Living democracy: Democracy in the New People’s Army
Amid the reign of fascist tyranny, democracy flourish in the people’s struggles.. It is found in mass organizations, organs of political power and people’s government, the Communist Party and New People’s Army. The voice, grievances and aspirations of the oppressed classes and democratic sectors, along with their anger and contempt of the the current regime, flow in these formations. The people can freely present their plight without fear or reservations. Just and appropriate resolutions are then implemented to address their problems, and they are confident that these will be fully supported and defended by the people’s army.
Democracy flows in the revolution, in the New People’s Army (NPA). This was the statement of Ka Ando, an NPA commander. This is ensured by branches of the Communist Party of the Philippines in NPA units. This, along with the revolutionary military discipline, is firmly upheld by Red fighters.
Discussions and studies about the principles of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism and policies and decisions of the Party are key to the flow of democracy among Red commanders and fighters, and Party cadres. Collective criticism and self-criticism among Red fighters are likewise key to strengthening their unity.
Democracy in the army is upheld in three aspects—politics, military and economy.
Political democracy is manifested in the conduct of meetings and the right of Red commanders and fighters to freely express their respective opinions.
Many Red fighters are peasants and indigenous peoples. Party cadres strive in training them to express their opinions and to discuss. Short meetings and assessments are daily conducted by NPA units up to the squad level.
Military democracy includes the right of Red fighters to express their resepective opinions on military matters. Meetings are also held by the NPA before and after military campaigns to discuss and assess operational plans, fighting strategies and tactics, and the victories obtained in military offensives.
Military democracy is also manifested in the appointment of NPA cadres as commanders and officials regardless of age. This breaks the culture of promoting troopers based on seniority.
NPA commanders are completely involved in daily struggles, unlike generals of the reactionary army forces. They are at the forefront of struggles and sacrifices and serve as exemplars of the “simple living, arduous struggle” principle to Red fighters.
One dining table
Rice, vegetables, dried fish, canned goods—these are commonly shared by Red commanders and fighters on the dining table. Among the three democracies, that in the economic aspect best demonstrates equality.
They are allocated the same food ration and budget. Oftentimes, lunchboxes are lined up in the kitchen and are successively filled with food rations. Supply officers ensure sufficient food and other supplies needed by Red fighters.
Equality is manifested not only in food rationing but also in the provision of other supplies. Officials are given no special favors. All are given the same types of supplies. Supplies that are either procured or solicited are frugally distributed and those who are in most need are always prioritized. Regular inventories are also conducted by supply officers to ensure that supplies are properly utilized.
Red commanders and fighters live simply. This is contrast to the lavish lifestyle of AFP and PNP generals who own grandiose mansions. These generals are notorious for plundering public funds, including the budget allocated for the operation of their troops. CAFGU elements, for instance, are compensated only with a few kilos of rice and pieces of canned sardines as their salaries are pocketed by regular troopers for their personal businesses.
Inside the NPA, production activities are planned and implemented based on the principle of “self-sufficiency.” Comrades with sufficient knowledge in production accompany those who are relatively new.
Red commanders and fighters live together, both in times of distress and peace. They are compelled to tighten their belts in times of intese military offenives by the enemy. Democracy and discipline in NPA units is steeled in these situations.