SOCIAL media was abuzz in the past several days, with netizens cheering on as Krizette Laureta Chu, an ordinary but very active and audacious blogger, take on — and shame — the leftist Bayan Muna leader Teodoro Casiño, a three-term party-list congressman, for threatening her with a libel suit.
Casiño claimed that Chu’s posting of a photo in her timeline (that went viral) of him and his son (his face blocked out of course) in a La Salle school activity was a violation of their right to privacy.
Chu had posted the photo to show the hypocrisy of the Left who recruit — brainwash, really — students from schools that cater mostly to the lower middle class to join the New People’s Army and die in some jungle, while their leaders like Casiño put their children in expensive schools like La Salle, cloistered from the real world.
There were also posts that claimed another Bayan Muna leader, Carlos Zarate, had his son studying in Europe. Zarate though has not confirmed nor denied the report.
Casiño, however, confirmed that his son was studying at La Salle, where the yearly tuition is at least P200,000. The Bayan Muna leader, however, claimed that a “benefactor” he didn’t identify was paying for his son’s tuition.
It was rather foolish of him to disclose such a detail, for two reasons. First, unless the funds for his son’s tuition were coursed through La Salle’s scholarship program, the money given to Casiño was a gift. That is subject to a 20 percent donation tax, and I doubt if he reported it to the BIR. Second, a 200,000 “gift” isn’t chicken feed. This raises the question whether some tycoon has cleverly maneuvered to have a ranking Leftist leader under his payroll, in exchange for his “protection.”
To be fair to Casiño and Zarate, nearly all of the famous leaders of the Communist Party fronts actually live lives of comfort. A long-time Bayan Muna chair is married to a corporate lawyer, who can afford to have an upper-class lifestyle with even a country resthouse; their son is studying at the Ateneo to become a well-known broadcaster.
Where the sons of leftist leaders are studying has became such a raging issue because of the timing of the disclosure. There has been in recent days front-page stories showing mothers crying before a Senate hearing while they related the how their daughters — teen-age girls for Christ sake! — were convinced by the leftists to abandon their families and join the NPA.
The outrage therefore was over the thought that while the Left cadres were sending teenagers to a life of hardship and even death fighting for the communist cause, their leaders’ children were enjoying comfortable, bourgeois lives.
The disparity between the lifestyles of Filipino communist leaders and those of their rank-and-file has been one of the most scandalous features of this now anachronistic movement.
Start with the communists’ “Dear Leader” Jose Ma. Sison. In his 52 years waging revolution, the only time he really lived a spartan life was in the nine years that he was imprisoned — on murder charges — during the martial law regime. Freed by Corazon Aquino in 1986, he apparently couldn’t stand a life with his comrades in some jungle, and moved in 1987 to Europe, ending up in Utrecht.
Before that, what we cadres in the 1970s thought was a selfless “Amado Guerrero” issuing directives from a guerrilla base in an Isabela redoubt, was actually living in a well-appointed house in Parañaque, and moving around in the latest-model cars. His acolytes of course justified this, that living so and moving around in such cars, ensured his security, as the “fascists” fear the rich.
I have never in my days as a ranking communist cadre heard anyone tell stories of Sison spending time with the NPA in some jungle. In the first years after the founding of the Communist Party in 1967, he did undertake indoctrination sessions with the first NPA leaders in the middle of rice fields in Tarlac — but mostly in Hacienda Luisita, where at night he would be accommodated in some Cojuangco mansion.
Sison is a very prolific writer. He even wrote a poem that romanticized the revolution, titled “The guerilla is like a poet.” But in his many interviews and writings, he has never related any period in this revolutionary life, of spending months with the NPA, nor in a Red base in some jungle that his followers are asking teenagers to spend time in, so they would “awaken to the reality of class society.”
I cannot really understand why communists even listen to him, when he has been living among the comforts and luxuries of an advanced capitalist country for three decades now.
With Sison having such a lifestyle, most of his inner core of leadership, which they call the Executive Committee of the Central Committee, of course followed suit.
In fact, once when we were called to a meeting (in the 1970s) in one of their “safe-houses,” my comrade from a Tondo slum sarcastically remarked how much he enjoyed that meeting since he could eat good food there that he only had heard about and in a kind of house he has never been to.
I myself was shocked when the party’s finance officer, once visited our safe-house — driving a top-down sports car. We had to ride buses, jeeps, and tricycles for our revolutionary work. I was told though that the officer, who is today a well-known leader of the National Democratic Front, was after all the son of a a prominent lawyer — Marcos’ personal attorney to boot.
The couple who are the present leaders of the NDF are both scions of well-known, very rich sugar landlords of Negros, whose parents — or their inheritance in recent years, I’m not sure — had been subsidizing their lifestyles in the Netherlands, one of the most expensive countries to live in. Another well-known NDF leader has lived in an expensive Quezon City compound he inherited from his parents, and had managed to get his children into UP, who all are living petty-bourgeois lives far from the Revolution, one even living in Sweden.
This disparity in lifestyles is not unique to the Philippine communist movement. Communist parties that have seized control of the state eventually become the social and economic elite.
Some accounts claim that widespread resentment among lower party cadres — especially those from the KGB — over the lifestyles of ranking officials of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union precipitated its fall.
Even in the People’s Republic of China, where its Communist Party has regularly undertaken anti-corruption campaigns that resulted in the almost immediate execution of those found corrupt, there has been “princelings,” descendants of prominent and influential senior communist officials who have privileged, comfortable lives much better than children of ordinary party officials.
That probably is a good term used for Casiño’s and Zarate’s children.