Since the beginning of a lawless insurgency in 1969, the Communist New People’s Army (NPA) and associated paramilitary terror groups have claimed the lives of at least 11,000 Filipino civilians while nearly as many soldiers and police have died in the front line of duty while combating the NPA. As with all forms of terrorism, the ideology of the NPA is less relevant than the fact that a certain group has decided to take up arms and take human life in the pursuit of supposed political aims – something which in no circumstance is ever acceptable. As is the case with most forms of terrorism ranging from the ethno-nationalist terror of the PKK in Turkey, the BLA in Pakistan or religious terrorism such as Al-Qaeda and Daesh (aka ISIS) or the RSS – the longer a terror war continues, the less defined the given terror group’s political aims become. All the while, the bodies of the victims continue to pile ever higher.
Since becoming the President of The Philippines in 2016, Duterte has made it clear that he is ready for peace with groups who forsake armed combat for dialogue, but that he is equally prepared to crush terror groups who refuse to abandon armed conflict. Duterte’s delivery of the Bangsamoro Organic Law to parts of his home island of Mindanao is proof positive that Duterte has helped to convert former armed Islamic groups into allies of the state by offering them political autonomy while promising further federal reforms for the rest of The Philippines.
At the same time, Duterte’s declaration of martial law in Mindanao in order to combat the Daesh aligned terrorism that has crept into the region has also proved that the Philippine President is willing to take a no-nonsense approach to fighting terror. His successful record of liberating the city of Marawi from occupation by the pro-Daesh Maute Group is proof positive of Duterte’s seriousness on such matters.
When it comes to the NPA, the group has already broken multiple promises made to Duterte in respect of ceasefires and peace talks. Meanwhile, the group’s leader Jose Maria Sison who continues to live a comfortable life in The Netherlands has proffered multiple rumours designed to undermine the legitimate government of The Philippines.
It is against this background that Duterte suggested forming new state militias in order to combat the NPA’s prolonged war of terror against the Filipino people. Duterte suggested calling the new battalions “sparrow units” in a reference to the NPA’s deadly Special Partisan Unit. In his statement, Duterte also referenced some of his critics who labelled his anti-drug enforcers in his home city of Davao as “Davao Death Squads”. Over time, Duterte’s pro-narco critics re-named these “Duterte Death Squads” or DDS while Duterte’s supports have reclaimed the acronym DDS to stand for “Diehard Duterte Supporters”.
As he frequently does, Duterte openly baited his humourless opponents by suggesting that the new anti-NPA squadrons should be called Duterte Death Squads. While government officials later clarified that any new anti-terror forces in the country would be officially sanctioned rather than pro-government paramilitary units, Duterte’s casual announcement of the much needed anti-terror force exposed a very uncomfortable truth among his political rivals.
Feeling clearly triggered by the term “Duterte Death Squad” being thrown back at them, members of the Liberal Party of The Philippines rushed to the de-facto defence of the NPA by heaping scorn on Duterte’s pledge to once and for all purge the terrorist plague from the nation. Rather than engage in dialogue with Duterte regarding how to best coordinate a pan-Philippine fight against a well known lawless terror group, instead, the Yellow factions yet again exposed their perverse alliance with Red factions as it now seems clear that the official opposition in The Philippines is willing to unite with anyone for the sake of attempting to de-stabilise Duterte’s administration.
Earlier this year, long serving diplomat and journalist Rigoberto Tiglao exposed how Communists, Liberals and business oligarchs who had turned the island of Boracay into an environmental disaster zone, all conspired in an attempt to stop Duterte from closing the island so that its natural beauty could be sustainably rehabilitated. While this Red-Yellow alliance was not able to stop Duterte from transforming Boracay from a cesspool into a success story, the alliance still very much pervades in the wider debates in Philippine politics.
It seems that in their mad lust for political power, the Yellows have forgotten a fundamental fact of life: all terrorism is bad terrorism. Whether secular or religious, political or anarchistic, well armed or poorly armed, funded by drugs or funded by rogue regimes – all terrorism must be universally opposed by the entirety of the civilised world.
Duterte understands these basic principles which is why the formation of special anti-terror units (irrespective of what they are eventually named) could hold the solution to either forcing the NPA to thrown down its guns or otherwise be neutralised by the armed forces just as the Maute group was in Marawi.