National Democratic Front-North Central Mindanao propaganda statement posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines Website (Jul 6): The Duterte Regime’s War Against Terrorism
Pedro “Ka Gonyong” Codaste, Consultant
NDFP North Central Mindanao
6 July 2017
The supposed “war on terror” by the Duterte-AFP-US in Marawi has dragged on for over a month now and despite the AFP’s claim that the Maute group is already reduced to inconsequentiality it has on the contrary created a united front of all anti-government forces to fight a war of survival.
The war has dragged even the notorious Abu Sayyaf and a number of armed groups and Moro residents into the frays, who were depressed at the sight of their houses and buildings of significance indiscriminately razed to the ground and the pitiful build-up of civilian casualties due to daily bombings of FA 50s and OV-10s! The war has not dissolved but on the contrary converged all the antigovernment forces into a united stand against whom they perceived as the oppressors and attackers. Marawi City, the Moro people’s center of culture and commerce is now almost a complete wreck.
Martial law is the vehicle used by Duterte on the pretext of antiterrorism to crush the extant dreams of the Moro people for their right to self-determination. Destruction of Marawi is almost complete with debris of destroyed buildings and houses strewn all over setting the last straw that breaks the camel’s back on the Moro people. It has pushed the middle-of -the-road to choose which side they are on. It has set the demarcation line between combatants and non-combatants. It has pushed the nonaligned parties to bite the bullet and side with the dissidents whom they perceived as the oppressed and underdog and in the perception of defending their homeland. Thus the AFP was surprised to find that what was just a simple plan of apprehending Isnilon Hapilon has turned into a quasi-people’s war in Marawi City.
The conflict in Marawi has its beginning on claims of ancestral lands and politics. This land conflict has evolved into a RIDO aggravated by local politics when the controversy of land ownership has not been settled with the Pansar family and the Maute. When the Maute’s adversary won in the mayoralty race of Butig, Pansar then connived and used the military to bully and harass the Maute brothers by bombing the town’s center and farming communities of Butig. This has roused anger of the town’s residents and adjacent vicinities’ to rally on the Maute’s side. In retaliation the Maute, a prominent family in Butig, Lanao Del Sur raided and occupied the municipality of Butig, a contiguous town of Marawi City in 2015. Thus began the not so long running conflict with the Mautes and the AFP which has initially traced its roots to land ownership, but that has now become a quasi-full-blown Moro people’s war of survival and defense of their homeland—- a favorable ground for the US forces’ continued presence in the Philippines and stir trouble to the veering Duterte onto the sides of Russia and China.
Duterte should realize hitherto that if he can’t eliminate the terrorist group which is confined only to a portion of Mindanao despite using his newly- acquired air assets and a sizable portion of his armed forces, how then could he defeat the revolutionary forces and people represented by the NDFP which is firmly rooted on a significant portion of the Philippine population and has its active presence felt in a significant portion of the Philippine territory? He should further realize that the martial law he had imposed in Mindanao and particularly in Marawi would in the end draw forces from the MILF and MNLF to the side of the dissidents who had ancestral/clan relations with the latter, thus bringing the war to a new level of armed resistance for their rights to carve their future freely.
If Duterte has that lawyer-ly acumen as he himself has persistently swaggered he should have realized by now that there is no other option but to delve on the root causes of the conflict. Physically exterminating the rebellious lots does not solve the problem. Just look at Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria and in several African countries! Despite the superiority of the US forces in air power and weapons technology, its supposedly war on terror in Afghanistan has dragged on for almost two decades now and still with no end in sight as evidenced by the Taliban’s capacity a few days later, just after the US has dropped its supposed “mother of all bombs” (MOAB) to the Taliban’s lair on Afghanistan’s countrysides, to retaliate and inflict 60 deaths on the mostly civilian populations. Superiority in weapons does not count much against a people waging guerrilla warfare.
He has even pretend to have no knowledge of the US participation in the Marawi siege but nevertheless thanked the US for its help. By conceding the assistance of US troops in the Marawi siege, allowing the continuance of Balikatan exercises, doing nothing to scrap Edca and other unequal agreements and filling his cabinet with CIA stooges, Duterte has made himself essentially a de facto ally of the US belying his previous anti-US stand.
Now is the high time for Duterte to make peace with the oppressed and exploited masses by ordering his negotiators to sign with the NDFP the comprehensive agreement on socio-economic reforms and consequently the PCR, convene a governing coalition like the Federal Republic of the Philippines which the NDFP is willing to cofound to settle the questions of territory, taxation, single government and other concerns.
He should also heed the demand of the people of Marawi to end the AFP aerial bombardment and to withdraw the AFP troops, order the US forces to leave, do away with CIA stooges and just allow the Moro people’s processes in resolving the raging local conflicts. Martial law is the ill-informed and ill-educated solution to the snowballing armed resistance of the people of Marawi for justice and right to self-determination. He should learn to “eat soup with a knife,” by knowing who really are his real enemies and real friends for his “war on terror” to succeed.
Having pursued these, history would enshrine him as the first GRP president to have attained a long and elusive peace with the revolutionary forces and masses including the Moro people.