Carlo's Think Pieces

Reflections of a Filipino in the Netherlands

CPP-NPA helps maintain status quo in Philippines

Posted by butalidnl on 1 April 2008

The CPP-NPA is supposed to be working to overthrow not only the present government, but also the entire ruling system, and replace it with a peoples democratic state (or something like that), which will eventually lead to socialism. Thus, it is against foreign control of the economy, the power of the landlord-dominated elite, and corruption in government; and as such should be the No. 1 enemy of the present ruling elite. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your political leanings), the CPP-NPA is not very effective in doing its work of destabilizing the Philippine political system. It very much seems to be doing the exact opposite – that of helping to stabilize the country’s political system.

What do I mean? Well, for starters, the present government treats the CPP-NPA more as a nuisance than as a threat. It doesn’t even bother to try negotiating peace with it. Why should it? It’s activities are hardly destabilizing, hardly even annoying. NPA local attacks are just that – local – and it has no national, or even provincial significance. But it is not only their negligible impact that leads one to conclude that they are a not a force of instability.

Let us look at some of the reasons for concluding that the CPP-NPA is helping to maintaining the status quo in the Philippines.

It serves as an outlet for disgruntled people.
Since the CPP-NPA still is able to recruit disgruntled people, many of them intellectuals; it effectively removes them from the “agitated masses”. When the CPP-NPA actually led massive demonstrations, etc. such as in the Marcos period, these disgruntled intellectuals’ energies were directed towards the “masses” – they led demonstrations, influenced the media, etc. Nowadays, with the CPP-NPA a marginal force, the withdrawal of these people from the mainstream actually reduces the overall temperature (or “average agitation”) of the mainstream, effectively cooling things down.

The CPP-NPA disrupts the work of grassroots NGOs and peoples organizations which are not affiliated with it.
In its attempt to be the leading force of the opposition, the CPP-NPA attacks the grassroots work of groups it consider to be its rivals – and sometimes quite literally, by murdering their local organizers. This effectively weakens the overall impact of the work of opposition groups locally and nationally.

Their goals are more modest than what the people want and can get.
The CPP-NPA’s specific goals are often less radical than what the people want or can achieve. A good example of this is in the case of land reform: in Central Luzon, agrarian reform activists together with pro-reform officials at DAR were able to negotiate with landowners to a crop division of 75-25 (i.e. 75% for the farmer, 25% for the landowner). This compares favorably when compared to the NPA’s aim of “terciong baliktad” which means 2/3 – 1/3 division (and thus giving the farmer only 67%) of the harvest.

Its opposition to mining in the Philippines is clearly less advanced than that of the Catholic Bishops. The bishops oppose mining throughout the country, while the CPP-NPA is only against certain mining companies. One might even suspect that they are opposed to those firms who refuse to pay the CPP-NPA “taxes”.

Their agenda is watered down as a result of their presence in Congress.
The CPP-NPA is present in Congress through its front parties e.g. Bayan Muna, Gabriela, Anakpawis. But instead of using their position to undermine the ruling system, they often help to protect it. Take for instance their opposition to the reduction of “pork barrel” allocations. The CPP-NPA benefits from pork barrel allocations either directly (through projects in their base areas) and indirectly (through kickbacks). They don’t want their lucrative source of funds to dry up!

During elections, they behave more like trapos.
During elections, the CPP-NPA do their best to make the maximum financial gain. Foremost is their policy of charging campaigning fees for candidates who want to campaign in their areas. This usually results in the traditional politico having campaigning access to these areas, while the more idealistic (and less rich) candidates or parties not gaining access.

Going beyond the campaigning fees, the CPP-NPA also makes all sorts of alliances with traditional politicians, which often extend beyond the campaign period. Thus, we would see alliances with landlords and the NPA against farmers groups.

All in all, I cannot help but conclude that the CPP-NPA is no longer the radical group that is determined to bring down the corrupt Philippine political system. Those wanting radical change would need to find other ways of doing so.

3 Responses to “CPP-NPA helps maintain status quo in Philippines”

  1. Datu Daku said

    Great! You hit it on the head. I love you.

  2. […] The second safety valve, ironically, is our home-grown communist insurgency. Why would that be?  People who are particularly mad about the present system have the option of joining the NPA in the countryside. Despite various efforts, the NPA remains restricted to countryside operations, where they face local challenges e.g. armed right-wing groups etc. The NPA does not retain that much left-over energy to fight in the cities. And the CPP-NPA is actually already coopted into the political status-quo and will not do anything to really threaten it.(see: CPP-NPA Helps Maintain Status Quo in the Philippines) […]

  3. […] For one, the homegrown communist movement is more of a nuisance rather than a threat. [See CPP-NPA Helps Maintain Status Quo in the Philippines ] As for the Moro rebels, the government is constantly having a ceasefire with the MILF, while they […]

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