The Way Out of the Morass

Excerpts from "Whereto, Philippines?"
By H L Neri

Although it was generally believed that the ouster of Mr. Marcos and ascension of Mrs. Aquino to the presidency constituted a severe setback to the communist insurgency in our country, the increasing frequency and boldness of NPA attacks and assassinations has made it quite apparent that the movement has actually gained a lot of ground since then. This would seem to lend more credibility to the extrapolations of experts that - unless checked - such a rate of growth will enable the communists to achieve a strategic stalemate in a matter of years.

Nevertheless, insofar as the generality of our people are concerned, alarm about the escalating problem still has to take on a sense of immediacy or of clear imminent danger. Nor indeed is there enough realization on the part of the beneficiaries of the status quo that they must now move towards letting go of their unjust privileges, in order to eradicate or alleviate the general poverty injustice has spawned and the insurgency is thriving in.

It would seem that some people never learn from history and are therefore "doomed to repeat it." It was this same lack of social awareness that enabled the communist in other countries to bring down the edifice of the existing order while the privileged classes slumbered. One thinks of how termites do it undetected until it is too late; or of how complacent and derisive the doomed remained until right before the great flood which Noah and his family were so sedulously preparing for.

The simple-minded are convinced that all that is needed to crush the insurgency is stronger, more single-minded and solidly cohesive military action. For is not the military still many times superior in numbers and weaponry to the NPA?

Fortunately, neither our political nor our military leadership appears to be so naïve. Time and again they have expostulated that the insurgency cannot be eliminated by military action alone. This must go hand in hand with social and economic approaches.

The problem is that there seems to be no clear or correct consensus on what such approaches should specifically be.

The general view is that what is needed is a more vigorous prosecution of the government's existing socio-economic program, incorporating conventional economic approaches, a much watered-down land reform, and some alleviant welfare measures. But, in general, the structures of privilege are to remain.

The communists, on the other hand, are demanding a radical restructuring of the social order in accordance with their own conception of what a just and democratic social order should be.

Would the communists be willing to put their proposal to a free democratic vote if the Communist Party were to be truly legalized and allowed to freely argue and propagate their proposals in unrestricted public fora? Would they be willing to put down their arms, on this condition firmly guaranteed, plus amnesty> and would they be willing to live with whatever system gets the popular nod, whatever its perceived defects and infirmities, until - if ever - they succeed in swaying the mind and will of the democratic sovereignty in favor of their ideas?

Equally important: Would the Establishment be willing to open up its mass media to all contrary views, and forswear harassment and underhanded persecutions against those whose views might shake the foundations of the existing order?

It would seem unrealistic to expect affirmative answers to these questions. It seems more realistic to expect that neither the communists nor the guardians of the status quo would want to transfer the venue of their conflict from the military battlefield to the battlefield of ideas, where neither can withstand the searchlight of unobstructed public scrutiny or the unimpeded winds of free public debate.

The initiative for such transfer of venue should come from those who believe that the only way - indeed the only right way - to achieve real and enduring national peace and progress is to bring about a restructuring of our national society on the firm and solid foundations of justice and solidarity, in accordance with a national consensus freely and democratically arrived at.

Along Destiny's Road
By H L Neri

Do not cry, my darling,
That we suffer in the night;
The sun will soon be here,
And its light shall dispel our gloom.

The first rays of the dawn
To break into the clouds
Shall kiss our tears away
And set our hearts aglow.

Our pains shall be but memories,
No tear shall leave a trace -
Our hardships shall have steeled our hearts
For the challenges of day.

The fruits that we shall reap
Will not spring from Mammon's fount;
They will be that cheerful feeling
That shall well up from our souls -

The feeling of being alive,
With all our powers tickling;
The sense that we are equal
To any task ahead -

The knowledge that we are marching,
Along Destiny's road,
To the heights of light and glory
Where alone our hearts can rest.