The Philippine military has been racking up victories lately against one of Asia’s longest communist insurgencies, the New People’s Army. It’s gotten so bad that the communists are abandoning their leaders and have started killing each other in fear of massive defections.
To give you a better image of how good the war against the insurgency is going, here’s some headlines in the Philippine news from September and October of this year:
September 22, 2010: Military captures big NPA camp in Samar -”…insurgents… were forced to abandon their camp after suffering heavy casualties.”
September 23, 2010: NPA leader killed in Negros clash – “The Army identified the fatality as… secretary of the Communist Party of the Philippines’ Komite Rehiyon-Negros Southwest Front”
September 23, 2010: Top NPA official slain – Yes, a different top NPA official was killed at the same day as the one above.
September 25, 2010: Sick, abandoned Red leader in Davao surrenders to 10th ID
September 26, 2010: NPA Leader Surrenders in Mindanao
October 3, 2010: Military Captures 11 Rebel Camps in Samar
October 12, 2010: NPAs abandon Communist Leaders in Southern Philippines
The massive defections and paranoia are because of the reputation of the military for being generous with those who surrender and ruthless with those who don’t. The NPA has become so paranoid that they’ve began killing more of their own members.
How does the government follow up on the disarray of the communist camp and on the great victories its military is having? By offering peace talks. You might think this a good thing because it’s negotiating from a position of strength, but make no mistake: Any effort for a peace agreement will be used solely by the communists to lick their wounds and regroup. We’ve been in this situation before. As the former president, Joseph “Erap” Estrada, who was ousted in a revolt in 2001, said earlier this year: “We talk peace, sign a ceasefire, but insurgencies continue, the bombings continue, the kidnappings continue…”
The peace talks are a very disappointing development in the new Noynoy Aquino government. I was hoping for a tougher stance against the rebels despite his mother’s soft stance against the communists back when she was president.
The military victories of the Philippine’s against the communist rebels reinforces the fact that the military is more than capable of destroying the insurgencies. The only thing restraining them from crushing the bad guys is the non-commitment of the Philippine government to victory.
There have been episodes of seeming determination from past administrations to really destroy the insurgency. West point graduate and former president Fidel V. Ramos for example has actually killed communists with his own hands while fighting bravely in certain wars in East Asia. Former president Joseph “Erap” Estrada declared all out war during his presidency, and by all accounts the rebels had no time to even “breath”. Former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo also had this fit of clear thinking and pursued the Communists aggressively. However for some reason, it never seemed to work out. The Ramos administration’s dealings with the communists ended in a peace deal. Erap was ousted before he could see his commitment to the finish. And Arroyo sent mixed messages about her commitment to defeat the Reds which led to a lack of support from the people.
Pres. Aquino has already seen military victories under his freshly elected administration. He should forgo peace talks, and allow the military to do what it does best. And end this drawn out war once and for all.