THE communist cadres he appointed early in his administration to head crucial departments merely used their posts to further their insurgency, President Duterte said in a speech last week. That was the reason he decided to fire them, and one of the factors that convinced him that peace talks with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) were futile.
In a speech last Friday in Camarines Sur, not too surprisingly unreported by a mainstream media that has been sympathetic to the rebels, Duterte said that former agrarian reform secretary Rafael Mariano had urged members of left-linked organizations to occupy vacant lots.
This encouraged members of the Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay), organized by the communist cadres, to occupy in March 2017, 8,000 government housing units in five sites in Bulacan, which had been allocated to the police. They wrongly thought that Mariano could successfully put pressure on Duterte to allow them to occupy the state-financed housing for the police.
As part of the communist strategy to foment anarchy in the city, the communist organizations — Kilusang Mayo Uno, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, Makabayan, Gabriela and Anakpawis — rallied in support of the Kadamay occupations. While Kadamay members still occupy a number of units in the Bulacan site, their plans to occupy other government housing sites was thwarted with Duterte telling the police to shoot them if they forced their way.
In the case of Judy Taguiwalo, former Social Welfare and Development secretary, Duterte said that she prioritized distribution of the “Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program” (4Ps) benefits, which include a cash dole-out of P2,400 per month, to families of the New People’s Army (NPA). While Taguiwalo has denied the allegations, the military has been reporting that envelopes with receipts for the dole-out had been found in NPA camps it had overrun.
Duterte’s bad experience with communists being given a role in government has a precedent — during the regime of former president Corazon “Cory” Aquino who openly coddled the CPP, even releasing its founder Jose Maria Sison days after she assumed power in February 1986.
Aquino appointed a communist sympathizer to head the labor department, who even issued anti-capitalist rants and openly favored the Red labor front the Kilusang Mayo Uno, which as a result expanded quickly in the immediate post-EDSA period.
The military also discovered that state-of-the-art Uzi submachine guns earmarked for the urban assassination squad called the Alex Boncayao Brigade were being smuggled through the country’s ports, undertaken by a leftist lawyer Aquino appointed to the Bureau of Customs.
It was, in fact, Aquino’s appointment of Red cadres in government posts that alarmed the colonels and majors of the RAM that had launched the failed coup against Ferdinand Marcos in 1986 (that led to the EDSA I uprising), so much so that they decided to undertake seven attempts to topple Cory, the last of which would have succeeded if not for US intervention.
Duterte’s experience with the Reds he had placed in government posts where they could have done good for the poor of the country, but which instead they used to further their party’s rebellion, apparently has made him realize how stupid it would be if he were to agree to the communists’ main demand in the negotiations they had been undertaking with government for nearly three decades.
This is for the Communist Party, through its main disguise the National Democratic Front (NDFP) to be given an official role in government. This will be mainly through what the communists dub as the “Government of the Republic of the Philippines-NDFP Social and Economic Oversight and Advisory Council,” which will oversee the implementation of what the Reds call the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (Caser). This is really a program based on the inward-looking economic and social policies of the last century that had been tried with disastrous results by a few Latin American countries ruled by leftists.
This council is in reality the so-called “coalition government” that the communists had plagiarized from Mao Zedong (to justify his alliance with the Kuomintang in the war against the Japanese) and put as their goal in their Program for a People’s Democratic Revolution.
For propaganda purposes though, the communists recently claimed that it is no longer demanding such a “coalition government.”
Duterte has seen through this though, telling his audience in Camarines Sur: “Wala tayong makuha diyan sa NPA. Maski na sabihin nilang walang coalition, but they want to join yung mga economic bodies natin gaya ng NEDA (National Economic and Development Authority), mahirap yan.” (We have nothing to gain from the NPA. Even if they say they do not want a coalition, but they want to join our economic bodies like the NEDA, that would be hard to do.)
What I found intriguing in Duterte’s rant against the communists is that the only communist leader he mentioned was Fidel Agcaoili, usually described in media as chairman of the peace panel of the NDFP.
In his speech, Duterte said: “Si Agcaoili, hinahaluan ng mga legal-legal yan (Agcaoili is always mixing things with legal jargon). They came and wanted to talk to me.”
Whether he knew it or not, Duterte inadvertently touched on one of Agcaoili’s biggest, and most extraordinary, advantage in his 50 years as one of the highest officers of the CPP.
His father was Alfonso Agcaoili who was not just a University of the Philippines law school class 1939 classmate of the late “strongman” Ferdinand Marcos. He was viewed in legal circles in the 1970s as very close to Marcos, that he established with his brother Antonio in 1974 the still-existing Agcaoili & Associates that had flourished during martial law. The law firm, which included Fidel’s elder brother Antonio and cousin Federico, ironically had as its top clients multinational firms which Fidel and his buddy Jose Ma. Sison had been condemning as imperialist monopoly capitalists.
Agcaoili was an unlikely revolutionary as his father Alfonso had been fabulously wealthy because of his firm’s lucrative law practice. In the 1970s, Sison, “Kumander Dante” and other top communist leaders safely moved around Manila, even through checkpoints and past the curfew hours, using the latest-model cars — including a Porsche convertible that was Fidel’s favorite — that he either owned himself or borrowed from family members. Marcos himself reportedly told then-police chief Fidel Ramos — who had several teams devoted to hunting the communist leaders — to stop their surveillance of the Agcaoili office and residence.
Other than Sison, Agcaoili is the most senior Communist Party official still in a top leadership role. I suspect that together with Sison, he calls the shots in the communist organization.
He was a member since the party’s founding in 1968 of the seven-man Executive Committee (its highest command body) of the Central Committee and had been in charge for decades of its finances. The seventh slot was held first by NPA head Dante, and after his capture, by his successor Rodolfo Salas.
It was Sison himself who had insisted that Agcaoili be in total command of the NDF’s negotiating panel with government, an indication of his view that the talks are the most crucial aspect of his revolution at this time.
Other than one who has lived since the 1980s a very petty-bourgeois life in Toronto, and who still remarkably spews to this day anti-government, anti-US rants in his newspaper, two other members of the Executive Committee were Jose Luneta (who was number two in the party hierarchy as secretary general until his capture in 1976) and Monico Atienza (organizational department head until his capture together with Luneta).
Luneta was severely reprimanded by the party leadership for giving the go-signal as secretary of the Southern Tagalog Regional Committee for the execution of scores of party members and NPA fighters accused of being military spies, mistakenly it turned out later, in Southern Tagalog in 1988. There were reports, unverified though, that he himself participated in the torture of the victims.
Both died of natural causes; Luneta last June in a comfortable hospice in Bielefeld, Germany, where he had been living the past 30 years, and Atienza in 2007 in a charity ward of the Philippine General Hospital, after having taught Pilipino at UP.
Sison himself inadvertently revealed his two comrades’ stature in his delusional pantheon of those responsible for the Philippine communist insurgency, when he wrote lengthy, glowing eulogies for the two, to the bewilderment of most communists who never knew their role in the insurgency. In his eulogy for Luneta, Sison said his “revolutionary merits far outweigh his demerits.” The “demerits” obviously referred to his role in the bloody, mistaken purge of their innocent comrades.
If you knew these megalomaniacs who had been at the core of this insurgency — and 99 percent of communists and activists don’t, its founding fathers as it were, you’d wonder how the hell did this movement grow to result in the deaths of at least 100,000 Filipinos, and in the blackening of the country’s image as still insurgent-infested.
It makes me believe, that indeed, the devil exists.