A personal account
AT long last, the state has moved to stop the communists’ foreign funding, which in different forms and from different countries since 1969 has been the most important reason for its growth.
According to a news report, representatives of the newly formed National Task Force to End Local Communist Insurgency (Executive Order 70) met with officials of the European Union to reveal that funds of a number of Europe-based “do-gooder” NGOs and even of the Belgian government have in fact been channeled to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its New People’s Army (NPA).
These have been disguised as funding for projects of indigenous peoples and other marginalized sectors.
The task force presented intelligence reports of the Armed Forces of the Philippines that showed that the Belgian government itself had released the first tranche of more than 621,000 euros (P36 million) out of a 15-million-euro (P886 million) grant to some non-government organizations for its 2017-2021 “humanitarian” programs to the Philippines.
The military identified seven of these recipient organizations. “We bring this to the EU as one of our major concerns and we seek your cooperation for the sake of our people by helping us stop the flow of funds,” Alex Paul Monteagudo, Director General of the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) was quoted as saying in a news report.
The news really is not new. In contrast to their claims that the CPP and the NPA have grown because of the rightness of their cause and the people’s support, the truth is that they grew and survived from foreign funding from their inception.
That news report triggered in my mind images of the time when I was a communist cadre receiving funds from China for our revolution.
Since its establishment in 1968 up to 1975, when Ferdinand Marcos and his wife Imelda met with Mao Zedong in Beijing, the International Division of the Chinese Communist Party regularly sent funds to the CPP.
That was when China’s “Great Helmsman,” party chairman Mao Zedong was an adherent of Leon Trotsky’s “permanent revolution” theory, that communism cannot exist and in just one or two nations but has to be “exported” to developing nations.
That Mao financed Jose Maria Sison’s party is not conjecture, nor something I read somewhere or heard from somebody.
One of my tasks when I was deputy head of the Manila-Rizal regional committee of the CPP in the early 1970s was to physically receive the funds, which was about P200,000 monthly, a huge sum for that time, equivalent to at least P1 million today.
That was work assigned to me by the head of the regional committee, who has lived for four decades now as a middle-class Canadian in Toronto.
I would later find out that it was a job given to him personally by Sison, but he was too paranoid about his personal security that he passed on the chore to me. That chore ended after about four months when Sison found out that it wasn’t that now Filipino-Canadian who personally received the funds but me, and ordered him to carry out the job himself.
Still barely out of my teens at the time, I was excited over the cloak-and-dagger nature of my meetings with the Chinese communist cadre. The usual venue was the “loge” section of movie theaters in Chinatown, at the first screening time in the morning, when the place was practically empty.
The venues for the meetings had been agreed beforehand. The precise date and time were set through a code in a wanted ad in the classified ads section of the Manila Bulletin, looking for “Maid Yaya.” The telephone number given in the ad had a code that determined the day and time of the meeting.
The Chinese communist cadre, a young man who looked to me like a People’s Liberation Army officer, spoke in that kind of Filipino taught in universities abroad, formal, not the kind you hear spoken in real life, which made it difficult for me to understand.
I would learn years later that the Chinese intelligence officers had learned Filipino in a Moscow university, where two exiles of the pro-Russia Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas taught a course on the language.
In each of our meetings, I would brief the Chinese agent on developments in the country — with my superior telling me to exaggerate the growth of the revolution and the party.
Mao’s huge role was crucial for the growth of Sison’s party, that there was even a five-man delegation in Beijing that was a liaison for this. This episode has been reported in detail in Mario Miclat’s book Secrets of the Eighteen Mansions, which I reviewed in a 2010 column “Secrets of the Communist Party.”
The “18 mansions” are the buildings in a secret compound in Beijing where the Chinese Communist Party in the 1960s and 1970s housed delegations of communist parties from all over the world to facilitate its clandestine aid to their own insurgencies.
The Chinese communists’ support for Sison was such that it even secretly set up at huge cost a factory that manufactured the US assault rifle M-14s, since they didn’t want to risk having their standard rifles, patterned after the Russian AK-47, captured, thereby exposing their role in fomenting revolution. (The factory would be the core of Norinco — China North Industries Group Corp. Ltd. — which has become one of the world’s largest weapons manufacturer, flooding the market now with cheap knock-offs of renowned US and European pistols.)
The NPA tried to land 5,000 rifles from China through two ships, the MV Karagatan and MV Andrea in July 1972. The arms landings failed miserably. The first ship landed in Digoyo Point in Isabela, which the NPA thought was deserted but which actually was a busy refuge for fishermen and loggers, who promptly alerted the military of a ship bringing onshore suspicious-looking crates.
The other, the MV Andrea, was lost in a storm, and saved by the Hong Kong coast guard. The two ships were manned by UP student activists given a few months’ crash course on how to sail a ship. Sison told them Mao Zedong Thought would speed up their education on maritime matters.
When Marcos announced the interception of the arms shipment of the MV Karagatan, the Liberal Party, especially its star Benigno Aquino Jr., ridiculed it as fake, intended he said to prepare people’s minds for the declaration of martial law.
The entire leadership of the Armed Forces, however, became frightened that the might of China was upon the country, and behind the NPA, and therefore wholeheartedly supported Marcos’ declaration of martial law. With its Vietnam quagmire already reeling out of control, and its military bases here a crucial part of its war in that country, it was a no-brainer for the US to support Marcos’ martial law.
Another irony — or tragedy — of our history, isn’t it? The communists’ wish to get arms from China gave Marcos a good reason for imposing martial law, which they claim was the worst thing to have happened to our country.