From media reports on government internal security operations, campaign plan Balanghai and other aspects of counterinsurgency, one will come to understand why the need for OPlan Bantay Laya I and Bantay Laya II by a crisis-ridden and desperate US-Arroyo regime:
· An AFP assessment carried by media that the resurgence of the local communist movement is continuing and the trend needs to be reversed.
· Media sources cited the AFP itself admitting that its forces suffered more casualties than the NPA in 2005.
· The launching of Bantay Laya II in December 2006 was an admission of failure of Bantay Laya I (whose objective was the strategic defeat of the NPA) during the previous five years. AFP Chief of Staff Esperon said that Bantay Laya II is a 3-year campaign plan whose main objective is strategic victory over the CPP-NPA-NDF by the end of Arroyo’s term in 2010.
A Dim View of Bantay Laya
In its desperate bid to put an end to the protracted people’s struggle, the planners of Bantay Laya are constrained by ideological “blinders.” Unlike the CPP-NPA-NDF, the U.S.-GRP-AFP “think tank” cannot come out openly and honestly with what may be considered as the “bottom line” in the protracted conflict – the reality of existing antagonistic socio-economic classes, acute and intense class contradictions, and seemingly open-ended class conflict in Philippine society.
It is most likely that Bantay Laya II will also end up in failure and frustration as was the fate of previous counterinsurgency operations of former regimes. Mounting human rights violations and atrocities inflicted on an oppressed and long-suffering people only intensifies class contradictions and alienation. But the high cost in human lives, personal trauma and sufferings of victims of the present “dirty war” may in the long run far exceed the “crimes against humanity” of previous regimes combined.
An explanation of successive failures of AFP counterinsurgency operations may be summarized as follows:
Bantay Laya, being no different in essence from the infamous counterinsurgency operations of the Marcos dictatorship, can only be described as an act of state terrorism and a continuing crime against humanity. It serves only the narrow interests of a minority in Philippine society – local and foreign big business capitalist predators who have connived with the Arroyo regime in frustrating the basic rights and interests of workers condemned to slave wages and job insecurity; landlords with private armies who have condemned the peasantry to perpetual serfdom and hand-to-mouth existence as was their fate since the Spanish colonial era. In brief, the defenders of a semi-feudal and neocolonial system cannot be expected to be the defenders of the marginalized, dispossessed, exploited and oppressed toiling masses. Bantay Laya and its “holistic approach” to insurgency will flounder for as long as it defends and protects an inequitable, unjust and anti-masses social order.
As long as the AFP remains a mercenary instrument of US imperialist interests and the local dominant classes in Philippine society, it will always be faced with irreconcilable contradictions in dealing with the vast majority of the Filipino people. It will face constantly increasing odds in meeting the challenge of the CPP-NPA-NDF in “winning the hearts and minds” of the broad masses.
A recent phenomenon that has added to the insecurity and uncertainties of the Arroyo regime is the gradual awakening of members of the AFP to the unabated corruption and moral decay in government and within the armed forces. This explains why today scores of decent officers in the army and marines are confined in detention centers. They have become “disaffected” with a regime they perceive has lost the people’s support and must now rely on the bayonet for political survival.
Delusion on People’s Support
Meanwhile, as assassinations, murders, massacres, tortures and disappearances of innocent civilians and legal personalities continue to mount, the U.S.-Arroyo regime and its armed forces continue to suffer from a delusion that they have the support of the people. Given the large disparity in manpower, material and financial resources (plus U.S. military assistance) between the AFP and NPA, if the former had the support of the broad masses, the CPP-NPA-NDF would have long been crushed, defeated and relegated to a footnote in Philippine history.(Bulatlat.com)