Saturday, October 2, 2010

Revisiting Paradise

A couple of weeks ago, I had the chance with my family to go back to the Bretania Islands in San Agustin town for a whole day of enjoying to the fullest the sun-drenched pleasures of what is fast becoming one of the premier tourist destinations in the province of Surigao del Sur.

Now, I must confess that, as someone who has grown up with an intimate familiarity with white sand beaches, pounding and frothy-white surf as well as crystal-clear, blue-green coastal waters, I have always felt that I have become more than a bit jaded as far as the attractions of coconut palm-shrouded, tropical island beaches are concerned.

My recent revisit to Bretania has disabused me of such a misconception.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Bantay Salakay

In a newly created Facebook page for the Philippine Business Investor Protectorate (see the page), Mark Borders, a fellow blogger and a Lianga resident for some time now, has recently fired a written broadside against grafters in the local government service that is shaking up the local establishment and ruffling up the feathers of some civil servants here, The Protectorate, as described in its webpage, was formed to fight corruption in government primarily by exposing actual cases and instances of such official misdeeds to public knowledge and scrutiny.

In the tradition of the great whistle-blowers of recent Philippine history like retired Lingayen Archbishop Oscar Cruz, whose on-going and unrelenting crusade against jueteng or the illegal numbers game in Luzon, has made him a household name, Mark has not only revealed instances of his alleged personal experiences and encounters with corrupt local government officials and functionaries but has even gone further by actually naming names and specifically identifying these individuals.

Mark, of course, for those new to this blog, is an American national who is married to a local girl and who has made the decision to live here and do whatever he can to help improve the poor living conditions and desperate economic situation in what has become his adopted community. He has been for some two years or so been trying to set up some business investments in Barangay St. Christine some 8 or so kilometers north of Lianga which he felt would not only generate much needed employment but could also provide the economic stimulus that could help jumpstart what remains largely a moribund local economy. He writes passionately about his experiences in his own blog (see Barangay St. Christine blog).

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Reality Check

I was several days ago in Tandag, the capital of the province of Surigao del Sur,and while there was eager to try to gauge the prevailing sentiments of the local population with regards to the recent Supreme Court ruling that, with finality, stripped it of its classification as a new city of the province and which forced it to revert to its old status as a municipality.

The final high court ruling was a reversal of an earlier December 21, 2009 judgment which had declared the constitutionality of the 16 laws creating Tandag City and 15 other new cities all over the country. It also served to reinstate an even earlier November 18, 2008 ruling that had originally struck down (as unconstitutional)) the same city-hood laws upon the petition of the League of Cities of the Philippines (LCP) which had elevated the case originally to the Supreme Court. In a rare and stunning legal reversal, the same court had overturned that particular decision (as already mentioned in 2009) upon a submitted motion for reconsideration by the then 16 supposedly new cities including Tandag. The LCP then asked for a reversal again of the 2009 ruling which the high court granted with finality just weeks ago.

Setting aside the legal calisthenics and uncharacteristic flip flopping from the Supreme Court, most Tandag residents I talked to seemed resigned if not perplexed at the rather unusual if not embarrassing turn of events their town (or city if you must) had to recently go through. And most of them cannot seem to understand or fathom the reasons why their political leaders had put them through the roller-coaster ride that saw them rejoicing, celebrating and reveling in the euphoria of believing that their town's long sought after dream of city-hood was finally theirs only to be brought down crashing to earth with the embarrassing news that they had just been taken for a fool's ride.

Monday, August 30, 2010


Police Inspector Christopher Mazo, Lianga's newly installed chief of police, was supposedly warned by some friends not to accompany a team of DENR (Department of the Environment and Natural Resources) personnel who were set to verify allegations of illegal logging operations in the hinterlands of Barangay Diatagon north of the Lianga town proper last August 21. The group was set to conduct an ocular inspection of a quantity of newly cut timber as part of an ongoing probe into the timber cutting operations of SAMMILIA (see previous post), a local cooperative granted a community based forest management agreement by the government.

The DENR inspection activity became necessary after a earlier group composed of local DENR personnel, Lianga local officials and non-governmental representatives had recommended that the cooperative be formally investigated for possible violations of the conditions of its forest management agreement. A shipment of its cut timber at the Diatagon wharf had also been found to have been possibly mis-declared in terms of actual volume and had been earmarked for seizure pending the result of a more thorough probe.

