Just last week, Gen. Jovito Palparan, of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) told the “Defense” Committee of the House of Representatives of the Philippines: “The enemy is everywhere in Samar Island.” By “enemy” he meant the Maoist guerrillas of the New People’s Army (NPA). Fifty to sixty percent of the population of Samar sympathize with the NPA, added Palparan, explaining army killings of civilians on this island jutting out of the archipelago between Luzon and Leyte. He might understate NPA support. Mao Zedong famously stated that the relations between the Chinese People’s Liberation Army and the masses of people should be like the relationship “between fish and water.” The Filipino communists seek to replicate the Chinese experience, by establishing limited control over liberated zones that transform peasant life in ways that broaden support for the revolution and allow the guerrillas to operate among the people as easily as fish swim in the sea. The ultimate goal is to combine urban insurrection and the surrounding of the cities by the peasant-based army to accomplish the seizure of power and begin building socialism. Gen. Palparan, known locally as “the butcher of Mindoro,” must find the Maoists’ successes on Samar deeply frustrating.
Samar’s just one island, out of seven thousand islands in the Philippines populated by 88 million people. All over the sprawling multi-ethnic archipelago, the former U.S. colony that during its “insurrection” against U.S. rule (1899-1913) lost one-tenth its population, Gen. Palparan’s enemy flourishes. At present, according to the NPA, the Maoists operate “in more than 130 guerrilla fronts covering significant portions of nearly 70 provinces, in around 800 municipalities and more than 9,000 barrios.” The CIA concedes that the movement has been growing in recent years. The NPA has been around since 1969, experiencing ups and downs, learning, making mistakes followed by “rectification campaigns.” At present it looks strong and healthy. Between March 27 and May 15 it responded to an AFP offensive in Surigao Del Sur, designed to clear the way for logging and mining, by killing over 60 AFP troops. It successfully attacked the Army’s 77th IB detachment in Tugo, Abra June 3 and seized at least 30 high-powered firearms. On June 5 Joel Escubido Geollegue, a police intelligence officer with 28 years of service, defected to the revolutionary forces.
The NPA is the military wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), re-founded in 1968 by Sison, a poet and one-time professor of English at the University of the Philippines. Its successes are in part a tribute to this man, now 66 years old and by a strange fate compelled to live in exile in the Netherlands. The man known to his friends Continue reading