Mass base consolidation in Cagayan Valley: Strength founded on agrarian revolution

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The support of the peasant masses in Cagayan Valley to the New People’s Army (NPA) remains firm amid intense combat and psywar operations of the military across the region.” The people here are as hard as stone,” soldiers often conclude after repeatedly mounting Retooled Community Support Program operations in a barrio.

According to comrades, agrarian revolution was key to the quick expansion and consolidation of mass organizations. They were able to launch campaigns against usury and landgrabbing, and for wage increases in the past few years.

Agrarian revolution

In a barrio, farmers confronted a usurer who continued to charge them with high interests on loans despite the crisis amid the pandemic and typhoons which successively hit the region. Farmers who failed to pay their loans on time were charged a 100% interest by the usurer.

The starkest case was that of a farmer who borrowed ₱51,700 and was charged ₱358,500 by the usurer. The farmer was unable to pay his debt because his farm was ravaged.

During the confrontation, the farmers were able to demand the usurer to cancel out loan interests of farmers who have been able to settle principal payments. Those who have failed to pay will just be charged principal payments and interests for just a planting season.

In another barrio, farm workers won a daily wage increase from ₱150 to ₱250. They were also able to set the time when workers are supposed to start working every day, and also won their demand to be provided free lunch. The farmers also prohibited liquor drinking among workers during afternoons as this causes trouble in the barrio.

In two other barrios, poor peasants conducted a campaign to stop the impending land expansion of rich farmers.

Establishing BRCs

The organs of political power continue to be established across the region. The number of barrio revolutionary committees (BRCs) increased by 25% in 2020.

In a barrio, 100 farmers, youth and middle forces assembled to establish a BRC in their cluster. The local Party branch ensured the participation of the masses and promptly called for the assembly. Meetings were immediately organized after the soldiers who conducted focused military operations in the area withdrew.

Farmers have long been planning to establish their own government in the barrio, but that was the only time they were able to accomplish this. During the assembly, the delegates elected the BRC officials and drafted a one-year plan. They also discussed about NPA recruitment.

Two other KRBs were founded in adjacent barangay clusters.

Mi­li­tary offensives

The New People’s Army (NPA) in Cagayan Valley was able to mount around 20 armed actions against fascist enemy troops last year. The enemy sustained at least 55 casualties, equivalent to two platoons.

Latest of these offensives was the demolition operation launched by the NPA-East Cagayan against an operating unit of the 77th IB in Mabuno, Gattaran, Cagayan. Six soldiers were killed during this offensive which was mounted on December 26, 2020, coinciding the 52nd annivesary of the Communist Party of the Philippines.

Reports by the NPA regional command indicate that the total NPA force in the region increased by 45%-55% in 2020. The NPA also belied the “mass surrender” of so-called NPA members and supporters in the region. The latest batch of “surrenderees” who were paraded last January 28 are farmers who were threatened and coerced by the military.

The region also reported a 15% growth in Party membership during the same period. The Party was able to conduct revolutionary educational discussions including the Basic, Intermediate and Advance Party Courses last year.

This article is based on the October-December 2020 issue of Baringkuas, the revolutionary mass newspaper of the Party in Northeastern Luzon.

Mass base consolidation in Cagayan Valley: Strength founded on agrarian revolution