Mazo had been only on the job as chief of the Lianga municipal police station for a couple of days and would probably have been excused for not going but perhaps he was a conscientious man and only wanted to make a good impression on the people of the town. He eventually decided to help escort the DENR team. That decision he paid for with his life.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Hot Cargo

Lianga was again in the news on national television a couple of days ago and as usual the bulletin did little to discredit the observation made some years ago to me by an old buddy (also from Lianga but who now resides outside of the country) that every time the town's name gets into the news it is usually about something or some event that paints it and its people in a bad light.

It seems that a investigation team composed of officials from the Department of the Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the local government of the town and representatives of the Caraga Conference for Peace and Development has recommended that the government block the shipment of a shipload of cut timber in the port of Barangay Diatagon some nine kilometers or so to the north of the town proper. The shipment belonged to the SAMMILIA Federation of Peoples's Forest Development Cooperative which has for some time now taken over part of what was once the vast timber concession area of the defunct Lianga Bay Logging Company.

The team has determined in its surprise inspection of the timber cargo that there are what appears to be serious discrepancies between the record of the official tally and inventory of the said shipment submitted to the government in comparison to the actual volume and measurements of the logs being loaded for shipment. The implication, of course, is that SAMMILIA may have knowingly misrepresented the volume in order to escape legal restrictions on the maximum "allowable cut" it was allowed to make under the law and in order to defraud the local government of its rightful share in the form of taxes and levies.

Friday, August 6, 2010

As I Was Saying

After two months of a forced vacation from this blog, I was more than eager to check where I left off after a series of computer hardware and network problems cut off my regular access to the internet right here in Lianga. For a time I toyed with the idea of updating this blog from other locations or by using other means of going online but I have. over the years, become essentially an old fashoned creature of habit and working online by flitting from one internet shop to another in guerrilla fashion or relying on laptops and other portable devices has never been my kind of thing.

I am and have always been a plodder of sorts even in my blogging. As a result, I have always favored spending a leisurely hour or two pondering on and composing my blog posts directly on the internet and simply tossing off a hurried blog entry on a portable computer or mobile phone was simply something I was never entirely comfortable with doing. I tried blogging that way and it never felt right.

In fact, I miss my old and trusty desktop computer and and the new one that has replaced it while certainly is a lot more faster as well as more reliable (it blazes through while the old one was just content to simply stagger and trot along), it does not have the cantankerous yet whimsical and rather eccentric personality of my old setup which made it seem like more like a collaborator and partner to me than just another sophisticated piece of electronic equipment.

Thursday, May 27, 2010


I was one of the thousands of Lianga residents who trooped to the Lianga Central Elementary grounds last May 10 and who were eagerly waiting for the chance to vote in this country's first automated elections. Sad to say it was not the exciting or uplifting experience I had anticipated.

First, the weather had been rainy since the previous day and as can be expected whenever that happens the area around the polling precincts was already flooded up to almost knee deep in some spots when I got there at about 10 pm in the morning. Nothing dampens the spirit more than getting sopping wet in the chilling rain and sloshing through dirty flood waters only to find out that when you get to your destination that you have to stand in line for hours and get soaked a little more before you can accomplish what you expected you could breeze through in just a couple of minutes.

Despite the issuance of priority numbers in order to impose some order into the crush of humanity that had descended on the voting precincts, the board of election inspectors in my voting precinct could simply not efficiently accommodate the large turnout of voters eager to try out the new PCOS machines. The fact that the old number of voting precincts have been reduced and "clustered" into fewer units with several hundred voters assigned to it instead of the traditional hundred fifty or so also taxed the capabilities of the new voting system.

As it turned out, I had to return in the afternoon and battle once more the rain, floods and long queues in order to finally get in and vote. In what was a anticlimactic end to a half day ordeal, I got my ballot, made the proper marks on it, fed it to the PCOS machine (which accepted and tallied it with coldblooded efficiency) and got my right forefinger marked with indelible ink in a whole process that just took ten minutes.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


Altogether, the haul by local standards was not unimpressive. Two bars of laundry soap, four packs of instant noodles, two packs of embutido or steamed meatloaf and some three hundred pesos in cash.

The cash and and other items were all received by the household help in our house in Lianga over the past couple of days from various candidates running for local positions in the May 10 general elections. The local term for the "gifts" is "pahalipay" which in Bisaya is derived from the word "lipay" meaning to be happy. In reality, they are electoral bribes or money and consumer goods used to brazenly buy votes in what is clearly becoming an increasingly overt and disturbing upsurge of this type of electoral misconduct at least in this part of the country.

