MY column last Wednesday narrated that communist ideologue Jose Ma. Sison himself “red-tagged” his Communist Party of the Philippines’ (CPP) over 80 front organizations, when he listed these as members of the International League of People’s Struggles (ILPS) he set up in 2001 to feed this ego that he is not just the leader of the communist insurgencies here but globally.
That each of these fronts undertakes “agit-prop” claiming to represent a particular sector points to the real nature of this supposed Marxist-Leninist-Maoist insurgency today.
Rather than a party that is the vanguard of the proletariat, mobilizing a peasant army according to Mao Zedong’s vision, the CPP has become — or perhaps has been since its start — merely a party of the petit-bourgeoisie (lower to middle class) engaged mostly in propaganda activities against government.
Their agit-prop activities have prevented a real national discourse we need to develop in the country. The party’s propaganda network seizes every issue possible against government, distorts and magnifies it, with its fronts developing the expertise for quick mobilization and press dissemination. Worse, communist fronts now provide the loudspeakers and war bodies for the issues the decimated Yellows raise, that I won’t be surprised that they are being handsomely paid for their services.
Obviously, the party’s vision is of a revolution when the Republic will be toppled when the masses are sufficiently “aroused and mobilized” by a thousand issues hurled against it, in much the same way that People Power purportedly toppled Marcos in 1986.
A case study of the communists’ agit-prop strategy involves one of the organizations listed as members of Sison’s ILPS, the Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya), which claims to represent the nation’s “small fisherfolk organizations,” one of the poorest sectors of the country.
But has Pamalakaya championed the causes that are the roots of small fishermen’s poverty such as the lack of refrigeration facilities, subsidized diesel for their banca’s engines, or even fishing ports in their areas?
No, Pamalakaya takes on such issues that the press covers as the dumping of white sand on a small portion of the Manila Bay coast to beautify it. As all ILPS members do, they echo the issue the party wants exploited in a particular time. (An example of this giveaway as a Red front is the “Justice for Comrade Randy Echanis” article in Pamalakaya’s website that appears in most ILPS websites. Unbeknown to those outside communist circles, Echanis was a high-ranking party cadre killed in his residence in what the party claims was an assassination by state forces.)
Pamalakaya was even a party to another project of the Yellows — even backed up by a cabal at the Integrated Bar of the Philippines — to worsen Philippine-China diplomatic relations when they filed a case at the Supreme Court last year, invoking the writ of kalikasan to require government to kick the Chinese out of Scarborough Shoal. The Aquino 3rd regime was hoodwinked by the US into losing that shoal to China in 2012.
To portray the case as one pursued by small fishermen, Pamalakaya was one of the complainants, claiming that their members were fishermen driven out of the shoal by the Chinese. The case collapsed when Solicitor General Jose Calida submitted to the court affidavits by the fishermen claiming there was no such harassment, and that they were just pressured by certain IB lawyers to sign their supposed complaints.
It is downright hilarious for the party to claim, as it does in its constitution and all its anniversary statements, that it is the “revolutionary party of the working class in the Philippines.” The Philippine working class has long rejected the party, vomiting the small contingent that managed to infiltrate it in the 1980s.
The party’s Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU), a feared trade union organizer in the 1980s, has lost most of the unions it controlled and is now spurned by workers, as its reputation has grown to be one whose trade union struggles mostly led to many company closures, leaving their trade unions unemployed and black-listed by businesses. KMU had been more concerned with radicalizing workers through violent strikes, for early deployment to the New People’s Army (NPA) rather than building a broad labor movement. To this day, the party’s leadership does not have a trade-union veteran.
All of what the party has called its “peasant bases” set up since the 1970s, have been dismantled by the military at will when ordered by a president to do so. Most of the members comprising the NPA are not peasants, but the youth, mostly from the poorest rural and urban sectors as well as the “Red” universities.
This of course is the inevitable outcome of Sison’s insistence that feudalism exists in the Philippines, when the reality is that the Philippine countryside consists mostly of small landowning farmers and of huge agribusinesses, economic systems that could never generate a mass of peasants so desperate as to join an insurgency.
The communist leaders refuse to see that a communist-led revolution is downright impossible in this day and age. Long closed has been the window of opportunity in the 1940s (the Chinese revolution) up to the early 1970s (the victory of the Vietnamese Workers Party) for Marxist revolutions.
The only insurgency that had some chance for a successful revolution was that organized in 1964, four years earlier than the CPP-NPA, the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC), also led by a communist party. It became the largest of Colombia’s rebel groups and at its peak had 10,000 armed soldiers.
The FARC had all of the four basic requirements for a successful insurgency: a neighboring refuge (which Peru provided) to which their fighters could escape to in the many instances of intense military campaign; a steady source of financing, which for the FARC was the cocaine industry; a huge mountain range hard to reach by the government’s forces; and a large base of the most marginalized sectors, in Colombia’s long neglected indigenous population. The Philippine insurgency doesn’t have any of these musts for a revolution.
Still though, the FARC’s leadership was bold enough to accept reality. It struck a peace pact with the Colombian government in 2016, with its dismantling and integration into mainstream society still under way.
By contrast, the Philippine communist party’s leadership has become an ensconced elite living off the finances the party gathers mainly through the NPA and contributions from leftwing NGOs abroad, and feeding their egos that they are heroic, noble revolutionaries. Their egos are so invested in their “revolution” that they cannot conceive of any other kind of life.
What kind of work, what income for instance would Jose Ma. Sison have if he folds up his 52-year-old revolutionary tent? He would just be one of the Netherlands’ pathetic senior residents living on welfare. I don’t think the likes of Bayan Muna representative Carlos Zarate and Kabataan’s Sarah Elago would even be able to win as barangay chairman where they live.
Only a fanatic or a nut or a communist leader living comfortably in an urban area would believe that this kind of insurgency will ever succeed and assume power in this period of humanity.
It is amazing that the CPP in an Aug. 28, 2020 statement “on the occasion of the 51st anniversary of the NPA” didn’t realize the irony of its many congratulatory assertions, for example, that it has “several thousand guerrilla fighters.” Even assuming the maximum “several” means 4,000 fighters, the NPA therefore has been able to recruit 78 fighters per year in its 51 years of existence?
Isn’t that proof enough that Filipinos have rejected them and their ideology, and better for them — well, as Sison and his inner circle have in fact done — to live in some rich country, pretend to be revolutionaries, and for chrissake, stop fooling our gullible youth to join the NPA and die in some forgotten jungle?
The CPP leadership in reality has long realized that the NPA will never grow to become a Mao-style Red Army that would eventually seize power. The NPA is merely there as muscle to raise funds for the CPP and its network of agit-prop fronts, to be recognized as a force to contend with by opposition forces, and most importantly, and as theater for the communists to claim that they are really undertaking a revolution.