Sunday, March 18, 2007

The Cancer Within

Almost a week ago ago, two local policemen on a drinking session inside one of the local restaurants were shot and killed by suspected New People's Army guerrillas in what can be seen as a brazen display by the communist rebel army of its capability to launch lightning attacks on government police and military personnel.

Rumors are flying around that the killings were a result of the implementation of what has been referred as "revolutionary justice", the execution of individuals in the police and military service who have been accused and found guilty by revolutionary courts of "crimes against the people".

Be that as it may, the ease and precision with which the whole assassination operation was conducted throws the spotlight more on the failure of the government machinery dealing with the insurgency movement and having the responsibility to prevent or stop such rebel attacks rather than on whatever alleged crimes the slain policemen had committed in the past.

What is clear is that the situation in Lianga, as well as in many other towns in this rebel infested province, is not normal in spite of government claims to the contrary. There is a flourishing and assertive communist insurgency that holds sway over many remote areas of the province and this has been the case for decades. And while the strength of this insurgency movement has not been constant and may have waned a little over the years, it remains and will probably continue to be a potent threat to the stability of the local peace and order situation.

It is also true that what exercises control in a number of barangays or villages in the area is not the same government that reigns supreme in the cities and municipalities but a revolutionary government that adheres to communist doctrine and socialist thought, both of which have been largely repudiated elsewhere in the world. That the communist insurgency continues to exist and survive in the hinterlands of Lianga and elsewhere all over the province in spite of decades of counterinsurgency efforts by the government is proof positive of how deeply rooted the revolutionary movement is in the countryside and how many of the rural folk continue to support and assist the communist guerrillas in the face of what they perceive to be a corrupt, uncaring and remote government.

What is really keeping the peace in Lianga or what passes for "peace" is merely an prolonged, uneasy truce between government forces and the communist rebels each with its zones of influence and strongholds. The government forces have the bigger territory and the towns and cities but have to contend with the problems of dispersing enough units to defend its territory from rebel attacks. The rebels on the other hand have the classic advantage of the guerrilla. They can choose the time and the type of attack then disappear after their operations by simply blending into the local population or seeking refuge in their mountain and forest lairs.

What is there is a stalemate of sorts, the government unable to stamp out a resilient insurgency movement while the communists themselves cannot muster the strength both politically and militarily to oust the legitimate government.

This is the "peace" we have, a stalemate or a delicate balance that might explode anytime into war and violence. And everybody knows that in the time of war and conflict, the stalemate is the most costly in terms of human lives, most of them unwary and unwilling victims of an obsolete yet never ending war.

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