AS THE BAMBOOS SWAY | On NPAs Recent Score, Hamlets, Truth, and Corpuz’s Silent War


In light of the New People’s Army (NPA), on Dec. 19, 2018, capturing 2 regular Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) soldiers and 12 members of the Citizens’ Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU), holding them prisoners of war (POW), and seizing 20 high powered guns without firing a shot and blood shed; Victor Corpuz’s book, Silent War, comes to mind.

It should be remembered that then Lieutenant Corpuz, a graduate of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA), based on his description as author of the book, in December 1970, he “stunned the nation when he defected to the NPA after leading the rebels in a raid of the PMA armory. With his military skills, Corpuz helped build up and train the NPA into a fighting force. He was greatly disillusioned, however, with what he learned about the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and in 1976, he surrendered….”  Upon his release in 1986 he was reinstated as a lieutenant Coronel. After serving various posts with the AFP, he retired as Brigadier General.

Having fought with the NPAs, Corpuz learned the CPP’s strategy and tactics. In his Silent War which was copyrighted in 1989, he proposed how to counteract the CPP’s protracted war even mouthing Mao’s strategies on armed struggle and quoting the classic General Sun Tzu’s dictum of “Know thy enemy, know thy self,” a hundred battles, a hundred victories.

In this context, the recent score of the NPAs at Sibagat, Agusan del Sur comes to light. On page 45 of his book, Corpuz writes, “The best source of arms for the insurgents is the Civilian Home Defense Forces (CHDF). The CHDFs are not as well trained, well-led, and well-equipped as regular AFP units. They also lack enough motivation to fight. They receive little or no pay for services rendered. A number of them also have relatives and friends among the insurgents. Thus, entire CHDF detachments sometimes surrender their weapons without a fight when confronted by rebel forces.”

The CAFGU is an evolution from the CHDF with the AFP following recommendations from Corpuz in dressing up the auxiliary forces of the AFP in the grassroot levels. So, now, they occupy schools, barangay halls, and even homes of the villagers or barrio folks. Loosely, Corpuz was saying that auxiliary forces or the AFP in general should mirror what the NPAs do – that of immersing themselves with the masses, be disciplined so as not to steal even a single thread from them, and generally to be liked by them as their defenders. Prevailing circumstances, however, reveal that it is not inherent for these forces to be liked by the masses. They are reported to prevent the folks from performing their economic activities like farming their fields, terrorize them, even raping their women.

Moreover, President Rodrigo ‘Digong’ Duterte announced that he would want to place the Lumads in hamlets “to keep the Lumad community away from the influence of the New People’s Army (NPA), the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).”

Malacañang on Wednesday said this would be for the Lumads’ own good. “To protect them, to shield them from harassment, from undue influence, from indoctrination coming from the Left – he (Duterte) will do it for their own good and safety,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said.

Hamletting was initiated by the USA in 1962 in Vietnam. It basically means that villagers or barrio folks are removed from their homes and concentrated and guarded in one area. On page 34 of his book, Corpuz discusses that hamletting is basically drying the pond where fish could swim. “Having a base area basically means having mass support. Without a base area or without mass support, guerilla forces are easily reduced to ‘roving rebel bands’ and are soon annihilated. As often said, guerillas are like fish, and their mass base is the water that sustains them. Without mass support that sustains them insurgents will not thrive for long.” He goes on to reiterate Mao saying that fishes, in order not to be caught should be swimming in wide and deep ponds. If fishes are swimming in wide but swallow ponds, they could easily be grappled. If they are in deep but narrow ponds, likewise, they could easily be snatched.

When Corpuz published his book in 1989, he acknowledged on page 22 that “The growth of the NPA from nine guerilla squads operating in a single guerilla front in 1969 to more than sixty guerilla fronts at present….” Considering that NPA fronts now dot almost the whole archipelago able to capture whole CAFGU units, rendering them as POWS, and carting 20 strong guns (to arm almost another platoon), their intelligence must be well embedded in their wide and deep ponds.

Thus, Duterte wants ponds to be dried but if he insists on hamlets he must not, again, be learning from lessons. If the USA’s hamlets in Vietnam did not deter the Vietnamese Liberation Army, what makes Digong think he could deter the NPA with hamlets? Corpuz discusses how the NPAs could go around hamlets but that is for another story.

Moreover, Corpuz also touches why the masses would believe the NPAs. On page 40-41, he says, “Revolutionary propaganda is one important aspect of Mass Work. All possible means of dissemination of propaganda are used, such as mass meetings, discussion groups, underground newspapers, leaflets, ordinary conversations, mass media, wall-painted slogans, posters, and simple deeds. The COMMON DENOMINATOR of all revolutionary propaganda, however, is TRUTH…This is in contrast to AFP psywar propaganda, where ‘gray’ (meaning half-truths0 and ‘black’ (outright lies) propaganda is employed. Such propaganda techniques of the AFP often boomerang and do more harm to the AFP itself than to the intended target.”

In spite, however of loosely acknowledging that TRUTH is on the side of the CPP-NPA, Corpuz book’s intention is to counteract the strategy and tactics of the NPA. Acknowledging that the NPA is waging a “protracted war,” he proposed for the AFP to wage a “war of quick decision.” This war of quick decision is to lengthy to discuss here but suffice to say that while the NPA bides its time whittling at the AFP forces while continuously building, growing, and strengthening itself, Corpuz says that the AFP must smother the NPA in the shortest possible time. It’s been 40 years since Corpuz’s book came out and there seems to be no smothering happening to the appearing to be stronger NPA.

And as the CPP enters its 50th year anniversary on Dec. 26, 2018 with the NPA’s 50th on March 29, 2019, do note that they claim that they are just continuing the unfinished revolution of the Katipunan after being under Spain for 377 years. So, what is another 50 years if need be?

Given all these, I am actually wondering what retired Brigadier General Victor Corpuz is thinking and involved with now. He had been silent.#


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