Filipino American community members joined indigenous Lumad leaders and allies in a rally outside the Armed Forces Recruiting Station in Times Square on May 24, 2016. | Photo Lambert Parong/Kababayan Media
For over five decades now, the Communist Party of the Philippines has been waging a rebellion with only one thing in mind: the violent overthrow of the government.
Tens of thousands of lives have been wasted while billions have been spent for Asia’s longest-running communist insurgency that may have started out espousing an ideology but over the years has become an excuse for criminality and terrorism that have exacerbated the misery of the very people they claim to fight for.
The history of communism in the Philippines began in 1930 with the birth of the Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas (PKP) – the first and original Communist Party of the Philippines – that partnered with the Hukbong Bayan Laban sa Hapon or Hukbalahap, the front army against the Japanese occupation of the Philippines.
Despite its early successes, the Hukbalahap gained infamy after the Liberation due to atrocities, among them the assassination in 1949 of Doña Aurora Aragon Quezon – widow of President Manuel Quezon – who was traveling from Nueva Ecija to Baler for the inauguration of the Quezon Memorial Hospital. Mrs. Quezon had been warned against the presence of the Huks in the countryside but believed they would respect her age, saying “(Huk Supremo Luis) Taruc knows my white hair; he will not hurt me.”
“Tens of thousands of lives have been wasted while billions have been spent for Asia’s longest-running communist insurgency that may have started out espousing an ideology but over the years has become an excuse for criminality …”
Despite knowing that the revered former First Lady was in the lead vehicle, the armed men, numbering over a hundred, rained bullets on the convoy, killing Mrs. Quezon, her daughter, son-in-law, and other members of her party. Following the incident, the PKP reorganized the Hukbalahap into a “People’s Liberation Army” fashioned after the Chinese People’s Liberation Army.
Jesus Lava – who served as secretary-general of the PKP and whom I knew personally – recruited Jose Maria Sison in 1962. Pretty soon, ideological, political, and organizational differences emerged, leading to a schism that saw Joma Sison establishing the “new” Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) in December 1968. In March 1969, Sison and Bernabe Buscayno (the leader of a Huk faction) formed the New People’s Army, the armed wing of the CPP.
Over the years, the strength of the CPP-NPA has waxed and waned, with the communists also racked by infighting and power struggle, for instance the Tiamzon couple Benito and Wilma who felt that Sison could not effectively lead the organization while exiled in the Netherlands.
In all my years being in media, no other president has ever gone out of his way as President Duterte had in pushing for peace. The President has undoubtedly gone the extra mile, so to speak, in reaching out to them, even appointing leftists to his Cabinet, understanding the ideology they espouse.
“The President has undoubtedly gone the extra mile, so to speak, in reaching out to them, even appointing leftists to his Cabinet, understanding the ideology they espouse.”
Stretching the President’s patience in extending the hand of peace, the attempts have proven to be futile, with President Duterte expressing frustration at the duplicity and insincerity of the insurgents and their political leaders despite numerous concessions that have been given them.
Truce violations committed by the CPP-NPA are well documented, using the cessation of hostilities as an opportunity to recruit members – many of them minors younger than 15 – and attack the police and military. Clearly, the communists are losing support as seen in the growing ranks of rebel returnees and the protests organized by the local populace who are growing resentful because they are forced to give their food to the rebels whenever they come down from the mountains. In fact, the communists are turning out to be nothing more than thugs and criminals, engaging in robbery and extortion, demanding revolutionary tax from legitimate businessmen who have no choice but to pay up because expensive equipment would be burnt or destroyed. Among the victims are telcos whose towers and cell sites have been blown up.
Contrary to accusations, there is no “red tagging” because what the government is doing is simply unmasking party-list groups for what they are: legal fronts for the CPP-NPA whose objective is, and has always been, the violent overthrow of any legitimate and democratically elected government. No less than Jose Maria Sison publicly admitted that these party-list groups are affiliated with the CPP-NPA-NDF.
“Another dimension to our job here in the United States is to discuss the so-called “red-tagging” and explain the Anti-Terrorist Bill to US legislators. The other day, I had a telecon meeting with Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon, an outspoken critic of President Duterte, to discuss the government’s alleged human rights violations, “red-tagging” and supposed extrajudicial killings.”
Another dimension to our job here in the United States is to discuss the so-called “red-tagging” and explain the Anti-Terrorist Bill to US legislators. The other day, I had a telecon meeting with Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon, an outspoken critic of President Duterte, to discuss the government’s alleged human rights violations, “red-tagging” and supposed extrajudicial killings. I informed him that from all indications, these criminal activities are being committed by the communist terrorist group whose members are also engaged in illegal drug trafficking as a form of fundraising activity. I made it truly clear to the senator that many left-leaning groups in the United States are bent on throwing a monkey wrench between our two countries.
When the National Task Force to End the Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) was created through Executive Order 70, it aimed to expose these individuals and organizations with verifiable links to the public CPP-NDF-NPA and prevent the people from ideological exploitation by the CPP-NDF-NPA. We need to face the reality that all these organizations are pure fronts. They don’t want peace. They will never accept anything less than the overthrow of our government – reminding me of what my late friend Max Soliven told me: “Once a red, always a red. If it quacks like a duck, walks like a duck, then it must be a duck.”