I wrote this roundup for the Philippine Online Chronicles.
A testimonial video of Philippine state security forces held as Prisoners of Wars (POWs) by the Communist Party-led New People’s Army (NPA) has turned viral online with over 271,113 views, 7,498 likes, 5,928 shares, and 1,399 comments on Facebook.
The video was uploaded by citizen journalist Even Demata who contrasted the humane treatment of the POWs by the communist rebel group to the fate of the 44 elite policemen who were killed in Mamasapano in a blood encounter with Moro separatist rebels.
While many of the comments are reflective of the deep-rooted anti-Moro sentiments in the predominantly Catholic nation, they also serve as a gauge of the reception and popular support for the Asia’s longest-running communist rebellion which has waged armed revolution for 46 years and counting.
Many among those who commented on Demanta’s video recognize the revolutionary aims of the NPA which see the armed struggle as the only effective means of changing the unjust and unequal ruling system which have only benefited the rich at the expense of the poor majority.
While some of the commenters outright reject the violence inherent in CPP-NPA’s revolutionary project, many identify government abuses and systemic violence as the reason why they take up arms:
The NPA was formed on March 29, 1969 in Capas, Tarlac as the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) which was reestablished on December 26, 1968 in Alaminos, Pangasinan. It is also part of the National Democratic Front (NDF) which is an umbrella group of various revolutionary groups.
Many comments emphasize the discipline and education of the communist rebels. They do not kill indiscriminately but are perceived by many to wield the gun according to serve political purposes.
Year after year, the Philippine government repeatedly announces the imminent defeat of the NPA. Yet the persistence of inequality and social injustice makes the thought of radical change continue to resonate among people.
Many still fondly refer to the armed group as Nice People Around. Some comments claim that it is in fact the NPA that keep their places peaceful and crime-free.
Some of the testimonials shared by commenters even detail their personal experiences with the communist comrades:
The positive responses can perhaps be attributed to what many perceive as the pro-people platform of the CPP. At the heart of its political program is land reform, which explains the continuing support of poor and landless peasants for the armed revolution.
The revolutionary movement has also consistently advocated for workers’ rights, women empowerment, gender equality, free education and healthcare, socialized housing, and environmental protection, among others, as part of its commitment against all forms of oppression.
This is to be attained in the last instance through the winning of a protracted people’s war wherein the revolutionaries gradually build their armed strength in rural areas, organize their own governments that provide for the needs of the masses, and eventually encircle the cities from the countryside and seize power. Part of this process is what one commenter saw:
While respecting the decision of progressive parties to participate in electoral politics, the CPP-NPA rejects reactionary elections as a charade that only legitimizes the rule of moneyed and powerful elites rather than provides the basis for genuine democracy. For them, only revolutionary change can cure the ills of contemporary Philippine society and nothing less.
As more and more Filipinos lose hope with the current order, it interesting to note that more and more are seeing the prospect of revolutionary change as a rational alternative to the current system.