innocent civilian who’s only performing his job; destroyed private properties and pillaged a company that provides employment to poor people in poor communities. Still unsatisfied, they also despoiled employees of their valuables and other belongings. Such are not actions befitting of a people’s freedom fighter. These actions are that of thugs and thieves.

If the NPA is so pro-people, why do they allow for innocent citizens to suffer the ramifications of their actions? And, if they really want to rid of poverty, corruption and injustice, why do they raid businesses and companies who provide job opportunities to impoverished communities? The GPH has tried and tried to reach out to the rebels, even going as far as Norway just to discuss their differences and issues by both sides, however, to no avail. If the GPH and the NPA aspire for the same things – elimination of poverty, corruption and social inquities – what’s keeping them from cooperating instead of killing each other off?

All of these awful realities make you pause and ponder the question: what are we really fighting for?

Prospects for resolution

The NPA’s continued existence feeds on poverty, social injustice, corruption and abuse. It can be argued that so long as these ideas are opulent in the Philippine society, the spirit of communist rebellion, through the NPA insurgents, will remain alive. Thus, consistent and sincere implementation of actions to address these issues is the best weapon the government can wield against these rebels. GPH’s effort to eradicate corruption, injustice and its recent moves to settle their dispute with the Muslim insurgents in the south by means of a framework agreement have somewhat rendered the NPA less relevant. In that regard, one can only presume that the recent spike in the activities of the NPA is its way of reasserting their significance and relevance.

The GPH though shouldn’t rely alone on improving the welfare state to resolve its ongoing strife with the NPA. Efforts should still be complemented with continuous peace talks and negotiations to come up with sincere, long-term plans to deal with the root cause of the issues. It is also good to take note that concerns of ideological differences shouldn’t be much of an issue today than it was during the heydays of the NPA. More grievance-motivated than ideologically-driven, an ordinary NPA soldier nowadays fight because of they have gripes and issues with the government. Carrying out concrete measures to address their concerns would eventually diminish the NPA’s ability to recruit and attract soldiers and followers, thus, leaving the leaders with no capacity to further protract their “people’s war.”

Peace, good for business

There are proven evidences of the positive relationship of peace and the economy. Business and consumer confidence and investor climate altogether have a bearing on the level of growth of an economy. If the economic climate in a society goes uneasy and dreadful, investors will not invest, no money would come out of banks and consumers won’t buy. That is why it is an imperative for the Philippine government to resolve its insurgency problems if it wants to sustain its impressive economic growth from the previous year and bring peace to this land of milk and honey.

With all the recent economic achievements of the country – one of the fastest growth in Asia and in the world, bullish currency and stock market, consumers and investors confidence – it is safe to say that these are golden years for the Philippines. However, the country hasn’t gotten itself out of this make-or-break game yet. It would still take enormous amount of time and effort from the government and its people to accomplish their goals and interests. A single gunshot can spoil it all and leave our hopes dangling on fragile strings again. Heaven forbid but the Filipinos cannot afford another lost decade.

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