Last 10 August, the Marcos administration unveiled its National Security Policy (NSP) 2023-2028 which supposedly outlines the country’s priorities “to protect national interests, including sovereignty and territorial integrity.” Far from defending Philippine sovereignty and upholding national interests however, the NSP is essentially a Christmas Wishlist of a fascist dictator and peace saboteur. The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) expects nothing but heightened state terrorism and more violations of people’s rights in the years to come.
Empowering machineries of state terror
The NSP undoubtedly seeks to further empower the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), and the NTF-Elcac – two of the primary instruments of state terror under the current US-Marcos regime. The NSP will be implemented by National Security Adviser (NSA) Eduardo Año who was responsible for the manhunt operations leading to the disappearance of Jonas Burgos in 2007.
Under the 2024 General Appropriations Act (GAA), the NTF-Elcac is set to receive P9.7 billion in funding whereas the Department of National Defense (DND) including the AFP is set to secure a P222.9 billion budget for 2024. In addition to existing machineries of repression already funded through the reactionary government’s budget, the Marcos-Duterte tandem is geared to use billions from their Confidential and Intelligence Funds (CIFs) for corruption as well as campaigns of suppression against democratic forces.
US Counterinsurgency Guide Redux
Under the guise of ‘combatting insurgency,’ the NSP eerily mirrors the US counterinsurgency guide – a blueprint infamous for its fascist tactics and human rights atrocities in the name of defeating revolutionary movements. This is unsurprising considering the fact that the Philippines by far remains the largest recipient of US military aid in Southeast Asia. Between 2016 to 2018, the US government has provided $15 billion in security sector assistance and arms sales to the GRP. In the first quarter of 2023 alone, the Philippines received $600 million in military assistance from the US.
The US counterinsurgency guide’s central tenet involves the concept of a ‘whole-of-nation’ approach which combines military repression with the co-optation of civilian functions. Prior to the NSP, the US-Marcos regime already appointed cabinet secretaries as Cabinet Officers for Regional Development and Security (CORDS) operating within the auspices of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-Elcac). This is the latest in the GRP’s efforts to weaponize the civilian bureaucracy consistent with the US counterinsurgency guide.
The NSP seeks to end the armed revolution by “targeting the financial apparatus” of the CPP-NPA-NDF. The NSP however fails to recognize that the reactionary armed forces remain the single biggest supplier of arms to the NPA through the seizure of weapons during tactical guerilla operations. In line with their counterrevolutionary objectives patterned after the US Counterinsurgency Guide, the GRP instead targets civilians and legal democratic organizations making no distinction between armed combatants and local populations.
False promises of peace
The NSP declares “the Peace process will always be preferred over war” and commits to observing “civil and human rights, and the international humanitarian law (IHL).” The NDFP remains open to the possibility of resuming the peace negotiations with the GRP. But from their relentless violations of IHL in the form of aerial bombings and indiscriminate attacks against communities, to their complete disregard of landmark agreements made during the GRP-NDF peace negotiations such as the Hague Joint Declaration, the Joint Agreement on the Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) and the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL), the US-Marcos regime’s anti-peace character thus far betrays its own pronouncements.
The NSP claims it “prefers” peace process over war but does not outline any concrete plan to address the problems at the root of the civil war in the country and achieve a just and lasting peace. It does not change the old deceptive “localized peace talks” that is nothing but a campaign of suppression in the guise of a “surrender” and “amnesty” campaign.
Subservience to US interests
The NSP attempts to cloak Marcos Jr’s kowtowing to US and China by claiming to pursue an “independent foreign policy” that protects the territorial integrity of the West Philippine Sea. And yet, the AFP begs its US imperialist masters for more EDCA-sanctioned US military bases across the country. Through the NSP, Marcos makes false claims of defending the country’s territory when it cedes vast tracts of Philippine land to US military control. Growing US military presence is being justified as a “deterrent” to China’s interference. On the contrary, the increasing menacing US presence on Philippine land and seas is inducing China to encroach upon and occupy an increasingly wide part of the country’s maritime territory. The NSP is heightening the risk of the Philippines being drawn in a possible outbreak of an inter-imperialist war between China and the US.
Marcos Jr’s inclination towards serving US imperialist interests not only violates the country’s sovereignty but also threatens the lives and livelihoods of the toiling Filipino masses. By allowing the Philippines to become a US military outpost, Marcos Jr. advertently embroils the Filipino people in the middle of inter-imperialist conflict in the region.
Impossible dream: ending armed struggle within the current administration
Perhaps the most audacious claim of the NSP is its ambitious target to end the armed revolution within the current term of the Marcos-Duterte regime. The NSP’s target to “achieve strategic victory over the CPP-NPA-NDF within the current administration” is ridiculous. The enemy’s claims of the surrender of around 25,000 NPA members is absurd considering they themselves declared a few years ago that the NPA had only 4,000 fighters or less. In fact, most of these “surrenderees” are unarmed civilians subjected to constant military pressure, harassment, and threats. If anything, this US-led AFP public relations line is meant to justify years of squandering billions of pesos of people’s money to fund relentless military abuses and fatten the pockets of military officers and government officials.
The US-Marcos regime may be equipped with the modern weapons of war but like his predecessors, Marcos, Jr. will inevitably fail in is attempts to crush the revolutionary movement. It does not have the most important and decisive weapons for war – the participation and support of the Filipino people.