Response of the CPP-IB to TeleSur questions:
Telesur: Do you see the bluster and loud messages from Duterte as a sort of strong-arm negotiating tactic simply meant to force a CPP-NDF-NPA capitulation?
CPP Information Bureau: Yes, Duterte’s loud, dirty and blustery mouth aims to bully the Party, the NPA and NDFP to accept his terms for surrender of the revolutionary forces. This is after he failed to use the peace negotiations as an instrument to pacify the NDFP and entrap it in a DDR-type framework of talks. Before dealing with the substantial socio-economic and political issues that are at the root of the civil war in the Philippines, he wanted first for the NPA to silence its guns through a bilateral ceasefire agreement. This is unacceptable.
Duterte has long made use of bullying tactics, legal and extralegal threats against his political opponents in order to establish himself as a strongman. This is, however, not a sign of strength. If anything, it shows the inability and weakness of the ruling regime to govern the country according to its established rules and increasing reliance on violence to perpetuate the system.
Telesur: How do you gauge the strength of NPA in fighting back against any all-out war, potential counter-insurgency onslaught by AFP?
CPP-IB: The NPA is in a position to effectively resist, and thereby, grow in strength as it fights the US-Duterte regime’s all-out war and martial law. The NPA is set to surpass its peak strength in the 1980s. The NPA is firmly united and determined to wage extensive and intensive guerrilla warfare. Tactical offensives are being carried out nationwide from the northern tip of Luzon, to the middle regions of the Visayas islands and across the Mindanao island in the south. The reactionary defense establishment has taken notice of the nationwide spread of the increasing stacatto of NPA tactical offensives.
The NPA can intensify the revolutionary armed struggle because of the deep and wide support of the people. The Filipino people, especially the workers and peasants, as well as the pettybourgeoisie, are increasingly indignant over the worsening forms of oppression and exploitation. In response, more and more are joining the NPA. Agrarian revolution is being waged by the NPA together with the peasant masses. The people’s democratic government is being steadily built on the basis of the mass strength of the Party and the people’s revolutionary organizations comprising the NDFP.
On the other hand, the US-Duterte regime is overstretching itself by declaring simultaneous wars against the Moro people in the Bangsamoro areas in Mindanao as well as against the Filipino people and their revolutionary forces. The AFP is ever reliant on US support to conduct its war of suppression. Duterte cannot expect increased military support from US imperialist rivals Russia and China. The Philippine military wants to increase its strength by at least two more divisions but cannot because of budgetary constraints. Such a plan to increase the number of fascist troops will surely be vigorously opposed by the people.
Telesur: Would you say the recent moves by the GRP come from a consensus by Philippine elites to crush the progressive and revolutionary forces at this time? Why now, and what role do you see the great powers playing in this?
CPP-IB: Duterte has used bullying, legal and extralegal threats to silence his political opponents and made them accede to his regime of mass murder, all-out suppression and open fascist rule. He also seeks to entice the big bureaucrat capitalists and big bourgeois compradors with fat commissions and business share in the large infrastructure projects funded by Chinese loans.
Fully aware that he only has six years (possibly less if his reported stem cell treatment will not extend the life of his diseased body), he wants to railroad all these projects and demand everyone’s support. However, the divisions among the ruling elite run deep and cannot be healed by Duterte’s economic enticements.
Duterte is determined to crush the progressive and revolutionary forces. The national democratic movement stands to become the solid core of a broad united front against the anti-people and fascist regime. Sections of the ruling elite are bound to unite with the people against Duterte.
Duterte considers the progressives and revolutionaries as the biggest stumbling block to his push for neoliberal policies and corruption-laden projects. The national democratic movement is determined to defend the rights and interests of the people especially in the face of detrimental plans to build new railroads, dams and other projects.
The US imperialists are tolerant of China’s large economic infusion as this helps sustain the semicolonial and semifeudal system which is deep in crisis. China is providing sizeable economic support as advanced payment in exchange for the Duterte regime’s non-assertion of the June 2016 decision of the International Tribunal on the Law of the Seas (ITLOS) which recognized Philippine economic and territorial rights in the South China Sea features and invalidates China’s claim of sovereignty. China’s $24 billion largesse has also made Duterte shut up and keep silent amid the rush of land reclamation and construction of military airfields and facilities in the Spratly Islands and other areas within the Philippine territorial seas and economic zone.
Duterte does not want to antagonize China but will not stop the US military from continuing its so-called “freedom of navigation operations” in the South China Sea and its increasingly provocative approaches to China’s military facilities in the area. Naval warships of the US use the Philippines as stopover and refuelling station in its power projection in the South China Sea. The US military continues to build its military facilities across the Philippines to host US forward-deployed weapons and troops. An undetermined number of US troops operate in the Philippines and work closely with the AFP.