"The position of the military has hardened."
Ordinarily, children are supposed to bury their parents and not the other way around. But when it does happen, the pain and sorrow on the part of the parents become harder to bear. That must be what is going in the family of Bayan Muna Representative Eufemia Cullamat due to the death of her 22-year-old daughter, who was an active member of the New People’s Army in an armed encounter with elements of the Philippine Army in the town of Marihatog, Surigao del Sur. She was the only known casualty in that encounter. Her death was front-page news principally because of the position of the mother in the government. It has also brought to the forefront, in a stark manner, the ongoing controversy of the red-tagging debate.
For instance, a fair question to ask the mother is what she is doing in Congress while her daughter is taking up arms to overthrow the duly constituted government that she is in. Considering what has happened, should she now resign her position considering that her being in Congress might be considered by some to be untenable? The death of young Cullamat demonstrates the relationship that exists between those who govern and those who are governed. It is clear that there is a segment of our society who believes that the only way to change the prevailing established social order is by waging a revolutionary war.
Unfortunately, a lot of those who suffer and bear the brunt of this struggle are the young idealistic segment of our society like Javelyn Cullamat. She will undoubtedly not be the last to die in this struggle. There are people who are violently against red-tagging for various reasons. They seem to forget, however, that there is a revolutionary war being waged to overthrow the government by a coalition of forces who profess the communist ideology.
Peaceful dissent is allowed by our laws. What is not allowed is armed rebellion. When people take up arms against the government, they must be prepared for the consequences because the state has the right to protect itself. Sure, there are a lot of rotten things about our system: Corruption, drugs, crime, political dynasties, our economy being controlled by very few families. But would we be better off with the alternatives being proposed by those who are taking up arms to bring down our current social order? I really doubt it. This Red-tagging thing is part of the battle being waged by the government to win the heart and minds of the public. It is the leftist effort while the military portion is the rightist effort. This conflict has been going on for 50 years and over that time, the government has not been able to completely obliterate the CPP/NPA nor has the other side achieved anything resembling a strategic stalemate either. The CPP/NPA is still in the fringes of our society, trying very hard to overthrow the government principally by force of arms. The government on the other hand has not been able to institute enough reforms to satisfy dissenters in order for the CPP/NPA to simply disappear as an armed threat. We should therefore expect this problem to continue until a leader who can close the gap of dissatisfaction and make the CPP/NPA threat disappear comes around.
The CPP/NPA or the National Democratic Front will continue to have their underground military component which is the NPA and the above ground elements such as the so-called progressive organizations that can participate in political exercises such as elections. Some of these organizations are the ones that the Armed Forces would like to tag as Reds and prevented from participating in our political exercises. This might not be so easy to do unless they are declared as illegal political parties.
Maybe they should just be left as they are. After all, if one walks, looks and quacks like a duck, it must be a duck. The public is intelligent enough to discern which of these progressive parties are actually Reds. Furthermore, the best way to defeat the CPP/NPA is honest-to-goodness reform of the current political system. The CPP/NPA has tried over the last 50 years to gain footing in running the government. They had their best chance with President Duterte who as a former Mayor of Davao City established some sort of an alliance with the local Reds for peaceful coexistence. Unfortunately, they became greedy and wanted so much more and ended up with nothing. So, it is back to square one.
Now, the Armed Forces’ position has hardened. Maybe it believes that it is now in a better position to continue the fight in the courts as well as in the field of combat.