In past elections, vote-buying was already rampant but even then it was always done covertly and clandestinely in perverse acknowledgement, perhaps by those who have always done it, of its clearly illegal and immoral nature. Thus the monies used to buy votes were usually delivered a day or so before polling day and often in the dead of night by trusted couriers who would stealthily knock on doors and windows like cat burglars to wake up voters and their families. If goods were used to solicit votes, they were often inconspicuously wrapped and handed over to their intended recipients as surreptitiously as possible.

Yet in the days leading up to the May 10 elections, many candidates running for municipal and provincial posts have become more brazen in their vote-buying activities to the point that many of them had openly gone house to house in vehicles conspicuously displaying their campaign banners and streamers and openly distributing money and consumer items marked with their names or clipped to sample ballots and campaign handbills.

Friday, May 7, 2010


If there is one thing that marked the recent final campaign rally of the Lakas-Kampi-CMD administration party in Lianga which was held the other night at the community stage inside the municipal park, it was the surprising level of vituperation and invective that emanated from the lips of one of the party stalwarts that spoke onstage. And all of it was directed at the leading lights of the Liberal Party which is mounting the only viable opposition to the Lakas party's iron grip on political power in the province of Surigao del Sur.

Lakas which, as a national political machine, has kept President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in power for more than half a decade now has also been the means by which the powerful Pimentel-Ty clan have dominated provincial politics here for the past nine years. It has elected and returned to power Gov. Vicente Pimentel Jr. since 2001 and now his brother, Johnny Pimentel, the current provincial administrator, is eyeing to inherit the office that the current governor is prohibited by law from occupying for more than three consecutive terms.

The Pimentel-Ty clan is closely allied with Rep. Philip Pichay who represents the province's first district in Congress. Philip is the brother of Prospero "Butch" Pichay, the Malacañang confidant, former congressman, 2007 senatorial candidate and incumbent presidential adviser on political affairs who is also currently chairman of the Local Water Utilities Administration. The political partnership between the Pichays and the Pimentel-Ty clan had been the engine that originally powered that clan to power in the province and the Pichays are counting on the Pimentel-Ty political machine to insure a second term for the re-electionist Philip whose congressional district happens to include Lianga.

Sunday, April 18, 2010


I was more than a bit surprised at the spate of comments sent to this blog concerning the person, reputation and even the supposed airplane antics of the Hon. Philip Pichay, the incumbent congressional representative for the first district of Surigao del Sur (which includes the town of Lianga). Pichay happens, at present, to be gunning for re-election to a second term in the coming May 2010 general elections.

The truth of the matter is I do not know Rep. Pichay personally. Few of his constituents really do. What I am aware of is the public face of the man, the persona he has presented to his constituency in the three years he has served as our man in Congress. Even then it is a face that is enigmatic as it is confusing.

It is perhaps to his eternal misfortune that Philip must always be seen by the people here in contrast to his brother, Prospero "Butch" Pichay, the erstwhile 2007 senatorial candidate and Malacañang confidant who is currently chairman of the Local Water Utilities Administration before serving three terms in the same position Philip is presently occupying. Butch Pichay's shadow in both local and national politics continues to loom large and much of Philip's PR problems has to do with having to live up to the expectations of many of his constituents who see him as his brother's alter ego and not his own man.

Those who know him and have worked with him say that Philip is more the gruff, hard-nosed and work driven businessman than the folksy, backslapping and socially adroit politician that his brother is. They say he is results oriented, works hard at what he does and has little appetite for the PR side of politics. As a consequence, they say, he is perceived to be cold and inaccessible by the many of the local folks who are not comfortable with public personalities not deemed, in the local parlance, "politico" enough.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Running Start

The start of the official campaign period for politicians gunning for local positions in the May 2010 general elections started Friday two weeks ago with a whimper in Lianga. Unlike the histrionics and pseudo-showbiz antics with which national candidates inaugurated the start of their own campaign period earlier, what characterized the first days of electioneering here, at least for local candidates, was an atmosphere of frantic calm, a sudden quickening of tension amidst what, at first glance, would pass for just another regular day in the boondocks.

