For the past few days, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has reported a series of successes in their anti-insurgency campaigns. They first arrested the alleged spokesperson of the Southern Tagalog region, and then followed it up with the killing of three members of the New People’s Army (NPA), one of them a high-ranking member of the party’s sub-regional command in an alleged shootout in Antipolo. The military claims several thousands have surrendered from the ranks of the rebels.
A quick check with the AFP’s press statements say that there are more rebel surrenderees this year than last year’s with 608 rebels turning themselves over to duly constituted authorities see link. The problem is, the AFP claims that there are more than 9,000 plus rebels who already surrendered and are recipients of the government’s program, 2,000 more than what was reported in 2018 see link.
So, if the communist movement is weakening, as what the AFP wants us to believe, then, why is it that the NPA continues to conduct large scale operations against state security forces? Relatively smaller compared to pre-EDSA uno political situation, but assumed to be more potent and more streamlined now than before.
The thing is–the AFP must be cognizant of the fact that the strike potency of any armed group right now is not on numbers but on how trained and skilled they are on conducting military operations. What Lenin wrote several decades ago about the possibility of only seven highly professional revolutionaries causing severe disruption against a state is entirely possible now than during his time. Technologies and the near perfection of deathly strikes without use of enormous resources are now included in the training modules of most revolutionary movements.
The NPA may not be that imposing anymore but its capabilities of striking the state where it least expects it or conducting a campaign to continually impose damages to state security agencies remain bigger now than several decades ago.
Despite highly conflicting figures, it is probably safe to assume that NPA numbers have grown significantly beginning 2016. Yes, there were probably surrenders yet the possibility of the rebel ranks growing not in astronomical numbers, but sufficient enough to mete punishments to those who sinned against the people and impose the people’s will over the prevailing power of the oligarchs.