The Apolinario Gatmaitan Command of the New People’s Army Negros Island Regional Operational Command (AGC-NPA) is one with all guerrilla fronts in Negros, from the northern to the southern parts of the island, and the entire force of the NPA nationwide in celebrating our 54th founding anniversary. More than perfunctory festivities, we mark this year’s commemoration with greater resolve to overcome all hardships in order to defeat the current fascist onslaught against the Negrosanon people, thereby creating opportunities to further expand the people’s war on the island.
The AGC-NPA and the revolutionary movement in Negros have lost great comrades and fighters in the past year mainly on account of the enemy’s utter disregard of protocols of war and international humanitarian law. But the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) are mistaken in thinking that the brutal deaths they perpetrated will crush our revolutionary spirit. Revolutionary martyrs and heroes never truly die as they live on in all comrades persistent in carrying the people’s democratic revolution forward to victory.
The rottenness of the semifeudal and semicolonial system has already doomed the counterrevolutionary campaign of the current US-Marcos regime. This oppressive and exploitative system generated an unprecedented crisis that has plunged the people, particularly Negrosanons, into insufferable conditions.
While prices of basic commodities skyrocket, the average wage in sugarcane plantations is a measly P250 a day. It is a far cry from the reactionary government’s token declaration of P410 and P382-392 minimum daily wage for agricultural workers in Region 6 and 7, respectively. In some parts of Negros Island, farm workers still receive wages below P200 a day. The “pakyaw” (or piece rate wage) system takes advantage of farm workers even more. Contractualization has also penetrated both sugarcane plantations and sugar centrals.
Neoliberal attacks on an import-dependent, export-oriented Philippine economy exacerbates the situation particularly of Negrosanons with massive sugar importation and conversion of farms and fishing grounds for commercial use mostly economic zones, real estate and eco-tourism.
Negrosanos are mostly a sugar industry-dependent work force. This puts them at the mercy of big landlord-hacienderos and big compradors who have nothing but their own selfish interests in mind. With the looming approval of the Negros Island Region, the local ruling class based in the Oriental and Occidental Negros provinces is currently in a struggle for dominance. But they are strongly united against the revolutionary movement that is the strongest opposition to their interests on the island.
It is absolutely false that peace in Negros Island was only broken by the assassination of Negros Oriental Gov. Roel Degamo and eight others at Pamplona in early March. The Pamplona massacre is part of the worsening culture of impunity that has spilled over from the Duterte regime’s Memorandum Order 32 in 2018. Be it cities, towns or countryside, senseless killings have been on going perpetrated mainly by state forces against peasants and activists.
As coercive instruments of the ruling class, the AFP and PNP are heavily funded to launch a massive and violent campaign of suppression on the island. It is using Degamo’s assassination as ground to intensify its military operations by augmenting its forces with the 47th Infantry Battalion and a 50-member light reaction company. It also unleashes a machinery of deception to obscure their frustrated campaign and instead spread a narrative of “winning the war against the losing revolutionary movement.” Certainly, the people’s money funding military and police institutions have already fattened the pockets of corrupt generals and government officials.
This current system, as I stated earlier, is ruled by big compradors and landlords and creates a crisis that incites the people to fight back and join the armed revolution. Thus, it ensures the defeat of the Marcos regime’s counterrevolutionary war.
On the 54th anniversary of the NPA, the challenge is not only to defend the people from the fascist onslaught of state forces but to promote their democratic rights and interests, as well. Now, more than ever, the NPA must be the weapon of the oppressed and exploited masses to destroy imperialism, feudalism and bureaucrat capitalism.
The AGC-NPA commends all its guerrilla fronts for sustaining despite fierce enemy attacks. However, this will not be enough to be triumphant. We have to double our efforts to prevail over the enemy’s focused attacks and raise the people’s war to a new level. More than the big and strong enemy, our own errors and shortcomings have hindered us from completing our objectives in the past year.
The Communist Party of the Philippines has already laid down our urgent tasks.
Difficulties in launching armed struggle, implementing agrarian revolution and building organs of political power must be resolved with utmost determination.
With the everlasting support of the masses, nothing is impossible. Let us face the challenges and seize the opportunities to achieve big and small victories for the people’s democratic revolution.###