THE Duterte government is the first ever post-EDSA administration to expose the Communist Party of the Philippines’ most successful strategy in its 50-year insurgency.
This strategy is its use of fronts and of organizations it had infiltrated and whose leadership it had captured. These are exploited not just to recruit people into their ranks but to disseminate its propaganda and to acquire finances, especially from gullible Western do-gooder NGOs and foundations.
In sharp contrast, past administrations, especially the two Aquino administrations, had very opportunistically coddled them, hoping to get their political and even voter-base support. Even media had hesitated to expose these Red fronts and puppet organizations for fear of being called Red-baiters, afraid that they could be targeted by the New People’s Army assassination teams.
The communists have been so successful in this strategy that communist cadres became congressmen through the party-list system — seven in the outgoing 17th Congress — which gave them vast resources and a national podium to propagate the Communist Party’s propaganda agendas.
No wonder this government’s all-out campaign to expose these Red fronts has created such a howl of protest from them, with the party even mobilizing the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines — set up in 1969 and the least known to be Red-influenced — to file a petition with the Supreme Court to stop such a move.
That the Duterte administration has made gains in its program to expose these Red party-list organizations has been demonstrated by the fact that votes for these groups in the recent elections drastically decreased.
Votes for Gabriela, the communist attempt to exploit the women’s movement for its purposes, was cut by more than half, from the 1.4 million votes it got in 2016 to 450,000 in the recent elections. Votes for the Red youth front Kabataan fell from 300,000 to 195,000, and for the communist party’s labor front Anakpawis, from 370,000 to 145,000.
However, what should worry government is the fact that Bayan Muna nearly doubled its votes; from the 600,000 it got in 2016 to 1.1 million, increasing from one to three its cadres that would become members of the Philippine Congress.
Bayan Muna even appears to have been revitalized, since votes for it have consistently dropped from 1.7 million in 2001 to 750,000 in 2012 to just 600,000 in 2016. Sources among political campaigners, however, claim that Bayan Muna had amassed a huge kitty from the Yellows, their payment for campaigning for the Otso Diretso candidates.
The communist insurgency in the Philippines is the only such revolutionary movement in the world that has organized or controlled so many organizations, which profess to be do-gooders in their different fields, but are in reality advancing the communists’ goals to overthrow our democratic system.
In its dogma, this has been rationalized as part of the overall strategy calling for a “united front” which — plagiarizing from Mao Zedong — is the party’s shield, with the New People’s Army (NPA) its sword.
Without its fronts, the CPP would not have been able to recruit Filipinos who have been so brainwashed by the US and the Church to be rabidly anti-communists.
Sison was first involved in such a tactic in the late 1950, when he joined UP academic Francisco Nemenzo and other members of the old pro-Soviet Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas, in establishing the Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation. It succeeded in recruiting what would later become Sison’s first core group, attracted to the organization’s campaign against America’s war in Vietnam.
Sison himself founded the Student Cultural Association of the University of the Philippines in 1959, its acronym SCAUP his weird way of raising its profile, since the most popular non-frat organization at that time was the UP Student Catholic Action (UPSCA).
As Youth Bureau head of the PKP, Sison established what would be in the 1970s the biggest recruiter for the party and the NPA, the Kabataang Makabayan. Sison was lucky enough to found the KM in the late 1960s when the youth in America and Europe became a political force, dubbed as “student power.”
The process, which I myself experienced, was as follows. Either excited over the huge youth demonstrations in Washington and Paris, or seeking an organization defying the mimic-America culture of that period and championing nationalism, students, mainly from UP, Lyceum, and the Philippine College of Commerce (now the Polytechnic University of the Philippines) – schools where Sison or his first comrades taught – joined the KM.
After enjoying the KM’s camaraderie — it had a penthouse headquarters in Quezon Avenue where you could hang out and sleep — and more importantly, after experiencing “police brutality” — and consequently radicalized — in demonstrations, its members would be ripe for their introduction to Mao Zedong Thought and communist dogma.
Its most active members — almost all in their teen-age years or early 20s — would be invited to apply as “candidate member” of the Communist Party, and a young man would almost always be flattered to be invited to join some kind of elite secret society. Indeed, it was nearly a religious ritual when a candidate becomes a full-member, raises his fist, swears to the party constitution with the hammer-and-sickle flag hanging on the wall, and is given a .45 or an Armalite bullet as a souvenir.
Many would be invited to join the NPA, romanticized as already liberating peasants in their mountain “bases” in Isabela. Many of them would be killed in a few months in firefights with the police or town militias, who thought they were bandits.
(Sison also managed to recruit the toughie children of his old PKP comrades, who lived in the urban slums of Caloocan and Tondo. These would be Sison’s provocateurs in many demonstrations, many of whom were either drunk or stoned to be so bold as to provoke the Manila policemen to retaliate — creating a scenario of state police brutality).
It was the KM template that Sison and the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) used to expand the communist ranks throughout martial law. Just as KM was the recruiting venue for the youth, the party set up mass organizations for several “sectors” — among them workers, peasants, teachers, artists and even for OFWs.
The communists convinced Cory Aquino, the Liberals and academics to institute a party-list system in the 1987 Constitution, a brilliant move as it had already already set up in 1987 Partido ng Bayan with the just-freed Sison himself as one of its founders. It was merely renamed Bayan Muna in 1999 that could claim to represent “marginalized sectors” deserving to be represented in Congress. It topped the first party-list elections with 1.7 million votes.
One kind of organization that advances the CPP’s agenda are those it had infiltrated and captured the leadership of, which includes the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines, one of three groups that filed a case in the Supreme Court to stop the military’s alleged “red-tagging.” Most of the members of such organizations are not CPP members but its leaders are, who convince the members that their political activism is for some noble goal, for instance, fighting for human rights.
There are dozens now of such organizations. The website Bulatlat for instance posts nothing but news articles and opinion pieces critical of government since it was set up, expounds on the same propaganda line the party undertakes in different periods of time, and even covers on the ground the CPP and NPA’s anniversary celebration. I get very regular emails from a “Children’s Rehabilitation Center,” which report only on alleged abuses of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
The other two kinds of CPP organizations are, first, those which are “underground,” completely controlled by the party, but called “allied organizations” of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) in order to portray it as an alliance of independent revolutionary organizations representing various sectors of Filipinos. The NPA and even the first mass organization that Sison set up, the KM, are such NDFP member organizations.
While these organizations recruit their own members, these also act as the command centers of the second type of CPP-controlled entities, the legal organizations, which include the “party-lists.”
When I was with the Arroyo government, I asked for a meeting in a Quezon City steak house with party-list leaders to sound them out if they could support us in the 2004 elections. It turned out that the person I talked to was a comrade from way back in the 1970s, whom I assumed was then a Politburo member, the commissar for the party-lists whose representatives like Teddy Casiño were in another table, speaking not a word during the entire meeting, busying themselves with their T-bone steaks.
Accompanying this article is a table containing the list of NDFP member-organizations together with the sectors they represent, and a list of alleged organizations Red-tagged by the military. I do not have information though whether a particular NDFP member representing one sector, for instance KM for youth, is the command center of a Red-tagged legal entity in the same sector.