In the old days, local politicians would vie for the honor and prestige of being the first to greet the first day of the campaign with huge, elaborate rallies and meetings de avance. The idea, of course, was to intimidate the opposition with a show of financial and logistical strength calculated to cow them into some form of surrender and abject submission.

Nowadays, it would seem that local politicians have decided to change tactics. The strategy, it now seems, is to maximize the limited financial resources they have in this hard economic times and the get the biggest bang for every buck they have to spend. So, expensive rallies and meetings are discouraged while smaller and more intimate caucuses with community leaders, voting blocs and ordinary voters are in now favor.

House to house sorties are suddenly back in vogue with candidates going the rounds of even the remotest barangays or villages to press the flesh and shake the calloused and dirty hands of the rural electorate. Local community leaders are personally sought out and courted with outright cash incentives and promises of future favors. If the elections were a basketball game, this was "man to man" offence and defence of the first order.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Young Love

My nephew is just 16 years old yet he is madly in love and in the midst of a serious relationship with a girl. At least, that is what I have been told some time ago.

His parents are worried because his school work has been spotty and poor the past few years. This romantic entanglement is exactly the kind of distraction that would erode what little focus he has managed to put on his studies. Unless he shapes up and get his priorities straight, they fear that his future may be in jeopardy.

"In love?" A close relative of mine snorted out the words in disgust. "What do the young people today know about love?," he asked me. "It's just television, the movies and the Internet that is putting this foolish ideas in their heads. Why can't they just finish school first, get a good job and when that happens then that is the time they can think about about really falling in love."

It is a point, of course, I can fully sympathize with. Love and relationships based on it require emotional maturity and the capacity for serious commitment - two things the young are notoriously deficient in. Without them, how long can such a romance last?

Then I got the chance to see my young nephew and meet his girl several times. I became entranced. Their love is truly the love of the innocent, one that is infinitely sweet and tender, one that tugs at the heartstrings and makes the spirit soar.

That they believe that their love for each is sincere is clear. I see it in their eyes when they look at each other. I see it when they are close to each other, physically separate yet entwined, their hands clasped together and one head on the other's shoulder.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Paying One's Dues

The issue of local and national candidates running for public office in the coming May 2010 elections paying considerable sums of money to the New People's Army in return for for permission to enter and campaign unmolested in areas heavily controlled or influenced by the communist revolutionary movement is a hot topic for discussion nowadays. The armed forces has sent its representatives to do the rounds of the talk shows and news programs on both national television and radio specifically to warn politicians not to pay permit to campaign fees to the NPA and has even threatened to file disqualification cases with the Commission on Elections against candidates who the military can prove to have given in to rebel extortion demands.

The military leadership has pointed out that a large part of the millions of pesos rebel insurgents have supposedly been able to amass from permit-to-campaign fees have been used in the past to purchase arms, ammunition and logistical support for the revolutionary movement's almost four decade war with the government. The rest, according to military sources, go into the pockets of the top leadership of the movement who live in relative luxury and comfort in their urban safe houses here and abroad in stark contrast to the miserable living conditions their armed partisans have to endure in their mountain and jungle lairs in the Philippine countryside.

Forced to address the issue, the Communist Party of the Philippines, in its website, has managed to ingeniously sidestep the extortion issue by simply affirming the fact that, as a "nascent political power", the revolutionary forces have the right to define "policies and issues guidelines on the conduct of reactionary elections within the revolutionary areas". The statement on the site specifically fails to address the permit to campaign fees issue head on and simply elaborates rather lengthily on the need for NPA forces to exercise control and supervision over electoral activities by the "reactionary government" within their controlled areas and making sure that such activities will not violate the rights of the people and that of the "peasant masses" and, in the end, will "benefit them one way or the other."

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Tsunami Scare

There were not a few people here in Lianga who were of the opinion that many residents of the town and the many other coastal communities along the Pacific coast of Surigao del Sur province had overreacted and panicked unnecessarily in response to the general tsunami alert issued as a result of the magnitude 8.8 earthquake that struck the South American country of Chile on February 27. I was one of them.

Of course, I was fortunate to have access to the latest internet and cable television news updates on a regular basis and thus was aware that the tsunami alert was just that, a warning and not necessarily a confirmation of the actual existence of "killer" waves created by the Chilean seismic event supposedly speeding across the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean and on their way to the shorelines of many Asian countries like the Philippines. I was also aware that the alert was eventually rescinded and lifted through trusted and reliable contacts.

