For the last thirty seven years the Philippines has been fighting what seems to be an endless war against Abu Sayyaf (“Father Sword Maker”) and other insurgent forces. Abu Sayyaf, by itself, has murdered an averaged of one innocent civilian each day during those many years (over 100,000 people). My friend Nick Rowe was targeted and murdered by these communist criminals. Nick was a loving husband and devoted father. He was one of the nicest people I ever met and a good friend. Surviving horrendous torture while a prisoner of war in Vietnam (“Five Years to Freedom”; his war biography) he was assassinated riding in his car on a quiet Manila street.
Currently the Philippine government is negotiating a peace treaty with these animals. You have only to look at world history to see how useless and silly that is. Thailand signed a peace treaty with its communist rebels only to have that treaty broken just a few years later. What makes the Philippine government think they can make a treaty with people who slaughter innocent women and children? These criminals have no honor. They respect no treaty.
Abu Sayyaf has never had more than two or three hundred killers on its roster. You can add to those numbers maybe 3,000 supporters. This handful of criminals has held the entire nation in fear. They are cowards that attack from ambush killing unarmed civilians. When faced with “real” Filipino soldiers they run and hide. They negotiate fake “Peace Treaties” to avoid their own annihilation.
I spent almost thirty years teaching and fighting this type of warfare. Bullets and false “Peace Treaties” will not stop the terror. Every time you kill an “insurgent” you create two to take his place. Every time you sign a “Peace Treaty” you give them time to regenerate and continue the war. There is only one way to fight this type of war and it is not with bullets or treaties.
You fight an insurgency by using your brain. The Philippines leads Asia in fighting insurgencies. They were the first Asian country to fight against western imperialism. The Philippines set the worlds standard for a successful counterinsurgency campaign. The Philippine people have only to study their own history to know the way to stop the carnage and eliminate these cowards. Magsaysay’s victory over the PKP’s “Hukbalahap” is a classic example of how to conduct a counterinsurgency.
Some western historians claim the fall of the Huks was caused by the assassination of the late President Quezon’s widow but that explanation is far too simplistic. The Hukbalahap was defeated because Magsaysay understood the dynamics of an insurgency. He studied the enemy and developed programs which stripped the communists of their ability to fight and survive. If he had lived to complete his plans; we would not be fighting this war today. In my opinion Magsaysay was one of the greatest leaders in the modern world. He is highly underrated by many historians including some Filipino writers.
If the current government would study and follow Magsaysay’s example they could eliminate ALL the insurgencies in the Philippines, without outside help, within two years. In addition the economy and the plight of the poor would be improved. As this great humanitarian leader once said, “I believe that government starts at the bottom and moves upward, for government exists for the welfare of the masses of the nation.” Sadly many in the current government have forgotten this simple truth.