Joma Sison’s Death

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Communist Party of the Philippines founder Jose Maria Sison’s ashes may be here in our country before the year ends. His party mates and members of the New People’s Army (NPA) will give a 21-gun salute to this country’s formerly intellectual giant on December 26. Although the CPP-NPA-NDF did not declare any ceasefire with the government, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Department of Defense (DoD) hope that localized peace talks would surely follow in a post-Sison era. The National Democratic Front (NDF) had expressed its desire to continue formal negotiations with the Marcos Junior administration before Sison’s death. However, no reciprocal move came out from the Marcos junior administration.

The government is portraying Sison as the main stumbling block in attaining peace in the country. Records of these negotiations, however, show that both sides were dishonest and were playing each other out to gain whatever advantage each camp could get from these talks. During the Duterte administration, words were used to lure leaders of the movement to the open, obviously for identification and eventual neutralization. An example was what happened to the Tiamson couple, reportedly killed in an ambush by government forces in Palawan. Several NDF consultants, like Ericsson Acosta, were also summarily executed by covert military forces. The government has heightened its low-intensity conflict campaigns thru a simple design— neutralizing top ideological leaders while luring weak ideologues into the fire, leaving foot soldiers without their political cadres, giving them reasons to fight. What the government hoped to happen here is for the movement to fragment into tiny manageable pieces. Like the Duterte administration, the Marcos junior administration hopes to use billions of pesos to fund livelihood assistance projects for prospective surrenderers.

Is this strategy a good one? No. The Left Movement is already an ideologically supported institution in Philippine society that mere billions alone are insufficient to cause its death soon. Joma Sison’s death will not be a significant factor in the party’s dissolution. Rebels already accepted their fate when they decided to tread the path that was the least choice of many. Sison may have inspired thousands, even millions, to consider Socialism as the answer to this country’s woes. Still, it does not necessarily follow that his death would disincentivize or demoralize these believers enough for them to abandon their weapons in exchange for plows. Only thru a total re-engineering of Philippine society along the lines of truth, justice and peace would probably make these people return to the fold of government.

Intractable insurgencies such as what we have in our country are hard to kill because of the social, economic, and political environment that triggers Filipinos to use arms to attain their desired outcomes, remain, and even thrive. We have to admit that the monumental errors that caused the birth of this insurgency are also institutionalized, and there is simply no other recourse for our society but to transform our institutions to synergize or synthesize the finer ideological arguments of Socialism with that of liberal democracy.

This early, we heard so many instances when instead of using these funds for developmental initiatives in conflict areas, funds go straight to the pockets of corrupted members of the military and the DnD.  The enormous amount of money lured contractors of different shapes and sizes, primarily personalities who claimed to have the magic silver bullet that would eventually cause this movement to wither and die. Never mind if their roles mean nothing; these people have already decided to make this counter-insurgency project their primary family and extra-family income source.

I agree that defeating an intractable insurgency requires a “whole nation” approach. Yet, when the implementers of this approach do so out of spite or plan to use weapons of mass destruction as their stick and monies as carrots to lure these rebels to the fold of government, we see no hope for peace very soon. Worse, when these implementers hold vainly the belief of supplanting this insurgency with an insurgency of their own predicated on Hitlerian principles, such moves would only garner dust and would only see hard-earned public funds wasted.

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