Many people living, however, in the eastern portions of the country deemed specially vulnerable to a major tsunami event and directly in possible harm's way were not so lucky. And all, what they had to depend on were mostly wild rumors, exaggerated reports and outright false warnings coming from dubious sources.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Brownout Blues

Being subjected to a two, three or even four hour long "rotating" brownouts every day can really be serious inconvenience. In the context of the power crisis in Mindanao, however, residential power users have learned, after almost three weeks of such outages, to take such things in stride and have managed to tailor their daily schedules so as to minimize the negative impact of such power interruptions in their lives.

If one happens to have a business, especially one that depends on a steady supply of power (what business doesn't?) then the daily brownouts can be killer. But Filipinos are adaptable and resourceful. Profits may suffer but ways can be found to make do and weather the power crisis in anticipation of an imminent improvement in the power situation soon.

But extend the period of the daily power outages to eight hours or more daily, as what is happening in Lianga, and you are basically strangling what resolve and initiative is left in a community desperately trying to rebuild itself after decades of economic stupor and stagnation. But then the town is just another remote and godforsaken community in one of the most depressed areas of Mindanao (a region that is regarded by many Filipinos in Manila and the Luzon region as just as remote as darkest Africa and fit only for the tyranny and despotism of local warlords like the Ampatuans of Maguindanao) and thus ultimately irrelevant in the general scheme of things.

The more urbanized and cosmopolitan residents of major cities like Davao and Cagayan de Oro City the rest of the country can identify and empathize with, but the power problems of small towns in the rural countryside of Mindanao like Lianga cause nary even a small ripple in the national consciousness. Even in the case of the current power crisis, underdeveloped areas bear the brunt of the power supply shortage, suffering through outages of eight hours a day or more so that urban and industrial centers get the precious electricity they so voraciously need.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Lights Out

It used to be that the residents of Mindanao had the notion that it had access to something their fellow countrymen in the Luzon and Visayas regions did not have - plentiful and relatively cheap electricity courtesy of the hydroelectric power plants that supply much of their power needs. In the past decade or so, while the more northern parts of the country were struggling to find ways to balance expanding demand for electricity with often inadequate power generation facilities, Mindanao, on the other hand seemed to have more than enough to spare of this most essential requirement of our modern technological civilization.

Well, it seems that the past week or so has shown how dreadfully wrong this assumption was.

The recent series of "rotating" brownouts simply caught many here in Lianga by surprise. For most local residents, it was only when the outages which would last four hours or more became a daily fixture that it began to finally sink in the popular consciousness that something was suddenly and desperately wrong and that they may have to learn to cope, without prior warning, with a looming power crisis that they never expected to happen so suddenly and without warning.

The culprit according to the government was the so called El Niño phenomenon, that climate pattern across the tropical Pacific Ocean that may be on everyone's lips but remains poorly understood except by meteorologists or weather experts. The technical jargon describing the phenomenon is beyond me but suffice it to say that the effect on the Southeast Asian countries like the Philippines is the onset of periods of less than normal rainfall and drought.

Thursday, February 11, 2010


I just saw the other day the television trailer for HBO's new miniseries, The Pacific, which is a dramatization of the personal experiences of several U. S. Marines who took part in many of the pivotal battles of the war against Japan during World War II. Produced in part by Hollywood titans, Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks, the miniseries is also the brainchild of many of the same personalities behind the critically acclaimed series, Band of Brothers (2001), which chronicles the true to life stories of soldiers belonging to Easy Company, 506 Infantry Regiment of the U. S. 101st Airborne Division in the European Theater of Operations of the same war.

As in the first series, The Pacific is billed as as a starkly realistic attempt to recreate for the modern television audience many of the important and critical battles of the Pacific War through the memoirs and individual stories of the men who were actually there and who directly participated in the momentous and historical events and milestones in the savage island to island fighting against the then Empire of Japan. Thus, the trailer showed scenes from epic re-enactments of the desperate battles at Guadalcanal , Cape Gloucester, Peleliu, Iwo Jima and Okinawa.

I had a very high opinion of Band of Brothers when it came out precisely because it was the kind of World War II presentation I favored, films and television programs that did not glorify war and the spectacle of senseless violence but focused on how war and its aftermath impacted on the lives of ordinary men who are at the front lines of all human conflicts. Thus little is said much less shown of the great personalities and military leaders of that war. It was, in the case of the 2001 miniseries, all about the ordinary GI's or American soldiers desperately trying to cope with the transition from civilian to military life, those who eventually had to survive the bloody slaughter on the beaches of Normandy and the perilous push through war-torn France and those who made it to the final battles that brought Nazi Germany to its knees.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Slap In The Face

I'm a bit of a news junkie and I try every day to keep up with the latest in the local, national and international news any way I can. In my case in Lianga where no local community newspapers exist and where up to date copies of the national broadsheets are nowhere to be found, I get my daily fix through news programs on cable television and the Internet.

Yesterday morning, the local news inbox on my computer contained a whammy of a news item, big news least for those closely following the political developments in the province of Surigao del Sur which counts this town as one of its own. For the current political leadership at the provincial capitol in Tandag, however, it is certainly not the kind of news report they would welcome and it could not have come at a more inopportune time.

It seems that the Philippine Daily Inquirer has reported that the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) which is the government's highest policy making and coordinating body on statistical matters has tagged this province as No. 6 on its list of ten of the country's "worst governed" provinces. Oh my God! That certainly got my full attention.

Maguindanao (of course!) headed the list followed by Camarines Sur, Masbate, Lanao del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur, Surigao del Sur, Camarines Norte, Zamboanga Sibugay, Albay and Romblon. The list was compiled based on an NSCB survey in 2005 which used economic, political and administrative indicators to formulate a good governance index (GGI) which is used as a basis for the ranking of the aforementioned provinces. The statistics used were sourced from official government agencies foremost among them the Department of Health, the Department of Education and the Department of Interior and Local Government. (Read the complete news article here.....)

Thursday, January 14, 2010


He was a great lumbering hulk of a man, blessed or cursed (depending on how you would look at it) with the great physical bulk genetically common to my mother's side of the extended Murillo clan. But he carried his not inconsiderable stoutness with grace, aplomb and good humor convincing many that it was a manifestation of good health and good living rather than the result of a privileged and dissolute lifestyle.

He also had that rogue gene not uncommon within my mother's clan that gifted him with the fine Caucasian features, the hazel-brown eyes and the brown-black hair that many would ascribed to the supposed influence of distant Spanish forbears. That plus his physique gave him the air of a plump, good-natured and mischievous child with the carefree, roguish twinkle in the eyes despite the fact that he was already past middle age and approaching 60 years of age.

That he was liked by the many who he came into contact with was a fact for he was essentially a likable man. He cultivated friends like a game fowl breeder raised champion cocks and had an affable, extroverted nature which enabled him to enjoy a wide circle of friends, all of whom held him in great esteem and who remember him with fondness.

He was not perfect and had his faults though like the rest of us. He could be pushy, domineering and even occasionally guileful but it was easy to forgive him for his excesses because deep inside his heart was as big as his body and his imperfections were trivial compared to his virtues particularly his capacity to empathize and sympathize with others.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Lost Cause

The Communist Party of the Philippines celebrated its 41st founding anniversary last December 26 and in northeastern Mindanao, local communist cadres commemorated the event in a day-long ceremony in an undisclosed location said to be just a kilometer or so from the national highway in Marihatag town which is just a little over 40 kilometers north of Lianga.

Jorge Madlos, better known as Ka Oris and officially the spokesman for National Democratic Front in Mindanao, outlined the revolutionary movement's optimistic assessment of its current status and its plans for intensifying the war in the next five years. The target, Madlos said, is to advance its conflict with the government to the next level which is supposedly the strategic stalemate stage wherein the communist forces will have attained numerical and tactical parity with the Philippine armed forces. According to NDF thinking, this strategic stalemate level will only be in preparation for the next crucial stage which will be the strategic offensive level where the revolutionary forces will have achieved the capacity to conduct large scale military offensives against an already weakened and increasingly defense-oriented national government.

Ka Oris also reported during the anniversary celebration that the New People's Army (the CPP'S military wing), contrary to government claims that the NPA is a force in decline and that its number of armed partisans has shrunk to less than 6000 at the end of last year, has actually been growing at a healthy 5 percent a year although he has declined to give the actual figures even for just the number of rebel forces in the Mindanao area alone. The target, he claims, is to train and equip one platoon of armed fighters for every town in the country within the next five years for the movement to be able to advance to the next stage of their prolonged and protracted war with the Philippine government.